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Life Sciences 04.11.19 BLOG 

Eyeforpharma 2019: Key Takeaways from Barcelona as We Look Ahead to Philadelphia

By TransPerfect Life Sciences

Eyeforpharma 2019: Key Takeaways from Barcelona as We Look Ahead to Philadelphia

Patient centricity, digital natives, disruption from within, personalized medicines, AI…If you are looking for buzzwords, eyeforpharma will serve them up in abundance!

On the surface, it may be comparable to other digital events, but the depth of discussion, the quality of speakers, and the sheer diversity of topics highlight just why this is considered the premier life sciences digital conference.

When immersed in eyeforpharma Barcelona, it does not take long to see why the E4P regulars come back each year, searching for the “one thing” that can help accelerate their digital growth. We couldn’t narrow down our takeaways to “one thing,” so we’ve chosen three things that we see impacting the global life sciences industry:

  1. Patients are the true disruptors

    Eyeforpharma Chairman Paul Simms spoke at length about the need for pharma to look outside the industry for the next fundamental innovation. He used examples such as Amazon and Google and the impact they have had on other industries to illustrate his point, but I actually feel the biggest disruptors will come from patients.

    Outside of healthcare, the modern consumer has more choice than ever when making a purchasing decision. Whether it is food, travel, housing, or even employment, buyers are making more and more personalized choices. This trend is starting to manifest within our industry, too.

    Doctors are increasingly finding themselves confirming a diagnosis that was made via Google, as opposed to diagnosing an uneducated patient. More worryingly for the industry, they are also often prescribing their patients “Googled” treatment plans, which limits the impact a traditional pharma sales rep can have.

    Ryan Olohan, managing director of healthcare at Google, gave a particularly interesting presentation around this area, highlighting how there were 23 BILLION health-related searches on YouTube last year, with “medicine side effects” appearing in the top-three most searched terms globally. YouTube is quickly becoming the patient equivalent of the New England Journal of Medicine for a peer review of a treatment plan, yet it is near impossible to find content produced by pharma in those searches. If the industry continues to shy away from a B2C model because of the fear outdated regulations bring, their business is going to be at risk from a lot more than just their patents expiring.

  2. Apps, apps, and more apps…

    To the conference newbie, eyeforpharma’s exhibition hall can seem like Walmart for healthcare applications. Patient engagement, Salesforce enablement, and multichannel marketing tools are everywhere. The world is moving toward a mobile-first model of operating, and while the pharma industry is lagging behind, there is no shortage of vendors trying to get in ahead of the curve.

    At first glance, it can be difficult to distinguish among the offerings from each vendor. As much as we would like to have a quick solution to help simplify your purchasing decision, it is not always that easy. With the Philadelphia installment of the conference coming up, we do have some key criteria to consider when deciding which vendors to engage with:

    • Scale: Many vendors use flashy client names as a way of getting you in the door, but it is crucial to dig deeper and make sure their platform has been tested on the level your organization will require.
    • Innovation: Getting a new digital project off the ground is never an easy task. Given the challenges that will present, partnering with a vendor who has both an innovative solution now, as well as a robust R&D workflow, is crucial to ensure there is a lasting legacy. Too often we have seen programs feel outdated by the time they launch, because the partner wasn’t innovating at the speeds required.
    • Why vs. How: Saving our favorite question for last: Why? When engaging with any vendor, either at their booth or in a meeting, focus on the “why” and not the “how.” Without a clear understanding of why they do what they do, how they will actually deliver on it is irrelevant. Any investment in new technology should be based on improving the lives of the patients treated by the medicines you produce. That is why we all get out of bed in the morning, and regardless of how far removed a specific app/widget is from patients, your vendor needs to realize they are a part of the overall puzzle.
  3. The pragmatic innovator

    With the advancement of healthtech, there was plenty of chatter about the impact wearables are going to have on the industry. Despite pharma’s inherent risk aversion, it is easy to think that something like an Apple Watch is going to change the world for patients of virtually every chronic disease. That may be the future, but it is a long-term vision, as opposed to something that could be an overnight transformation.

    One of the most telling insights from the conference came from Ben Greenberg of WebMD: ‘“My doctor won’t even speak to me on the phone,” he said. “Why would he speak to me over an Apple Watch app?”

    Pragmatism is key in an industry that is still terrified to engage directly with its consumers. Measurable wins are key.

    The decision to launch a global program needs to consider how many patients will ultimately benefit from the investment. Too often digital projects are launched purely because an executive has decided they need an app or “to go digital,” and they do not take into account what patients or HCPs will benefit from its creation.

    It is unimaginable in more digitally advanced industries that investment would be made in digital programs without an investigation into what impact they will have on the consumer population—yet in pharma, it’s happening all the time. A simple go/stop check should be included in all digital healthcare investments. Why?

    If your answer to that question is not that patients’ lives will dramatically improve, then it is time to reassess.

We’re interested to see if the same buzzwords and topics will surface at the US arm of eyeforpharma, or if other considerations affecting the digital health sphere will show up in their place. We’d love to hear your thoughts! Visit TransPerfect at Booth #324 at eyeforpharma Philadelphia April 16–17, or contact us at

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