passing the baton

Pietro Crovetto, VP Global Inhalation Strategy at Lupin Pharmaceuticals with vast experience from the international pharmaceutical industry at various prominent positions within commerce, marketing, strategy, and business development, for a variety of companies including Novartis, Chiesi, ALK Abelló and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Pietro has been a client to Opticom for over 10 years, both at previous positions and now, working for Lupin. He gives the background to his experiences with Opticom International Research, focusing on the latest Lupin project Opticom conducted, that he was personally involved in.

PietroLupin
Pietro Crovetto VP, Global Inhalation Strategy, Lupin Pharmaceuticals

The main objective was to map the unmet needs of healthcare professionals and patients within asthma and COPD in terms of currently available innovative products’ attributes, in order to develop Lupin’s product so that it would satisfy those unmet needs better than competitor products.

Another aim was to enable Lupin to differentiate its product, including the services and monitoring systems offered, from existing alternatives and competitor products.

In the end, the main goal was to create a product that improves patient quality of life through ease-of-use, thus leading to improved compliance and lower treatment cost, something which would also lead to obvious advantages for healthcare professionals as well as payers.

The targeted markets in this project were the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The information was gathered in two modules, starting with desk research identifying relevant respondents with whom in-depth telephone interviews were then conducted.

Describing this project, Pietro explains that his idea was to monitor the emerging changes in therapeutic approaches and especially the interest in new combination products within the treatments of asthma and COPD. Basically to get a European overview of the present situation and to identify whether their designed new combination product was going to be successful or not and whether there were any differences across the European markets in this respect.

Pietro continues: I wanted to benchmark, to interview “real” clinicians, not opinion leaders, because there is a critical difference here. Opinion leaders are up to speed with the latest research and treatment options, as they often have done this research themselves, while clinicians might very well have heard about new stuff, after all they are specialists, but they are not necessarily as enthusiastic to adopt something new as the opinion leaders.

Choosing Opticom to supply Lupin with the market research was based on a combination of different factors; first of all good experiences in the past, resulting in a strong sense of reliability. According to Pietro, a key asset of Opticom is the fact that they offer both a very knowledgeable staff who understand the complex medical issues as well as their multilingual skills: “It helps a lot when we do not have to explain so much to a supplier and more time can be spent on the actual research, on the specifics of the projects!”

Sometimes the challenge with international market research, Pietro explains, is that you end up with the “Chinese whisper”, meaning I brief you, you brief somebody else and then that person briefs somebody else in turn, and then at the end of the day, you are not sure what went missing and where. So based on that, the two main points on why to choose Opticom are definitely their knowledge of the field and its multilingual staff based in one office. A third reason, according to Pietro, actually equally important: every time he has worked with Opticom, the adopted strategy has been to do 20-30% of the interviews, then pause for evaluation of the questionnaire, the response and answers so far: simply put: is it working? The Project Managers at Opticom are very flexible here and that is greatly appreciated, to optimize the quality of the output.

Concerning what the market insights provided by Opticom have meant to Lupin and what has been most valuable, Pietro points to the decision to invest in particular combinations of treatments, emphasizing that this is the most critical stage in their R&D and business development without going into specifics.

The results have also influenced their business decision-making, being added into their forecasting, because even if the research was qualitative, it was still very helpful to better understand what direction the market was taking. All in all, the insights have been used on several levels and according to Pietro, further investment decisions within asthma and COPD are definitely going to be based on the results from this research as well.

Asked about the return of investment, Pietro confesses: “To be honest, we didn’t count on ROI, but it was not at all expensive considering the huge amounts that have been spent on this treatment area, so the money we spent with Opticom was definitely worth it, more than worth it!”

According to Pietro, the main benefits of this specific project were that his team at Lupin got an additional level of insights on a practical level: there is a crucial difference between the people who work on the front line with patients and the opinion leaders, the high science: “We need to have a balance of both because we cannot ignore high science but at the end of the day we need to understand nurses on the floor, having issues reconstituting the product, for example. That is really a very valuable difference to us and something that Opticom understands. So I am very satisfied, more than satisfied and very happy with the co-operation with Opticom!”

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Niko Kujala has been working within the product segment of breakers and switches at ABB Protection and Connection in Vaasa, Finland since 2011 and he has held different international positions within both sales and production. He gives the background to his first experience with Opticom International Research: We knew that we wanted to conduct customer satisfaction research on a global level in order to better understand our customers’ needs, basically asking them: What were the needs in different fields and what do we as a supplier need to do better?

Niko ABB
Niko Kujala, Global Sales support Specialist, ABB Protection and Connection

In the process of selecting a market research agency, the ABB team had five competing potential suppliers providing quotes to look into. Niko continues: After evaluating the different options, we found that Opticom’s offer was by far the clearest, it was obvious that Opticom had made an effort to get to know our business and therefore understood our needs. In addition to that, the price level was also good.

Niko says that the quick initial response to any question that ABB had concerning the designed project as well as the smooth communication with the Opticom project team overall were further factors that tilted ABB to choose Opticom in the end.

The customer satisfaction survey covered more than 20 countries worldwide, with strong involvement from the local offices to make sure the most important customers per market were interviewed.

We got very valuable insights concerning client needs in in an ever more competitive market: what our clients appreciate about our products and services, how we can help them improve their own business, and also indications on where there is still need for improvement.

