Future of Work — Building the new commercial operating model — in Healthcare and Biopharma

The adoption of advanced solutions of the future of work model, across all 4 elements can result in: (1) an im­provement of 5–6 percent in field force pro­ductivity, (2) with a 4–5 percent optimization in S&M costs.

KEY MESSAGES

The problem

  • Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, traditional channels of interaction between patients, prescribers, healthcare companies and pharmacies have been disrupted, as depicted in Exh.1

The impact of Covid-19

  • With no imminent respite, innovative and immediate measures have been taken across the eco-system to combat these new chal­lenges.
  • The results of a BCG survey of 200 physicians across specialties in metro and tier 1 cities indicate that Physicians and Patients have moved online.
  • Healthcare companies, meanwhile, have focused on supporting prescribers and pa­tients in new ways, while safeguarding em­ployees and upskilling them to operate in a changing environment.

The need

  • While healthcare companies have successful­ly identified and responded to the immedi­ate needs, they recognize the need to rethink and redesign their commercial operating model for the future.

The questions

This article provides BCG’s view on the 4 key questions that com­panies need to answer in order to design their future commercial operating model.

  • What are the elements that will ensure prescriber pull for digital engagement?
  • How should the new sales call be designed?
  • How should companies enhance their direct connect with patients?
  • What will the commercial organization of the future look like?

BGG’s Vision

  • The journey towards “Future of Work” is defined through a maturity model across the elements of digital en­gagement platforms, new sales call, direct patient connect and commercial organiza­tion of the future. A summary view has been depicted in Exhibit 8 (above).
  • Healthcare companies can view the above as a chessboard and decide where they want to play basis their strategy, prescriber preferences and investment willingness. For each choice, there are implications on the firm’s commercial operating model, with focus required on building new capa­bilities.

The results

Benefits will be visible through increased field force productivity and optimization of sales and marketing costs. Adoption of Lev­el 4 across elements can result in:

  • an im­provement of 5–6 percent in field force pro­ductivity,
  • with a 4–5 percent optimization in S&M costs.

INTRODUCTION

The healthcare eco-system today is navigating unchartered territory with COVID-19 impacting all major stakehold­ers.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, traditional channels of interaction between patients, prescribers, healthcare companies and pharmacies have been disrupted, as depicted in Exhibit 1.

With no imminent respite, innovative and immediate measures have been taken across the eco-system to combat these new chal­lenges.

The results of a BCG survey of 200 physicians across specialties in metro and tier 1 cities indicate that:

  • 84 percent respon­dents have moved to teleconsultations during the lockdown.
  • This emerging trend has also benefited existing teleconsultation platforms — such as Practo, Mfine and Ly­brate.
  • Patients too have moved online, with leading e-pharmacies witnessing a 100–200 percent growth in orders since the lockdown.

Healthcare companies, meanwhile, have focused on supporting prescribers and pa­tients in new ways, while safeguarding em­ployees and upskilling them to operate in a changing environment.

  • Results from the physician survey indicate that 98 percent prescribers spent time on digital mediums such as webinars organized by leading healthcare companies.
  • Additionally, all pre­scribers that participated in our survey were contacted through phone / video by multiple healthcare companies.
  • Firms have also embraced the digital way of executing internal processes and are focused on capa­bility building of their field force.

While healthcare companies have successful­ly identified and responded to the immedi­ate needs, they recognize the need to rethink and redesign their commercial operating model for the future.

This article provides BCG’s view on the 4 key questions that com­panies need to answer in order to design their future commercial operating model.

  • What are the elements that will ensure prescriber pull for digital engagement?
  • How should the new sales call be designed?
  • How should companies enhance their direct connect with patients?
  • What will the commercial organization of the future look like?

DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT PLATFORMS

According to our physician survey:

  • 61 per­cent prescribers found the various digital engagements conducted by healthcare companies during lockdown to be effective, and
  • 70 percent indicated that they would like to continue the same going forward.
  • 64 percent of this set intends to spend 30 mins-2 hours per day on these platforms.

