Over the last few years, the rise of digital tools and channels has completely disrupted the communication paradigms between companies and the end users of their products. Their advent has in fact closed forever the broadcasting era, since it has transformed the once passive targets of corporate communication into active individuals, empowered to find, elaborate and share their own views on a wide variety of issues.
As a result, companies have progressively found it more difficult to maintain control of their own brands’ reputation, as it was once possible in the broadcasting era.
After a first period when companies tried to stay in their comfort zone by refusing to openly engage with their audiences, they soon realized that the best way to manage the new wave of information circulation was to ride it with dedicated teams and tools.
The healthcare industry long lagged behind in this process, due to the more pronounced conservativeness of its internal procedures, reflecting the fact that they operate in a strongly regulated environment. The process of adoption of digital tools like service portals, advanced eDetailing tools, CRM analytics platforms, mobile services, has been slower than in other industries.
The adoption of Social Media channels as a founding pillar of the Corporate Communication activities has been even slower, and a vast majority of healthcare companies still lack relevant activities in this field.
While the first wave of digital tools, channels and services is slowly being adopted by the healthcare industry, a new one is already at our door, promising an even greater disruption of the clinical environment and the healthcare marketing and communication area.
The expansion of self-quantifying tools usage is providing doctors with an unprecedented amount of data on their patients’ health conditions. Technology companies like Apple with its Health Kit are rapidly moving toward the healthcare area, and will make the seamless acquisition of personal health data even more widespread and common.
Big data analytics supercomputers, like IBM Watson, are promising an unprecedented level of sensitivity and insights on complex, multifactorial clinical conditions like oncological diseases. Also from the educational standpoint, the rise of advanced Virtual Reality tools such as Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear, offer unprecedented opportunities in doctor and patient training in diagnosing, treating and following-up conditions and diseases.
While technological evolution designs new infrastructural paradigms for the healthcare area, a still consistent gap lays between technological potential and what is actually deployed.
This gap is generated by the speed of evolution itself, which can be too rapid to be absorbed by healthcare industry executives. The introduction of constantly new tools can indeed fill the technological gap with the other industries, but their use can often be suboptimal if a sound cultural change process does not support it.
A consequence of this gap can be the loss of efficacy in using the new tools that healthcare companies progressively adopt, and also in a loss of economic resources. In fact, an inadequate knowledge of each tool’s potential, and especially of when, in which situation, and with what audience new tools should be used, can lead managers to use their budgets unproductively.
At FrontiersX, a test was performed to assess what budget healthcare managers are ready to disproportionately invest. A group of 70+ pharma executives from Marketing, Sales Excellence, Technology and Innovation areas was divided in teams. Each team was assigned a combination of Persona (Innovator, Majority, Laggard) plus a phase of Product Lifecycle (Launch, Maturity, Decline).
They were asked to invest completely an assigned budget on individual communication tools and channels, in order to build an Omnichannel Marketing Plan. Their choices were later compared with an “ideal” plan for each Persona/Product Lifecycle Phase combination, in order to verify to what extent their choices were appropriate.
The results of this business game clearly showed that the best results, with a score of 90%+ of adherence to the “ideal” plan, were obtained by the team for which the use of traditional marketing tools was more appropriate.
The other teams, whose Persona/Product Lifecycle Phase combination required the use of digital tools, performed at a good level. While spending the whole budget, they attained an engagement score between 50%-60% of an “ideal” plan for that situation. Results clearly show that while planning capabilities for newer channels are sufficiently known, there is still room for improvement.
The experience at FrontiersX therefore clearly showed that healthcare managers own good orchestration skills in spending their budgets and optimizing the engagement of their audiences. At the same time, a stronger focusing on newer channels, to be pursued through a sound change in management and training planning, could lead them to an optimal level.
This is one of the articles of the Healthcare transformation booklet inspired by the FrontiersX Conference, that will be published very soon. Stay tuned!