Joe Shields from Health Accelerators recently did a webinar called “Designing Customer Services That Scale.” In it, he discusses the 9 reasons why his company has moved to services. In this article, we’ll break down and summarize his webinar and explain our own service offerings.
Shields’ 9 reasons for moving to services are:
Globalization. Brands are becoming more relevant and providing more services to their customers on a broader, global scale.
Patient empowerment. Patients are demanding more services from their healthcare providers, particularly with the more expensive products out there.
Competition. If you’re not innovating, you’d best believe your competition is, and you don’t want to be left behind while your competitors are excelling in both products and the services wrapped around those products.
REMS. Short for risk evaluation and mitigation strategy and required by the FDA, REMS makes sure that pharmaceutical drugs are used safely, patients are not harmed, and physicians are aware of the risks associated with the products.
Unmet needs. Making sure unmet needs haven’t already been satisfied elsewhere by another competitor or government program.
More complex medicines. More complex medicines mean patients need more coaching and handholding. They need more information and services to make sure they’re using the product safely.
Internet/mobile phones. The internet has changed how we access healthcare information and services. We can receive and search this info at a moment’s notice.
Rising consumer expectations. Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are not just competing with other pharma companies in the service arena; they are competing with top-tier companies like Amazon and Apple who have created very high customer expectations.
The need to innovate. Where new technology and customer trends converge is where innovation lies.
Those are the reasons, Shields says, that services are a differentiator for pharmaceutical products. Another reason is that services really can help solve customers’ problems. Consultancies, UX design, and the marketing agencies within healthcare have created an ecosystem that produces much deeper insights and has uncovered a different kind of need than in the past, when companies just did concept research on a print ad.
The scale of the services, though, is the whole reason for Shields’ webinar. It’s important to scale the need into the project before you begin, because you’ll invest the same amount of effort serving people with a rare disease as you would serving people with a very common ailment like diabetes. Whatever you’re working on is going to be important to patients, and you want to reach as many patients and physicians as possible. Building in scale also gives you some valid research statistics. When you see patient communities that are quite large, you can amortize this functionality and the development costs across a larger base. Frankly, you can reuse content and functionality and transfer a lot of the things that you built, such as registration forms, instead of building them again.
The pharmaceutical industry is optimized to discover, manufacture, market, and sell medicines. There is much more effort, staff, and expertise applied to finding new medicines, but you don’t see that a lot on the digital healthcare marketing side. Shields believes that that’s going to change quickly over time, and that the industry will start to see pharma and medical device companies partner with a lot of digital health startups.
Even though the pharmaceutical industry isn’t really designed to be in the service business, companies are able to figure out through research, social listening, and other techniques what customers want and need. When thinking about the next product rollout, companies need to think about specific conditions and patient types globally, and balance that with personalization on the local level. It’s important to be realistic about what it’s going to take to launch a new pharma product globally and locally, and over the course of many years. Services, if done correctly, can help you differentiate your products. They are a great way to carve out a position that your competitors might not be able to catch up to. Most importantly, services can really help a lot of patients, and help a lot of physicians provide better care. Once you develop a systematic approach, you can be well on your way to doing very big things!
It’s important not to wing it and think the pilot phase will automatically turn your product into something big. You need a plan to make that happen. If you need help on ideating and implementing services to take your product “beyond the pill,” TNA is at YOUR service. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call or text us at 708.334.8414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.