The Art of Mastering Adaptive Engagement

The age of consumer empowerment is in full force and the industry must respond and adapt to customer engagement.

In a landscape where no single healthcare journey is identical, the emerging mandate for pharma is to develop, orchestrate and optimize an ever-agile, adaptive customer engagement strategy. One key challenge to the delivery of an effective customer engagement experience rests in the alignment and communication of insight from field teams. This is critical to establishing well thought out and synergistic processes to understand needs, evaluate customer experiences and inform business decisions. Melva Covington, Senior Director, Head of Field Medical Strategy, spoke of their journey at Sanofi to develop adaptive approaches to keep pace with growing customer engagement ahead of her appearance at Data & Technology in Clinical Trials.

“We looked at building a consistent approach to customer engagement for both internal and external stakeholders. The objective was to have a common way of communicating and interacting with our customers”, Covington says. Part of that challenge was using a strategic thinking process to receive insights from a broad cross-function of colleagues. “We liaised globally with field medical team leaders to better understand the critical issues, top priorities and emerging trends in their local markets. This information, along with their vision of success, facilitated discussions about potential future states and adaptive, targeted engagement approaches.”

Lacking agility

By paying attention to the core foundational principles of what impacts success in the customer experience, (namely the people, processes, networks and relationships), organizations can more rapidly advance strategies in alignment with customer expectations. 

 Everyone on the team is able to better understand the dynamics in the marketplace and make decisions that are aligned with the strategic goals of the organization. This decisive action is taken with improved strategic insight, sensitivity to customer needs and experiences, and greater speed and agility.  This is effectively a game-changer!

Agility is key and is sometimes challenging to achieve quickly in large global organizations. “We all need to adjust our thinking!” We have seen companies focused on specialty treatments, orphan diseases and indeed, smaller biotech companies stay ahead of the curve when it comes to offering high-touch patient services and facilitating customized engagement. However, are we able to respond quickly to the knowledge we’re gathering? We can learn from the fast-paced, dynamic and adaptive responses of smaller systems or organizations in responding to providers or patients because there are fewer hierarchies in the decision-making structures. Less centralized decision-making can empower leaders at local levels to think responsively and feed that information back into the organization so that we can learn from these insights,” asserts Covington. “In essence, everyone on the team is able to better understand the dynamics in the marketplace and make decisions that are aligned with the strategic goals of the organization. This decisive action is taken with improved strategic insight, sensitivity to customer needs and experiences, and greater speed and agility.  This is effectively a game-changer! ”

Changes in technology and the health care ecosystem are increasing the patient’s role in decision-making and reshaping their expectations from health care companies. According to Lisa Egbuonu-Davis, VP, Global Head Patient-Centered Outcomes and Solutions at Sanofi, these disruptive technologies are improving the opportunity for engagement and partnership. “These technologies allow for interactions that change the way care is delivered and provide a different kind of healthcare environment. They impact our ability to develop therapy, service and adherence combinations.” Patients are demanding care and solutions that are coordinated, convenient, customized and accessible. A number of non-traditional health companies and organizations are coming forward to address these emerging expectations. “Online communities such as PatientsLikeMe are facilitating recruitment, providing insight on therapeutic needs and sharing information about drug trials. Wearable technologies offer enhanced availability of continuous insight on a range of variables – from glucose and physical movement to moods, patient preferences and patient-important outcomes. We now have access to information and insights on patient behavior accessible through social listening but the killer app I believe, will be tapping into this for engagement and human interaction and leveraging it to optimize outcomes; it’s where it needs to go.”

Real-time feedback at clinical trials

Critical and meaningful opportunities exist to engage patients during clinical trials and use these insights to drive strategy. “This real-time information flow is very challenging. In large, costly multinational trials with thousands of patients, there are great challenges in getting information back to our clinical sites for this quick adaption, but some progress is being made,’’ says Covington.

She is a big fan of the adaptive trial design approach and its potential to revolutionize trials and their cost. “We can adapt quickly to what’s working and conversely, if something is not working, we can make adjustments quickly based on the data. There are lessons to be learned here for patient engagement.” Should we be thinking of adaptive engagement experiences – listening to what’s working, what’s not and flexing our responses in response to real-time feedback from customers? We are largely dependent on having the organizational and data management processes in place to be able to react in an agile way to the knowledge we’re receiving. Real-time access to the complete customer insight is complemented by having empowered leaders inside Pharma who can deliver results from engaging customer experiences.”


Melva Covington will be presenting at Data & Technology in Clinical Trials USA. Click here for more information.

comments powered by Disqus