With restricted access becoming the new normal, it is imperative for healthcare com­panies to engage with prescribers through digital avenues. As displayed in Exhibit 2, apart from scientific webinars, prescribers find multiple other mediums effective for engagement. These include online group dis­cussions, patient case studies, sessions with KOLs (Key opinion leaders) etc.

Companies can explore these mediums going forward. However, in order to make the engagement effective and value accretive it is imperative that:

  • across each medium, companies devel­op high quality and differentiated content.
  • Additionally, one should ensure that plat­forms are both easy to use and access.

Healthcare companies, in our view, can po­tentially explore four different models as they pursue a sustainable digital engage­ment channel with prescribers.

  • They can continue with the current model of curated webinars and e-mail marketing,
  • or progress to a level which involves online certifica­tions from reputed associations. Awarding of credit hours through these certifications / courses can be explored, thereby increas­ing user loyalty.
  • Additionally, companies can explore engaging with prescribers through an integrated patient consultation platform. These platforms should aim to alleviate key issues faced by prescribers in diagnosing accurately and providing pre­scriptions to patients.
  • The most compre­hensive choice for companies is to offer prescribers a versatile platform offering va­riety of content and engagement across multiple channels (webinars, online CMEs, online group discussions etc.), something that can be referred to as NETFLIX for the Rxer (Exhibit 3).

There are certain implications for a firm across each choice / level of engagement.

  • To set up and run NETFLIX for the Rxer, companies will first need to develop part­nerships for content, which will require fre­quent refreshes.
  • Firms will also need to en­able personalized recommendations for prescribers basis platform usage to ensure good customer experience.

NEW SALES CALL

As mentioned earlier, sales teams have pro­actively maintained their relationships with prescribers through whatsapp / phone calls. Prescriber feedback on this mode of engagement, however, has been mixed (Ex­hibit 4).

According to our survey, 50 percent prescribers (both GP / CP and special­ists) currently don’t find this form of detailing effective.

The major issues cited included:

  • poor field force communication during digital calls
  • higher duration of phone calls and
  • no scheduled time being set for digital calls.

However, interestingly, 60 percent prescribers are likely to contin­ue with virtual interactions.

In our view, it is imperative for firms to ef­fectively adopt this model considering that the prevailing environment is unlikely to change in the near-term.

  • ~68 percent pre­scribers are likely to curtail field force vis­its post the lockdown, with a majority re­stricting visits to once a month — a sharp decline from a frequency of 2 or more times in a month pre-COVID.
  • Healthcare companies will now need to complement their physical reach models with virtual in­teractions to ensure that similar levels of engagement are maintained.

Companies can move from their current model of detailing via whatsapp / phone calls to centralized push messaging — com­prising consistent, repeated delivery of company / brand and scientific informa­tion.

Alternatively, companies can progress to detailing via video conference — similar to an in-person call. An advanced level would be the adoption of an e-detailing platform. These platforms allow medical representatives to stream brand related content on a video call while being visible on the video link to respond to any ques­tions. This can be executed at a time con­venient to the physician. This has been de­picted in Exhibit 5.

Achieving success in e-detailing will require differentiated content and delivery com­pared to in-person detailing.

  • Scientific con­tent interspersed with brand details can in­crease engagement.
  • Training of field force on effective communication through digital channels will ensure consistent delivery and messaging.

Incorporation of this platform would re­quire healthcare companies to develop partnerships and generate content specific to this medium, customized at a prescriber level. Once initial pilots have been com­pleted, firms would need to embed these calls into the sales cycle, across planning, execution, review and coaching.

DIRECT PATIENT CONNECT

The rise of e-pharmacies and teleconsulta­tions during COVID-19 has made it easier for healthcare companies to access patient pools. In our view, companies can engage directly with patients by enabling patient services for existing patients or developing therapy shaping initiatives for new patients.

