There is an acute need for innovation in pharmaceutical marketing driven by rapidly evolving uncertainties in the healthcare environment. For starters, shifting policies and economics are driving uncertainty in our reimbursement and access assumptions. Simultaneously, new information technology threatens to transform the traditional dissemination of healthcare information. And demographic shifts in patient and provider populations are creating both new challenges and opportunities.

Healthcare providers, payers and patients will each respond to these dynamics in unique ways. But they will also respond to each other’s actions, which will further compound the challenge of predicting market behavior. Innovative approaches are therefore essential to build robust strategies that work against a broad range of potential market circumstances we might face.

Traditional market research and advisory boards often look to isolate issues through an analytic method that is ill suited to understand the interactive dynamics of stakeholder systems. We need new approaches to engage in these complexities. At Genentech, we are piloting a new approach to the challenge of future uncertainty in Alzheimer’s care. We are transforming the traditional advisory board format into collaborative design sessions where experts actively generate solutions to future scenarios. We leverage design techniques, prototyping and iterating collaboratively with experts who come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds. And we take a portfolio approach to solution development, with multiple groups developing solutions in parallel to fit a range of potential outcomes.

If disease modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s disease are successfully developed then they would have a profound impact on diagnosis, care models and healthcare infrastructure. In order to help us predict how the Alzheimer’s care environment may evolve over the next five to 10 years, we are bringing together therapeutic area experts, diagnosticians, hospital administrators, managed care representatives, advocacy groups leaders, healthcare technologists and entrepreneurs in a series of innovation workshops. The sessions use a number of prototyping techniques, with designers actively participating to bring visions to life. Employing design techniques such as prototyping are critical, as they provide a more robust understanding of the challenges of implementation by accounting for the needs of multiple stakeholders.

Piloting a new type of advisory board structure required collaboration between multiple groups at Genentech, including New Product Commercialization, Commercial Partnering, Medical Affairs, Managed Care Marketing, Business Operations and Legal functions. While challenging to execute, co-creative techniques offer numerous benefits for building strategies that account for evolving uncertainties in our landscape.

Our challenge involves the interaction of new therapies, new technologies and increasing pressure due to a costly, growing unmet need in Alzheimer’s disease. However some of the principles of innovation identified in our work could apply more broadly. When considering future marketing tactics it will be essential to examine interactions of various stakeholder groups, take a portfolio approach to solution development, and prototype solutions to account for implementation. Individual preferences for interaction with pharmaceutical information and support will differ at every node of our stakeholder network. We therefore need a diverse pool of marketing tactics ready and waiting to go viral within our evolving market ecosystem.

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