How to select the right pilot market for digital, patient-centric health products

Johanne Olsen

By Ida Spangsberg, Johanne Rønnow Olsen

Digital health has experienced a promising few years. Yet many pharma companies are struggling to scale their digital health solutions. One reason for this challenge is companies not considering segmentation carefully enough.

When launching new digital health products across several markets within life sciences, you’ll need to choose the right pilot market to test the solution. This is a step towards ensuring the feasibility and scalability of your product. By following the three-step approach outlined in this article, companies can ensure pilot markets are selected with careful consideration and that project organisation is designed to support successful product rollouts. While these steps cannot guarantee scalability, they are vital in preventing internal processes and structures from becoming obstacles to the scalability of successful products.

We often see pilot markets that are selected based on internal factors, existing relationships, and the market’s expressed demand. But this comes with risk. The pilot market might be a bad fit for your product, even if the product is a good fit for your company’s overall market presence. Without a thoughtful analysis of the best-fitting pilot market, you run the risk of missing out on valuable patient impact, revenue, and crucial product insights.

So how do you select the right market? Based on our experience working with global pharmaceutical companies who are launching new digital and patient-centric initiatives, we suggest following these three steps:

1. Categorise your markets into archetypes

First, identify the key factors that are relevant to the success of your product. For digital health solutions, characteristics like the regulatory environment, general digital adoption, and trust in pharmaceuticals tend to be relevant as they’re indicators of willingness to adopt digital health solutions. Then, score and group markets into the selected characteristics, enabling an easy overview of your market landscape. Analyse similar patterns and trends that guide the launch approach in the market. This will enable you to understand preliminary guidelines for which markets to launch in and how to launch, which you can further define once focus markets are chosen. The archetype that fits best is individual to the product. However, if you would like to launch across many markets, choose a highly regulated market to pilot your digital health solution. This ensures your product lives up to the highest regulatory standards, ensuring scalability, and positioning your product as meeting ethical standards.

2. Assess your shortlisted pilot markets’ affiliate resources and competencies

Successful piloting of digital health solutions often requires digital, compliance, and regulatory capabilities, competencies, and resources with strong local anchoring. If you are considering a pilot market with, for example, limited digital resources, you’ll need to ensure the affiliate is supported with the investments necessary to carry out the pilot.

3. Establish a dedicated team with a good governance setup

Balance strong local anchoring with global applicability. This can be achieved by ensuring the right mix of global and local team members allocated to the project, and by setting clear objectives of what types of results your digital product should drive.

By following these three steps, companies can ensure pilot markets are selected with careful consideration and that the project organisation is designed to support successful product rollouts. This will enable the company to select the best pilot markets for a specific product. While it does not assure the scalability of the solution, it does prevent internal processes from becoming barriers to the scalability of a promising digital health product.

About the authors

Ida Spangsberg PA life sciences expert
Johanne Olsen
Johanne Rønnow Olsen PA life sciences and operating model expert

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