Delivering Medical Affairs Value Through Omnichannel Orchestration

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Article

Learnings from a roundtable discussion with Medical Affairs leadership from 11 pharma companies

Dr. Deepak Patil, Senior Director of Medical Strategy, Aktana

Dr. Deepak Patil, Senior Director of Medical Strategy, Aktana

Dr. Wendy Kampman, VP and Head of Medical Communications, Regeneron

Dr. Wendy Kampman, VP and Head of Medical Communications, Regeneron

As the demand for innovative therapies continues to rise, the need for a practical and comprehensive approach to scientific knowledge dissemination has never been more critical. Enter omnichannel orchestration—a strategic paradigm that promises to revolutionize how pharmaceutical companies engage with stakeholders. Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies have relied on a fragmented approach to communication, often struggling to connect conversations across R&D, medical affairs, and brand and commercial teams. However, deploying omnichannel approaches to stakeholder management is changing the game, offering a seamless and integrated framework that allows executives to deliver value across multiple channels with precision and efficiency.

At its core, omnichannel orchestration strategically integrates various communication channels, such as digital platforms, face-to-face interactions, and virtual engagements. This approach ensures a consistent and personalized experience for stakeholders, fostering stronger relationships and facilitating a deeper understanding of the therapeutic landscape.

As integral components of pharmaceutical engagement strategies, medical communication teams are the frontline in disseminating scientific knowledge. The challenge lies in optimizing this process, ensuring seamless conversations across multiple channels, and avoiding redundancy. In response to these demands, the industry has witnessed a significant surge in resources dedicated to delivering omnichannel engagement for medical affairs teams.

During the 2023 Aktana Innovation Xchange (AIX), leaders from 11 global pharmaceutical companies engaged in a roundtable discussion exploring how to deliver medical affairs value through omnichannel orchestration. The session was co-moderated by two esteemed experts: Dr. Wendy Kampman, Head of Global Medical Communications at Regeneron, and Dr. Tom Yang, Principal at Monitor Deloitte.

This article captures the key themes and insights shared during this pivotal gathering of Pharma leaders seeking to build a common understanding around the topic of “Collaborating to Enhance Medical Affairs-driven Value Across All Channels.”

Setting the stage: omnichannel orchestration goals in medical affairs

In Medical Affairs, where bi-directional information exchange is paramount, the potential for omnichannel orchestration to enhance scientific exchange is particularly promising. From virtual advisory boards to interactive educational webinars, pharmaceutical executives can leverage various channels to deliver timely and relevant information, fostering collaborative dialogues.

Implementing omnichannel orchestration might seem like a colossal task, with the possibility of losing the human element in communication. However, drawing from successful deployments, Dr. Yang suggests a programmatic approach. Establishing organization-wide principles for deploying channels, timing, and methods provides a guiding framework for tailoring an omnichannel strategy for each therapy area and brand. The key is to track project-specific metrics to ensure the efficacy of strategies.

As an example of success with this approach, Dr. Kampman shared that Regeneron's Global Medical Communications Operating Model emphasizes the integration of omnichannel strategy with the organization’s overarching operational model.

Building a cross-functional powerhouse

Breaking down silos between commercial and medical affairs teams is imperative for successful omnichannel engagement. Identifying key commercial stakeholders involved in the same physician interactions is fundamental. There was unanimous consensus among the roundtable about the essential role of legal and compliance team members in steering committees. Including these partners—legal, compliance, and commercial representatives—is key to mitigating downstream challenges in implementing omnichannel medical affairs strategies. Breaking down silos ensures that information flows seamlessly across teams, providing visibility into the impact of engagement strategies.

Data and technology requirements: navigating the nuances

Perfect data is a myth and recognizing the nuances of engaging with physicians across specialties and geographies is crucial. While the US enjoys rich physician-centric data, global markets often lack the same robustness, necessitating reliance on locally collected data. Information about a physician’s activities in scientific congresses, publications, and clinical trials, aggregated from the public domain, often guides a medical affairs team’s touch points along a physician’s journey.

CRM systems emerge as vital repositories of information about a physician's preferences, enabling hyper-personalization of experiences. Marketing automation tools like SalesForce Marketing Cloud, Adobe Experience Cloud, and others empower omnichannel orchestration managers to track physician progress along the knowledge exchange journey, validating or disproving hypotheses crafted during strategy creation.