Niko explains that a lot of actions have been taken by them at ABB after the results in the final report were presented and statistical files and individual interview transcripts were delivered. Most decisions concern increasing and improving their direct communication with clients. He reveals that their business has grown since the research was completed and that the insights definitely have further supported this growth.

When asked what he would regard as the main benefits with this specific project, Niko points out that it was easy doing business with Opticom, that the communication was always smooth, the offer was prepared really well and that Opticom understood our needs in this kind of research right away. Therefore, wrapping up, he would definitely recommend that ABB would go with Opticom again, whenever the need for market insights arises.

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Successful stakeholder management not only requires certain competence and skill sets but may also involve organizational changes. Opticom has helped many pharmaceutical companies to optimize their Stakeholder Management by means of one or more of the following services:


Stakeholder mapping

An identification and to some extent prioritization of stakeholders as well as individual contact persons on national, regional and local levels as relevant. Stakeholders may include politicians, governmental institutions and authorities, Key Opinion Leaders and Young Talents, specialist nurses, researchers, patient organizations and individual patients, other non-profit organizations and possibly international organizations or individuals that you should be aware of, learn from or get in contact with.

The main result of the Stakeholder Mapping is a list of organisations and individuals with an indication of their official or unofficial role and responsibilities in the area that is being investigated.


Stakeholder analysis

A more in-depth analysis of current views and decision-making as well as an indication of future trends and challenges. The analysis also maps stakeholder networks: relations and cooperation among and within stakeholder groups, in order to identify who influences who and how – now and as expected in the future. The research may include identifying opportunities for direct cooperation between our client and specific stakeholders.

The outcome of the Stakeholder Analysis is a report summarizing findings, showing stakeholder networks, analyzing future expectations, and providing recommendations for stakeholder management, all illustrated with quotes and examples of stakeholder cooperation.


Stakeholder Management workshops

A workshop with the people who have already been and will be involved in the company’s stakeholder management in order to develop a Stakeholder Management Strategy and Action Plan.

The outcome of the workshop is a list of concrete actions to be taken to kick-off or improve Stakeholder Management, for example regarding communication, relationship-building and cooperation with specific stakeholders.


Future Lab

Taking stakeholder management to a higher level the Future Lab is a unique concept of innovative networking providing the opportunity to take an active or even pro-active role among stakeholders. Relevant people from different stakeholder groups are invited to discuss today’s challenges and future opportunities with each other and our client in round table discussions and through in-depth interviews.

The outcome of the Future Lab includes a report with strategic market insights, conclusions and recommendations, as well as a network with prioritized stakeholders for continued communication and cooperation. In addition, the Future Lab shows a strong sign of market leadership, an innovative image, and long-lasting credibility among stakeholders.

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The Swedish government decided on 24 March 2011 to call for a special investigator to submit proposals on how the patient’s position in and influence over health care can be strengthened. The study has adopted the name of Patient Power Inquiry (Patientmaktsutredningen). Yesterday, the study submitted its interim report Patient law (SOU 2013:2).

In this preliminary report a new patient law is suggested by the investigation in accordance with the government directives. The suggested new law addresses how patient choice in healthcare can be further strengthened; how the patient’s need for support, advice and information should be met in relation to the guarantee for and free choice of care; and how the authorities should work to strengthen the position of the patient.

In order to better understand the local and national initiatives that are undertaken by various stakeholders on local, regional and/or national level, Opticom has conducted a number of Stakeholder management projects focusing on the topic of patient power in specific therapeutic areas. The outcome of these projects have contributed to a better understanding of stakeholder roles and attitudes towards increased patient influence, an updated overview of initiatives and best practices as well as a strong platform for improved relations and increased cooperation with external parties. In addition, these projects have formed a solid foundation for workshops to kick-off of internal activities to work more patient-oriented.

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In a time where the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in healthcare have changed considerably, pharmaceutical companies face different challenges and opportunities compared to ten years ago. It is no longer sufficient to provide individual stakeholders with information through direct dialogue and indirect communication: stakeholders now interact with and influence each other to a large extent, resulting in new processes of decision-making based on new combinations of arguments. In many countries, like Sweden, decision-making is even more difficult to understand and predict due to the different levels of decision-making: local, regional, and/or national.

Stakeholders have also changed their attitude towards and expectations on pharmaceutical companies, resulting in varying interest to communicate and cooperate with “the industry”. As a consequence of these changes, Stakeholder Management has become a critical competence for success.

Pharmaceutical companies need to:

  1. Know their stakeholders and their main contact persons
  2. Understand their stakeholders: their roles, their responsibilities and their interaction within and between stakeholder groups
  3. Manage their stakeholders: prioritize contact persons, develop long-term relationships, follow changes
  4. Influence their stakeholders where necessary and relevant, making sure stakeholders have up-to-date information and are not limited by false information or incorrect assumptions.

Successful stakeholder management offers pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to take the lead and develop strong, long-lasting relationships with relevant stakeholders based on mutual interest and mutual respect. It enables companies to provide input in discussions and decision-making as well as to better predict on-going and planned changes in healthcare systems.

Successful stakeholder management not only requires certain competence and skill sets but may also involve organizational changes. Opticom has helped many pharmaceutical companies to optimize their Stakeholder Management by means of one or more of the following services:

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