Our panel of experts:
Head of Sales & Marketing, USA (Medical & Surgery)
Geistlich Pharma AG
Global Group Director Marketing & Latin America
Vice President, Vault Med Device Suite
Global Head of Data Consumerization
Marketing teams today are not what they were five years ago, and probably not what they’ll be five years from now. There is less focus on product, and more on evidence and outcomes. There is increasing pressure to adopt and integrate digital data and solutions, and break down silos so data is more easily shared. There are more complex global regulatory guidelines to adapt to. Above all, there is the recognition that the whole industry, from the scientists and engineers who develop product, through to the sales and marketing teams, to the HCPs and, most importantly, the patients, are all part of a communications continuum that must be streamlined and made more efficient. Here with some insight into all that are our experts for this issue.
CHAPMAN RICHARDSON: This is all about managing the personal journeys of our patients. We all see the increasing investment in patient services programs across the industry and there is a ton of added human-power that comes with that. But manual interventions will never scale to cover patient segments with a population of “1”. To help each individual deal with their circumstances, we need real-time feedback from an ecosystem comprising sensors, apps and EHR. The barriers here are data privacy, software-as-a-medical-device (SAMD), disconnected EMRs, and of course the reimbursement model that accompanies it all. Building the right integrated team to cover all these components will be the only way to deliver success in the future for our patients. This is not a quick win with just the release of an app, but rather an evolutionary (or revolutionary) process that will need to help write new regulations, define new commercial models, and perhaps think of new ways to give data ownership back to the patient so they can connect the dots within their care network.
SETH GOLDENBERG: Clinical trial design has evolved to allow companies capture and mine patient-specific outcomes. Patient preference is increasingly an endpoint in trials, which was not traditionally the case. Normally, a patient preference is not an endpoint in a trial. With the rise of patient advocacy groups, this is becoming more prevalent. Additionally, patient preference is correlated with adherence; when a patient is comfortable with a product and trusts the product, they will continue to use it, which is another marketable opportunity. Your product may have equivalent results, but if you have a stronger patient preference you have a better likelihood to increase market access.
How have marketing people been involved in enhancing the doctor/patient conversation, and assisting HCPs in educating patients, given the limited time they can devote to each person?
CHRISTIE BLAKELY: We continually work to produce and disseminate engaging and educational content for patients and their caregivers, so that the physician can spend more time on their care and less time on educating the patient. For example, we provide a brochure for the patients (and their caregivers) that explains the product and their disease state in layman’s terms, and then we direct them to our website where we are able to provide a broader array of content, videos and testimonials. It is our goal to put the patient at ease (to the best of our ability) so that they can focus on their treatment and being compliant with physician instructions. There is no question that high patient compliance with treatment protocols increases the likelihood of healing and/or positive patient outcomes. It is also important for us to align our patient education content with the most appropriate search words that are used by patients and caregivers so that we appear in highly relevant search results. We track and modify our strategies based on thorough analytics so that we can adjust our SEO framework to best match what the patients are searching. This is an iterative and highly collaborative process between us and our website management company so that we are highly aligned relative to our strategies as compared to expected outcomes.
RYAN HARTMAN: In certain segments of our business, we have created content for physicians that enables them to educate their patients more easily. Many companies still devote much of their resources towards physician education.
SETH GOLDENBERG: Marketing teams have evolved to become a more trusted and educational resource for their doctors. Bringing content and data to support the device is expected, and the marketing team is expected to educate the doctor on patient preferences and outcomes, not just on the device’s features. They focus not just on the overall clinical output, but layer in how to communicate to the patient about this product. The conversation has changed from device provider to doctor, educating the physicians to make them advocates for your product.
What are the current and upcoming regulatory hurdles facing marketing, both here in the U.S. and in the EU?
RYAN HARTMAN: The EU MDR is a big challenge for all companies right now. Plenty of resources being dedicated towards being compliant with it.
SETH GOLDENBERG: The Sunshine Act was the biggest regulatory change for marketing. The expansion and extension of these requirements based on this regulation continues today. Transparency, access, and how you demonstrate that what you’re sharing with patients has gone through the right approval processes. Now that the Sunshine Act has landed, they will continue to build on this foundation. This puts a burden on marketing and sales to ensure compliance. Eudamed is a publicly-accessible database that will be used to monitor the safety and performance of devices under the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) and the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Regulation (IVDR)
CHRISTIE BLAKELY: No question the biggest regulatory hurdles in the EU are the changes from the MDD to the MDR. Companies now have a very different set of regulations to conform to, and I believe we will see many product discontinued in the EU because it is too costly or too time consuming to comply with the new MDR. I believe we will see more products gaining clearance in the US market first with clinical studies designed to also meet the requirements of the MDR. If conducted correctly, companies could be able to leverage data from a single clinical study for both US and EU registration or post-market surveillance requirements.
