During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a challenge for pharma sales representatives to meet with healthcare professionals (HCPs). To re-engage with HCPs, some pharma companies are looking at reps through the lens of service providers, considering that when reps can offer something of value to HCPs, they’re more likely to capture their interest.

The Case Study
In this brief case study, we look at how Intouch adopted a service design approach to help solve a problem in the pharmaceutical space, focusing on services that reps can provide to HCPs and their patients to help them have the best therapeutic experience possible.

Recently, a new digital medicine treatment faced an intimidatingly large series of obstacles. HCPs didn’t always understand the treatment and how it worked, and even if they did …

  • Patients didn’t always understand or accept it as a treatment option, and even if they did …
  • They had to go through a process in order for it to be covered by insurance, and even if they did …
  • They didn’t always pick up the prescription and take it home, and even if they did …
  • They might not actually begin using it, and even if they did …
  • They might not keep using it.

At each step, a percentage of patients fell away, meaning that far fewer people were helped by this important new treatment than could have been. These drop-off points happen with traditional medications, too. But in this case, because the treatment was so new and different, the drop-offs were especially precipitous.

To address this, Intouch undertook a sales process analysis to determine the impact of the drop-off points and then implemented a service design model to address and improve them.

But Wait, What’s Service Design?
Service design is a practice that was originally developed for the travel, hospitality, and restaurant industries; it looks at optimizing the overall customer experience by means of designing, and redesigning, the provision of services. The premise is that customer loyalty comes from the overall experience, rather than only the product itself. Consider how so many are willing to pay more for coffee at Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts!

Service design is just what it sounds like: improving how a service process meets the needs of the people who use it. While one specific fix can sometimes make enough of a difference in some situations, service design helps to overhaul an entire system, identifying the important improvements that can create a better model of support that serves its users better, every step of the way.

For the digital medicine treatment in our case study, a variety of adjustments to the sales and marketing model improved how users experienced the process and how they felt throughout.

Removing the most common technical barriers minimized difficulties for patients. A multistep on-boarding process provided more care, instruction, and attention to help patients feel more at ease with such a new type of treatment. More robust ongoing support addressed anticipated and emerging user needs. The creation of a virtual account manager in Veeva created a liaison between non-personal promotional tools and the field force, covering vacant and white space territories and virtual-only HCPs, and then handing them off to field managers based on their engagement. Further adjustments to the field force helped to extend promotional reach even more.

Maximizing Opportunities With Service Design
Looking at the problem from a service design lens helped to maximize the opportunity in the market, surrounding the product not just with enabling services (which make it possible to use), but with remedial services (to address technical hurdles and unmet needs) and enhancing services (like event-triggered alerts, reminders, and proactive support).

In this case, a new type of therapy required new ways of thinking about sales and marketing. To learn more about how service design can improve your work, ask your Intouch account team!