Pharma companies spend billions of dollars on advertising annually. However, year after year, the pharma industry experienced poor rankings in reputation. Then COVID-19 came along, and seemingly overnight, the industry’s reputation with the American public skyrocketed as Big Pharma and Biotech raced to develop lifesaving vaccines. All of a sudden, 56% of Americans held a favorable view of the pharma industry in 2020, compared to 27% in 2019. Perhaps, no other industry has benefitted more from their work during the pandemic.


The pandemic has unexpectedly revamped the pharma industry’s image in the eyes of the general public. This has presented a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the current COVID-19 goodwill to enhance its reputation in the long run. If not, the industry stands to regress to a past plagued by public and government scrutiny of its pricing, access, and transparency practices which will certainly negatively impact the industry’s long term prospects.


As your organization considers its strategic direction beyond COVID-19, here are three ways the pharma industry can extend its new and improved reputation.


  1. Emphasize Health and Safety


To further drive consumer trust, pharma companies will need to communicate their commitment to health and safety in a way that connects with patients. For example, during the pandemic, pharma companies have actively leveraged awareness campaigns to dispel vaccine myths and boost consumer confidence.


This type of robust education is crucial to building trust with patients who are often wary of prescribed medications. All patients need to know how their prescribed medication affects their health journey and why medication adherence is vital to their health and safety. This requires deeper communication — which an information packet, digital resources, or occasional clinician visit cannot accomplish.


Fortunately, with the rise digital health adoption, pharma companies are incorporating virtual tools — including remote coaching — to address leading barriers, help patients use prescribed medications, and demonstrate commitment to improved patient outcomes. Ultimately, improved investment in patient support shows tremendous potential in bolstering the pharma industry’s reputation with the American public.


  1. Demonstrate Lifetime Value


Irrespective of COVID-19, the majority of American adults will continue to live with chronic conditions that need prescribed treatment. However, 50% of these individuals stop using their prescribed medications due to reasons such as a lack of education about their disease, limited understanding of the impact of their medication, and emotional barriers when it comes to deciding on treatment. In addition, patients may give up on their medication if they don’t see the results they expected. These actions can negatively impact patient health and pharma company revenue. 


Now more than ever, Pharma has the chance to help patients unlock the value of medication adherence through data-driven solutions paired with virtual care platforms— which allow patients easy access to critical healthcare information through synchronous clinical interactions. For example, patients can work one-on-one with a dedicated clinical expert who helps them better understand their disease and how their medication can improve their quality of life. This can help patients successfully initiate and adhere to their care plans.


Ultimately, the blend of technology and high-quality clinical coaching enables pharma companies to demonstrate their continued support to patients beyond medication initiation.


  1. Ride the Wave of Value-Based Care


Healthcare’s steady shift toward value-based care is causing payers and providers to focus more on improving patient outcomes by tying payment to efficacy. Although both stakeholder groups have adopted digital health tools (such as patient coaching) to optimize health outcomes, pharma companies lag behind as they often incorrectly assume that digital tools should be incorporated further downstream.


Americans are living longer with chronic conditions, and pharma companies have a unique opportunity to implement digital support practices like virtual coaching. Through these digital support tools, pharma companies can demonstrate improved value to payers, providers, and patients.


Pharma companies that fail to keep up with rapidly changing trends in patient care and engagement may find themselves with fewer revenue opportunities, decreased brand value, and limited customer loyalty. The same goes for pharma companies that choose not to invest in patient support during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Time for Pharma to Act is Now


As a result of their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharma industry has been presented with a unique opportunity to enhance its corporate reputation in the long run. And, the implications of an enhanced corporate reputation at the individual company level is not insignificant given that an improved reputation can lead to enhanced brand values, increased customer loyalty, and decreased government scrutiny. Pharmas should strongly consider investing in enhanced patient support programs to take advantage of this unique industry wide opportunity to build direct relationships with a consumer base seeking more robust digital health support. This type of investment presents the potential for stronger relationships with customers and improved reputations over the long run.