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Takeda’s Data-driven Approach to HCP Engagement

With 25% of healthcare professional (HCP) touchpoints now virtual or remote, how can life sciences companies use a data-driven approach to understand the value of each call channel? And how can reps use data to better serve customers in today’s hybrid environment encompassing face-to-face, video, text, email, and more?

These are the questions that keep Eric Solis, director and lead data scientist at Takeda, up at night—along with what I imagine are countless other commercial leaders figuring out how to navigate this new engagement landscape. Eric and I recently sat down to discuss the new challenges field teams are facing today and how Takeda’s partnership with Veeva is uncovering data solutions that he hopes will advance the industry.

Navigating changing HCP behaviors

While pre-COVID interactions with physicians were primarily driven by live, in-person detailing, a blend of digital and in-person engagement is quickly becoming the norm. As a result, what was once characterized as homogenous HCP behavior has shifted to a new mix of idiosyncratic preferences.

“This has really pushed the need to personalize,” says Solis, especially when considering the fact that even before the pandemic, HCP preferences had begun to swing toward digital. With more than 70% of HCPs now digital natives, many want the same digital conveniences they’re experiencing as consumers in a professional setting as well.

Takeda’s commercial operations team knew that understanding these preferences would be key to successful engagement, so they turned to the data science team for help. In partnership with Veeva Business Consulting, Solis and team came up with a solution that would take the burden off of reps to solve the engagement problem customer by customer. Instead, they would leverage industrywide data to glean insights that would help accelerate the adjustment period and shorten the trial-and-error process.

Understanding customer preferences and extending reach

As an industry benchmark, Veeva Pulse data provides a global and local view of HCP engagement across hundreds of life sciences companies. By analyzing and segmenting its own engagement data and comparing it to Veeva Pulse trends, Takeda can understand where gaps in their current approaches exist and where other companies’ reps are seeing greater success with individual HCPs. “It’s a straightforward readout of the target list, doctor by doctor,” says Solis. “The data exposes where we’re aligned with the rest of the industry and where there are gaps.”

Ultimately, Takeda hopes to provide its reps with real-time intelligence that gives them insight into ways to improve engagement based on what is working for others. “Now that we’re essentially starting from scratch due to new HCP preferences, we need analytics to help our reps quickly understand their customers and prescribing behaviors,” says Solis.

Insights from data can also help companies reach new HCPs more effectively and efficiently. For example, they can target new patient populations and engage physicians specializing in that area by understanding their engagement patterns and which tactics are effective.

Beyond tactics, data analysis can be used to uncover content themes and interests that drive engagement. “The goal is to give physicians the information they need to make a difference in the way they’re treating patients to improve outcomes,” says Solis. “We can use data to get a sense of what content HCPs are engaging with and based on that, what the next best action would be.”

Measuring the value of a call

At a more strategic level, companies should also re-evaluate how they determine the value of a call and use this to guide territory design, call planning, and rep training and coaching. Data drives these decisions by helping companies understand which HCPs are most receptive to which types of engagement, enabling reps to better prepare and plan.

“This is how to supercharge our ability to get there, by looking for patterns in industrywide engagements and HCP behavior,” says Solis. “The value of a call can be derived through this rich data and help us figure out not just how to exist in this environment but thrive.”

Standardizing metrics in your customer relationship management (CRM) system will be key to measuring the value of each call. Reps need to specify which interactions they’re having via remote meetings, in-person visits, email, phone, and other channels. And even better when it’s done using the same standard metrics across the industry, as this will allow companies to pinpoint specific behavioral patterns and better understand HCP preferences for targeting.

However, the shift doesn’t need to be heavy-handed or viewed as fundamentally different. Rather, says Solis, “it’s a way to expand both the breadth of positions that we can engage with as well as new opportunities because we don’t have to rely solely on face-to-face detailing to achieve the same level of engagement.”

Collaboration will be key

While the benefits of a data-driven approach to understanding HCP preferences and optimizing engagement are clear, challenges remain for companies to harness enough data to extrapolate valuable insights. “As we adapt, we need to figure out how to build partnerships between manufacturers, vendors, and analytics partners to solve these complex new problems,” says Solis.

Takeda continues to build out its data science partnerships, including working with Veeva to hone its approach to promotional response analytics. Ultimately, the goal is not just about helping Takeda’s own field force optimize HCP engagement, but the industry as a whole move forward. “We’re all on this journey together,” says Solis. “It may sound a little hokey, but it really is an enjoyable way to work on a challenging problem.”

To dive deeper into Veeva’s industrywide benchmark data, read the Emerging Trends in Global HCP Engagement report.

1 Veeva Pulse, July 2021