Enabling patient services should be designed keeping in mind key patient pain points across treatment and adherence of therapy. Therapy shaping initiatives, on the other hand, are devised to drive mass scale aware­ness and improvements in diagnosis rate thereby facilitating access to new patients. Exhibit 6 below details the same for COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

To become a leader in therapy shaping, the selection of therapy plays a very important role. Healthcare companies that enjoy a leadership position in TAs (therapy areas) should prioritize diseases that have a low diagnosis rate. A separate marketing team may be established for this purpose.

COMMERCIAL ORG OF THE FUTURE

In our view, adoption of digital mediums by healthcare companies in internal meet­ings and reviews can be sustained even post the lockdown. In addition to current changes, firms can leverage digital to en­hance the effectiveness of managers by us­ing tools such as automated root cause analysis, execution alerts etc. Further, healthcare companies can develop a differ­entiated coverage model by doctor seg­ment and contribution i.e. KOLs, frequent prescribers and erratic / non prescribers (Exhibit 7).

Adoption of such a coverage model will free up time available with the field force. This can be utilized to increase coverage amongst the non-prescribing doctors and strengthen relationships with channel partners.

At the same time, adoption will require an augmentation of current capabilities.

  • Com­panies will need to focus on creating a digi­tal COE (centre of excellence) that refresh­es content.
  • Apart from this, lead roles across E-SFE and digital marketing will need to be created.
  • Firms can also consider establishing a team of medical liaisons to coordinate with partners and strengthen relationships with KOLs.
  • Investments will need to be made in data and analytics, with initiatives towards data security and data management to protect privacy of all stakeholders as usage expands.

SUMMARY

The journey towards “Future of Work” is defined through a maturity model across the elements of digital en­gagement platforms, new sales call, direct patient connect and commercial organiza­tion of the future. A summary view has been depicted in Exhibit 8.

Healthcare companies can view the above as a chessboard and decide where they want to play basis their strategy, prescriber preferences and investment willingness. For each choice, there are implications on the firm’s commercial operating model, with focus required on building new capa­bilities.

Benefits will be visible through increased field force productivity and optimization of sales and marketing costs. Adoption of Lev­el 4 across elements can result in:

  • an im­provement of 5–6 percent in field force pro­ductivity,
  • with a 4–5 percent optimization in S&M costs.

About the Authors

Rahul Guha is a Managing Director and Partner at BCG, based at the Firm’s Mumbai office. He leads the healthcare practice in India.

Abhinav Verma is a Principal in the healthcare practice in India, based in Mumbai.

Natasha Prakash is a consultant in BCG’s New Delhi office.

Acknowledgements

The authors thank IPA Executive Council and all member companies for their valuable contributions. The authors thank Kanika Sanghi and Sidharth Kapil, from BCG’s Centre for Consumer Insight (CCI) for sup­porting design and execution of the physician survey. The authors thank Abhik Chatterjee, Amrita Chang and Shruti Sadani from the Platinion team for design of digital engagement and e-detailing prototypes. Jamshed Daruwalla, Pradeep Hire and Ratna Soni are also thanked for their support in the editing and formatting of the article.

Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) represents 24 research based national pharmaceutical companies. Collectively, IPA companies account for over 85 percent of the private sector investment in pharmaceuti­cal research and development. They contribute more than 80 percent of the country’s exports of drugs and pharmaceuticals and service over 57 percent of the domestic market. For more details please refer www.ipa-india.org

© Boston Consulting Group 2020. All rights reserved. 5/20

This is a reprint version of:

Future of Work — Building the new commercial operating model
By Rahul Guha, Abhinav Verma and Natasha Prakash (May, 2020)

To download the PDF version, click here:

Edited for Brazil by:

Joaquim Cardoso do Rosário
Senior Advisor of Healthcare @ BCG — Boston Consulting Group.
São Paulo Office, Brazil.
cardoso.joaquim@advisor.bcg.com

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Joaquim Cardoso @ BCG

Joaquim Cardoso @ BCG

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Senior Advisor for Health Care Strategy to BCG — Boston Consulting Group