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NHS Long Term Plan - Digital is firmly on the agenda. Are you ready?

The message is clear. To keep pace with the NHS, pharma and healthcare companies must act now and refine their digital strategy to meet the needs of a transforming NHS.

We’ve known for years that digital transformation was going to shake things up across the industry. And now, the NHS have outlined their long term plan, which places digital solutions firmly on the agenda.

As part of the NHS long term plan, there is a specific subset titled ‘Digitally Enabled Care’. Key points of this include:

  • A ‘digital first’ option will be offered to ensure that patients have straightforward digital access to NHS services and that clinicians can access and interact with patient records and care plans wherever they are
  • Decision support and artificial intelligence will be used to help clinicians in applying best practice, eliminate unwarranted variation across the whole pathway of care, and support patients in managing their health and condition
  • Clinical, genomic and other data will be linked to support the development of new treatments to improve the NHS, making data captured for care available for clinical research, and publish, as open data, aggregate metrics about NHS performance and services
  • The NHS App will create a standard online way for people to access the NHS. The app will work seamlessly with other services at national and local levels and, where appropriate, be integrated into patient pathways
  • All providers, across acute, community and mental health settings, will be expected to advance to a core level of digitisation by 2024
  • In 2021/22, there will be systems that support population health management in every Integrated Care System across England, with a Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO) on the board of every local NHS organisation

The NHS England website states that “the plan underpins the importance of technology in the future NHS; setting out the critical priorities that will support digital transformation and provide a step change in the way the NHS cares for citizens”.

For anyone who may have been dubious about changing the way the pharma industry interacts with the NHS, this plan should serve as an alarming wake up call.

The message is clear. To keep pace with the NHS, pharma and healthcare companies must act now and refine their digital strategy to meet the needs of a transforming NHS.

How can digital solutions optimise pharma sales?

Not only can digital and technology advances impact the expectations of our customers, and the channels we use to sell to them, it also enables pharma companies to work smarter. By harnessing industry data and utilising the latest intelligence, sales teams can be flexibly deployed with real-time project analytics, so all decisions are data-driven.

However, it’s also important to understand that even though we’re witnessing a decline in field sales (across all B2B industries), this doesn’t spell the end of road sales representatives. Sales professionals needs to be optimised with technology but, critically, they also need to buy-in to the multi-channel concept. It’s not enough to just bolt-on digital platforms to a tired and outdated model. For commercial success, companies need to adapt to change and develop a new strategy with digital at its very core, or risk losing ground to more progressive competitors.

The NHS have accepted, embraced and planned a future around digital transformation, and Healthcare Professionals will be even more open, and adept, at operating across multiple channels.

The issue for pharma is that, whilst technology is moving quickly, some companies are slow to embrace change. We’ve already established that Pharma is behind the times when we look at other UK B2B industries, so how can companies keep up the pace?

According to Scott Brinker, Chief Marketing Technologist, when it comes to marketing technology, he believes the following two things:

  1. Technology is changing very rapidly, and those changes seem to be accelerating.
  2. Changing an organization — how it thinks and behaves — is still hard and slow.

He continues “It takes time for people to alter their thinking and their behavior. With groups of people, where there are existing structures, processes, incentives, and cultural momentum, it takes even more effort to turn the ship. The larger the group, the greater the institutional resistance.

The great management dilemma of the 21st century is the relationship between these two curves: technology is changing faster than organizations can absorb change.”

Making the change

Time is running out for pharma companies who persevere with out-dated, traditional methods to engage Healthcare Professionals, and many companies will be searching for a digital partner who can alleviate some of the problems with adapting their sales force to suit a modern NHS.

At OUTiCO we have spent the last 5 years refining our digital, multi-channel model. We are the first Multi-Channel Sales company in the pharma industry, communicating with Health Care Professional’s via their preferred sales channel, providing more HCP access options and opportunities. Our unique accessibility data along with the latest digital tools allows us to flexibly deploy exceptional sales professionals in Market Access, Secondary Care, Primary Care projects. We’ve always said that multi-channel selling is the future, and we welcome the long term plan which will reimagine the way people communicate with the NHS.

To view case studies which have been optimised by our digital capability, click here to read or download.

11th January 2019



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