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‘Never do you see as much hope and ambition as on the 1st of January’

Does pharma need to reshape traditional borders and practices in recognition of universal digital behaviours? Can this be the catalyst to improve outcomes across the globe? What role can HAVAS LYNX play to unlock this opportunity? What are our ambitions for 2015?

The Global Opportunity, by David Hunt

In the fifteen years since I started out in healthcare communications, I’ve noted that typically when a company seeks to shake things up they appoint a new e-commerce manager, set-up a small innovation hub, or change a few job descriptions. Yet in those same fifteen years, I’ve gone from making calls on my phone to living my life through it. Our attitudes and habits have changed drastically and we know that our industry needs to better reflect this. But do we know how?

Do we need to run things differently?
Social media and wearable technologies offer great opportunities to pharma, but tech alone won’t transform pharma, just as the latest Garmin watch won’t propel weekend joggers to Olympic glory. We need to look at our processes. In my opinion, we are quick to leap into lengthy rollout processes, when we should be quicker to dive into prototyping.

Play To Cure: Genes in Space is an app created by Cancer Research UK, whereby users identify critical faults in real gene data by zapping asteroids and collecting space dust. This visionary combination of gamification and crowd sourcing for clinical benefit is the result of of rapid prototyping. Over the course of a two-day game jam, teams of developers, scientists and academics conceptualised and experimented to produce 12 prototypes. The most promising idea was taken forward, developed and released. Even after the release, developers took advantage of the virtues of digital to make further updates.

Shouldn’t pharma be this iterative and agile, and learn through experimentation?

For further information, please review our white paper on Wearables and for more information on Gamification please see our presentation on slideshare.

Is it time to redraw the map?
Some time ago, we carved up the world into vast market regions (EMEA, Asia-Pac., etc.) and we’ve stuck by these distinctions ever since. Why? Last year, 45% of Scottish people said they didn’t feel adequately represented even within the British Isles. Yet where geography and culture still divide, technology unites (in behavior, not beliefs); the average internet user in Germany spends the same amount of time online as the average user in Kenya.

Do we need to find new criteria by which to map our markets? Could technological uptake or HCP preferences be more incisive distinctions? Why should different therapy areas or different companies define markets in the same way? There are questions to be asked, most important of all: could a smarter choice of market distinctions offer a competitive advantage?

For further information, please read our white paper on the Global Opportunity

Can we fit into our users’ world?
The taxi I took on New Year’s Day was an Uber, a company non-existent ten years ago and now reputedly worth $40 billion. What makes Uber great? I use Uber because it’s quick and convenient. I have friends who take comfort in the safety it offers, others who love the ease of payment and splitting fairs via the app. Like many of the decade’s most successful digital start-ups (Airbnb, Dropbox, etc.), Uber offers a neatly packaged, universal service that fulfills a range of users’ needs.

Our lives are filled with such brands – we pick and choose the ones we like and build our own digital ecosystem with them. These ecosystems are an intrinsic part of our lives and pharma must learn to fit within them. The biggest consumer brands have managed it, pharma should be no different. We have the insight, commitment and expertise to make a difference.

Rather than offer all-in-one solutions, how can we integrate with the brands already established in people’s ecosystems?

For further information, please review our presentation that introduces our thoughts on Personal Ecosystems.

Can we deliver holistic improvements that drive better outcomes?
What one thing are patients, payers and professionals the world over looking for? Better patient outcomes. However, this doesn’t necessarily require better treatments. A range of factors contribute to patient wellbeing – adherence, lifestyle, mentality – and a combination of incremental improvements in such areas can make a huge difference overall. Digital is undoubtedly a tremendous vehicle for encouraging behavior that delivers these improvements. Dr. B.J. Fogg provides extensive academic evidence, but for more immediate proof we may look at Fitbit – it doesn’t make runners better, but it encourages habits that make runners better – and it is just the start.

What small improvements can pharma instigate to dramatically promote the success of a treatment?

Should we re-evaluate how we prioritise markets?
In any industry, it’s typical to focus on the markets that represent the biggest commercial benefit. However, I believe there’s a broader criterion pharma should consider. Consumer brands such as TOMS and Patagonia are built upon their strong social conscience. Could pharma engender such values in its approach to the global market, and look to promote a greater equality in treatment around the world? Driving positive outcomes in low-income markets would have an incredible impact on vulnerable populations, whilst providing a compelling, ethical positioning.

It might be ambitious, but could we expand the global medical debate beyond science to include morality and social responsibility?

Our resolution for 2015 is to find a few answers, and fulfil our potential to make a real difference. We’re excited to work with partners that share our values, beliefs and ambitions.

For more information please see a recent key note talk on the topic, or read our latest white paper.

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