Ingo Barmsen, infill

Ingo Barmsen

Partner and Principal Consultant

Digitally yours

How to build effective relationships in virtual space

Can you imagine a life without mobile and digital access? While the proportion of everyday transactions conducted by mobile and online is increasing, it is only logical that the resource-poor healthcare sector should also ‘boldly go’ into formerly unknown territories. Statistics published by the American Hospital Association in 2015* show that even in 2013, hospitals increasingly turned to technology-enabled care. Resulting from its implementation the AHA estimated an overall saving of up to $6 billion a year from switching to technology-assisted surgery visits.

It is also about increased opportunities. A rise from $2.4 billion in 2013 to a potential 21.5 billion in 2018, a 2015 Deloitte forecast estimates considerable growth opportunities in the global mobile and digital health market. A sector like pharma that has accumulated established partnerships with scientific and clinical experts and insights into users’ behaviour is entering the mobile and digital market with a big advantage. Now is the time to build on it by making relationships with doctors even more durable.

The future lies in tailored services that offer focused information individualised solutions that are driven by demand. In short, applications that help patients and doctors cope with the challenges of daily life. In the time-poor environment doctors have to work in, it is vital to go beyond information and offer service and support. If we are honest, providing mounds of information never was the way to go.

There are a number of supportive and educational tools that reflect daily practice and offer high value to HCPs because they provide excellent training opportunities in an environment mirroring everyday clinical practice:

  • Virtual hospital teaching with real patient cases: Experts in the field share their experience by commenting on interactive patient case studies. The cases can be viewed online and downloaded to a tablet. Learning progress can be monitored with test-yourself questions.
  • Build your diagnostic expertise with experts: Simulating the situation in an imaging lab, a library of high-resolution HRCT files (complete stacks) covering diseases with similar appearance provides a virtual exercise ground for clinicians. Intended for regular practice, physicians can come up with their own diagnosis and compare it to those of indication experts who explain and interpret lesions, etc. The experts also put the clinical data into perspective and offer differential and final diagnosis.
  • Global Online Seminars: especially popular in smaller indications where only few experts exist worldwide and physicians’ motivation is high to connect with leading experts. They can also view multimedia presentations and participate in online polls, as well as in the plenary discussion. Their reach is global as they can be adapted to suit different languages and time zones.

There is often little time for doctors to offer their patients detailed information and emotional support, therefore supplementary digital materials for patients provide good value for both.

  • Multichannel offerings for patients, their families and caregivers: include websites, interactive eBooks, and other downloadable materials like real-life patient exchange and diary apps.

This means focussing on the smaller and more individualised solutions – a focus that mirrors the conditions of the future pharma market where we expect a turnaround from blockbuster to niche solutions and rare disease marketing. This makes it even more important to link your efforts with effective SEO/SEM so you ensure your target audiences are aware of them. The potential benefits for the brand manager/scientific relations officer are huge: by enabling physicians to diagnose and treat patients better, you enable them to be a better prescriber for your brand – a win – win – win situation for all.

*, as accessed 4 May 2016