Steve Glover is group director of IMS HEALTH's Decision Support Consulting Group. Glover has considerable expertise in aligning business and information strategy as it relates to pharmaceutical sales and marketing data warehouses, contracting systems, sales force automation intranet/extranet capabilities and electronic business. IMS HEALTH is the world's leading provider of information solutions to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

Steve Glover would like to thank Chris Franklin, product development manager at IMS HEALTH, for his contribution to this month's column.

Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies have targeted physicians, hospitals and allied healthcare professionals for their products and services. Companies "pushed" information to their field forces in order to increase selling activities to the "typical" customer. However, this approach often meant timing delays and inconsistent quality. The technical approach was based upon integrating point solutions with different data models ­ all to meet the demands of the market and consumer.

Moving forward, companies should consider adopting a customer relationship management (CRM) model. Not only does the CRM model address these needs, it also adds value to the organization by helping drive revenue and profits. In addition, CRM models offer:

  • Data links to promote better efforts and improve results analysis.
  • Focused, analytic capabilities that accelerate understanding and effectiveness.
  • Portable systems that offer greater sales force productivity.
  • Improved access to customer and market information throughout the company.

Now that e-commerce is evolving so rapidly, companies are struggling to create processes, products and services to meet the needs of the consumer and patient.
There are five main objectives for pharmaceutical companies using the CRM approach.

  1. Effectively manage franchises and product life cycles.
  2. Interface, access and influence the customer experience.
  3. Effectively manage consumer interactions with the company (customer care).
  4. Optimize product position in each market segment.
  5. Develop an information architecture that supports CRM and knowledge management.

By applying CRM methodology, companies can meet those goals. CRM helps appropriately identify market need. A defined market allows a company to manage its total cost of ownership. This is accomplished by: targeting marketing message to proper segments of consumers/customers; measuring performance by market segment, consumer/customer and strategy; and effectively designing and testing product positioning.
CRM methodology also creates a standard information exchange to optimize cross-functional knowledge sharing. It develops its own memory instead of a few borrowed minds. This encourages a company to share information at the "local level" where it can have the most effect. For instance, product/brand managers can develop an appropriate life cycle for a product. With the life cycle defined, the product/brand manager can effectively manage a product's life cycle. In addition, prior to a product release the marketing organization can develop specific value-add services and can identify effective partnering opportunities which will provide information and resources to aid the deployment of the product.

At an online pharmacy, consumers have access to a full line of pharmacy, health and beauty products at their convenience. Consumers can receive assistance through interaction with pharmacists, personalized service and valuable information. However, there is a disadvantage that should be addressed. A relationship needs to be developed in order to replace the retail pharmacy ­ an Internet pharmacy must offer more than just an online mail order system. More importantly, the company must overcome the perceived privacy/security of personal information.

Just as crucial to its success, an online pharmacy must also ease the concerns of regulatory groups. This is an issue primarily because the Internet pharmacy may make self-diagnosis and treatment easier and more prevalent. In addition, the Internet provides access to foreign products for purchase. To be successful, it is imperative that products offered are top quality and customer service is adequate to eliminate product misuse and self-diagnosis as much as possible.

If all the success factors are achieved, the pharmaceutical company can have one huge benefit: a database of consumer buying patterns, needs, etc.

CRM helps companies achieve the maximum value of their investments. Implementing such a solution helps a company realize their investment in the shortest amount of time while expending very little effort and time. In turn, the company will have a handle on their total cost of ownership while earning the most revenue.

E-commerce is only one example where CRM could be used to help a company. Another application includes making information available to providers. This could prove invaluable when a company is trying to get a product on formulary, proving a new indication or helping further research and development efforts.

By using CRM, companies will have a guide to help catapult them into the next millennium.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Information Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access