Measuring Digital Success in Pharma: Essential KPIs

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May 2020
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Which KPI's should pharma be using to assess the success of its digital technology investments?

The Covid-19 pandemic is fundamentally changing working practice and driving immediate expansion of digital solutions. But while digital technology and applications are integrated into all facets of pharma, from marketing and customer engagement to drug development and the supply chain, managers are challenged to select KPIs that really deliver insights and demonstrate success. The growth of 'Big Data' and associated AI and ML technologies can easily create KPI overload. Measuring everything in the hope of obtaining useful insights isn't a sustainable or cost-effective route for the future.

So what is the smart way of selecting KPIs, what should you be measuring, where are the pitfalls and how can you overcome challenges? To help answer these questions we interviewed US and European experts from companies such as AstraZeneca, Merck, Novartis and Sanofi to reveal in Measuring Digital Success in Pharma: Essential KPIs a wealth of practical ideas and strategies to inform your own KPI selection and evaluation agenda..

Experts explore key questions such as...

  • What are the top five KPIs for measuring digital marketing, HCP/patient engagement, personalized care and commercial success and why are these important?
  • What are the key challenges to measuring the success of a digital strategy and how can you overcome these obstacles?
  • Why do evaluation metrics need to consist of both leading and lagging KPIs?
  • What value-based KPIs should you be using to assess pharma's digital infrastructure?
  • What factors should be considered when setting KPIs for financial performance, customer satisfaction and brand performance?
  • Are KPIs that measure engagement more important than those that measure financial performance?
  • Why will using quantitative measures alone not be enough as digital capabilities mature?

What our experts say...

"The biggest challenge for measuring digital marketing strategy impact or success is that companies have many different digital marketing strategies created by people who work in silos. When this happens, nothing connects and best practices aren't shared across the whole organisation. In this situation, you're trying to achieve your success on one particular strategy, but what you're creating is multiple little silos of the same strategy. To overcome this, a company should establish an overall business objective to which all brands can align. Once this is achieved, the company can develop an overarching strategy to fulfil that objective. For example, companies can create five different websites for five different brands. However, within the healthcare space, if you have one portal which has five products that are aimed at one particular healthcare audience, you can create a much more consistent experience. It also makes it much easier [for pharma] to be compliant and measure the impact [of the strategy], creating a governance process to make sure we are following all the global and local regulations and building capabilities with long-term digital, multichannel and omnichannel requirements in mind. This in turn enables you to maximise traffic on the site, even if you're launching a new product in the future, as you already have the audience there. Therefore, I would say delivering a cohesive experience of your strategy is very important to your success."
Arpita Pani
Ferring Pharmaceuticals

"The KPIs that are used for measuring patient digital success are the same ones as HCPs – touch, activate, engage and act – but with different examples of course. Touch and activation scores are similar and include measurements such as open rates, content downloads and registrations. The engagement stage is more indirect for patients compared to HCPs in that it involves social listening, watching, hearing and seeing what is happening in open spaces around our brands, compounds and activity. The act stage depends on the medical and commercial side of things where patients actively participate in trials, so KPIs that measure how quickly we can fill a trial could be used."
Anonymous, Director of Multichannel Operations

"Another challenge is capabilities in analytics and in understanding the data. The more this measurement culture happens and the more it relies on real-life data, the more you need to develop capabilities to understand what the data means. This does not apply to sales data only. There are many other potential sources to be analysed. There are metrics that come from real-life scenarios or real-world usage and they are not as straightforward to interpret. Sometimes you may even see the opposite of what you're expecting. It is important to nurture capabilities in understanding data, analytics, having an idea of what exactly you want to find in the data, and forming hypotheses upfront. These are all critical to successfully measure outcomes. Whoever is putting the digital tool in place must be able to analyse the data."
Milena Saleh

What to expect

A detailed report revealing US and European digital expert insights into the issues and challenges of setting meaningful KPIs to assess the success of digital solutions:

  • An examination of 7 key issues that impact digital technology assessment and KPI selection
  • 15 targeted questions put to digital experts
  • Their responses which provided 44 insights supported by 63 directly quoted comments

