Slowly but steadily, the dust is settling after the COVID turmoil. We see that pharma, biotech and medtech companies have made big moves in multichannel activation. Webinars and emails have become common practice in order to keep up conversations with healthcare professionals (HCPs). As many communication channels intersect, without central coordination, it should not come as a surprise that 59% of HCPs claim they are getting spammed with messages, according to a study performed by Accenture (2020).
How can key account managers regain control and improve the quality of conversation?
Healthcare professionals expect companies to match the right communication channels and messages to their individual preference.
Tackling this challenge implies a deep-dive into underlying data on past interactions. Typically, a commercial or even medical representative is not very keen on diving deep into advanced data engineering and analytics. Still, it is a necessary evil to properly prepare the next detailing activity: “What actions have been taken towards the HCP in the last couple of months and who was in charge?”; “Did the HCP attend the webinar I recommended?”; “If so, how was it appreciated?”; etc.
Research shows it takes typical field representatives 65% of their time to find out what has happened to an individual HCP over the past months and to define the ideal next best action (Forbes, 2018).
Are they over-engineering it? Perhaps. Worst-case scenario: when these questions remain unanswered, you connect with HCPs in a less relevant way. What’s the big deal? You are still connecting with the HCP, right?
You can get away with an HCP feeling ‘misunderstood’ once or twice. Repeating this over time will have a deteriorating effect on the reputation of your representatives and your company. As a result, the HCP’s door might remain closed in the future. Intimacy drops. Potential gets lost as the HCP risks to switch to a competing company that is better at anticipating needs.
Indeed, qualitative interactions are an important driver to build strong relationships with HCPs, which is a leading indicator of commercial performance. After all, complex industries are driven by human connections: no matter how busy they are, HCPs will listen when you have something relevant to say. Hence, the little time you have to connect with HCPs better be quality time.
How can we increase our quality time with HCPs and what are typical roadblocks?
Foremost, for commercial effectiveness, it is important to leverage the key strength of your field force and avoid that they spend time on cumbersome, error-prone administration and manual analysis of data. One, they can better spend this valuable time connecting with HCPs. Two, manual analyses are the shortest route to inconsistencies and human errors.
That’s why it would make sense to consider a Customer Data Platform that automates this work for you and automatically suggests next best actions based on patterns in the data.
While there are plenty of these data platforms out there, only a few of them focus on the pharma, biotech and medtech sectors, and even fewer are adapted to the data situation in the industry. That’s what sets KWARTS’ A-Inside HCP Engagement Platform apart.
Compared to the US, where adoption of these smart data platforms is more widespread, we see a slower uptake in Europe. Different affiliates operate in scattered regulatory contexts and at different internal speeds. Hence, in our experience, before embarking on a global roll-out, it is best to select a few affiliates in your organization (a specific geography or franchise) that are open to innovation. Here you can run a “pilot” to prove the value of a more data-driven HCP engagement strategy.
Starting off, we have seen access to data being a major bottleneck. Some data is managed and stored locally (e.g. market data, sales data, event attendee lists, etc.): accessing it is easy, but scaling it globally is hard. Other data is managed in regional IT infrastructure (e.g. CRM data): it scales more consistently across the region, but it is harder to access at the local level because of extensive data security measures and access control policies.
Another hurdle is data quality. Rather than ignoring it, KWARTS has turned this hurdle into a driver for continuous improvement. We have seen interesting dynamics happening when suddenly field representatives are confronted with the low quality of their data logging in the past. Where they often consider reporting as a “management control system” and “administrative time loss”, the tide turns when reported key messages from the past are used to suggest next-best actions in the future. The more granular they are, the more actionable resulting suggestions become. The faster you can get it right, the faster you can increase relevance and beat competition.
In a recent implementation project, key account managers asked for the ability to log data more granularly to spin up the quality of the resulting AI-generated recommendations. Suddenly, data quality and consistent reporting becomes an ask and not a burden for key account managers. Triple win: field teams get higher quality recommendations, HCPs receive better focused, more relevant communications, and your company increases its commercial performance.
As the cherry on the cake, you cover an important liability by internalizing customer knowledge: when you need to transfer an HCP to another key account manager’s portfolio (e.g. change in territory design or a certain key account manager leaves your company), you are ready to accommodate with little ado, based on artificial intelligence in your systems.