Futuristic technology is good for headlines. Every trendspotter in the game loves to talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning, virtual reality and augmented reality, robots and chatbots, etc.
But sometimes, those stories can begin to feel a bit more like sci-fi entertainment, rather than like anything that’s actually part of our day-to-day reality. Can pharma marketers take practical, tactical steps to use cutting-edge tech in ways that actually demonstrate ROI? Can we be futuristic and realistic?
We can—and we must—if we want to succeed.
The “triple aim”—improving care and health while lowering cost—is an often-cited goal for healthcare. Technology will be vital if this is to come to pass. With wise use of technology, we can harness efficiencies, improve our understanding, and connect to patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) in ways that better their lives.
Healthcare companies are doing things that matter with technology. As a Newsweek headline recently put it, “Artificial Intelligence Will Cure America’s Sick Health Care System.” From drug discovery to physician segmentation, from M&A to corporate strategy, AI is helping pharmaceutical companies make better decisions faster. And technology is changing how we can help everything from prosthetics to diabetes. Disparities are being addressed in developing nations, where lack of infrastructure and geographic isolation are being overcome.
The impact of once-futuristic technologies is clear on the healthcare industry overall—and even on the pharmaceutical industry. But what about on pharmaceutical marketers? Does it affect our work?
It does. Not in the way I sometimes see it—where marketers may use a “shiny new toy” for its own sake, or for the sake of winning an award—but for the sake of real business goals.
We have access to more information than at any point in human history. We have the ability to understand our audiences—patients, caregivers, HCPs, and payers—better than ever before. Some gimmicks might look good in a conference booth, but it’s the behind-the-scenes technology that can make the biggest difference to our work.
Yes, it’s incumbent on us as marketers to stay on the cutting edge. We must understand everything from cultural trends to digital breakthroughs in order to develop strategies that guide our brands to success. But we must use that cutting-edge knowledge with—not instead of—our other skills.
We must prize our knowledge of industry regulations as highly as we rate our tech savvy. We must understand how to speak with the diverse populations that make up the patients, caregivers, HCPs, and payers affected by our brands. We must never get distracted from our main goal—not to jump on board with fads, but to make a difference in healthcare.
As pharma marketers, we know how to help our brands connect more authentically and helpfully throughout the customer experience. Can technology make that possible? Absolutely. If we keep our focus.