Digital Pharma Europe: Sustainable Innovation

Published: 5 Months agoNews


Becki Ahmed

Marketing Lead

Copyrighted content 2017 of Pharmiweb Solutions

The 9-11th May, saw the return of the 10th Digital Pharma Europe in London.  PharmiWeb Solutions again joined senior pharma executives from GSK, Gedeon Richter, MSD and Sanofi, to name but a few.

This year’s event looked at disruption, and how pharma can engage with disruptive technologies. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and cognitive computing are now a reality being used by doctors and physicians in predictive diagnosis. More importantly, the event looked at whether this form of innovation is sustainable?

Mauricio Campos Suarez, MSD used Blockbuster as a prime example.  A DVD rental store and household name back in the 1990s – Blockbuster made huge investments in their stores, adding technology to the mix with their online store.  But it wasn’t enough – the rise of media giant Netflix steadily increased its customer base forcing Blockbuster into bankruptcy in 2011.

So why did it fail? Blockbuster failed to act on the insights from their customers. They didn’t want to physically visit the store or incur late fees.  Netflix’s offering serviced this need, and technology was one small element of how they did this.

Pharma is no different.  Mauricio continued to say, you need to “fall in love with the challenge first and make this relatable to multiple stakeholders.” It’s not about trying to bring technology to pharma, it’s about bringing sustainable technologies to drive value for patients and doctors. Personally, we couldn’t agree more.

Each project needs to be centered and aligned around the business goals and requirements. It is crucial to assess existing materials, curate and map content to define the information architecture.  Collaborative projects teams consisting of UX, design and development explore options to define the best solution within the constraints of the project such as budget, time and technology solutions.

Paul Reynolds, Allergan discussed how we are often seeing ‘successful’ projects disappear.  So, why is this and what should be deemed a successful project? Is it...

  1. Enduring and rejuvenating
  2. Scalable and syndicated across multiple markets
  3. Affordable beyond key markets
  4. Delivering conversion and change
  5. Technically efficient and relevant
  6. Clearly understood internally

As advances in digital and omni-channel pharma marketing continue we should be asking ourselves, “Just because we can do it, can we use it?” When we get fixated on the technology we miss the insight.

For example, people are still buying cassettes, why? There are many alternative digital solutions that would make this format redundant.   But the physical is often more personal, like people using cassettes to record mix tapes.  The same could be said for eBooks versus paperbacks.

For innovation to be sustainable Reynolds listed some golden rules:

  1. Begin with an insight not a technology
  2. Keep your first steps simple: don’t overcomplicate and end up with an overly complex gadget-based solution
  3. Think of the smallest market first to support their budget allocations
  4. Involve compliance and medical teams early to ensure alignment
  5. Focus on conversions: It’s not just about reach as a marker of success the customer needs to actively commit
  6. Be careful with CLM
  7. Work closely with sales teams

In summary, the technology should not define your solution.  The discovery phase is crucial to ensure any solution maps to the needs of your stakeholders and that your reality is their reality.

To talk to any of our project teams about discovering the sustainable solution for your business, get in touch.


Becki Ahmed

Marketing Lead


Becki has over 7 years’ experience working in digital marketing in pharma, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Marketing Management.  Her specialties include marketing communications, strategic campaign management, and CRM.