How can biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies achieve the full potential of content personalisation?

Views & Analysis
doctor on a computer working

By Carlos Casanova

Healthcare and life sciences companies have an unrealised opportunity to maximise the benefits of personalising their customer communication initiatives. While copious information about each of its customer types is already available, real-world customer behavioural data has yet to be leveraged to maximise healthcare content and engagement strategies.

The Imperative: meaningful customer engagement

Despite the available research on the needs of various healthcare stakeholders (e.g. patients, caregivers, physicians, other healthcare professionals and payers), companies within this sector still struggle to achieve effective and meaningful engagement. A key to realising meaningful engagement is to facilitate personalised content that assists in customer decision-making. The main characteristics that contribute to personalised content’s success is for it to: be credible, easy to find (i.e. deployed based on the customer preferred channel and delivery format) and, above all, relevant.

As reliance on technology and the use of online resources increases, one data source that can assist in creating meaningful engagement through personalised content is real-world digital behavioural data, which the life science industry is yet to fully leverage.

Other industries, and companies like Amazon, illustrate how harnessing this type of data delivers enhanced customer experience, increased loyalty and measurable lifts on ROI. Within the healthcare and life sciences industry, while it is necessary to obey stricter privacy regulations, gathering real-world customer behavioural data becomes fundamental to more meaningful and personalised digital engagement. This is particularly important in ex-US markets where other real-world data sources are even more difficult to obtain. In addition, a detailed view of digital behaviours would not only shed light on customers’ specific unmet content needs, but also customers’ interaction with competitor’s content.

What content do healthcare customers need?

In general terms and through looking into the real-world digital behaviours of different customer types, we know that:

  • Healthcare Professionals fail 2/3 of the time to find disease-related information, specifically condition management, comorbidities and patient sub-groups1
  • Patients and caregivers are empowered with information now more than ever. They not only seek to understand how their prescribed treatment works, but also whether there are alternatives better suited for their circumstances. As many as 78% of patients search – yet unsuccessfully in more than half of cases – for information beyond their specific conditions, especially on the services and tools to more effectively manage their health holistically2
  • Payers’ main interest lies in clinical and health economic outcomes information. However, there is a significant gap on available online content suited to their needs. Less than 25% of payers find relevant information that could influence their reimbursement decision specifically on topics such as disease-area trend reports, post-launch real-world evidence, population health management, and adherence services that improve health outcomes3

The (unrealised) opportunity

The content developed and sponsored without customer’s real-world behaviours is currently yielding limited results. For example, when analysing the real-world online behaviours of a subset of HCPs, it was found that 57% of their searches were unsuccessful (Consulting at McCann Health, 2018 – Real-world digital behavioural project among physicians of a particular specialty in EU5 countries). With more than half of the time customers not getting the content they are looking for, this means that healthcare and life science companies have a significant unrealised opportunity to cost-efficiently address exact content and information needs.

The insights gathered by examining customer’s digital behaviours can be translated into actionable recommendations to inform and constantly improve communication strategies leading to more targeted and meaningful engagement. To provide another example, when Consulting at McCann Health analysed HCP real-world digital behavioural data, hyper-specific recommendations allowed a pharmaceutical company to refine their publication strategy from a common “buzz” topic to one closely related. The closely related topic proved to be more relevant and one that physicians actually read. As a result, the company saw an increase in both the number of physicians engaged across six different European markets and the time physicians spent consuming the refined content in each of those markets.

It is worth noting that, when any given programme is deployed based on real-world digital behaviours, it is equally important to capture customer feedback in regards to content, messaging and channel preference. This will provide both a way to measure the effectiveness of the programme and the necessary data to course-correct as needed.

By providing personalised information using real-world, data-driven content strategies, healthcare and life science companies will allow customers to see their content needs addressed in a hyper-specific manner and become more customer-centric. Healthcare professionals, patients, caregivers and payers will be able to access personalised content that support appropriate decision-making, which will position healthcare companies as their partner in care. In parallel, companies will see improved product performance and investments in communications maximised, ultimately leading to increased ROI.

About the author

Carlos Casanova started his career in scientific medical research, followed by 9+ years working in various commercial roles across LATAM, APAC, US and Europe. He currently specialises in assisting life science companies in optimising their multichannel strategies based on an in-depth understanding of customer behaviour. Some of the most innovative work in this area in which he has been directly involved was published in ISPOR: EUROPE (Nov 2018) and US (May 2019). At the present, Carlos works for Consulting at McCann Health based in New York City where they have developed a method to collect and analyse customer online behavioural data that is HIPPA, GDPR and compliant with the strictest privacy regulations. His team translates insights gathered through this method into hyper-specific recommendations to inform the optimisation and personalisation of engagement communication strategies. Click here to contact the author.



1 Consulting at McCann Health, 2018 – Real-world digital behavioural project among physicians of a particular specialty from U.S. and EU5 countries.

2 Consulting at McCann Health, 2019 – Real-world digital behavioural project among patients of a specific condition in 3 ex-US countries.

3 Consulting at McCann Health, 2018 – Real-world digital behavioural project among payers of 9 ex-US markets.