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Retain your competitive edge by following these 3 simple steps to optimize your consent strategy

In 2020 life science’s commercial operations have undergone rapid change. While all sales reps were stuck at home due to the various lockdown measures, the marketing teams and the commercial strategists have tried to reach out to physicians by all available means, which was easier said than done. While IT may have been the cause of initial struggles, requiring remote detailing, two additional challenges arose once these technicalities were successfully resolved.


Firstly, the content was not well-suited for a new mode of communication. Remote detailing requires new ways of presenting, and the lines of communication should be adapted to fit the new ways of working. Simple e-detailing is not enough. It is imperative to have a clear yet entertaining message to capture and retain physicians’ interest efficiently. Most companies jumped on the ship of remote detailing, but only a few managed to have their content ready for it, resulting in less desired outcomes. Of course, recreating and readapting content is time-consuming, and the MLR process does not help on being reactive, but it is essential to remain on top in an ever-changing landscape. While this challenge is specific to the remote channel, it does appear that when a touchpoint is executed, it is another step forward in the customer journey. Debating whether a bad HCPs experience remotely is worse than no interaction at all could be the topic of entire books.


Secondly, another challenge revolves around the area of consent. Very few companies had a well-considered consent strategy before the pandemic outbreak. While some companies had consent captured so generically that it could not be utilized to send an invite for a remote detailing, other companies had consent being so specific that none of the remote detailing calls would qualify. Not to mention the companies that had not even defined a consent strategy. Those strategies, or lack thereof, gave nightmares to compliance and legal officers[1]. At BASE, we have observed several legal meetings on firsthand where the marketing team could not provide all the details required for a proper assessment. In our experience, very few companies had successfully managed to construct an end-to-end process that captures consent to leverage it remotely. Additionally, there was often a lack of considerations regarding capturing consent remotely, resulting in ineffective strategies.

How come consent becomes such an issue due to the lack of appropriate planning?

Essentially, for decades companies have been heavily focused on the field forces’ face-to-face capabilities. With technologies constantly evolving, the go-to channel has always been according to the traditional model. While emails and invites can be sent from the reps to the HCPs in the form of “private” settings, some countries’ regulation may consider storing the HCPs email addresses, without legitimate interest, as a breach of data protection regulations. If consent is not requested and provided upon data collection, keeping such information would be non-compliant and could result in legal consequences. Collecting consent should not necessarily be a complicated matter in samples distribution cases (to ensure smooth recall), but it may be harder to obtain in other cases. If sending emails is prohibited, it cannot be leveraged by any technology from the company, hence a limited capability to send approved content or remote detailing invites.

For remote detailing, an invite could be sent via the standard mailbox from the reps to the HCPs, a very convoluted process that few individuals would execute efficiently and accurately. This approach does not allow for any other channel than the remote detailing while being in lockdown. Therefore, it is favourable to adopt digital multichannel approaches to ensure continuous communication with HCPs without disturbing them. For those reasons, consent should be the cornerstone of a company’s multichannel strategy, as it is a required stepping stone on the path towards realizing the digital marketing strategy.

At BASE, we have defined an approach to creating a consent strategy in which the following three steps must be undertaken;

  1. Identify: Identify when consent is needed (and when it is not), ensuring proper HCP consent is in place before the interaction is initiated.
  2. Capture: Have a strategy for how the consent is captured. The level of granularity of the consent must be discussed at this stage.
  3. Store: Validate that consent is provided, stored and managed appropriately.

Documenting those three phases in a consent playbook available for all relevant stakeholders within the companies can be a good initiative for increasing awareness of capturing the mandatory consent appropriately. While creating a playbook can be led by the marketing or commercial teams, it is imperative to involve legal and compliance officers in the process, ensuring the inclusion of the regulatory aspects linked to data privacy. Furthermore, this involvement would also force the teams to depict the consent’s objective more accurately, as the clarification required to understand the legal implications would push the team to add a level of details into the process, which would be very beneficial and lead to successful outcomes.

About BASE life science

BASE life science is an innovative and forward-thinking technology, product and service consultancy specialized in creating real business value from digital platforms and data. Our experienced teams are ready to help optimize your technology and business processes within Customer Engagement, Quality, Regulatory, Compliance and Clinical data management.

BASE currently operates from our offices in Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, and Germany, where we assist customers across the globe. You can safely choose us as your entrusted partner, as we will make it our goal to bring your vision to life.

About the author — Moses Kløverpris, Senior Manager, Customer Engagement

As an experienced Manager with a demonstrated history of working with Digital Transformation and Sales & Marketing optimization, Moses is highly skilled at helping customers create immediate value from their Business Processes, Digital Strategies, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Information Management.

[1] Note that BASE is not providing legal advisory — this is taken from our experience with clients but should not be viewed as legal advice on the matter.

BASE life science is a fast growing, fast paced consultancy focused on the life science industry.