As companies sprint to innovate and respond to public health challenges, engage and serve patients remotely, and adapt and accelerate clinical trials, independent talent are providing an agile source of skills to help life science leaders keep pace in a fast-changing environment. This is especially the case for commercial strategy and operations leaders, who are being tasked with simultaneously increasing patient centricity, adapting to new technologies, and integrating more data than ever before—all while seizing new growth opportunities at breakneck speed.
COVID-era Trends and Challenges for Commercial Leaders
Succeeding in today’s fast-changing commercial environment requires agility and rapid response to new market conditions and quickly evolving consumer attitudes and behaviors. Commercial leaders today have several pressing issues to consider, including trends like:
A customer-centric focus in a time of rapidly changing consumer behavior
Patient-centricity is more central than ever before as companies try to figure out how to connect with consumers and healthcare providers (HCPs) in today’s digital world. In a market of empowered consumers, every touchpoint is important. It’s no surprise then that a Deloitte survey showed that 80% of pharma and medtech leaders cited changes in consumer attitudes and behavior as an issue that will have the greatest impact on their company.
What’s changing in consumer behavior? According to PwC, the most significant trends include:
- A 97% surge in the use of telehealth services
- A 40% increase in retail clinic use
- An 18% growth in urgent care visits
- Growth in at-home “DIY” care such as testing and remote monitoring
- Increasing interest in home health visits
To keep up with these changes and so many others, organizations are tying digital strategy into commercial strategy. They’re also calling on digital marketers and innovation experts to support analytics-based segmentation, predictive marketing, streamlined customer processes, customer service, and self-service tools. And by incorporating technologies like AI and machine learning, pharma companies are able to increase efficiency and data-driven decision making in R&D and marketing and sales.
A burgeoning digital health toolkit enables connection
Even before the pandemic, 80% of internet-connected adults were using digital health tools, according to RockHealth. Then in 2020, more than 90,000 digital health apps were introduced, with tremendous growth in apps focused on single health conditions—with mental health, diabetes, and cardiovascular health at the top of the list.
The market is also booming for wearable devices like blood pressure, blood sugar, and ECG monitors, wellness trackers, and biosensors—supporting a connected health model of care in which services and interventions are designed around a patient’s needs. The rapid adoption of digital health technology continues to break down silos in patient care and foster greater transparency.
This rapidly evolving digital landscape requires a future-focused digital talent strategy, as demands grow for innovation and digital transformation on all fronts across the life science industry.
An abundance of data to distill
As a connected model of patient health management gains a stronger foothold in the industry, actionable data is both more accessible and more important than ever before. This includes data about drug success that is increasingly owned by health systems and health plans, as well as data about consumer preferences to enable personalization, multi-channel selling, and relationship-building. Harnessing all of this data requires a variety of data experts—from translators to engineers and information designers to data managers.
Fluid movement of resources
To keep pace and stay competitive amid the immediate challenge of rapid changes in consumer behavior, new marketing and sales trends, digital transformation and R&D demands, and data science developments, new mindsets and skills are in high demand. Meanwhile, growth opportunities abound, and leadership teams need talent to link business strategy, organizational design, and operational delivery in order to foster long-term growth while protecting immediate revenues and profit. With accelerated expansion plans in place, companies are rapidly shifting talent within the organization, as well as working to attract in-demand talent in a tight labor market.
With both internal and external resources limited, more companies are realizing the value of on-demand independent talent—a fluid and agile source of skills that can be deployed precisely as needed for projects ranging from early-stage product development through (re)launch and established products, as well as innovation, analytics, and global commercial excellence initiatives.
5 Key Project Types for Independent Commercial Experts
Independent life science consultants, subject matter experts, and project managers are helping top companies drive growth, streamline operations, and deliver more targeted messages across the product development and launch cycle. Life science leaders are tapping on-demand talent to provide strategic and tactical support for five key commercial capacities:
1. Early-stage products
Supporting “go/no go” decisions and path-to-market processes, projects in this area include go-to-market strategy; HCP segmentation, targeting, and messaging; TPP development; portfolio strategy and optimization; resource allocation; forecasting and market landscape; and brand planning.
