If you could read your clients’ minds, what answers would you want to know?

Ralph Sutton
Ralph Sutton

AVENIR GLOBAL International Manager Partner, and AXON President, Ralph Sutton doesn’t need to be telepathic to know what his healthcare clients want – he asks them. In the current climate, he understands one of the key needs of clients is honesty, and sometimes bluntness.

Ralph pointed out that clients are looking for new avenues from their agency partners. They appreciate heritage in healthcare and expertise in the medical and clinical settings but are now asking for further creative input, not in making things look different or more striking, more around creative thinking.

”There are a lot of industry trends out there, but there's nothing better than speaking to the clients firsthand and understanding the challenges that are on the ground. I’ve been meeting with clients face-to-face over the past few weeks, and there are common themes which keep coming up.” Ralph Sutton, International Managing Partner, AVENIR GLOBAL and President, AXON

“And this is how we should be working with clients, listening to them and providing straight-talking advice. They like to have access to people who are experts in their field, who can give them that direction, who can give them that voice.”

“Recently, more and more clients said that they know they need to think about new channels to reach their audiences. It’s just they may not know how to begin doing that.”

“As a firm, AXON is focused on how we help our clients communicate more effectively with communities which they struggle to reach. So, we are getting them to think about channel strategy and to ensure we are reaching those different communities in ways that are meaningful and impactful.”

Having worked with many healthcare organizations to evolve their approach to channel communications, we have discovered some consistent insights that truly work.

We’ve developed a resource outlining the six factors we believe pharmaceutical and biomedical organizations should consider when delivering omnichannel strategy and marketing: https://axon-com.com/news/omni...

Determining what channels and approaches to use when considering a new clinical trial is now more important than ever. The right channel strategy, incorporating marketing, branding and education, can lead to better and more accurate clinical outcomes. This has clear benefits for both industry and patients

Shawn Patterson
Shawn Patterson

Shawn Patterson, is AXON’s Senior Vice President, Clinical Studies, based in Toronto, Canada. She agrees on the importance of a true reach into all communities, to get accuracy and trust in data research. The necessity to reach patients, carers, support networks and medical communities cannot be ignored when planning trials.

She added: “I think in the clinical space everyone is coming at this with such incredible intention, but how do we navigate it? How do we ensure that the brand, the marketing, the education around these clinical studies isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach?”

“It’s certainly a conversation that has been happening over the past few years, and we need to ensure that we are reaching those diverse communities, meeting the needs of the underserved populations. What we’ve been doing up to this point to try to ensure that our clinical studies are diverse, is clearly not working.”

“We’re still seeing studies falling short of meeting diverse targets. I was at a conference recently where there was a study team that was so proud and thankful that they had achieved a 4.8% recruitment of African Americans in their study. And they should be proud but the fact that we’re only still able to do that means that we still have a lot of work to do.”

“You know, people want to see themselves in their healthcare providers; that they have the same experience, culture, language, which establishes trust.”

“One approach to really support and help us to meet these underserved populations is to be more mindful and thoughtful right at the beginning of a program development. If we wait until study development, I believe that is too late.”

Chuck Johnston, Managing Partner, Clinical Studies, agrees and says understanding patient motivation is also a key part in a successful clinical study.

Chuck Johnston
Chuck Johnston

More time needs to be spent on paying attention to the patient cohort, no matter if the topic is a rare disease, diabetes, or obesity. He added: “Clinical study sites need to think about this and the channels of communication and incorporate this into the study design. This will help achieve the objective for the sponsor. By really paying attention to the needs and the motivation of active stakeholders, this helps us as communication consultants. We’re then able to craft the right story at the right time to the right audience with the right tone, in the right manner and through the right channel.”

Emma Lemon
Emma Lemon

Emma Lemon, Medical Practice Lead, has considered the potential of technology for clients and in particular artificial intelligence (AI) across the drug and discovery pipeline. Truly personalized medicine is some way off, and AI will be a major driving force in getting there.

“Pharma needs to be focused on bridging the gap from patient discharge and the home healthcare setting. Enhancing the development of patient diagnosis and treatment and connecting with healthcare professionals in primary care. The groundwork will begin with robust clinical trials, and this requires planning and investment,” she said.

Taking this thought further, Chuck concludes that the industry will benefit by concentrating on developing the hybrid model, because purely decentralized trials (DCTs) in isolation may not achieve the required outcomes. Hybrid models can support the change that is needed to reach wider communities.

Chuck said, “For some studies, depending on the disease, the patient population and the complexity of the study, a DCT on its own would not work. Therefore, what we need to see is a mix of DCT, hybrid and more traditional study designs in the short term.”

Colette Balaam
Colette Balaam

Colette Balaam, Managing Partner, US, has examined this trend. She believes there is a need to look at the commercialization of digital therapeutics (DTx) in the same way we do with pharma and biotech. We need to ensure claims align with verified clinical evidence and are supported by regulatory approval.

The potential for patient benefits is exciting; however, DTx could be used independently of drugs as a first step in treating certain conditions, and as an adjunct. Colette has highlighted a recent partnership between Boehringer Ingelheim and Click Therapeutics. The two companies plan to develop and commercialize a novel mobile application, which can be used as a stand-alone or in combination with medication to help people with schizophrenia.

All these trends will transform the pharmaceutical industry. But for real movement, the healthcare industry will have to increase its collaboration with healthcare providers and medical technology companies. Working in isolation for any industry committed to the best outcomes for patients is no longer an option.