Expert contributors

Experts contributing to this report have been screened to ensure they have:

  • More than five years' experience within a pharma role that has a digital component, e.g. digital strategy, customer engagement, drug development or data analytics, or
  • A named digital role: Chief Digital Officer; Digital Engagement; Digital Health; Digital Strategy; Digital Transformation Lead, and
  • Direct experience of designing, implementing or analysing digital KPIs

Contributors include

  • Karan Arora is the Chief Commercial Digital Officer and Global Vice President at AstraZeneca, which makes him responsible for the digital transformation of commercial aspects of the organization. He directs the use of next-generation omnichannel digital marketing capabilities across therapeutic areas and markets to drive commercial upside and operational efficiencies. Karan also leads digital health initiatives across patients, providers, and payers to increase value across the ecosystem. With 20 years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry, previously working with Abbott, Novartis, Hospira (now Pfizer) and McKinsey & Company. Karan is highly skilled in business strategy, digital marketing, and digital health.
  • Chetak Buaria is a pharmaceutical and healthcare executive with over 20 years' experience across diverse functions and cultures. He currently serves as the Global Head of Customer Engagement and Channel Evolution for Biopharma business of Merck Group, Germany, where he leads a global team that is responsible for the deployment and adoption of technology solutions to improve customer engagement and commercial excellence. Together with his team, he has established several best-in-class initiatives and rolled out digital engagement channels for global commercial excellence. His specialties include strategy and cross-functional team leadership.
  • Dr. Jane Folske is the Executive Director, Advanced Analytics, Digital Accelerator at Merck & Co., located in the USA, where she leads the development of analytics strategy for customer engagement and marketing/promotion investment decision support and facilitates embedding relevant capabilities in markets. She is responsible for partnering with in-country leaders of advanced analytics and digital transformation to improve customer experiences and business outcomes using data and analytics capabilities (e.g., test-and-learn approaches, promotion response modelling, marketing mix optimization, and AI-based approaches to automate 1:1 customer engagement journeys). She is actively influencing the evolution of advanced analytics in her company to support marketing investment decisions and generate value in pharma's digital transformation. Jane has more than 25 years' experience in the healthcare industry and has worked in pharma for over 15 years.
  • Susanne Gruber is the Global Digital Health Solutions Head, Respiratory at Novartis, Switzerland, a position she has held since August 2016. She is responsible for the design and commercialization of Respiratory Franchise digital health solutions. She develops the digital strategy in collaboration with cross-functional teams, to support Franchise business objectives. With 18 years of experience in the pharma industry, and as an expert in digital health solutions, Susanne is well-versed in achieving digital success in pharma.
  • Arpita Pani is the Senior Commercial Governance and Digital Strategy Manager at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, UK. She has previously led various digital transformation programmes in organisations including Pfizer, Janssen, Abbott, UCB, Novartis and eBay. A seasoned digital and multichannel strategic consultant with over 15 years of experience, she holds an international MBA from the USA and a diploma in digital marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the UK. Her specialties include KPI development and measurement, and data/social intelligence and insight development.
  • Milena Saleh has been Global Director of Digital Health at Sanofi, Germany, for more than six years. With over 17 years of experience with the company, she is an expert in pharma marketing and digital health and innovation. In her current role, she is responsible for defining and driving global Sanofi diabetes digital health products, translating customer insights and needs into product requirements, following up on the product development and supporting country teams in implementing digital health products and services.
  • Anonymous was the Director of Multichannel Operations at a European multinational pharma company, when interviewed for this report. Over the previous five years, he held several roles within this company, including Director of Digital Innovation and Director of Customer Engagement Strategy. He has acquired more than 24 years of versatile experience in sales, marketing, public relations, brand management, strategy, business development, digital innovation, customer engagement and multichannel strategy across a variety of industries.
  • Anonymous is the Digital Strategy Lead at an American multinational pharmaceutical company, where she is responsible for driving the digital strategy of the company across the region. At a previous role, she had been responsible for the creation of e-learning and digital training materials, as well as the administration of a virtual platform for training and evaluations. Her career has spanned three multinational drug firms in the past six years, leading commercial and capability building roles at local and regional levels.

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