CHAPMAN RICHARDSON: My biased perspective, being the head of data governance at Sanofi, is that the spread of data privacy regulations around the world are not just restricting what we can do with personal data, but are also creating a level of fear in the industry that may stop teams from even trying new solutions because of the new risk they bring. Examples like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California show us that people, including patients and HCPs, are upset about how their personal data is being handled and want more accountability and recourse in the event their data is used outside of their direct consent. Ensuring we have the proper data governance in place to clearly understand the personal data we capture and the respective consent will be the only way we will gain the confidence to make better marketing decisions at a faster pace. Without data governance bringing together data owners, data managers, IT, data privacy, security, legal and other contributors, the personal data necessary for targeted marketing will not be captured because of the inherent risk. Even if the data is captured, then the usage will be limited because our teams will go into a death spiral, asking whether or not we can act on that data. Having a clear and common understanding on both the customer side and on our side will be the only way to successfully move forward.
Is AI being implemented in any practical way at your organization to enhance your marketing efforts? If not, why and what is needed yet to make AI a reality in commercial life sciences?
SETH GOLDENBERG: Demand for AI has been significant in life sciences, as companies are capturing increasing volumes of data that they are looking to glean insights from. The challenge for companies is getting the data from disparate sources into an environment where AI tools can then be used. Numerous integrations from other sources need to be done and these data also need to be of high quality to get good results (the proverbial garbage in/garbage out). Once the data is cleaned and organized AI tools can then be used to get new insights from these large data sets. These insights can inform not only marketing, but also R&D giving insights into continued patient/HCP challenges.
CHAPMAN RICHARDSON: I’ve seen advanced analytics and data science be applied to marketing across many different channels. The insights we uncover help inform our global and local teams on what messages to deliver to which customer segments at the right time and on the right channel. This is executed via applied business rules in our marketing automation systems to act in real-time based on customer behavior (or absence thereof), shifts in market dynamics, or other environmental changes. But I see an untapped area here.
One of the key supporting functional areas for marketing is compliance. All other functions are automating with machine learning and robotics. But with compliance, it is still a people-power function with qualitative spot-checks done at a point in time. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis in realtime is possible and could allow for more creative marketing solutions if the confidence is there to ensure we can monitor these with the associated compliance. This is a subject area where I’m starting to see growth and could be a great example where the rising AI tide raises all ships.
CHRISTIE BLAKELY: We are utilizing augmented reality technologies in very exciting ways. Most recently, they have introduced the ability to place your smart phone over a static image in a brochure (or on any printed piece for that matter) and with the right app loaded onto your phone, a video begins playing at the sight of the static image. This is a very powerful approach to enhancing static content in printed pieces with the broader functionality of digital content, including video. We will be leveraging this technology for various targeted users, including physicians, patients, and other stakeholders/decision-makers in ways that just a few years ago were not available to marketeers.
RYAN HARTMAN: I haven’t seen AI have a dramatic impact on marketing yet. I have seen it begin to move into physician practice. Still a long way to go but some day, having a computer-driven algorithm assist you in diagnosis of a disease will be real.
How has the growing focus on precision medicines changed your approach to marketing strategy? For example, are you seeing an increased effort to bring medical affairs and marketing/sales together to work more collaboratively in an effort to provide greater scientific education?
CHRISTIE BLAKELY: There is no question that scientific education is a key cornerstone in driving product adoption. Given all of the new metrics by which physicians are measured, they are demanding to understand the subtle nuances of your product or technology and, more importantly, how those differences can drive improved patient outcomes. No longer can marketeers rely on features and benefits. Now they must build in the scientific evidence to support the claims. Increasingly, this means that medical, clinical and scientific affairs leaders must be a part of the team early on and require a seat at the table when developing go to market strategies. If these key elements are overlooked early in the strategy development process, the company can spend precious time after product launch building their war chest of data to support the precise technologies that are being placed into the market. As a marketing leader, I strongly recommend a close relationship with scientific education to partner in the development of content for the sales organization so that the sales representatives can confidently target, message and position the product to physicians. In addition, leveraging the medical, clinical and scientific functions in your organization to develop educational programs which include content that is relevant to and demanded by targeted physicians is smart business, and an optimal way to improve product adoption.
SETH GOLDENBERG: Yes, there is certainly a trend to train sales teams in patient preferences and experiences. More and more sales teams are becoming or including MSLs (medical science liaisons). This is driving the adoption of more unified systems where commercial and R&D can access all the information they need in one place. This single source of truth for patient preference data and documentation increases visibility, consistency, and collaboration.
Most of the major life sciences companies have introduced the position of “chief digital officer” in the last year. And Deloitte recently assessed the digital maturity of biopharma companies based on a survey conducted with the MIT Sloan Management Review and found that about 25% of biopharma executives are in the early stages of their digital journey and 55% are developing their digital capabilities. Only 20% of respondents say their companies are digitally mature. How has or how will digital transformation at your organization change your marketing approach? What communications channels will rise to the forefront?
