Pharma and CX: What Matters, What Doesn’t


Our team attended the 6th Annual Pharma CX Summit in Summit. This topic casts a wide net that encompasses healthcare and non-healthcare arenas. Pharma companies, consultants, health provider systems, patient support groups, were mixed in with a healthy array of consumer-branded company representatives such as JetBlue, Google, Barclays, and Caesars Entertainment.

Insights and Questions From Pharma CX Summit

Everyone has their definition of customer. The term “customer” was used liberally, despite it meaning consumers, health care professionals sales reps, partners, and even institutions. Defining customer and CX was a very important first step in understanding the target audience, and therefore what great CX is. Of the tangible data and analysis on customers, Google was able to paint a remarkable evolution of customer thinking and customer expectations, inferred from literally trillions of searches!

 CX expectations have been redefined by the technology giants. The consumerization of healthcare via policy is one thing, but the consumerization of healthcare via disruption is wholly something else. The “Amazon Effect” was quoted numerous times. The influence that companies like Amazon have on user expectations for services, and the increasing digitization of everyday interactions, has created a feeling of “falling behind” or “missing out on the dialogue” within healthcare companies.

 What can we do about Pharma CX within current constraints? The realities of a heavily regulated environment limit pharma’s ability to utilize CX techniques that other industries rely on to differentiate. Marketing, advertising, communications, applications, and public-facing statements are pretty much set in stone after multiple rounds of the Medical Legal Review process. Techniques such as A/B and multivariate testing, message tweaking to maximize conversions, and even basic personalization profile data are not in the pharma engagement toolbox. Instead, pharma companies must primarily focus on making facts more accessible and timely. As a result, pharma companies aren’t associated with CX.

 Will better CX actually impact a pharma company’s business? While there was a lot of talk on how pharma does or doesn’t do CX well, one of the most salient points made by a presenter was around the ROI of a great CX. This is a point often missed by marketing teams, as engagement is usually the first goal. Very often, depending on the target audience, the therapy, and the HCP community, a great CX may have little to no business impact. Patient treatment pathways or treatment choice may be limited by what product is available or what coverage is possible for said treatment, making CX a non-factor. In those cases, the potential for CX improvement as a part of Clinical Research As A Care Option (CRAACO) could be a better investment.

 Does Pharma CX really matter when engaging with HCPs? Trust is a major factor in HCP relationships with pharma companies. A physician’s life has become increasingly computerized, digitized, and fragmented in recent years. This means that access to the right and trusted information delivered quickly and in the right form factor (primarily mobile), is paramount. Other CX factors – such as timelessness, aesthetics, visualization, and gamification have much less utility and can even “get in the way”. When targeting HCPs, it is important to capitalize on their limited available time to provide them with authoritative and impartial sources of information.

How to Ensure Success

Half the battle is committing to Pharma CX and having the wherewithal to learn, iterate, and grow:

Long term commitment is essential: AZhelps was AstraZeneca’s beyond the pill and supplemental “next generation patient support” program. It included a mobile-wallet integrated digital savings program, medication adherence features, and refill reminders. The platform launched in 2016 but didn’t survive through the end of the year. The twitter account is silent, and the mobile apps are no longer available in app stores. Is pharma serious about true digital innovation with CX?

 Engagement is a choice that is driven by value delivered: Access to care, quality of care, and overall wellness improve with the introduction of approachable engagement that delivers utility. Consumers choose to engage, and when they do, good things happen. For example, continuous blood sugar self-monitoring can cause automatic behavior change in patients, without any prompting from their doctor. This is demonstrated by the case of a patient correlating real-time spikes in blood glucose levels to a daily glass of orange juice. By connecting the dots on their own, they decided to remove it from their diet.

 Great Pharma CX doesn’t have to entail great cost: The DripAssist infusion rate monitor developed by Shift Labs is a low-cost device that uses technology and great design to make gravity assisted drip infusions accurate. Infusions such as IVs that use gravity (vs expensive electric pumps) are much less accurate because their infusion rates are calibrated manually by timing drops. The DripAssist automates that process and provides a real-time display of flow rate, allowing for proper adjustment to achieve the desired rate. This type of out-of-the-box thinking is going to help improve the quality of care and reduce cost at the same time.

 Human-Centered Design is an essential methodology. According to Google, most health-related searches are done on mobile, and mobile-only, not just mobile-first. Beyond interfaces, there is a clear need to understand patients better. Complex patient journeys require personalized engagement and touchpoints. Context matters and personalization is a strategy, not a set of activities. For example, a patient newly diagnosed with a chronic or life-altering condition such as cancer requires a different approach than someone who has trouble remembering to keep up with their daily maintenance medication usage.

In Summary

Powering human-centered customer experiences is the core of what we do at Medullan. Our Service Offerings and the VARA Platform are designed to deliver those journeys reliably and responsibly. An integrated CX strategy requires an integrated approach.

Let’s talk about how we can bring CX innovation to your organization. As a company that is driven to solve the toughest problems in healthcare, you can be confident you have experts on your side.

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