Kantar Health Blog

Achieving authentic innovation

by Lynnette Cooke | Sep 22, 2011
Lynnette Cooke

When I think about the state of the economy and the state of the bio-pharma industry, my head starts to spin. Some say these are unprecedented times. Unprecedented times by their very nature require an ability to break from the past in order to anticipate and respond. Just consider the following moments from the past year:

  • As recently seen in Korea and Germany, government mandates impacting access and reimbursement levels are putting tremendous pressure on bio-pharmaceutical companies. And this is happening all over the world.
  • More and more manufacturers are pushing information through YouTube; and not just to consumers.
  • Twitter has become a credible resource for information gathering and polling.

Maybe we saw some of these events on the horizon, but their impact, as well as the impact of scores of other events on our businesses,  is accelerating. That is why authentic innovation is a core value instilled at Kantar Health. Authentic innovation for us means not only introducing a solution for an unmet need in the marketplace but shaping the marketplace in the process. It means being so close to the market that we have a vision of the future and what we can do, along with our clients, to make that future a reality.

In part it may still be about new methodologies or approaches to problem solving, but it is also about the way in which we envision the future and deliver solutions with a depth of insight that makes a tangible impact on our clients businesses. To do so, we must deliver as business partners, not just data providers or purveyors of findings.

Think about the life-sciences industry specifically. “Product” innovation is at the forefront of every manufacturer’s strategy. Yet, a recent study* showed that only slightly more than 50% of top bio pharma executives think their organizations are placing enough emphasis on innovation. That same study validated that focused programs end with results. Those who believe their innovation programs are “very effective” produce about twice as many new products as others. This success is based on their consistent use of data and health outcomes studies to prove economic value. Sadly, these statistics highlight the reality that inertia gets in the way of thinking innovatively.

In addition to developing something novel, innovation can also mean applying existing approaches in new and imaginative ways, directed to a future that has not yet come fully into focus. For example, recognizing the growing influence of consumerism in the pharmaceutical industry we started using techniques common in consumer research, but rarely seen in the pharma industry, years before others in our industry and achieved outstanding results for our clients. We have also used cutting edge psychologically-based research techniques to work around cultural barriers in countries where such an approach may seem unusual. For example, one client couldn’t understand why doctors in the Middle East seemed to be very supportive of their brand yet would not prescribe it to patients. Identifying the unspoken emotional issues that were influencing prescribing behavior gave us key information that could be built into forecasting models as well as providing direction for the message platforms that we were building into the marketing campaign.

Physicians all over the world practice medicine to give patients the chance to have longer, healthier lives. If a brand can evoke this sentiment, motivational research shows that physicians will be more likely to prescribe it. They may claim to make their decision based solely on clinical evidence but they are only human. Prior experience along with personal and patient beliefs will also play a role in the decision. If this were not the case, market share would be tied to the best clinical profile. With this realization, just imagine how new communication technologies and a better informed healthcare consumer around the world will impact the future!

We continue to look for new applications of tried and true methodologies. However, at Kantar Health we will continue to push ahead to identify authentic innovations, those that address and shape the market of the future. It would be great if you could share examples of authentic innovation that you have come across in your company and /or in the industry. Also, stay tuned to my next blog - “technology is at the heart of helping us prepare for the unpredictable.”

*Economist Intelligence, July 2011

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