A major pharma company was pursuing multiple indications for a groundbreaking oncology therapy and struggling to keep up with the work.
The global marketing team engaged a total of six consultants, ranging from senior director-level consultants to supporting analysts, who helped lead multiple global initiatives, from the development of a long-range marketing strategy and sales forecasting models to the selection and management of agency partners.
Developing and executing key strategies in this arena, projects include launch strategy, execution, and communications; launch plan development; patient services development; KOL engagement and strategy; agency selection and management; patient, HCP, and payer marketing execution; and digital strategy and execution.
A global biopharmaceutical company was preparing to launch a promising new rare disease therapy in the UK and Europe with a global commercialization team to drive all launch activities. However, coordinating this cross-functional team was proving to be a challenge.
BTG connected the company with a senior life science strategist to help the company by supporting nine workstreams in total, managing deliverables, facilitating decisions with well-defined frameworks and templates, and acting as a strategic thought partner to team members within each function.
3. Established products
Developing and executing lifecycle management strategies, these projects include disease awareness strategy development; lifecycle management strategy; line extension; generics/end-of-lifecycles strategies; re-growth strategies; HCP marketing, promotional analytics, and data visualization; and customer engagement analyses.
When the COVID pandemic hit, the marketing team at an F150 biopharma company shifted its speaker and educational programs to a virtual format. However, the team then recognized that the content and format had quickly become repetitive and stale. The CMO needed a consultant to develop a digital-first education program strategy to more effectively engage both health care practitioners (HCPs) and patients.
BTG provided a strategic marketing executive in the life science industry, who developed a two-year virtual education program strategy and roadmap, including both content and channel execution recommendations, and then initiated kick-off of the program.
4. Analytics and innovation
Measuring performance and innovating across new and established products, projects include digital therapeutics, digital health strategy, big data analytics, electronic medical record (EMR) and electronic health record (EHR) data analytics, advanced analytics forecasting, KPI and data visualization, data and technology strategy, and real-word data (RWD)/real-word evidence (RWE).
The director of digital health at an F200 pharma company was developing a new patient adherence device. The goal: to use real-time usage data to improve care and enhance the patient experience. Yet the team was having difficulty determining what information to collect—and developing a comprehensive project plan for the new device.
BTG connected the company with an experienced independent data analyst with F500 operating experience and advanced data science and programming skills. He worked with the team to translate its topline goals into patient-level data, then synthesized the information into a broader strategic roadmap. He also helped refine predictive models that could identify patients at high risk for non-compliance and developed a preliminary analytic engine for guiding intervention. Finally, he identified two vendors that could execute a proof-of-concept pilot and stayed on in a part-time capacity to manage the collaboration.
5. Global capabilities and commercial excellence
Building and delivering best-in-class commercial capabilities across all stages, such projects include therapeutic area (TA) strategy development; commercial optimization and excellence; omnichannel customer experience engagement; voice-of-the-customer strategy; patient centricity; patient support strategy; companion diagnostics strategy; salesforce sizing, mapping, and training; organization transformation and change management; and market research management.
As a part of its global TA health policy initiatives, a leading biopharma company needed a new and improved narrative and evidence deck to impress upon policymakers and other critical stakeholders the importance of timely diagnosis and treatment of a specific disease.
BTG delivered a senior health policy consultant to analyze the current research and materials to better understand the burden and impact of the disease. The consultant then created a TA-specific health policy narrative for both U.S. and ex-U.S. markets, developed a one-page leave-behind tailored to each market, and built an external evidence deck for presentation at regional franchise meetings.
Ready to innovate with on-demand life science commercial talent? Independent consultants, experts, project managers, and interim executives bring life science and pharma companies a unique mix of real-world experience, strategic rigor, and targeted domain expertise. Reach out to start a project.