Key Takeaways from the Digital Pharma Advances Conference 2023

Alla Zarifyan

Key Takeaways from the Digital Pharma Advances Conference 2023

The pharmaceutical industry has been undergoing rapid changes in the digital realm for the past couple of decades. Last week, Intechnic attended the Digital Pharma Advances conference, held at the beautiful Institution of Civil Engineers building in London, and gained insights into current trends and best practices that are shaping the industry today.  

The conference brought together prominent figures from the largest pharmaceutical organizations and digital innovation companies. It featured insightful speakers and engaging panel discussions, focused on cutting-edge approaches to healthcare provider (HCP) and patient engagement, omnichannel strategy, data analysis, and more.

Here are three of the main takeaways that emerged from the presentations, panel discussions, and individual conversations. 

Engaging HCPs and patients is challenging despite digital advances.

The digital expectations of both clinicians and patients have been shaped by the exceptional user experience provided by consumer brands and the ease and convenience of everyday technology in their personal lives. As a result, they expect a similar level of seamless interaction with healthcare brands.  

Pharma companies have to compete for attention with large consumer brands and social media.

Florent Bühler, Digital Marketing Innovation Director at MSD, mentioned that when it comes to engagement, the largest competitor may not be those whom you would expect. An average person is bombarded with 3,000 to 5,000 promotional messages per day. So besides competing with other healthcare brands, pharma companies have to contend with large consumer brands and social media that often do a better job of capturing the viewers’ attention in the digital realm.

To effectively engage with these stakeholders, pharmaceutical companies must ensure their digital offerings provide value and solve problems for the target audience. Also, the digital solutions must be user-friendly, accessible, and offer the same level of personalized experience as the best B2C brands. This requires a significant investment in technology and user experience design, and a deep understanding of the needs and preferences of patients and HCPs.

Data is key to providing value and driving engagement.

Robert Grimm, Digital Marketing & Transformation Manager at Novo Nordisk, emphasized how companies that strive to be customer-driven must also be data-driven. Access to the right data and its effective analysis can play a crucial role in optimizing engagement, implementing fresh marketing tactics, and bringing greater value to the target audience.

Companies that strive to be customer-driven must be data‑driven. 

By harnessing the power of data, companies can gain a deeper understanding of customer demographics, behavior, and preferences, which in turn can help to determine the most effective communication channels and messaging strategies, as well as areas for improvement.

Identifying patterns and trends allows for data-driven decisions that can lower costs, lead to more effective and targeted marketing campaigns, more meaningful engagement with customers, and improved business outcomes. 

The right mindset will pave the way for success.

The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing a transformation that is still accelerating at an unprecedented pace. From AI-driven, in silico drug discovery to increasingly complex possibilities for patient and HCP digital journeys, pharma leaders must adapt to a rapidly changing landscape in most aspects of their business.

One of the main barriers to digital transformation is not recognizing the rate of change.

Pia Mitri, Digital Excellence Consultant – Pharma and Healthcare at Circus Street, highlighted that one of the main barriers to digital transformation is not recognizing the rate of change. Other barriers include:

  • Not putting the customer first
  • Investments that do not improve customer and employee experience
  • Piecemeal change and one-time “band-aid” fixes
  • Legacy systems and business models

On the contrary, continuously evolving, approaching the digital ecosystem holistically, having an omnichannel strategy, and defining the correct metrics are key to becoming a cross-functional, customer-focused commercial force, driving wider industry change. 

The bottom line: Improved user experience can help to overcome many barriers.

For us at Intechnic, the central idea was evident: focusing on UX research, strategy, and design can offer solutions to many of the challenges facing the industry today. While elevating user experience for patients and clinicians may seem complex, it is certainly achievable with the right approach.

Conducting both quantitative and qualitative research provides in-depth insights into the behavior, motivators, and preferences of your target audience. This ensures that your strategy is data-driven and not based on assumptions or opinions. A strategy that aligns commercial goals with customer needs will result in providing increased value to customers and driving effective engagement while reducing campaign costs and improving key performance indicators.

If you are not sure how to begin improving user experience for your patients and HCPs, a UX Audit is the best way to get started. It will provide a prioritized action list to deliver quick wins and strategies to take your website to the next level.


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