impetus logo

Refining digital collaboration

Pharmaceutical companies are traditionally more conservative with their approach to and incorporation of new technologies; however, prior to COVID, the industry had begun moving toward intersecting health and technology. Natalie Yeadon, Co-founder and CEO of Impetus Digital, tells us how COVID has accelerated digital health transformation and made effective virtual collaboration more important than ever.

People’s interactions with each other have transformed dramatically and have had to do so at an accelerated pace. Greater thought is being put into how to make those interactions as pleasant, efficient and productive as possible for professionals worldwide.

Since the pandemic hit, many companies, including pharma, are contemplating how they can digitally transform in this new space. This is evident by the number of new positions you see being employed – digital transformationists, digital teams and innovation teams.

“The movement towards digital is not only for collaboration, but it’s the entire organisation’s modus operandi of becoming more digitally inclined,” says Yeadon.

The transformation of interaction

When considering the brand lifecycle from drug discovery to the point of incorporating patients, each aspect is now more technological. Impetus Digital is helping smooth out this transformation by offering one single platform that can benefit a multitude of teams.

“[Impetus Digital] has been helping clients through those transitions, from scientific advisory groups or medical affairs groups who are helping with drug discovery to clinical trials, publications and working with investigators,” says Yeadon.

Due to COVID, many clinical trials were abruptly halted. It was necessary to change protocols and find other ways of interacting to see how people were progressing. With the help of digital platforms, such as the Impetus InSite Platform®, the process was able to begin again.

Marketing teams and medical teams can now virtually collaborate as they launch a product and bring it to the world. For example, teams can screenshot their website and rebuild it graphically during their online discussions.

“We have the ability to get people familiar with new haptics and ways of using your hands and technology to draw and share ideas, but this can be done virtually. So, we can still create the inspiration and the ideas around shared understanding.”

Preparation for insight-gathering during and debriefing after virtual conferences can occur with teams globally through e-huddles, allowing attendees to join worldwide.

“General data discussions can occur where teams can brainstorm the implications of data received – how the data will impact their clinical practice, how new competitive data or recent publications may impact the treatment of the patient and/or what the strategic implications are of the data“ says Yeadon.

Many productive tasks can be accomplished within the virtual environment, and interactive breaks with interplay and some elements of fun can provide attendees an energy boost.

“We’ve seen a lot of science that shows that, by looking at people in this virtual space, it’s really depleting to the brain because it’s very different than the way we actually capture somebody in their essence when we see them in real life,” says Yeadon.

“Providing interactive elements can stimulate the mind. Gamification, immersive 3D experiences, pre-meeting exhibit halls, social or mixology classes, yoga classes and rock band concerts can be offered during virtual events to combat mental fatigue.”

There are two core ways collaborative engagement occurs on these digital platforms. One is through synchronous virtual touchpoints in which real-time discussions can occur. Essentially, everything that previously happened in a real-life meeting can now happen virtually.

A second way of collaborating is asynchronous virtual touchpoints where people can have moderators, share a series of ideas and attachments, utilise speech-to-text, gather small isolated groups (e.g., patients, physicians and payer groups) where any answers provided can be kept confidential, do insight mapping, use annotation tools, and much more.

“This is a way to build trust as well, so you’re really getting back to people and you’re doing things that promote learning and building through an intuitive process. It’s really the two core tools, the synchronous and the asynchronous, being some of the new ways people are collaborating in the life sciences space,” says Yeadon.

Embracing new digital technologies

There’s a great deal of digital health innovation occurring within the pharmaceutical industry and for companies that haven’t started changing or are hesitant to change, it’s never too late.

“I think at the end of the day it really comes down to a cultural shift. Everything starts with a mindset; it comes down to belief systems. One of top things that gets in the way of a company progressing is the company itself,” Yeadon says.

“Sometimes, we have built such indestructible, what I call, “legacy infrastructure” or “scaffolding,” the norms, the compliance background, all these kinds of things. That can be detrimental.”

Companies can start the transition by evaluating the risk factors associated with trying something new and different from a technological standpoint.

“Take an opportunity to do a single digital advisory board, try it synchronously then try asynchronous. Do it with a team that might be a little bit more forthcoming or a little bit more digitally savvy. Involve some of your more digitally savvy customers,” says Yeadon.

“Constantly measure, monitor and compare the traditional ways of doing things with the new technological developments.”

By comparing old versus new and getting feedback, companies can make more personalised experiences.

“Just like precision medicine, we’re coming to a place where the way we work is with a multifactorial ability to uber-specialise based on preference. Using machine learning and algorithms, new methodologies can be found to automate marketing and the processes around it,” says Yeadon.

“Personalisation improves effectiveness and efficiency and data helps us get there. We’re on an accelerated pace of innovation and exciting transformations – essentially a technological revolution.“

With technology, more individuals can be involved and more real-world evidence can be captured because there is an ability to engage with people in remote areas, places where there were previously barriers to entry. This openness allows for more diversity and inclusion.

To hear more from Natalie about digital collaboration, you can listen to episode 40 of the pharmaphorum podcast in the player below:

How pharma can benefit

Pharma has a new array of potential partners it can work with thanks to technological advancements, and choosing the right partner who knows the importance of a specialised, customised approach to health care and digital adoption will be the most beneficial to companies, patients and consumers.

“One thing that is very much the derivative in healthcare is we’ve always talked about patient centricity, but, more so now than ever, everything is going to be delivered around the health care consumer,” says Yeadon.

“Areas that were underserved and underprivileged can now participate in these trials. We’ll eventually start talking about this ability to go global, where clinical trials can now become globalised. Populations that were never included in the first place can now start getting representation.”

Through this data, pharma can utilise and adapt from the area of discovery through to determining whether a product or service is valuable to their company.

Companies who keep an open mind to new technologies and contemplate how they will digitally transform to empower the consumer will flourish as a brand. Having an effective and efficient way to collaborate will make teams more productive and ultimately help the company successfully reach its end goals.

“It’s about fundamentally building that bridge and a relationship directly with customers in a way that we’ve never done before. It’s about being courageous and doing things that have a ‘why’ behind it.”

About the Interviewee


Natalie worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 18 years in a variety of sales, marketing, and early brand commercialization management roles, both in Canada and the US in several different therapeutic areas. She is Co-founder and CEO of Impetus Digital, which acts as the “spark” behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis. They do this through their InSite Platform® in the form of InSite Touchpoints™ and InSite Events™, and have been leveraging their best-in-class asynchronous and synchronous virtual tools over the past 13 years for pharmaceutical companies across the globe. Natalie is also the host of the Podcast “Healthcare Goes Digital” and author of the book “The Healthcare Heretic.”

To hear more from Natalie about digital collaboration, you can listen to episode 40 of the pharmaphorum podcast in the player below:

About Impetus

impetus logo

Impetus Digital helps life science organisations virtualize their in-person meetings and events through their best-in-class InSite Touchpoints™ and InSite Events™ offerings, delivered with white-glove service and 360° coverage and care. Leveraging their large portfolio of cutting-edge online collaboration tools, clients can seamlessly gather insights from, and collaborate with, internal and external stakeholders. To find out more about Impetus Digital, visit or book a demo at

Don’t miss your complimentary subscription to Deep Dive and our newsletter

Sign up



Your name

Your e-mail

Name receiver

E-mail address receiver

Your message