Digital First Scientific Communications – Defining Omnichannel: An Ongoing Debate
Speaker: Steve Casey
Partially recorded at the MAPS America’s Annual meeting in Nashville, members of the MAPS Digital FAWG interviewed representatives from seven organizations in the MAPS Partner Circle.
In this podcast, part 1 of a 3-part series, our experts in the Digital FAWG tackle the question of: “How do you define omnichannel,” with the hopes of helping listeners improve their understanding of omnichannel, the many definitions of omnichannel, and why it is difficult to implement in Medical Affairs.
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Welcome to this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast – “Elevate”. The views expressed in this recording are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect on the opinions of MAPS are the companies with which they are affiliated. This presentation is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal or regulatory advice. And now for today’s “Elevate” episode.
Jennifer Riggins 00:33
Welcome to the Medical Affairs Professional Society’s Podcast Series: “Digital First Scientific Communications – How Digital is Transforming Medical Communications”. In these podcasts, we speak with experts in the field of scientific and medical communications and discuss how digital transformation is opening opportunities for medical communicators. I’m Jennifer Riggins, a co-host of this podcast. I currently serve as a member of the Digital Focus Area Working Group and I’ve worked in pharma for about 30 years with a focus on medical information, scientific communications and medical digital, and I currently work for phactMI a nonprofit consortium of medical information leaders. I’m joined today by my co-host, Steve Casey of Omni Healthcare Communications, or Omni HC for short, a leader in digital first medical communications. Steve and I are starting a new conversation in this series focused around omni channel communications. It struck us that we’re not always hearing the same things about Omni channels, so we thought we’d embark on a project to interview several experts on omni channel and determine the consistencies discrepancies challenges and the unknowns from several different points of view. So at the Nashville MAPS meeting, we interviewed representatives from seven organizations in the MAPS Partner Circle, we discussed omni channel and how they define it, how they implement it and measure it. So in this series, our plan is to tackle one area of omni channel per episode. We have curated all the responses to each questions we asked to allow you the listeners to have full transparency. Then throughout the podcast, Steve and I will summarize and discuss some of the interesting things we’ve heard. So in this way, we hope to help you learn more about omni channel and how to best use it.
Steve Casey 02:21
And for today’s podcast, we’d like to tackle the question of how do you define omni channel, we hope to help our listeners improve their understanding of omni channel, the many definitions of omni channel and why it’s difficult to implement and Medical Affairs. So let’s get into it. We’ll start with introductions from each of our interviewees. We have quite the cast.
Charlotte Moseley 02:42
So my name is Charlotte Moseley, and I’m an EVP Executive Director of Client Engagement at IPG Health, Medical Communications. I’ve been in the industry a very long time 30 plus years stop counting at 30 spent half of that actually, in the pharmaceutical industry, half of that actually on the agency side, predominantly in the medical space, but in the marketing, building clinical or predominantly medical space, helping clients solve challenges around Medical Affairs.
Dylan Benton 03:13
Dylan Benton VP of Digital Strategy and Engagement here at Symbiotix. We really focused on omni channel and digital execution, making sure that we are getting our messages and our content that we create from Medical Affairs perspective into the right audience. Right physicians at the right time with the right message.
Gary Lyons 03:31
My name is he says Gary Lyons I’m head of strategy with Fishawack. And in my role, I’m responsible for the firing range of different strategic areas, such as omni channel scientific communications planning, of course, those two elements are really closely linked to each other. So yeah, I work a lot at the moment with different clients in different settings and defining omni channel strategy is one of those key settings.
Lars Bauerle 03:54
Yes, thanks for having me, Stephen. I work as a product manager over at Definitive Healthcare really only subtle products around Kol identification and mapping and such. But at definitive, we provide data for many other purposes as well. So yeah, glad to be here to talk a little bit about omni channel, and what that might mean for us and how we can participate in it.
