Pharma Marketing

Traditional interaction with HCPs beats digital in impact on prescriptions?

Digital marketing loses against traditional interaction with HCPs says Cegedim Strategic Data (CSD). According to the study called Global Promotions Audit, traditional interactions are still much more common and more efficient in impact on prescription behavior.
To be honest, such a result is completely against what we preach at K-message. Digital tactics are supposed to reach wider audience, and properly executed can change behavior efficiently. What is more, we know that efficiency of digital can be measured.
CSD’s study, at the first sight, says otherwise. Why is that?
CSD collects data from physicians in Top 5 EU, USA, Japan, Brazil, Russia, China, Belgium, Canada and Poland. The research is part of syndicated panel, and respondents are physicians from primary and secondary care disciplines.
Obviously, digital maturity of surveyed markets differs, and CSD provides results by country. Even in the most advanced Japan, only 34% of contacts is classified as digital. For USA it is 24%, Poland 20%. Other countries have much lower proportion of digital interaction – Germany 5%, Brazil, Italy and Russia 2%, China just 1%.

Digital contacts by country Cegedim Strategic Data
Digital contacts by country Cegedim Strategic Data

This has to skew results. We do not know the size of the sample of German or Chinese HCPs, but even if it is 100 doctors per country, we cannot say anything relevant about impact of any factor that affected only few respondents in the group.
From CSD data, we can see that in 11 of 13 markets, a predominant channel of digital interaction with HCPs is emailing. This again puts digital in unfavorable light. Does an e-mail from sales rep counts as an interaction with HCP? Can we reasonably expect that e-mail alone will change HCPs decision for prescriptions? We should not, and this brings another surprise.
The most positive impact of digital interaction on prescription is declared in Canada where 55.6% of digital interactions led to positive intention to start or increase prescribing promoted brand. The most skeptical towards the digital were doctors from France, still 17.1% of those declared positive impacts.
CSD says that in every country impact of traditional interaction with HCPs was higher than for digital. But what are we comparing here? It is an email campaign versus face to face and telephone detailing, on-site meeting or event, delivery of printed materials.
Those results mean that HCPs should receive a proper, multi-channel campaign that combines e-mail (automated with marketing automation tools), remote detailing, on-site events supported with webcasts, websites that allow rich interaction and include order form for additional materials in print or in automated detailing.
CSD’s story is that their result shows a need for more of traditional approach. This is simply impossible due to market environment. But it would not be smart either. What we read from the data is that emailing alone can bring 20 to 50% impact on prescription, so pharmaceutical marketing job is to invest more in multichannel approach.

Pharma Marketing

Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences 2014 – are they really cool?

Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences report may be a good predictor of what will be a hot topic in pharma. But what Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences 2014 really do? Is it really worth to jump the bandwagon right away?

Why Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences and similar reports are important?

The mode of action is simple, consultants from Gartner and other agencies are basing on similar rankings with their sales pitches. As Richard Meyer points out, pharma marketing insiders are not the best breed.
If the sales pitch sounds good and has a supporting proof in an expensive research report, your average pharma marketer will swallow it like a hungry pelican. In the effect, any company mentioned by big consultancy has a chance to gain market and its product may be listed as a rising trend for the year to come. Regardless of the value generated for business. While you look into the Gartner Cool Vendors 2014 list, you may guess what it will be about this time.

Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences 2014

Blueprint Clinical

Blueprint Clinical - Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences 2014
Blueprint Clinical

Blueprint Clinical is an U.S.-based monitoring technology company founded in 2012. It’s team has a profound experience in healthcare, and especially in clinical trials. Courtney McBean, CEO of Blueprint Clinical, has over 15 years of experience in research and medical devices business.
The main product of Blueprint Clinical is web-based product called Blueprint Compass for risk-based statistical monitoring of the study performance. It provides real-time monitoring of site performance, focusing on metrics critical for the study and with possibility to assign targeted actions to relevant performance indicators.
R&D and Clinical Research is obviously the huge chunk of pharma spending, and risk-based monitoring as such is required by FDA.  Does Blueprint Clinical answers the need for that well, it is hard to assess. So far the company provides its service together with consulting service, which means that it is rather customized offer than a mature, standard service.

Liquid Grids

Liquid Grids - Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences 2014
Liquid Grids

This one is, to be honest, a very surprising choice. Liquid Grids, a Gartner Cool Vendor in Life Sciences 2014 is PaaS solution for social media monitoring and engagement (well, they call it a “precision marketing”). Started in 2010, Liquid Grids positions itself as dedicated to health care industry. It claims that it offers “direct to patient” marketing. The problem is that from the global perspective it means a clear no go.
Pharmaceutical marketing directly to consumer is allowed only in specific markets, specifically the United States and New Zealand. What is more, from European perspective any attempt to obtain personal data and target communication to the patient without direct consent is clearly illegal.
It may be a cool vendor for Gartner, but for any pharma marketer outside of U.S. working with Liquid Grids may end with a very cold shower from your legal team (or even worse from the regulatory agency). Let us be clear, for pharma digital marketers it is extremely hard to implement even social media monitoring for product related keywords, as there is a constant awareness of drug safety obligations.


Ontoforce is one of the big data vendors. Founded in 2011 company from Belgium as its main product offers a semantic search engine disQover.
Clearly, making the tons of data we have gathered in pharma searchable in a contextual way that allows discovery of unknown connections is something that may change the paradigm of research. While we are sceptical about replacing scientific method with brute force statistics on big amounts of data, there is a potential there to find new insights. On the other hand, even if Ontoforce is really Cool Vendor, the competition in this field is very strong



Pitcher is another surprising choice. eDetailing is obviously a big trend, but Pitcher is not the only one in its field. We can easily name strong contenders (or even leaders) with similar feature set. Veeva, Agnitio, Showpad and Cegedim are all offering the same service as Pitcher. We love disruptive startup companies entering digital marketing space in healthcare, but Pitcher has yet to prove its coolness.

Scigilian Software

Scigilian Software - Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences 2014
Scigilian Software – Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences 2014

Scigilian is a cloud-based software platform for managing logistics of Pharma R&D. At K-message we are specialized in digital marketing, and we cannot assess this tool capability, but the sales pitch sounds very well. Normally we could build an ERP or LIMS system for such purpose, but the solution would never be ideal. ERPs are too complex and hardly customizable, and LIMS would not cope with the complexity. The solution is to build your own software, or… ask Scigilian. Being outside of the lab, we really like the idea.
As you may see not all of the Gartner Cool Vendors in Life Sciences 2014 are cool enough to make us excited. The trends are clear, however. In pharma marketing the focus is on e-detailing, CLM and Social Media Management. In R&D hot topics are big data, clinical research support and logistics for labs.
Be prepared, consultants are coming!