How is the relational model of Pharma evolving ?

How is the relational model of Pharma evolving ?

Since the beginning of containment, the relational model of the laboratories, based almost entirely on face-to-face interactions via the medical visit or via MSLs (Medical Sciences Liaisons), has been strongly destabilised or even stopped.

While a large proportion of healthcare professionals have become simply inaccessible (those on the front line of the epidemic and those working in sanatoriums), the other part is temporarily under- or even inactive, due to a lack of patient flow.


Pharmaceutical laboratories are on the front line of the epidemic…


The general mobilization re commits the laboratories on their fundamentals in a race against time: the search for effective therapeutic solutions, the general mobilization of factories, production, distribution and, financial or material aid to support the front line against the epidemic.

“All things bad are good”. This period of great collective difficulty becomes a real opportunity for the industry to revive its image, that of a sector fighting for life and a major player in the fight against the virus.


A long-awaited player in a world at a standstill.

On the other hand, on the field side, it is a complete standstill and the observation of an impossibility to deliver a message, but also of an unsuitability of contents and formats in these circumstances.

COVID hastened what some laboratories saw, in a slow and generational way, the arrival of the “CUSTOMER CLIFF”, without changing a model that was still working. This cliff is there, the cliff of access to health professionals who are increasingly “busy” and less and less “interested” in the source of information carried by the pharmaceutical industry (findings that have been published many times in recent studies).


During quarantine, Pharma companies did occupy the time of their networks by relaunching all types of training, general revisions of the fundamentals, readings, meetings, teleconferences, etc.

All this with a strong revival of interest in digital and its practice: a new Eldorado for companies that until now have been under-exploited and are facing many, partly legitimate, resistances.


But after this first period, it is now necessary to take the time to question the post-COVID period. How to maintain the system of interactions with health professionals tomorrow?



Unprecedented interest in digital and multi-channel technology


Let us make it clear from the outset that multi-channel is not an end to the relationship, but a tool, a means of reaching the customer other than face-to-face. And will face-to-face be a thing of the past? The answer is no, certainly not. It will become more difficult, more demanding, but the very nature of face-to-face is indispensable, as in any human relationship.

The idea of replacing some face/face with digital or “remote” face/face is becoming the priority of many laboratories, which are rushing into a technological race of speed to re-initiate relationships as quickly as possible.


E-mails, Remote detailing, Webinars, …have become the new relational modalities to be engaged as quickly as possible in a multi-channel model.


If “plugging in” connections remains a technological anecdote (laboratories all having CRM and activated channels), it remains a challenge to create a new ecosystem of fluid and efficient digitalized interactions in a few weeks, without any real and measurable experience, but also with past attempts that were badly lived and to be purged.


Having an “information system” (IT) and technological approach alone would lead to a semi-failure or even failure due to a lack of appropriation and implementation of solid and sustainable uses. Acculturation and appropriation become indispensable stages in this evolution.


What are the key points to initiate a new successful multi-channel relational model?


The biggest mistake would be to make a commitment to go “digital for digital” without having first thought and set up your interaction model.


No interaction can be established without building a solid set of foundations, prior to any implementation.


1) “CUSTOMER” KNOWLEDGE (understanding: wanting to satisfy the relationship):


The first priority is a real knowledge of the expectations and interests of the health professionals contacted in terms of interaction and information.

This is a key step to properly segment and script the interaction. Preferred centers of interest and information channels are essential information.

This customer knowledge increasingly involves the study of patient pathways in order to understand the key points, the needs…

Building a solid customer knowledge base must become a sustainable goal for now and the future.




The ability to generate high quality content, at a good frequency and responding to the aspirations and interests of HCPs.


The “content factory” is probably the most under-invested part of today’s companies. It is an important investment that is often underestimated in medical-marketing budgets; videos, podcasts and webinars are becoming more and more accepted every day by healthcare professionals as a means of keeping themselves informed.


Similarly, e-mentoring and digital “peer to peer” platforms are also booming. The French INVIVOX startup is a good example of this by adapting and delivering an important collection of training courses and tutorials for the operational management of COVID, among others.

All the digital “success stories” in terms of audience are nowadays mainly and finally found in the “MEDFLIX” and their massive distribution of content; real dynamic and independent PULL platforms like :  Univadis (Aptus Health ), Medscape, DocEvidence but also french ones as Egora, Le Quotidien du médecin…etc…


Just look at the audiences of some of these editorial platforms since the beginning of the COVID crisis.


Some companies have understood this shift with a real culture of the PRO website with high value and high frequency content.




Nothing can work without permission to access and exchange.

As part of a PUSH strategy, the GDPR regulation must be fully applied and respected.

It therefore becomes complicated to succeed in digital interaction without the informed consent of the HCPs to receive e-mails and personal data processed for an improved and tailor-made relationship.

This challenge of digital access remains a reality for companies in the future system. And above all the challenge of an initiation of the digital relationship when it has not been initiated by an inaugural face-to-face contact.




Perfect orchestration of interactions for a successful customer experience.

Knowing how to plan and orchestrate interactions becomes key and requires a good combination between customer knowledge and the range of content/channels available.

This is where the role of sales reps and other interacting actors, remains very important as they are the best placed to know the best way to interact. They must therefore be at the heart of the planning system; at least as far as the professionals who are still accessible are concerned.


5) And most importantly: TRAINING, ACCULTURATION


As with any significant and abrupt change, time should be allowed to make sense. Do not neglect the acculturation time to understand and assimilate the right reasons for acting and evolving in this changing environment.

This is followed by a training stage to acquire the basis for successful and sustainable practice.

The training must integrate all the points of a successful multi-channel action:

Customer knowledge, scripting on the basis of personae, representing subsets of interaction preferences and interests, planning, execution.




What are the alternatives for tomorrow?


What scenario will companies face in the coming months?


The “sanctuarisation” of some hospitals and clinics facing epidemic potential restarting at any time, anywhere (“we don’t know, but it is better to be prepared”).

Barrier measures increase the difficulty of access for medical sales representatives and MSLs over an undetermined period of time.

The epidemiological wave of all chronic diseases, resulting from a delayed rebound effect, and which will probably impact private practice, care programming and consultations, making interactions more difficult outside the epidemic.


Finally, digital saturation resulting from the concomitant and adaptive effect of companies substituting Face/Face visits will have to be anticipated.


New expectations of health professionals with regard to companies are likely to emerge.  While there will continue to be a place for innovation, for differentiating and interesting content, professionals’ expectations should be more in the order to be supported facing post crisis sustainable effects.


More than ever, only the content and the relevance of the interaction will allow to develop a good relational quality.


These elements must be applied systematically with professionals open to digital communication and within the framework of authorized and prepared access.


For all the others, the unseen, the refractory, … new digital approaches can be envisaged:


-Investing without precedent in its own PRO website platform and acting on legitimate, expert, rich, differentiating and frequently updated content (the PRO website is the focal point of all digital actions),


– Develop community platforms for peer-to-peer exchange. As bases for exchanges and content, they federate while leaving spaces for laboratory-professional relations,


– Provide tools and possibilities for digital networking for interprofessional relations (act as a link facilitator); the emergence of “expert on demand” platforms,


– Accompanying personalized “DISPLAY” campaigns via MEDFLIX’s high-audience sites to attract on high-interest sponsored content and generate new access.


Each initiative is aimed at creating a link that will certainly open up to lasting multi-channel interaction.



Franck Le Meur – President and Founder of TECHTOMED

Chrystel Tanguy-Ouk – Associate Director of MADIS PHILEO