Martin Callaghan 04:21
Hi, Steve. Hi, Jen. Thanks for inviting me on to the podcast. Yeah, my name is Martin Callaghan. I’m Director of Innovation at Oxford Pharmagenesis. My career started in academia, where I was looking at the epidemiology and pathogenicity of neisseria meningitidis spent a few years doing some vaccinology work at the Department of Pediatrics or University Oxford and joined med comms around the time. I was 30 on George’s, a medical writer. I did that for a few years and then moved into more digital roles. So I’ve been setting up digital teams in different agencies over the past 10-15 years.
Sandeep Gantotti 04:57
Thank you, Steve I’m Sandeep Gantotti from Indegene, I’m a Associate VP in the company and the clinical pharmacist by background. I joined the industry about 12 years ago, and then been with Indogene for 12 years. And my focus really has been on omni channel enablement in Medical Affairs. So this is a topic very near and dear to my heart.
Tony Gottschalk 05:19
Sure, I’d be happy to Thanks for having me, Steve, it’s good to be here at MAPS with you. I’m Senior Principal at IQVIA is Medical Affairs Center of Excellence. I’ve been with IQVIA for four years. And my responsibility is to work with customers, biopharma customers, med tech customers, and advise on the setup and organizational design and execution of Medical Affairs strategies and tactics. IQVIA has a wide array of capabilities. And we always want to make sure that we’re bringing the best of those capabilities to clients to help them with their their key objectives. So I have a client advisory role.
Jennifer Riggins 05:54
Let’s take a listen to the first couple of definitions of omni channel from Charlotte, Tony and Lars.
Charlotte Moseley 06:00
So Omni channels really interesting word I think many people define it in many different ways. But for us, it’s about creating a really hyper personalized experience. So it’s putting the customer absolutely central to everything that we do. It also involves a level of automation, and also kind of live learning. So it’s not just about kind of delivering the right content, it’s about what can we learn from the interaction with that content? How do we adapt that content, again, to meet the needs of that customer, but putting the customer central to content to information that they may be seeking and want to interact with? That’s kind of how we look at omni channel, it’s a hyper personalized experience. So it’s a move away from kind of multi channel. So people are kind of doing omni channel light, and then this full omni channel, which obviously then involves data, quite often AI and content generation and putting all three together is the hard pieces of the puzzle.
Tony Gottschalk 07:04
IQVIA defines omni channel as ways to provide a consistent customer experience customer being the HCP they’re usually searching for looking for education, information on the latest evidence around products, pharmaceutical products, med tech products, and omni channel is a way to provide a consistent experience for those customers when they’re engaging with your organization. New typically scientific engagement from Pharma has been in person largely with field medical scientists now we have so many more channels of communication This is about ways to make that consistent ways to provide a consistent experience ways to disseminate and engage consistently with with customers with HCP customers. So that’s that’s how we define it.
Lars Bauerle 07:59
So the sort of a, how should I pronounce it you can think about multi channel is sort of the maybe the older way of doing it you bombard people with all the information through a number of different channels, right? But omni channel, then at least we feel it becomes more customer centric, really trying to understand what channels the customer prefers and how they listen to him and, and why and often to one, right. So you can really think more holistically about how to reach them in the best way. And part of that is also collecting the data around those channels, right? You got to test the known and improve and then understand really how that customer prefers to receive information and get it that way. So we think about it more from a customer centric strategy, actually than using and collecting data around those different channels understanding which one’s why. And also well.
Steve Casey 09:04
Let’s pause before we hear a few more definitions and discuss what we’ve just heard. Jen, let’s talk about this customer centric communication and the need for consistency in the communication.
Jennifer Riggins 09:15
You know, Steve, as I listened to these definitions, I can’t help but think about how important personalization, customer preference and customer centric communications are to omni channel communications. And in order to meet these targets, you know, I feel like it’s essential to have cross functional alignment around the responses and communications that are being provided to customers, you know, both from a consistency perspective, but also from the perspective of staying true to the science and the scientific platform. When delving into omni channel and centering the customer in the process. Consistency is core.
