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Digital maturity: a tale of two countries


01 November 2016 : Blog issue N°18 by Fonny Schenck

Every time I meet with pharma clients, we (almost inevitably) end up discussing digital maturity levels.  I very often hear that “Spain has our best digital team – they are really ahead of the pack.” So we went to the data for answers.

We chose France for comparator here. We looked at two different specialties of physicians (GPs and Oncologists), and we used the data from our Navigator Landscape (if you want to know more about this offering, you can go here for more info). 

Firstly, we looked at physician “satisfaction with digital pharma offerings”. While 25% of oncologists in France are “digitally dissatisfied”, only 13% in Spain are. And for French GPs, it is even worse – there is a 30% difference in terms of digital satisfaction with Spain.  These results become even more intriguing when you realize that we typically think of Spanish physicians as “relationship seekers”. 

HCP digital satisfaction (Navigator 2015)

If we then look at the reach and adoption of digital channels, we see a similar story. We selected 3 digital channels, 2 from pharma (teledetailing and pharma websites), and 1 independent source (3d party websites). For both groups, digital channels have a significantly higher reach in Spain; the delta is biggest for teledetailing with oncologists, and for pharma websites with GPs.

These data confirm our overall finding (and ongoing belief) that the higher the digital reach, the higher the satisfaction levels (see our 2015 blog on this topic). So this probably explains the higher satisfaction with pharma’s digital offerings in Spain: higher supply = higher satisfaction.

But the question remains: why would the reach of digital channels be higher in a “relationship” market where the sales force is so dominant?

I see two potential drivers behind this:

  1. The competitive pressure to go digital is higher in Spain, i.e. “the new normal” is already there, and all companies are competing in this field to gain (or sustain) customer preference – whereas in other markets, the status quo prevails and nobody is willing to be the “first mover”.
    • This may also imply a much stronger development of the “orchestrator rep” concept in Spain, although we have no data to validate that yet.
  2. We have also observed in other research that relationship seekers – perhaps counterintuitively – also appreciate pharma’s digital offerings more than other profiles of physicians. I would assume that these customers are more open to a true omnichannel approach from pharma, as they tend to see pharma positively. This could even signal that in the future, Spanish HCPs may want less F2F and even more digital (such as in the evolution of channel preference in the US Oncology market).

So what does this mean for my market?

I believe Spain is the perfect example of William Gibson’s “The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.” Like the US, Spain is a key market from which to draw lessons as to how you can trigger a “virtuous cycle” in omnichannel customer experience and engagement. However, it's clear that even in these two advanced markets, we still have a challenging and exciting road ahead of us!! By offering more high-quality, integrated offerings, physicians will start appreciating them more and more. So, why would this virtuous cycle not apply in other/your market(s)?

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