Pharma, Technology, and Healthcare in the New Normal

Podcast, Videos


In this episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, I talked to Brian Canestraro, General Manager at Intercept Pharmaceuticals. We discussed a range of hot topics, from Brian’s leadership lessons and tips to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way that Pharma conducts clinical trials and interacts with HCPs and patients. We also explored subjects such as patient-centricity, how Pharma’s business model will change in the future, and the role of digital technologies in clinical trials and medical education.

Here is a preview of our conversation:

Q: What do you see as being some of the fundamental differences about what it meant to be a sales representative for the life sciences space back in the day, and what do you think it means today, representing a company in the new normal?

A: It’s a fantastic question. Back in the day, people who have been around long enough will remember that our model was much more about sharing a voice and these important dimensions around reach and frequency that we would constantly monitor. It was more of an activity-based role. I think for a lot of people like myself that remember that time, it wasn’t as fulfilling as the role is today. Today, I think the role of a sales rep pre-COVID was much more about being a value broker to the diversity of offerings that any company was bringing to HCPs that can help improve the lives of the patients.

What we have learned in the last 6 or 7 months of COVID, and quite frankly, I have been incredibly impressed with the resilience of my team and how quickly we pivoted. I think “pivoted” is the right word; we were not on a natural evolution to change. The industry is not very rapid in terms of changing. While the science looks incredible and innovative, we probably have not followed along in terms of commercial execution in lockstep with that. What has changed in the last six or seven months of these from my sales team’s perspective is it looks like much more of a B2B capability.

HCPs still see a value in interacting with the industry, but how we deliver that value is different. Clearly, it’s much more remote. You are depending less on a relationship. You are taking what could have been a 30- or 40-minute exchange, and now you’re trying to truncate that into maybe a 5- to 10-minute Zoom call, but all the while the physician is looking for value. In my perspective, there are probably three things that have changed.

I think the first thing is that it’s going to be important to recognize that this remote world demands a higher level of insights generation because if you want to create content that’s meaningful to customers, you’re going to have to do that in a way that’s based on meeting their needs and understanding what their needs are.

The second thing is it puts a really high bar against content creation. Content will be king but importantly differentiated content that adds value and that can be pulsed and offered consistently is going to be really important in a world where we are increasingly remote.

I think the third thing is when you start to translate the insights and the content, it puts a greater emphasis on collaboration. Whereas before, you might have a specialty rep collaborating a lot with a Medical Affairs MSL and potentially a PSP program. Now, you are perhaps adding a marketer or a BI person next to start triangulating all of that and to think about more bespoke delivery on our offerings.

I think of the rep as still being a quarterback in terms of the value offering but it looks much more B2B in this world than it maybe did pre-COVID…

For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Brian Canestraro, or listen to the podcast version, below.

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About Impetus Digital

Impetus Digital is the spark behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis. Our best-in-class technology and professional services ensure that life science organizations around the world can easily and cost-effectively grow and prosper—from brand or idea discovery to development, commercialization, execution, and beyond—in collaboration with colleagues, customers, healthcare providers, payers, and patients.