However, the successful implementation of omnichannel orchestration requires a strategic mindset and a commitment to technology integration. Pharmaceutical executives must invest in the interoperability of tools and enable knowledge exchange within the organization to unlock the full potential of this transformative approach.

Also, it should be noted that omnichannel orchestration enables real-time adaptability, allowing pharmaceutical companies to respond promptly to conference discussions, market dynamics, regulatory changes, and emerging scientific evidence. This flexibility is significant in a landscape where staying ahead of the curve is synonymous with success.

Scalability as a design principle

Omnichannel orchestration is daunting – the entire roundtable universally agreed that starting small and designing technical architecture with scalability in mind is the way to go. Starting small allows better risk mitigation and knowledge sharing and drives faster iterations. Agility is particularly important for adapting to changing requirements, incorporating user feedback, and making necessary adjustments promptly. It fosters a culture of continuous improvement and responsiveness, ensuring that the technology aligns closely with evolving needs.

Designing technical architecture with scalability in mind is akin to planting a tree with the foresight of its future growth. Anticipating and accommodating future expansion and increased demand from the outset ensures that the system can seamlessly grow to meet evolving requirements. But scalability is not just about handling increased load; it is also about doing so cost-effectively. Systems designed to scale efficiently can accommodate growth without proportionally growing costs. This becomes particularly relevant as projects move from the proof-of-concept phase to widespread adoption across the organization. In particular, adopting modular design, microservice architecture, and cloud-native technologies are core components for a scalable technical architecture to support omnichannel strategies.

Continuous improvement: tracking, iterating, and adapting

Continuous assessment ensures that the omnichannel system remains credible from a physician's perspective. It is important to underscore the need for iterative refinement while aligning strategies with evolving goals and industry dynamics. Feedback from cross-functional teams, encompassing commercial, IT, medical affairs, brand, and marketing leadership, ensures the ongoing success of omnichannel strategies. This iterative process, driven by the objectives of each team aligned with the organizational goals, enables continuous refinement to meet evolving needs.

Dr. Kampman’s case in point: homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH) insight collection and analysis at Regeneron

As a proof-of-concept initiative, we implemented an omnichannel approach aimed at improving the timely diagnosis of a rare disease called HOFH, which is characterized by elevated LDL levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued guidelines in 2012 regarding LDL level testing in children; however, we noticed that these guidelines were not consistently followed. To investigate this further, we utilized real-world data to test our hypothesis and discovered specific regions within the United States where the guidelines were rarely applied, as well as identified the healthcare practitioners who did not adhere to the guidelines. To address this issue, we utilized a data warehouse engine that integrated data on healthcare practitioners, their learning preferences, and behaviors. This allowed us to develop a geo targeted educational campaign that delivered personalized and resonating content to the relevant healthcare practitioners. Moving forward, we plan to assess the impact of our educational campaign using real-world data and readjust our educational methods based on predefined metrics.

Tracking success and impact

Tracking the success of omnichannel engagement campaigns in the pharmaceutical industry requires a strategic blend of meaningful metrics, real-world data analysis, and technological prowess. The roundtable concurred that tracking success and demonstrating impact are significant challenges in sustaining investment in omnichannel orchestration. Traditional metrics like the number of unique interactions, clicks, and follow-up actions are foundational in tracking campaign success. However, these metrics are not designed to capture the full impact of a medical affairs omnichannel engagement strategy.

Dr. Kampman highlighted the need for more meaningful metrics aligned with medical affairs, such as greater adherence to clinical guidelines, increased screening and testing, and improved patient outcomes. Leveraging real-world data, including ER and claims data, would provide a more accurate impact measurement.

Conclusion

As the industry navigates the complexities of a rapidly changing healthcare landscape, pharmaceutical executives have a unique opportunity to redefine how the value of medical affairs is delivered. By embracing omnichannel orchestration, they can create a future where communication is informative and resonant, engagement is both transactional and relational, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes and a more robust, resilient pharmaceutical ecosystem.

Dr. Deepak Patil, Senior Director of Medical Strategy, Aktana. Dr. Wendy Kampman, VP and Head of Medical Communications, Regeneron

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