28 Oct 2015

The pharmaceutical sector needs just one shot in the arm – customer experience

RxCustomer Experience!Yesterday I spoke of the healthcare sector and customer experience. Closely related to that industry is the pharmaceutical industry – the manufacturers of drugs, the drivers of clinical trials and of course the harbingers of hope with some life-saving or life-changing drugs.

For this sector the obvious customer is the doctor. Nattily dressed sales representatives with leather briefcases line up outside a doctors cabin waiting to meet him and asking him to recommend the newest drug in the their portfolio. Often this is another me-too drug and often this is recommended (pardon my candor) by the doctor largely due to relationship building either with the sales representative or the pharmaceutical industry itself.

I know a lot of large pharmaceutical organizations have woken up to this fact, but some are still lagging behind. Today the doctor is not the only one you sell to, you have to talk to the patient as well.

In early days, we created what we called patient education material. These were left in abundance at the doctor’s clinic and studiously ignored by patients. Those times have changed. With more access to information, the patient is now looking at vetting the information that he is getting from various sources – some of it conflicting.

This is the moment that the pharmaceutical industry needs to step in. It’s not enough for the doctor to prescribe the drug, it warrant that the patient understand the diagnosis, understand the prognosis and also the importance of compliance. The success that comes of this works three ways – for the doctor, the patient and also for the pharmaceutical company.

Unfortunately this may not be as easy to measure as the number of prescriptions written by a particular doctor. The goodwill generated for both the manufacturer and the doctor is a bit of a grey area and undocumented but the impact is felt slowly but surely.

So what does this have to do with Customer Experience?

It is important for any patient to have access to information. For the pharmaceutical organization, creating advocacy groups, talk shows, more information on a website and interactive platforms is a great way to connect with the customer. For the patient in a hospital more information on post-operative care would help immensely. For the doctor additional reliable information coming from a trusted source could mean better patient outcomes in post-operative care.

It all comes down to two simple remedies – more information for the patient and more support for the doctor – and that could be an effective shot in the arm for the pharmaceutical industry.

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