Q&A: Fingerpaint’s Carol Patel at ExL’s Digital Health for Pharma

Carol Patel, part of Fingerpaint’s engagement strategy team, recently attended ExL’s Digital Health for Pharma conference in Philadelphia.

Patel served on the “Pharma Digital Health Thought Leaders Keynote: Pulling Perspectives Together” during the inaugural two-day event.

She shared some perspectives about the panel and some of her immediate takeaways.

What was the most interesting discussion that came up on your panel?

Patel:During the panel, I was super interested in, and excited to hear, the discussion centering around patient-centricity and making that actionable. A few speakers had touched on this during the conference, and Amy West was really able to crystalize what it means at Novo Nordisk.

The notion that there is no single, all-encompassing patient journey is a critical realization that we all need to come to (the sooner the better) so that we can start to design bespoke solutions for each patient, their treaters, and even the payers involved. Everyone seemed to be in support of that, but each panelist also had a different take on how to develop these solutions: Do they sit within R&D or commercial? Do we own data and solution development in-house, or utilize an external partner? The answers seem to be somewhere in the middle, which opens the door for a multidisciplinary team to co-create solutions–something we’re obviously big fans of at Fingerpaint.

What was your biggest takeaway from Digital Health for Pharma?

Patel:The biggest takeaway is that we’re in the eye of the storm: We’ve been here before, at the dawn of digital about 10 to 15 years ago, and we’re here again–we have the opportunity to handle innovation better this time around. We can align on a lexicon around digital health. We can follow a framework confidently, and we have agile approaches developed now that don’t need to be re-invented.

The big challenge now will be organization-wide mindset shifts. How can we make innovation and digital health all-the-time priorities, and not just, as one speaker put it, the output of a 2-day workshop that is never revisited? How can we create KPIs that hold us accountable to success while allowing for fast failures? How can we “infect” our in-house teams with the bug to keep pushing further? It’s an exciting storm, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the leaders in the space that emerge from it first.

Based on what you heard at the conference, what is the biggest digital health concern for companies at the moment, and what were some of the ideas on how to solve them?

Patel:The biggest concern, aside from company-wide adoption, seems to be not knowing where digital health should “sit” within an organization. From a business perspective, it’s run closer to R&D (test, optimize, iterate), but from an output perspective, commercial feels a sense of strategic ownership. There were cases made for both, but I believe the solution lies in the somewhat uncomfortable but increasingly wide gray space in between.

Organizations will have to shift toward a less siloed approach to be the most successful, as quickly as possible. It won’t happen overnight–but they’re not alone in doing so! Digital health technology companies and agency partners exist to help bridge these gaps while maintaining brand strategy. I’m really looking forward to helping organizations solve some of these challenges while we all continue to press forward for better digital health solutions.