Steve Casey 09:51
I fully agree. With the structured approach to the scientific platform and communications planning, we have the building blocks for omni channel. They just really need to be developed further to deliver the consistency across channels. So let’s listen to Dylan and Gary.
Dylan Benton 10:06
You know, it’s really interesting because omni channel is a word that still really being misunderstood a bit within the organization really, within among our clients, and also our colleagues. You know, at first glance, you would think omni channel means all channels, right, but that’s a misnomer, it actually doesn’t. So, at Symbiotix, we defined omni channel as the use of many channels, both online offline, and it connected in a holistic way. So essentially, you know, we see omni channel as multi channel overlaid with metrics and data that help them form and provide more st teach strategic industries seamless approach to customer engagement, and that that optimal user experience for physicians. So for us, the key to effective omni channel is using data and personalized insights to educate with the right data at the right time at the right place to the right audience. Ultimately, the goal of an omni channel experience is to adapt and customize how we’re communicating with our audience based on how they’ve already engaged and really how they want to be engaged with in the future, in order to progress them down through that learning journey. So in Medical Affairs, the goal is the same, you know, except instead of driving a user to buy a new running shoes, the e commerce website, we’re educating healthcare providers, payers, or even patients in a way that really supports improved patient outcomes.
Gary Lyons 11:20
Well, it’s a really good question. I think that’s that’s been something we’ve seen a lot at MAPS so far haven’t been some of the people definitely finding on the channel, as well as discussing how to go about creating those plans. From my from my in the organization’s point of view, we see omni channel really is creating a personalized learning experience for HCPs really to give them the type of content that they’re looking for, in the way that they want it to be delivered to them. So it is about creating a personalized experience. Within a learning continuum. We think it’s really important that we undertake this learning continuum, because if if individuals feel that they’re progressing through a journey of education, they’re much more likely to interact that information, come back for more information, and have a much better experience. And ultimately, looking at the types of data and messages that farmers wanting to get across it. The adoption of that is much stronger when it’s an overall experience of learning that’s created. So for me, Omni channel is really about personalization of content.
Jennifer Riggins 12:22
Dylan and Gary just spoke about the importance of the learning journey and the personalized learning continuum as part of their definitions of omni channel. So Steve, what do you think about the importance of personalization and a learning journey?
Steve Casey 12:35
So, I would first like to clarify when we talk about learning journeys, what I think we’re really talking about is the learning journey on the scientific content that our particular Medical Affairs department is putting forth on that specific disease state or product. Currently, we’re really good at planning these journeys. I think that making these learning journeys, more customer centric and customized to that target stakeholders that really ensures that it’s their preferred form, and the overall key element, and that they’re trying to we’re trying to accomplish an omni channel. To me the goal of omni channel and Medical Affairs is really to have stakeholders access our information. So they’re informed about every pillar of the scientific platform.
Jennifer Riggins 13:19
Yes, Steve. And, you know, I’d like to also add that I think it’s important to use data and personalized insights to adapt and customize to the learner for progression on that learning journey also.,
Steve Casey 13:33
Alright, I’ll buy that. Let’s move on and listen to our last two definitions of omnichannel. For Martin and Sandeep.
Martin Callaghan 13:40
We see it, as I’m sure lots of other agencies see it as our clients is strategic data and insight driven, and really all about fostering ongoing connections with individual audience members, whether they be ATPs patients, we see it as consistent and synergistic in terms of content and experience delivery, personalized as well and seamlessly integrated across channels that that person prefers or that they can be persuaded to use. And that of course, covers physical channels in person channels and digital channels. And ideally, it also means a consistent way of being able to engage with a company and by the individual person, irrespective of one function or another.
