Patients Rely on Mobile and Social - Pharma Needs to Respond

April 27, 2015

Megatrend #6: Big Data, Mobile and Social create a more level playing field; Pharma is slow to respond

Patients used to rely on their doctors for critical health information. All that has changed. Technology has given consumers more power. They can monitor their health, investigate treatment options, discuss options online with other patients, and find outcome data for drug therapies and other treatments.

Pharmaceutical firms need to respond by leveraging their knowledge of diseases and conditions, and the therapies and products to treat these health issues, in innovative ways that serve and engage patients, HCPs and payers.1

The social buzz among pharma professionals on LinkedIn, according to a recent analysis, has been big data, mobile, social and gamification.2-6 In other words, the industry clearly recognizes this digital sea change.

When pharma professionals were asked to rank their companies’ digital initiatives targeting HCPs, patients and payers versus their competitors, they were most confident with efforts directed at HCPs.7 But is pharma leveraging the right tactics and channels to reach key stakeholders? In a patient-centric environment, pharma must make patient engagement a higher priority.

HCPs and patients are frequent users of digital, with 78% of physicians actively using mobile technologies as part of their jobs, and patients relying on mobile (65%) and social (61%) to gather health-related information.8 Conversely, mobile apps and social media score low on perceived ROI among pharma execs9, illustrating the striking “engagement paradox” between where stakeholders are seeking health information, and the tactics and channels pharma is using to engage these stakeholders.

Pharmaceutical companies must ramp up digital strategies with short-term, mid-term and long-term goals clearly defined. Initially, senior management must lead the way with a strategy based on mapping the needs of patients, HCPs and payers, while also seeking input from informed external sources. In the mid-term, cross-functional teams comprised of members of all key internal stakeholder groups must build trust among external audiences. This may mean detaching the marketing function from the sales organization, and leveraging appropriate tactics and channels to reach these audiences. Finally, the long-term strategy (3-5 years) involves linking revenue to performance, evaluating external efforts and publishing findings, with the expectation that there will be setbacks along the way.10

The trend is a product of an evidence-based research study undertaken by the Healthcare Division in Valtech to map the pharmaceutical landscape of digital mega trends. The research study provides essential insights on how Pharma companies could utilize digital engagement to break down stakeholder barriers, impact stakeholder behaviour and demonstrate more cost-effective outcomes. The research study is based on information from 100+ trusted sources and has resulted in the identification of 14 mega trends.

Reach out to gain an understanding of how to execute on the underused digital opportunities

The Healthcare Division in Valtech has developed an analytical framework that can identify the engagement potential of your brand.

Please contact Healthcare Director Conny Carlzon for further advice or to set up an informal meeting. Make sure you did not miss the previous blog posts on pharmaceutical megatrends:

Megatrend #1: Pharmaceutical CEOs Lack Confidence to Act
Megatrend #2: Transforming to a Digital Business: A Fundamental Paradigm Shift
Megatrend #3: The “Trust” Gap: Leveraging Digital to Reconnect with Stakeholders
Megatrend #4: Reinventing the Marketing Function for a Digital Environment
Megatrend #5: Follow the 20-20-20 Rule for Digital Budgets

1. Deloitte. John Rhodes et. Al. (2013). 2014 Global life sciences outlook. Resilience and reinvention in a changing marketplace

2. Digital Health. Paul Sonnier.

3. HIMMS. Cari McLean.

4. Innovations in Health. Korstiaan van Wyngaarden.

5. Healthcare-IT/ EHR/HIS. Dr Pankaj Gupta.

6. Pharmaphorum. Paul Tunnah.

7. Across Health. Fonny Schenck. (2013). 2013 Digital Barometer for Life Science.


9. Digital Health Coalition. Unknown author. (November 2013). 2013 Executive Landscape Study.

10. RAND. Søren Mattke. (2014). Understand the transition from pay per pill to pay for value means for your business model.