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Building the Pharmaceutical Team of Tomorrow: Seven future capability needs

Seven Future Capability Needs

Authored by Stephanie Hall, Founder and CEO, Uptake for the PME Magazine Innovative Impact Blog.   

This year’s PME blog series has looked at many themes through the lens of an innovative mindset – discussing tips from the Uptake team to adapt ways of working and make a greater impact. When innovation is baked into a team’s DNA, the possibilities are truly exciting.

Every year, I am asked to share my predictions for the future of our industry, and the capabilities pharma teams will need to build. I truly believe that the headline acts for the foreseeable future will be agility and transformation. We are on the cusp of so many more significant changes, driven by technological advancements, evolving healthcare landscapes, shifting patient expectations – and our own passion for what we as the ‘humans’ in the industry can bring to the table, to change and save patients’ lives.

To navigate the next five years and beyond, let’s embrace the trends that are – by no way of exaggeration – reshaping the pharma world as we know it. Here are my top seven capabilities that I believe teams should prioritise, now:


Capability 1: Proactively anticipate macro trends

Teams that can anticipate and adapt to macro healthcare trends, by staying informed and collaborating with healthcare providers, insurers, and regulatory bodies, will be better able to shape care delivery. To do this, you must be laser-focused on evolving policies, patient demographics, and defining the implications at a disease or local level. Cross-functional collaboration is paramount to success.


Capability 2: Make bold strategic and tactical trade-offs

It is easy to be overwhelmed, particularly when the landscape is growing in competitiveness. The key learning here is not to be knee-jerk with your choices, but to have the confidence to make appropriate trade-offs which enable resources to be allocated to where they will have the most significant impact. There are more and more trade-offs to be made across disease areas, portfolios, geographies, customer groups, channels, big ticket investments in evidence generation and smaller tactical mixes. Creating focus and simplicity will be critical.


Capability 3: Master analytics and get personal

How many times have we and others in the industry banged this particular drum? Yet still, embracing personalised customer engagement models is a long way off for some. Offering tailored interactions, mastering the ability to translate analytics and harnessing artificial intelligence to creatively customise communication strategies enhances customer satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately, patient outcomes. It is a non-negotiable in the capability armoury.


Capability 4: Deliver value along the patient journey

We must stop using ‘patient-centric’ as a catch-all term which really just relates to outcomes. Instead, think about how your team can build the capability to take patient-centric approaches along the whole journey – understanding and addressing the diverse needs of patients at different stages of their healthcare experience. From developing educational resources, support programmes, and tools, to actively engaging throughout to continue improving.


Capability 5: Lean in on ethics

The issue of ethics and trust is an interesting one. Nobody wants to feel that their team is anything but trustworthy and ethical, but teams both within pharma organisations and throughout the supply chain (including consultancies like Uptake) must develop the capability to confidently hold up a mirror to their practices and make the necessary changes to ensure a sustainable, positive impact on the ecosystem we are working in.   Taking ethical decisions to address inequalities of access to care and building trust-based relationships with healthcare professionals should be high on our agendas.


Capability 6:  Use real-world insights for true patient-centricity

I still see cases where pharmaceutical teams are basing decisions on traditional market research without paying attention to the real-world insights derived from social media, patient advocacy groups, et al. We can and must challenge each other to do better. Building capability in teams to gain a holistic understanding of patient experiences and everyday challenges faced by individuals on a human level is absolutely critical to aligning product development and marketing strategies with solutions that resonate with patients and contribute to better outcomes.


Capability 7: Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset

Straight from the world of Uptake’s own Head of Growth and Innovation, Melissa Dagless, we have to build the capabilities to embrace risk, enable innovation, and continuously seek opportunities for team and business growth. An entrepreneurial and innovative mindset encourages a culture of experimentation, where we can have the courage to learn from failures, and drive continuous improvement in our teams, organisations, and the industry.

I feel so excited about the possibilities that lie ahead of us, and I am deeply proud of our brilliant industry for becoming ever more open to taking agile approaches and driving future innovation through enhancements in capabilities. Even seemingly small changes can lead to transformative impact, so I actively encourage readers to assess current capabilities across these seven areas, and evaluate where the greatest strengths and gaps lie in your teams, with a focus on adapting to and embracing the trends of tomorrow.

Click here to read and download the published version in Pharma Market Europe magazine.

Contact us

Meet Our Capability Experts:

Stephanie Hall

Founder & CEO

Louise Collins 

Senior Principal

Natalie Dale

Senior Principal