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Healthcare consultancy in 2022 and the path towards impactful innovation

Maxine Smith, Managing Director, Uptake Strategies, shares her musings on what we in the pharma and biotech industry have learned, and her prediction for 2023.

The end of the calendar year is a time of reflection and introspection. We naturally assess the last 12 months to gain clarity on what we achieved both personally and professionally. Did we get closer to long held goals, did we get fitter, healthier, happier, more successful? My view is that if you do indulge in a bout of self-reflection, it should be about what we learned along the way, what has made us smarter, more resourceful, more capable, more able to handle whatever life throws at us.

In the spirit of reflection, I have cast my mind back to some of the themes discussed this year, and an unplanned (!), but wonderful, common thread seems to have run its way through them all…

All the way back in January, I urged clients, and readers of my PME Magazine blog alike, to achieve a deeper understanding of their teams’ capabilities – assessing what may be missing and identifying opportunities to transform effectiveness through better working styles or management of pressure, introducing new techniques for thinking differently, or acquiring strategy-based capabilities. I am delighted to have witnessed the transformational effect of these audits, and my belief that these are essential to keeping pace has only strengthened over the course of the year.

We also explored the benefits of taking a longer-term view when developing lifecycle management strategies. Since then, so much has changed around us, and so quickly. Reflecting on the practical and realistic ability to plan at long-range in times of rapid change, my view is that it is more important than ever to put ourselves into the shoes of traditional and not-so-traditional stakeholders, considering all the varied needs and priorities of the people we depend on for optimised success. By thinking broadly and deeply, we will be more prepared should we need to pivot and adapt the evolution of our brands.

Spring began with a welcome face-to-face event, bringing together experts in customer experience. Where discussion surrounded personalisation, style, feel and measurement, the key take-away for me was that successful customer experiences are, in truth, simply great human experiences. We must remove friction, add warmth, and learn how to deliver an experience that feels real and valuable, not robotic and, dare I say, clinical. In a world which feels increasingly fragile, this advice will surely hold strong.

Moving through the year I challenged our industry to become better at questioning from the very beginning of a project. Not just optimising our questions themselves, but also including the right people, with the right knowledge and enquiring minds, devoting time to discovery, and learning techniques which generate better questions – and answers. I then demonstrated why we should invest time and effort to improve storytelling to benefit our brands, customers and patients. These two topics paired together have proven their value as a powerful team; the right questions get to the heart of the matter; the story has the ability to make an impactful human connection.

Even when tackling the huge subjects of ‘True Omnichannel‘ and the ‘Uptake Practical Approach to Agile’, my colleagues and I found ourselves being pulled back to tips that focused on people – whether labelled as customers, leaders, patients, or otherwise. Tools and technology are consistently secondary, and the human is in the spotlight, every time.

I now see that however much of the 2022 stage was given to strategies and tactics, with regular mentions of the Omnichannel ‘holy grail’, the common thread is always the human touch. Whether in terms of being bold enough to honestly assess team capability, stepping into the shoes of others, becoming better at asking the right questions with the right people, enhancing the customer experience, or transforming our ability to tell stories, we need to keep people at the centre.

This paves an exciting path towards 2023, a year that will be filled with opportunities for us to deploy impactful innovations. We must remember that innovation is not a term used solely to describe advances in technology and consider the most creative ways to connect with audiences in a human way that intentionally builds perceptions, evokes emotions and drives actions.

Melissa Dagless is Global Head of Growth and Innovation at Uptake Strategies, and she and her team actively champion taking big and bold approaches. Melissa will take over the PME blog in 2023, exploring innovation in direct relation to making an impact.

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