"We Have to Find a New Way to Play the Game"


Pratap Khedkar, Managing Principal and Malcolm Sturgis, Associate Principal

Pratap Khedkar, Managing Principal: The game of [having] 102,000 reps that we used to have in the industry is no longer with us. The number of reps is down, access is down, so we have to find a new way to play the game.

In 2008, maybe only about a quarter, [about] 23% of physicians were pushing back in terms of access restrictions to some extent. That number has now jumped to 50%—so when half of your customers are saying that your chosen method of communicating with them is not a preferred one, we have a problem.

Malcolm Sturgis, Associate Principal: The average physician spends 11 hours a week online for professional purposes today; 74% use a smartphone or other mobile device in their practice.

They’re seeking out information in new ways, too. A lot of physicians aren’t going to wait for Pharma to deliver something on their doorstep. Instead, they’re going to reach out to get digital content when it’s relevant for them.

Pratap Khedkar: Engagement, which is the metric of every time I try to teach you, I try to expose you to this channel and provide some information, do you engage? Do you like to engage? Is this valuable? That’s a metric that customers care about, and they vote with their feet, in the sense that their behavior tells you to what extent they are engaging.

Malcolm Sturgis: By looking at customer behavior and individual interactions and saying, “At each touch point, did we move the relationship further?” [is] how you’re going to measure the success of your programs. So understanding the individual affinities—what channels does this doctor like? What offers interest them? Where are they going to engage?—is the key to getting the message through to the right doctors at the right time in the right way.

What is AffinityMonitor™ and how does it pinpoint physician’s affinities?

Pratap Khedkar: We assembled a database of about half a million physicians across many, many companies in the pharmaceutical sector, and looked at all the channels through which these companies had tried to contact the physician, and had the physician engaged.

So [analyzing] half a million physicians across about 46 million touchpoints, meaning combinations of channels and physicians, you get a very robust sense of where the customer preference landscape in the U.S. is going, but as an individual company, you get a sense of the 50,000 doctors you maybe interested in: What specifically have they done in the past? What have they been exposed to? Have they engaged? What is their affinity for this channel? What are the top channels in which they like to engage? What are their least favorite channels?

In the past, a pharma company said, the customer’s value and the customer’s response to our promotion are the two things we need to figure out what action to take with the customer. The missing piece is in the middle, which is a customer’s affinity. Now I take value, response, affinity, and that changes the game, because I can approach an individual physician very differently from a physician who sits 30 feet away.

Malcolm Sturgis: AffinityMonitor™ helps you make much more nuanced investment decisions. It will tell you which channels are feasible, or even an option, for the customers that matter to you. It means you’re not spending resources on tactics that just annoy a doctor.

Instead, you’re giving them the information they want, when they want it, how they want it. And you’re building a real partnership.

Pratap Khedkar: We are really solving for you as the individual customer, “What do I need to do with you to engage you better and to make my portfolio successful?” That I think is a game changer, because this level of customer insight has not existed before.

And now not only does it exist we can exploit it, we must exploit it, because otherwise we’re not going to get to that customer.