This year I had the pleasure of not only attending Digipharm but also of chairing part of the event, including a round table discussion on engaging with stakeholders. As with many of these conferences the most enjoyable part is the networking and catching up with fellow digital evangelists, such as InVentiv’s Emma Darcy and Merck’s Shona Davies.  Content wise the event covered many of the same old, age old, topics but there were a few interesting snippets and case studies that were shared.

Some of the key themes that emerged were around the need to be more customer-centric, the importance of insights and strategy, and the potential impact of CLM and MCM.  These are topics that have been doing the rounds for a few years now so for me, and many other attendees, they were not particularly insightful.  This led to a few tweets questioning why we were still talking about this and why more digital “newbies” were not attending these conferences, as they would benefit from this content.

The answer to both these questions is that firstly we are still talking about this because much of it has still not become a mainstream reality for much of pharma.  The second point is that perhaps these “newbies” are still newbies because they are not interested in coming to these events or perhaps because the conference organisers are not targeting them.  Either way I fully agree that we need to start seeing more non-digital brand managers and pharma marketers attend these conferences.  Those of us in the know should probably be going now to non-pharma digital events as this is where the innovation is being discussed.

That said I still enjoyed Digipharm and there was some great content presented and shared on twitter.  Going back through the tweets from Digipharm I pulled out some great quotations and some key messages and insights.  Unfortunately I failed to copy paste most of the people who originally sent the tweets – so if you see your tweet please flag that this was your great content in the comments below!


Some Key Messages from the event:

1.      Focus on the customer

“How to be #goodpharma balance moral & commercial drivers. 1 focus on patient, 2 go beyond pill”

“Pharma must develop customer intelligence to fulfil unmet needs – a key message from the last 2 days”

“We need to use that channels that are used by the customer segment”

“Need to know your customers to know which digital channel to use”


2.      Stop being so promotional

“Recurring theme through the 2 days. Don’t start with promoting your product! Ask customer needs, engage with them, then Tailor”

“Pharma marketing – too much push, not enough pull!”


3. Digital is just part of the equation

“Dr Tim Ringrose. Digital should be used as an augmentation of existing communication channels, not a replacement. Absolutely!”

“Digital won’t replace the rep, says Tim, as docs use all channels and still value F2F for some discussions”

“Stop measuring the rep’s performance alone – measure qualitative data. Move from rep data to customer insights”

“You need to make your reps great story tellers. Make your reps amazing storytellers so the HCPs will recall the story once the rep has left”

“Still a lot of focus on the rep channel but discussions missing on cost of interaction”


4.      ROI is not the issue

“It’s hard to prove the digital ROI” disagree, it’s the easiest channel to manage ROI as long as you know what to measure and how”

“100 rep visits we set out on, only 20 talk to the physician and only 8 docs remember the meeting. WHAT’S THE ROI??!!!!”


5.      Senior Management needs to get involved – even if they are not today

“Great point Rene we spend 80% on build and 20% on promotion and mgmt when it should be the other way round! Top mgmt take note”

“The problem in pharma is that change needs to be led from the top, and snr mngt just don’t engage”


Some really interesting Ideas and Insights:

“Need to find a way to get bright, lateral thinking people to the top straight away” @nickbroughton

“It should be company policy to slap anyone that calls anyone but the patient a customer” (!)

“Docs give patients musty old mags in the waiting room – let’s give them health tools instead

“Univadis – 70% of members opt in for promo messages from MSD. That is a permission database of 1.5 million!! In some markets it’s up to 95%”@ShonaLDavies

“Univardis #merck . It may be a non commercial engagement but the value of reach and trust is clear”

“How much does Univardis cost per year? Even if €10 million, that’s less than €5 per customer. Good value!”

“Why has Univadis succeeded? It is part of the corp culture says @ShonaLDavies, in other words leaders have stayed behind it”

Univadis success due to leadership commitment and vision for long-term engagement

“24% of interactions with JP HCPs are eDetails. Highest eDetail market in the world”

“Univadis philosophy –customers expect corporations to be doing something of value originating from a core product”

“Measuring Univadis relationships – user retention, engagement levels, customer satisfaction and NPS”

“Nice segmentation of engagement levels (light, deep, extensive) as KPI’s for Univadis. Engagement on its own is too vague”

“@ShonaLDavies customer relationships aren’t a mystery, can be measured in multiple ways, challenge is translating measurement”

“82% of HCPs interested in engaging with pharma – HCP communities = great value. Obvious way to know your audience to be relevant”


My favourite Quotations from #Digipharm:

“Digital innovation = talent x time x budget x culture” @xaviolba

“Our obsession with compliance at all costs is responsible for pharma’s loss of virtue” @NickBroughton

“Engagement means getting a response” (Sorry I didn’t jot down who this came from … if it’s you please mention yourself in the comments!)

“Mobile is not a technology or a platform, it is a behaviour” @nickcampbell

Xavier Olba @Sanofi “we must provide engaging services to our Patients not just medications”

‘we are redefining MSD as a healthcare company not just a drug company’ says @ShonaLDavies

“It’s not about digital marketing, it’s about marketing in a digital world” Dr Ringrose

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