Increase Internal ROI for Digital Tactics

When promotional review teams partner with marketing professionals early in the development of digital tools, a company greatly enhances its internal ROI. Internal ROI reflects the efficient use of time and money spent internally preparing a digital tactic for use externally.

A number of fundamental requirements for promotional review teams when evaluating proposed digital tactics include the following:

  • Understand the digital platform (e.g., web page, Twitter, Facebook, app) and its risks and requirements.
  • Evaluate case studies from which to draw best practices and regulatory history.
  • Involve appropriate stakeholders in the concept review and/or development of the digital tactic (e.g., Medical Info/Medical Affairs, IT, PR).
  • Have internal standard operating procedures in place for producing this type of digital tactic.
  • Understand the goal of the tactic and the intended audience or end user, and ensure content is fairly balanced, truthful and accurate.

However, even when these steps are in place, getting a digital campaign up and running can consume a significant amount of time and money.

In light of this, review teams and their marketing colleagues have an opportunity to save their company time and money by collaborating more effectively earlier in the review process before the tactic is presented for consideration.

“Being successful in digital and social media requires fluid internal collaboration in as close to real time as possible across verticals because there are so many variables to consider—from technical functionality to regulatory concerns,” explains pharma digital/social media consultant Bryan Kaye, who established a digital practice within a marketing agency nearly 10 years ago. He adds, “Team structures, operations and communication must evolve to support a dynamic digital environment. It really relies on aligning internal education, subject matter experts and review teams to revamp the traditional review process.”

Review Teams as Business Partners

Early concept reviews for digital initiatives now occur more frequently within companies. These provide reviewers and marketing teams a built-in opportunity to collaboratively address a series of targeted questions before the formal review process begins.

  • Are we clear on the digital tactic’s purpose?
    • Does it improve informed decision-making among HCPs and patients?
    • Does it help patients increase adherence? Facilitate access to providers or supportive care resources?
  • Are we confident that the digital solution addresses unmet needs or adds value to the end user?
  • Does the team fully understand the medical, regulatory and legal implications for this tactic, as well as the time investment that will be required to ensure compliance?
  • Who will be responsible for monitoring any two-way communication or social posting that results from use of this digital tactic?
  • Do we need to consider whether and how it will work across a variety of digital platforms/social media in our review of the tactic?

Early Alignment, Frequent Calibration

According to Katherine Norris, Director of Corporate Compliance & Risk Management, BRG, “The internal value of cross-functional stakeholder transparency and collaboration cannot be overstated when it comes to digital media. The manner in which the tool(s) will be used should be thoroughly evaluated up front, with contingency plans and risk management strategies identified to ensure these tools help, and do not hurt, your company once they are live.”

Norris continues: “One of the most morale- and collaboration-killing events in the life of a review committee is one in which the company realizes too late that it simply does not have the infrastructure to support the risk inherent with a new tool, but for which the marketing idea engine and investment has already been made. Not only are sunk costs involved, but dashed hopes as well. Forethought and collaboration around these novel tools go a long way in building relationships and optimizing outcomes around these digital initiatives. In particular, interactive digital tools pose the greatest potential risk so the company’s strategy and policies surrounding their implementation should be aligned early and calibrated often.”

The Power of Upstream Partnerships:  A Look to the Future

The FDA is expected to review a record number of mobile health apps in 2016 as digital health companies respond to demand for more sophisticated mHealth products. According to marketing and communications strategist, Liz Kay, “These smart tools require product marketers, medical, legal and regulatory teams, and IT to be aligned early on in the process. When these functions, each with their own internal goals and objectives, have an open and honest dialogue, and align and share the same language around the initiative, these digital tools can come together more efficiently and effectively.”

“As the demand for new digital solutions grows, advocacy, marketing and regulatory must have strong relationships and collaborate closely to meet the needs of the different stakeholders, including patients, within the appropriate regulatory guidelines,” adds Wendy White, SVP, Rare Diseases, Dohmen Life Science Services. “It’s more important than ever to deliver on internal ROI as our healthcare system continues to change.”

Additionally, Delyn Long, U.S. Marketing Lead for MPS II and Gaucher at Shire, notes, “Digital is the resource that virtually all patients globally now have access to. Integrating digital into marketing plans doesn’t simply provide companies with a competitive edge. Today, employing digital is a moral choice for companies that are committed to providing information about rare diseases and treatment options.”

Summing it up, Sue Niedrich, founder and CEO of Pharma Digital Advisors, states. “Before you embark on a new digital marketing initiative, include your review team into the overall strategy at the very beginning. Provide them with the facts—the underlying patient need, what the expected outcome will be, and your vision of how you want to get there. If you have established a great relationship, they will give you invaluable advice and understanding of the guardrails before you go too far. Why? Because they feel they are a partner in the process. Give them credit and make them feel a part of the team.”

  • Ilyssa Levins

    Ilyssa Levins is President and Founder of Center for Communication Compliance (CCC). Ilyssa helps manufacturers and their promotional agencies save time, money and manage risk, when promoting drugs and devices. She combines her regulatory compliance, marketing communications, and change management expertise to help clients achieve their goals.

  • Alexis Pone

    Alexis Pone is Vice President of Strategy and Business Development of MedEdNow. Alexis has more than a decade of experience in healthcare marketing, including strategic brand planning, professional and consumer marketing, and digital strategy.


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