Streamlining Expert Engagement to Act as ‘One Astellas’

As innovation explodes across the life sciences industry – from drug development to technology adoption – it has also created problems. Huge volumes of fragmented data. Information overload. Disconnected tech, and disconnected relationships. Who could blame field teams for finding it difficult to deliver an excellent customer experience, or even a coordinated one? Old ways of working just don’t work.

Astellas is bringing a new way of thinking to this challenge. By connecting Veeva Link Key People and Link Workflow with Veeva CRM, the company is finding innovative ways to streamline expert engagement across the global enterprise.

I recently sat down with Rishi Ohri, senior director of digital excellence, medical affairs, at Astellas, to talk about his company’s vision.

Isabella Kredlow: What are the historical challenges to expert engagement? And what’s the vision for improving it?

Rishi Ohri: The traditional approach to expert engagement was very fragmented. We used a wide range of different solutions across different teams and different therapeutic areas to plan and engage with experts. Getting all of the pieces of the puzzle into one place is very important to us.

We have consolidated technology and created a single source of truth for expert engagement across the organization, improving efficiency and standardizing our approach. This helps us show up to the customer as one Astellas, with a coordinated strategy that puts the customer first.

Then, we need to make sure the internal and external data architecture can work together to help us understand who we’re meeting with, what interactions we are having, and what impact it’s having on the customer. That’s the vision.

IK: What were the key criteria for solving this challenge?

RO: In addition to a single source of truth across the entire company and across the entire customer journey, we needed a seamless and streamlined solution. We wanted it to be easy to use. And we wanted something innovative that gave us a foundation to build on – incorporating social listening into our analytics is a good example of this.

Lastly, but importantly, we didn’t want our users going into multiple different platforms to find all the information on the HCP that they’re going to visit, we wanted that information to be streamlined together in our CRM.

IK: Once you established your vision, what steps did you take to get started?

RO: A cross-functional approach was key. First, we needed awareness of the tools the various teams were using. Then, we had to understand all the different challenges the various teams needed to solve. Cost savings were a significant factor, as well – who wants to pay for eight different solutions when you can pay for one?

We brought a small team together to document and prioritize our requirements. No solution is perfect, but we thought, ‘If we can solve 80-90% of our challenges, it’s a great place to start.’ And by getting rid of other point solutions, we can invest more in other digital capabilities.

IK: Where are you now on this transformation, and what kind of change management had to take place?

RO: We’re in full production mode, and we’re very focused on awareness and training. Right now, we’re connecting a lot of dots across the business. A key part of this is the simplicity of the solution. For example, when people ask me about Veeva Link Key People, I compare it to LinkedIn for healthcare professionals (HCPs). That makes it very simple for people to understand, and it’s very easy to use.

The next step will be measuring the impact the technology is having on our team. It’s great to have a solution, but if no one uses it, it will be a waste. And, because it’s an enterprise-wide solution, we are already thinking about lots of additional use cases in areas such as product development and patient centricity.

IK: How are you handling the challenge of cross-functional coordination?

RO: We’re looking at connecting the dots cross-functionally with Link Workflow and CRM. Adoption so far has been good. We’re in the early days of this – so far I’ve been getting really good feedback about how simple it is to enter and plan engagements.

We have multiple CRMs regionally, and if you have a CRM, then you enter the interaction data there. But if you don’t have a CRM, it can be challenging, because you may use various different formats, like spreadsheets, that don’t connect together. We agreed we need one compliant solution for all of this, and Veeva Link Workflow and Veeva CRM give us the opportunity to manage that information together holistically.

We’re also hoping that the simplicity of the solution encourages others – such as non-CRM users or our colleagues in development – to start entering information. Only then can we really start to understand who we’re meeting with, what was their preference, what was the outcome, what was the impact?

IK: As you look toward the future, what kinds of continuous innovation will you be focused on?

RO: I think a lot of companies are still struggling with how to measure the impact of medical affairs. Measuring scientific share of voice is a really exciting area to explore for us. We can start to really understand what our HCPs are saying, and the sentiment around it.

Beyond that, our stakeholder needs are constantly changing, so it’s important to us that our solutions allow us to continuously ‘adapt and adopt.’ With toolsets like the Veeva Link family, we have a real opportunity to understand who we’re meeting with, and what their interests are. If you are able to tie that to your enterprise data, you can get a full 360-degree view of the HCP. And if we’re able to do that successfully, we have a really good opportunity to engage in a meaningful, relevant scientific exchange that can be a game changer for patients.

See how other leading biopharmas are using Veeva Link to drive high-value interactions with their customers.

Interested in learning more about how Veeva can help?