Anyone who’s ever had an unsatisfying experience on a company website knows how frustration can motivate you to take your business elsewhere. Similarly, if a clinical trial patient gets confused or aggravated by their interaction with a digital study platform, they could drop out entirely.
Richard Schwartz, senior solution principal for life sciences with Medallia, spoke with Outsourcing-Pharma about why the quality of a trial participant’s digital experience can impact study results and efficiency, and offered suggestions on how to streamline the process.
OSP: Could you please share the ‘elevator presentation’ description of Medallia?
RS: There is a quote from a theologian, David Augsberger, “Being heard is so close to being loved, that for the average person the two are almost indistinguishable.” Medallia helps your customers be heard by you.
Let me explain what I mean by being heard. Medallia helps companies and brands listen, understand, involve, and respond to their customers and employees in more meaningful and purposeful ways. We do this by capturing the broadest arrays of structured and unstructured, direct and direct signals. The real magic comes in analyzing, harmonizing, and routing them for action in near real time.
In terms of who we compete with – we mostly compete with companies doing nothing or the same thing in my sector, Life sciences. True CX as defined by industries ahead of this one - is quite different from what we are seeing being called CX.
The competition for life science is speed and expectations, and we can help solve for those by understanding the sentiment and voice of the customer across the journey.
OSP: Please share your perspective on what we mean when we talk about the “digital experience” when it comes to patients.
RS: We are in a post-digital era. It is simply part of our experience and we draw increasingly transparent lines between “digital” and terrestrial. In healthcare, many people begin their journey in digital to learn – Google may well be their first intersection with content that drives an action. Then there is scheduling, forms, email, text, chat all the things powered by 1s and 0s. But Binary is not the end game – 1’s and 0’s need to enhance the X’s and O’s and simplify and support the experiences across the journey.
OSP: What might be some of the consequences of delivering a less-than-stellar digital experience for a patient participant in a clinical trial?
RS: IWWIWWIWI – I Want What I Want When I Want It is the expectations of a post-digital human. If I cannot get what I want and need as simply as I can a pizza, I will do something else or nothing else. That is both dangerous and costly, not to mention less than empathetic when it comes to a clinical study – where the experimental medication may be my next last choice.
OSP: What are some of the common ways the digital interaction with a trial might let a patient participant down?
RS: We design for ourselves, and we are quite often not the patient. We want connected solutions to know us, show us, help us and make it insanely simple for us. Having cancer or heart disease, or any other chronic condition is hard. It is like getting a full-time job you never wanted, that pays in reverse, for which you are unqualified and unprepared.
The last thing you need is the very thing that is supposed to simplify things to complexify them. Digital is more and more beautiful the more it is invisible. For example, I do not need instructions for my iPhone – it is intuitive.
There is also a massive issue with the digital divide. Not everyone has a smartphone or 5G or a smartwatch. We assume they do because we do. The harsh reality is that the people who are more likely to be sick are in the slow lane of the digital divide. We have to fix that. Access should be a right.
OSP: Could you offer some ways that the staff at different levels working on a study might help ensure the patients’ digital experience is more positive and their needs met?
RS: When was the last time you did not open a text? Last time you needed to go somewhere and did not have a ride, did you walk, call a friend, or Uber/Lyft? My guess is the latter two.
The way to help is to seamlessly slip into people’s lifestream in the manners in which they do and can behave. Even when working on a study, we have to remember to live in the patients’ world and make things as radically simple and deeply empathetic as possible.
OSP: Could you share an example of a case in which Medallia helped a client ‘troubleshoot’ the digital experience their infrastructure delivered to patient participants, and improved the performance?
RS: As I mentioned, everything is digital. We have used technology to (hopefully) simplify very complex or complicated things. Digital is at its best when it saves us time, frustration and helps expedite the future state we need.
I think the most compelling case is the work we have been doing with the Veterans Administration (VA). Trust was an issue interfering with care. When trust is broken, the whole experience falls apart. And trust is all about actions.
We partnered with the VA and other groups supporting the effort to understand and adapt experiences by ensuring each encounter was easy, effective, and empathetic. Working with the VA to improve the experience of veterans had helped increase trust scores to an all-time high of 90%.
The simple equation in health and in any service for that matter is What you Expected (minus) What Happened (multiplied by) How You Felt About It (equals) your Experience.
OSP: Could you please tell us about any technology partners you’ve worked with in the past, or currently work with?
RS: Prior to Medallia, I collaborated with technology partners from the big and well-known to the small and emerging and everywhere in between. There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Medallia definitely has that mindset and it is a mindset that complements, and is complemented, by other skill sets, so our partners fall into the who’s who in technology and innovation. We have built our solutions to be as seamless as possible with those of organizations we partner with to optimize experiences. Veeva is certainly one of these partners.
Veeva is a leading CRM partner to life sciences – smart solutions, smart people. Medallia helps extend and enhance the CRM data with CX data. After a life sciences representative engages (live or digital) with a physician, we add a layer of understanding if expectations were met, what was maybe unclear or missing, and route that knowledge for feedback. This is great for the customer and also becomes a new level of learning across the life science organization.
OSP: Is there anything you’d like to add?
RS: I like to think of experience in healthcare like the app, Waze. When you are driving down an unfamiliar road, or on a familiar one but are not sure what is ahead on a given day, the experiences of those just ahead of you serve as an early warning system - just as your experiences (passive and active) serve those behind you. This is good for everyone and good for the technology. It gets better with use – stronger, smarter, more valuable. We need the Waze effect in health and that is what CX and EX bring to life science organizations.
I believe that experience is a medicine in many ways. Think about it – the wait is long, the front desk dismissive, the doctor rushed and unclear, and the prescription is difficult to get and has side effects; you simply will not do as well as you might if the experience was easier, more in line with expectations, and more empathetic.
A 2012 “systematic review of evidence on the links between patient experience and clinical safety and effectiveness,” published in the British Journal of Medicine identified 5,323 papers whose abstracts were then reviewed and, in relevant cases, the full articles were retrieved to evaluate if they met the research criteria. In simple terms, the research is comprehensive and includes multiple disease states. This is one of many similar studies.
The same is true for the practitioners. It is the why behind the healthcare professional experiences being a part of quadruple aim, along with patient experiences.