Is Digital really happening in Pharma?

Published: 10 Months agoNews


Colin Halliday

Solutions Delivery Director

Copyrighted content 2017 of Pharmiweb Solutions

The Round Table: Veeva European Commercial and Medical Summit

PharmiWeb Solutions recently attended the Veeva European Commercial and Medical Summit, and invited to join a round table discussion to provide an agency perspective. The subject - "Is digital happening in Pharma?".

Since the summit, one question has continued to rattle through my brain - Is it? Really?

The short answer to this is, yes - with a hunger to catch up with external industries.

Now, anyone that has worked in the digital side of pharmaceuticals understands the challenges; and how most of these quickly point to legal, compliance and regulatory as the most significant challenges of them all, but I'm not convinced.  

When I draw on my experiences and reflect on how the pharmaceutical industry compares to others, there are three things that I feel stand out:

Change of thinking

The first, and arguably most significant challenge, is a change of thinking. As pharma companies move deeper into the digital age they find themselves providing digital services/solutions to their customers, not just treatments. Apps, websites, and other digital tools created for customers and internal workforce all come with additional user expectations. Whether it be the expectation of speedy content creation and circulation, digital strategies, cross channel marketing implementation or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integrations, to mention a few.

Only recently are we seeing a shift within pharma companies to support these types of activities holistically across their businesses, where traditionally, they were fragmented.

The agency relationship

The second is the relationship between agencies and their pharma partners and how this has been evolving. Previously, we would see many pharma companies using multiple digital agencies across their business but now this is beginning to change.  Global strategic agencies are being elevated over "production factories" or local digital agencies. This has been extremely positive in ensuring consistent and coherent user journeys and the implementation of the "digital vision" across the business.

Content consumption

The third is the way pharma customers, HCPs and patients, want to consume information. Think about it - by 2020, more than 50 percent of pharma customers will be millennials. Let that sink in for a second.

This means keeping up with trends, the latest technology, media and medium. Just building a website isn't enough, customers expectation is that there will be an app for that.

From our experiences at PharmiWeb Solutions, we are seeing increased interest and up take in Virtual and Augmented reality solutions, advanced eDetailing, and interactive tools - where content is delivered across different technological devices, and not just in your browser.

The challenge for the agency is finding a purposeful and meaningful reason for innovation, not only because stakeholders expect it.

By 2020, more than 50 percent of pharma customers will be millennials


While there are many other challenges, there is also a fantastic willingness driving change. With more and more people from outside of pharma moving into the sector, bringing with them new experiences and expertise, there is a recognition that things can be done differently.

Technology is also becoming more and more content delivery focused and this is opening new mediums to explore and to use. And finally, cost, which is always a primary driver, is forcing pharma companies and digital agencies to do more with less and is subsequently reigniting innovation and creative thinking.

PharmiWeb Solutions has accepted this challenge - with a team of experts from all walks of life supported by over a decades pharmaceutical knowledge -  aligning digital to the needs of our clients stakeholders.


Colin Halliday

Solutions Delivery Director


Experienced solutions consultant and technical program manager, Colin has 17 years experience leading teams in all aspects related to the development of innovative products, methodologies, and processes.   Before joining the team at PharmiWeb Solutions, Colin worked with many award-winning projects and development teams at Mediacom, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Royal Bank of Scotland, and HSBC.