Back to stories

Anticipating the new drivers of behaviour in healthcare

15th June, 2020

Hero 1

Like others, we’ve been closely watching the unprecedented rate of change we have seen in healthcare markets recently, driven by responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first of our three latest articles on priorities and areas of focus for leaders navigating out of lockdown.

Pharma diagram

We have observed both positive and negative impacts on brands as a result of new drivers of physician prescribing decisions.

Physicians are looking for alternatives to face to face contact with their patients, so as expected we’ve seen a rise in telephone and video consultations, but we’ve also seen treatment selection swing in favour of brands that can be used independently by patients in their own homes.

we’ve also seen treatment selection swing in favour of brands that can be used independently by patients in their own homes. 

Product attributes such as, “no need for regular blood tests” have driven, for example, a switch away from low molecular weight heparins to alternatives that do not require routine monitoring where anticoagulants are indicated.

We’ve seen the balance shift from office administered iv formulations of cancer therapies, to home administered subcutaneous injections, even in markets where a lower financial reward is the result for the physician.

We’ve also seen regulators move to encourage these types of decisions too, for example, giving early permission for the use of digital tools delivering cognitive behavioural therapy alongside anti-psychotics to schizophrenia patients in the US.

So, we’re left with some key questions as we consider how to best help our clients address these new market dynamics:

  • Are new prescriber behaviors temporary? Will the new priorities for physician decision making become established as a new normal? Or will physicians revert to their previous behaviours as lock downs ease around the world?
  • Will patients settle on a new normal? Will patients become bolder, embracing the new ways to access healthcare and requesting alternative treatment regimens that are more convenient for them? Or will patients seek out the reassurance of more regular face to face contact again?
  • Will payers incentivize new behaviors? Will financial rewards and incentives be changed to reflect our increased belief in digital technologies and remote interactions? Or will old paradigms determining payment once again prove to be a key driver of decision making?
  • Who will add the most value “beyond the pill”? How will competitors respond to these new dynamics? What will be the cost of not providing new services and solutions that ease the use of a brand?
  • Will unprecedented levels of press coverage of drug review impact how regulators and policy makers will respond to these new dynamics? What new opportunities will there be in a world where attitudes towards drug development, diagnostic infrastructures, physician / patient contact and the impact of care settings have changed?

As we wrestle with new challenges, we have focused our approach to scenario planning to help manage shorter term uncertainties too

The possibilities can seem endless, and organising your thoughts in a way to allow sensible prioritisation is key. No more can we simply cast aside those high impact / low probability scenarios. We know all too well that they happen now.

As we wrestle with new challenges, we have focused our approach to scenario planning to help manage shorter term uncertainties too. It’s proving a valuable tool as we deal with an ever-growing list of market variables that need to be considered in brand and portfolio strategies.

Dealing with uncertainties both short and long term is hard when you’re building a brand plan, so tools to challenge and structure your thinking and enable more robust risk mitigation can be helpful.

And, it’s worth mentioning that we are doing this all virtually across a variety of platforms.

If you’d like to talk more and are interested in the re-purposing of some of our challenge tools, please do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

Around eight months ago, Oxford published a short, animated video explaining why we often use scenario planning as a tool to drive better thinking for long term strategic development:

Join our mailing list