CHAPMAN RICHARDSON: Sanofi, as with many pharma companies, has invested significantly in digital as presented in our quarterly reports. The digital “plumbing” is there in most markets and now it needs to be taken advantage of in an integrated fashion. Execution in one channel is crawling. Execution across channels in an orchestrated fashion is walking. Do this in an automated way, analyzing feedback, informing the model and improving — now you are running. This is what most consumer goods companies do today and this is where our industry must go. I think this is quite obvious, but why is it so hard? You can list many barriers but in my experience, scale is the biggest one. Any brand or market can do this, but can they do it everywhere and consistently? So driving this as a top-down strategy and embedding digital maturity measures in brand plans will make this happen. Just know that the first attempt (and perhaps even second) will not stick. Staying power will be crucial.
SETH GOLDENBERG: We are supporting the evolving role of a marketer to engage online and deliver a personalized and custom experience for the sales journey. The two-way conversation between sales and their prospects is critical for success. Education, training, and ongoing feedback in med device sales will ensure adoption and market access. There are studies that show that if a doctor doesn’t use a device within the first 30 days of purchasing, they never will use it at all. This puts an increased pressure on sales to ensure there is an ongoing dialogue on the value and patient preference of the product.
Head of Sales & Marketing, USA (Medical & Surgery)
Geistlich Pharma AG
Geistlich, Christie spent several years as President of Agility Performance Group, where she consulted with companies across the medical device sector on global commercialization strategies, business development, new technology assessment, customer loyalty and engagement, medical education, healthcare compliance and sales training. She has also held positions as VP Marketing, Sports Medicine and Surgical Specialties, VP Customer Relations and Health Care Compliance, and VP Sports Medicine Marketing at RTI Surgical; Customer Experience Management at Zimmer; Director, Hip Marketing at Exactech; and Senior Product Manager at Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics.
GEISTLICH PHARMA is specialized in biomaterials for the regeneration of bone, cartilage and tissue, and develops and manufactures medical devices and pharmaceuticals with the goal of giving patients a better quality of life. Their products are marketed via more than 60 distribution partners worldwide as well as ten affiliates: UK, Germany, Italy, France and China, Brazil, South Korea, North America, Australia and India. The company has a global workforce of around 500. With the pioneering products Geistlich Bio-Oss® and Geistlich Bio-Gide®, the company has decisively shaped the market for regenerative biomaterials for decades.
Global Head of Data Consumerization
Chapman is the Global Head of Data Consumerization at Sanofi and is all about extracting value from enterprise data assets. His current responsibilities include defining the overall EIM Strategy for Sanofi with strategic imperatives around Master Data and Metadata Management, Data Quality, and Data Governance with an emphasis on customer/patient engagement. Prior to joining Sanofi, Chapman was at Novartis for over 10 years, mostly serving in global transformational roles in the areas of CRM, Digital Marketing, and Patient Services. He most recently translated his digital engagement experiences into value for personalized medicine in the revolutionary CAR-T therapeutic space. He began his career in consulting with Accenture, IQVIA, and CapGemini where he leveraged design thinking to bring innovation to life for his clients.
SANOFI in the United States employs more than 14,000 professionals. Sanofi US comprises five business units that focus on human vaccines, rare diseases, multiple sclerosis, oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular solutions, consumer healthcare, established prescription products and generics. Worldwide, more than 100,000 people at Sanofi in more than 100 countries are dedicated to making a difference in patients’ daily lives, wherever they live, and enabling them to enjoy a healthier life.
Vice President, Vault Med Device Suite
Seth is responsible for the customer engagement, market adoption, and product development strategy in the medical device industry for Veeva Vault. Prior to his position there, he was a principal of 2G Consulting; Executive Director of Scientific Services and Strategy at Golin; Director of Product Development Strategy and Global Regulatory Strategy at NAMSA, the premier global medical research organization; President of Asia Pacific Bio Intelligence, a pharma, medical device and healthcare consulting company; and a regulatory chemist at the FDA
VEEVA’S industry cloud solutions provide data, software, services and an extensive ecosystem of partners to support critical functions for healthcare companies, from R&D through commercial. Veeva helps companies of all sizes bring products to market faster and more efficiently, and maintain compliance.
Global Group Director Marketing & Latin Americaa
At Boston Scientific, Ryan is responsible for Imaging, Infection Prevention, Services & Solutions, Strategic Planning, Global Integrated Communications, Ambulatory Surgery Channel, and LATAM Marketing. He has also been Global Director of Marketing for Endoscopy, Global Group Marketing Manager for Pancreatico Biliary, National Market Development Manager, Market Development Manager and Regional Sales Manager for seven
BOSTON SCIENTIFIC has over 13,000 life-changing products and 29,000 employees at 33 offices around the world, with commercial representation in 125+ countries, affecting the lives of more than 25 million patients. It has shown leadership in endoscopy, interventional cardiology, neuromodulation, peripheral interventions, rhythm management, urology and pelvic health.