The team attended the DPI conference, which covered hot topics from how to engage with HCPs in a post COVID era, through to the use of AI as well as the practical applications of digital transformation – so we were keen to find out what resonated with them over the 2 day event.

Q: Esme, what was your one key take away from the Digital Pharma Innovation Conference?

In short, this is an important moment in the healthcare story.   Digital health is all encompassing and is starting to evolve apace.  We have leapt forward significantly due to the pandemic but  inevitability a digital approach will be the way forward in the healthcare arena.  Digital medicine and digital therapeutics will become a major part of healthcare and that will come with an nuanced approach to engaging with HCPs and patients.

Digital health is about to go through the transformation that fin-tech and retail-tech have already gone through.  I really enjoyed Edward Cox’s* framing that digital health is a new modality – a new way to interact.  For example we don’t describe other interactions as ‘digital-shopping’ or ‘digital-banking’ or even ‘digital-travel’.  And the processes are not just the established experience journey but moved to digital channels – it’s a re-designed experience.  Digital health is the future of ‘health’.  It’s the path we will all be taking to access services and data to manage our health and wellbeing.  But this transition will need a fresh perspective; for us to embrace change, share learnings (across tech, lifestyle and pharma) and to develop the associated business models and engagement strategies rather than trying purely to take what we do now and digitize traditional processes.

There are a lot of companies and bright minds leaning-in to the momentum of making great digital medicine a reality – we’re on the precipice of doing things differently so we’ll start to see a big shift in regulatory pathways, infrastructure and engagement, which is very exciting.

Q: Meric, what were your take outs on the role of AI in the digital marketing space?

We all know that AI is becoming more and more popular – not just amongst everyday people looking for more effective ways to carry out tasks, but for businesses looking to elevate their long-term marketing strategy. As much as AI is a powerful and advanced tool, there are still some key considerations to keep in mind when trying to incorporate it as part of the bigger picture.

AI can be particularly valuable in generating different forms of the same content to reach wider audiences with personalized messaging, and in automating low-value and time-consuming tasks, however it is important to first learn the correct way to prompt AI systems, as this will significantly improve the quality and relevance of their outputs. Whether you’re a small or big business, adopting an enterprise mindset and setting up guard rails will help establish guidelines and safeguards to ensure responsible and ethical use of AI in marketing initiatives. It is also important to maintain a critical mindset and exercise caution, knowing when not to blindly trust AI outputs and results without conducting rigorous testing. Although AI is a powerful tool, careful planning, thoughtful implementation, and continuous monitoring are crucial for maximizing the effectiveness of AI in your marketing efforts.

Q: Jess, given the discussions on Social Media – what are the considerations and implications for pharma?

Social media is certainly an interesting topic! With so many people using it universally for a variety of reasons (e.g., searching for disease or product information, talking to other patients) – it’s crucial for pharmaceutical companies to consider how and when to use it. It’s so important to be where the patient is – not only to make sure you can market most effectively, build brand loyalty and a positive image but also as an ethical responsibility to keep an eye on misinformation and ensure patients aren’t mislead by what they may see via different social media channels. We also know from our experience that social media can provide so much rich information about a patient population and what their feedback is – it’s quickly becoming a popular tool to help listen to patients – providing detail on what is being said about a company, a brand or even a disease state. In some cases, it can even be used to get an unbiased view on whether campaigns resonate and the ability to track activity in promotions. However, as with all open spaces on the internet – they don’t come without their risks, and this area has its own set of regulatory concerns and advertising restrictions. Health authorities want to ensure the greatest safety for everyone but this can mean that it’s harder to be more creative in some cases when it comes to use and delivery within social media.

Another interesting thought that was discussed at the conference, was the use of social media to support with adherence and the role it can play in the ‘reminder’ space. This was a fascinating topic to reflect upon, and challenges the pharma space to think creatively about utilizing a channel that patients are already using (e.g., Facebook) to send treatment reminders or prescription refill reminders rather than investing significant amounts of money designing new apps that people have to download, learn to use and set reminders for – something we know from a behavioural standpoint can hinder action when we consider the path of least resistance!

Ultimately, the importance of social media in the pharma industry is stronger now than ever, and it is an ever evolving space that we’ll only see grow as engagement with social media increases. However, the questions still remain: how active does the pharma industry want to be across social networks, to what extent will it be embraced, and how will engagement and feedback be utilized to the best advantage going forward?

For more information on our digital offering please contact info@hrwhealthcare.com

By Esme Barrow-Williams, Meric Mehmet and Jess Woodhead


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