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March 8, 2022

New technology has raised consumers’ digital expectations, changing the user experience that sectors like retail, finance, and travel provide. Users now expect the same hyper-personalized, automated, and real-time experience from pharma companies. Organizations that can meet these expectations will optimize their commercial performance and gain a competitive edge. One that results in improved brand recall and loyalty. As life sciences companies work towards devising truly patient-centric experiences and solutions, leveraging technologies such as big data, digital, AI, and blockchain is crucial.

A new approach to improving customer experience  

Discounts, rebates, and loyalty programs can be cumbersome for drug companies to administer. Since these can involve several parties, such as—insurers, healthcare organizations, distributors, and financial institutions. Blockchain is a secure, standardized way of managing a loyalty marketing programs. It can also be integrated with existing digital assets, such as HCP (health care professionals) or patient portals. Digital rewards such as loyalty points are much easier to govern using blockchain. It can also provide value-added benefits, such as digital continuing professional development (CPD). With blockchain, an HCP can choose their loyalty reward using their preferred device and digital platform.

The cost of acquiring a new customer outweighs the cost of retaining an existing customer. Using blockchain, pharma companies can transform and enrich the customer experience. For example, smart contracts—programs that typically automate the execution when predetermined conditions are met—can be used to verify purchases and automatically redeem rewards. The provider can waive off processing and overhead costs and the payer can get rewarded immediately.

Elevating patient security and privacy in life sciences

Secure communications and information exchange between patients and other parties in the value chain is critical. As more health records are available in electronic form—including the data generated from wearables, social media, and digital therapeutics—a secure facility for data sharing is a pressing need. Imagine a scenario where a doctor prescribes a traditional medicine as well as a digital therapy, such as a companion app for smart phones. The data from both the therapies can be securely shared by the patient with the doctor, the drug company and even disease experts, using a blockchain-based electronic record system. This will improve the medical treatment and help develop personalized, patient-centered care plans.

Blockchain-based authentication is more secure than traditional username and password for accessing online services. Since many pharma companies have multiple online touch points with HCPs and patients, streamlining authentication into a single methodology would be a vast security improvement. Additionally, with blockchain's distributed public key infrastructure, passwords will no longer be required.

For privacy, while storing personal data on the blockchain network, the owner can decide which element(s) of the data can be shared, and with whom. Each block in the chain is encrypted and is protected from being stolen, deleted, copied, or falsified. Blockchain ensures that the medical information shared between pharma companies and HCPs or health care organizations (HCOs), retains its integrity.

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) depends on access to the internet to share medical data from wearables, sensors, and other devices. It is possible to create decentralized networks that enable communication between inter-networked devices without the risk of being hacked.

To ensure that correct and on-brand information about new product launches or new market entrants reaches the end users, blockchain can provide a platform wherein only genuine advertisements for a medicine, therapy or digital service can be shown, at the right time with lower publishing and tracking costs. This eliminates click fraud—the act of illegally clicking on online advertisements to exhaust a company’s advertising budget or increase site revenue—letting the user view relevant, genuine advertisements.

Given the industry’s risk averse nature and stringent regulatory guidelines, there are very few use cases of blockchain in the commercial life sciences space today. Although the industry has been slow to adopt blockchain, it is here to stay and transform digital experiences for decades to come.

In life sciences, where customer experience is key to increasing brand awareness, recall and improving customer loyalty, organizations that are ready and willing to implement blockchain in their marketing strategy and ecosystems, will be seen as disrupters. Companies that are willing to take a little risk can potentially change the dimension of customer experience. They can start with small, iterative steps, such as undertaking trial pilots. Although there are hurdles to overcome, the potential benefits are enormous.

Jay Rabheru is the director of marketing technology for TCS commercial life sciences and has over 13 years of pharma industry experience. Jay works with clients to create market-leading digital marketing and commercial strategies that deliver value for patients. He is a technology enthusiast and a commercial transformation leader. Jay, who has studied law in London, has completed Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD).

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