Future of the Workplace – Changes within Pharma and Medical Devices

The impact that the pandemic have on the pharma and medical devices industry have been phenomenal. Although trends differ from region to region, it is clear that Asia-Pacific have been impacted in terms of organisational structure, and a greater need for IT infrastructure and support. This is evident more so in sectors like medical devices and supply chain who are the front-liners in tackling the pandemic.

To understand how organisational management and business focus will continue to evolve over the next 12 months, we invited a round-table of HRs and decision makers from leading Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices companies:

If you’ve missed the session, here is a recording along with a summary of key points covered.

  • People strategy & changes in organisational management

In times of a global pandemic, it is key to note that people-management remains an utmost importance for organisations, whether the focus is on medical devices or pharma.

Lee shared his take that given the uncertainties of the pandemic, no one will be able to correctly predict what would happen in the next 18 months. And it is this very reason why “people’s mindset will need to change and adapt to new skillsets and competencies to be successful in the new future.”

He added that the way Bayer have engaged its Health Care Providers (HCPs) has changed.

“Bayer is ahead in this aspect especially in APAC to be the first in integrating a multi-channel marketing platform. Since the mid of 2019 we’ve been pushing a lot of medical reps and front line sales to ride on digital platforms, engage with medical and marketing colleagues to create content to share with HCPs. While the adoption rate among internal employees and HCPs was not as great due to preference for face to face interaction, COVID-19 has changed this mindset.”

Hearing this, Kaur added that infrastructure and doctors’ confidence in utilizing IT needs to be taken into consideration as well.

“We’ve been talking about digitalization for a long time and it is prevalent that pharma have been one of the industries that has been lagging behind. While APAC is highly digitally connected, we need to think about rural Southeast Asian areas like Thailand who may not have digitalized access to HCPs. Hence, it’s not just about tackling people but also having the right IT infrastructure and doctors’ confidence in navigating and utilizing IT continuously.”


  • How has the business strategy & focus changed and will continue to evolve?

Infectious diseases will continue to be a focus until a vaccine is made available as healthcare companies also feel the pressure to help deliver it.

However, the strategy will also continue to evolve based on customer engagement models with the new ways of working. In pharma, customer engagement models have changed and organisations will need to find the right balance between virtual engagement and face-to-face interactions.

According to Uppal, “There will probably be a blended approach – if we can do things virtually we will do so. Different companies are at different levels of capabilities, and platform. Going forward, the key question is how to make this virtual approach more effective. There will be a need for more training on virtual effectiveness and a proper digital strategy in place to evaluate if there is a need for additional resources and budget.”


  • Best practices & foreseeable challenges in the next 12 months


  1. Complementing traditional ways of working with digital platforms

Looking ahead, the speakers portends that until a vaccine is available, there will be a dilemma to go back to old ways of working, and instead continue to leverage on digital platforms. Ideally it would be good to complement both new and old ways together.

For Bayer, multi-channel platforms are utilised to organise seminars and congresses globally and regionally. More content has been added, along with marketing materials to keep HCPs engaged.

Saini added however that supply chain functions are highly dependent on market demand. Supply chain automation is both a cost-effective measure which would lead to higher profitability for manufacturers. In times of a pandemic where drug and vaccine supply availability is crucial, automation will be the catalyst to pump up production and development.

  1. Prioritising communication and interaction

Lee shared that interaction and constant engagement especially from the senior leadership team is key to every business. At Bayer, across all departments, there is an increase in interactions and engagement. “Previously we use to meet once a month, but now we connect once every two weeks. There is also a stronger display of empathy in communication and I see that these practices will continue in the next 12-18 months.”

  1. Employer safety, product availability, and business continuity plans (BCPs)

Uppal shared that Novo Nordisk have in place, 3 focus areas –

  1. Employer safety
  2. Continuous product supply available for customers
  3. BCP – being in a regulated environment, Novo Nordisk have backup plans for critical functions, with risk-based monitoring. Nonetheless it needs to ensure that not a single customer enquiry is unanswered. On the other hand, regulatory compliance have been relatively smooth as authorities were open to hear from the challenges we face which made it easier to tackle any issues and to receive guidance.


Concluding thoughts

Within the pharma and medical devices industry, mindsets on the ways of working will be more of a priority. Organisations will need to consider their resource allocation, whilst adopting a blended model which include capability building through training to become more fluid and agile, whilst ramping up on digital resources and support initiatives to prevent long-term costs in future.

Please feel free to get in touch with us if you are keen in discussing topics shared above, or to find out more about the recruitment services we offer.

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