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Attention ‘Big Pharma’: The Times They Are a-Changin’


In our dominantly digital world, the ability to find anything and everything online not only is enjoyed but also expected. Need to settle a bar bet about who the No. 1-ranked college football team is for the week? Google it. Want to find out the name of that familiar song playing on your car radio? Shazam it. Want to check your bank balance or find out the local theater’s movie times? There’s an app for that.

Everyone is online and using social media, from the ancient institution that is the Vatican to the most modern amenities of American life. David Ormesher, the CEO of closerlook, a strategic-marketing outfit tailored to the healthcare industry, calls it “the Amazon effect.”

doctor with stethoscope and tablet pc

“But until recently, consumer expectations didn’t impact pharma,” Ormesher writes in a LinkedIn article titled “Expectations on the Rise for Digital Marketing in Pharma.” “Now the online consumer experience is raising the bar on healthcare.”

He and other pharmaceutical-company marketers know consumers are calling for the industry to step up and provide a UX (user experience) as easy and seamless as Amazon and other top-notch Web sites.

“The expectation that pharma agencies will deliver a world-class user experience for consumers, patients and healthcare professionals is now standard,” Ormesher writes.

The result will benefit consumers by improving the overall quality of the industry and how it relates to doctors, researchers and patients.

“Even though pharma marketing budgets continue to invest in the traditional channels of television and print, I’m seeing a change in how digital is viewed, and that’s a positive sign,” Ormesher writes.

Among the big changes in “Big Pharma” is a paradigm shift in how it conducts business. For example, instead of communicating, it is collaborating. Instead of focusing on patient care, it is moving toward disease cure. Customers now are referred to as consumers.

“The healthcare provider…is Pharma’s customer, but the patient is Pharma’s consumer,” writes Richie Etwaru, of the Internet-technology company Cegedim, in a LinkedIn article titled “10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015.” “An educated consumer / patient is new to Pharma, and… will be both new and surprising!”

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