Sandeep Gantotti 14:22
So I think it’s first important to answer that question to think about where the concept of omni channel came from. It’s really rooted in ecommerce. And really the intention there was to increase buying behavior to mitigate the empty shopping cart phenomenon from online shopping. So by touching consumers across different channels and different pathways in their buying patterns, they’re able to increase sales. Now we’re not increasing sales and Medical Affairs by definition. So when we define on The channel I think one of the reflections I’ve had recently as people talk about it as though it’s something you sprinkle, like magic dust on something, and then it comes on the channel. I think the way I would like to define it from our organization’s perspective, is a business practice, really, that’s meant to engage our customers in meaningful dialogues, across relevant channels to meet their requirements. So being respectful of what they prefer, how they prefer to receive it, and when they prefer to receive it. And that’s how we would define omni channel.
Jennifer Riggins 15:38
So you know, I think Martin brings out some of the points that we’ve just spoken about consistency and personalization. And then Sandeep brings home the point that it’s really about being respectful of our customers preferences of what, when, and how, and then engaging them in meaningful dialogue across channels. You know, and I love that he says that this isn’t a magical pixie dust that we can sprinkle on our customers, it’s really a business practice meant to engage our customers.
Steve Casey 16:06
You know, when I stopped to think about what Google knows about me, I think they know more about me than I know about myself, it’s really kind of scary, I think to do omni channel in the most effective way. Understanding our audience better than they may understand themselves is really where we’re going to have to head as an industry. As you say, we need to know the what, when and how to engage the stakeholder in a meaningful way. This really can only be accomplished through massive data capture, and curation. That’s a difficult challenge. I think for companies that are trying to stay asset light and organizationally lean.
Jennifer Riggins 16:47
That’s so true. You know, entering into omni channel isn’t for the weak of heart. And depending on available resourcing, you know, companies can take very different approaches to implementation. But you know, I think we’re gonna get into that in a few later episodes. So Steve, we’ve talked a lot about the similarities in these definitions. But did you also know the variations the unique spin that each person had on their definition of omni channel?
Steve Casey 17:11
Jen, that’s hard to miss. But it really, really proves the comment that someone said, Omni channel is very hard to define, I think it’s hard to wrap one definition of omni channel around all of Medical Affairs. What I found the most interesting is that we all seem to agree that omni channel is about delivering information to the customer in a fashion in which they prefer to consume it.
Jennifer Riggins 17:35
So I agree, Steve, and you know that with omni channel, it’s truly a holistic approach, keeping the customer central with interconnecting points from numerous areas of the company, resulting in an overall great customer experience. You know, additionally, and you know, I think this is a way that we can kind of button up this discussion, I feel like there are three key takeaways from what we’ve heard today. Keep the customer at the center. Be consistent in your responses, and be respectful of the what, when and how preferences. Would you agree with that?
Steve Casey 18:09
Ah, Jen, So so, so true. To me, the goal omni channel is customer centricity. Without being respectful of the customer, I don’t think any omni channel approach is going to work. Logically, we can assume that by treating the customer in this manner, they prefer it. And there should be benefits from that preference. Hopefully, we can come back to how we can measure the success of our omni channel effort as we progress this discussion in later episodes.
Jennifer Riggins 18:36
Absolutely. So with that, we want to thank our interviewees and their companies for giving us a glimpse into omni channel and how they define it. You know, in our upcoming episodes, we’ll go deeper into omni channel with this same group of interviewees. We’ll discuss implementing omni channel in Medical Affairs and then finally, how do we measure it? So look for our next episode, which should drop probably within the next week. Thank you for joining us today and listening to our podcast series “Digital First Scientific Communications”, a podcast production of the Digital Focus Area Working Group of the Medical Affairs Professional Society,
Steve Casey 19:15
And if you’re a MAPS member, thank you for your support, and if you’re not a MAPS member yet, I want to encourage you to join so you can access additional resources, visit the MAPS website today at MedicalAffairs.org/membership.