Anthill: changing the game in pharma digital communications

Anthill is a digital agency with a long track-record in life science communication. Now it is working to enable pharma to make big changes. We spoke with Katrine Bach, CEO, to get the low-down on how the agency is seeking to shake things up.

What kind of agency is Anthill?

“We’re a digital agency in the broadest sense. Much of our work is developing digital content and strategy, as you would expect – but we also provide education, training, and specialised digital tools too.

“This is because you need all these elements to make digital work in pharma. Great content is essential but it’s not enough. In pharma, people are looking for a digital partner who can also help them develop their own digital competences and ensure that everything works properly – that the expected results are delivered.”

So, in what way does pharma need to build its digital competences?

“Often, it’s a mindset change that’s needed. As in many industries, what happened in pharma is that previous ways of working were digitised. That brought lots of benefits, in terms of efficiency, but didn’t fundamentally change how people were working.

“We call this ‘putting paper under glass’, meaning that existing sales tools, like detail aids, were put on a mobile device. So, even today, digital communication tools are still often seen as ‘content repositories’ – banks for holding content, rather than engagement tools.

“What often results are things like e-detailers that have 100 slides or more. When you see something like that, you know that the priority was getting all the information on there, rather than thinking about the experience for HCPs. But if your starting point is the customer experience, things can look very different. And it works much better!”

“What we want to do is effect change in pharma. And a big part of that is to demystify what digital means.”

How is Anthill working to enable pharma to act?

“What we want to do is effect change in pharma. And a big part of that is to demystify what digital means and enable people to ‘think digitally’, if you will, and act with confidence. We do this directly with our pharma partners on a daily basis and through staff training programmes, as you would expect.

“We’re now taking this to the next level. This year we announced the Anthill Academy, which is an eLearning system that’s specifically about digital communications in pharma – the only one available with this dedicated focus.

“The Anthill Academy is a great way to work at scale and raise the overall digital competences in an organisation quickly and cost effectively – and build a common understanding of what digital means and how to work with it.

“We also work to just make things easier for pharma. A good example of that is Activator, a just-launched product that works with Veeva’s Vault system. Before Activator, adapting content, managing digital assets, publishing to the CRM, and obtaining LMR approval, often had to be performed in completely separate platforms – which requires additional training and involvement of multiple agencies and departments. Because Activator can perform all these actions in one system, it speeds everything up.”

“People are looking for a digital partner who can also help them develop their own digital competences.”

What should people be aiming for? What do great digital communications look like in pharma today?

“As I mentioned earlier, it’s about making the customer experience the starting point and building from there. HCPs and patients want the right information, at the right time, in the channel of their choice. But that’s not the same thing as just building lots of channels. We think a lot about the difference between ‘multiple channels’ and actual multichannel – which is a connected customer experience.

“Ultimately, great digital communications come from a laser-like focus on your audience. If you truly understand what people need, how they live, and are willing to think and act boldly, you can really change things.”

Read about Anthill’s BOLDpharma initiative here.

About the interviewee

Katrine Bach is the CEO of Anthill Agency. She leads a multidisciplinary team that enables life science companies around the world to deploy digital technologies that maximize the value provided to healthcare systems, clinicians and patients.

Prior to joining Anthill, she held senior positions in a number of life science-focused companies, including Agnitio, IQVIA and Areks.

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