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The role of medical consultants is evolving, and many organizations focus on and develop digital methods of reaching doctors and patients. How will the role of field workers change in the coming years? Is F2F contact still important and necessary?
I joined Stada at the most difficult moment – during the pandemic. The organization was not growing and my goal was to achieve growth. We needed to appreciate that the market was changing in terms of therapeutic areas that are growing and those that aren’t. Also, we needed to increase the role of pharmacies and the evolving competences of representatives and managers to determine our approach to promotion which was strongly focused on solution.
We also redefined the approach to market segmentation and who expected what. Importantly, the organization and our people had to change. When I joined the firm, I initiated a mental shift among employees towards, “I would like to develop myself and grow with our organization and proactively change to generate double digit growth.”
Stada specialises in pain management, prescription medications as well as OTCs and supplements. Due to the pandemic and changing demographic, there are more and more young doctors, and this forced us to revise our strategy. We also started to revisit our specialists. We were so determined and motivated that the business started to grow. Even now, after the pandemic, the team wants to be in the field where possible. Also, the beginning of this year marked a launch of the program aimed at re-establishing relations with our clients – we started to organise F2F meetings with them.
Following the acquisition of Wallmark, Stada now reaches the consumer through Amazon, online pharmacies, e-commerce, conferences, webinars and in the mass market through advertising and direct communication with the patient.
Coming back to the topic, we shouldn’t generalize and say that the world is only digital now and you do not have to visit doctors F2F – in my opinion the middle ground is the best solution. The key to this is the product that is sold and the segmentation of doctors into those who want visits and those who do not. A lot depends on the therapeutic area and the age of the patients. In the specialist field, without f2f meetings, we will not be as recognisable as we would like.
Both pharmacy and chain markets grow and the role of the chain sector increases. Certainly, professionals connect digitally, but representatives still visit their partners. It’s a myth that there are no direct visits.
Do the communication expectations shift along with the generational change in the medical community? What trends do you currently notice and which are you happy about?
The generational change is very beneficial for the community. It encourages young doctors to learn, to develop. They are focused on cooperation, through applications and webinars. They are patient- and new technology-oriented much more than the older doctors, who mostly see value in direct visits. Young people are “in the same team” as pharmaceutical company. They are a generation that wants to learn medicine – they are not only guided by routine.
To meet this need, we have built the Stada med portal. Through webinars we share knowledge about new aspects of pain treatment. Stada.med creates a space where doctors discuss patients and their needs. Young doctors are eager to learn how to help the patient and go off the beaten track.
My observation is that this is also happening in the pharmacists’ community where they are closer to the patient. Mass market, on the other hand, is guided by acting on the emotions of the consumer through advertising, based on certain atavisms of people and their reflexes.
How will the patient benefit from digital communication?
The patient has already gained and will gain even more. We have two groups of patients:
How can advisory partners such as Friisberg help and what, in your opinion, should be their role in supporting the digital transformation?
I can see two areas here. The first one is the marketing, market research, patient / consumer research. How do patients feel about the digital age? Is it a good direction, is it helping or bothering them? What is good, what is irritating? Those partners can substantively contribute to this discussion.
The second is, of course, recruitment. During the process to focus on the analysis of the “digital” generation of candidates – the world is changing. We have a variety of people in the organization and we try to choose those who are open to new technologies and are eager to learn. If we want to keep up with trends and work in a pharmaceutical company, we have to learn all the time. The second thing is reliable feedback and making the candidates aware of their shortcomings in order to help them develop. Even though it is often difficult information, it is worth building candidate experience in this way.