Eight Proven Growth Strategies from Healthcare & Life Sciences Leaders

By Max Votek

Basel, Switzerland is considered one of Europe’s biggest life sciences hubs.

More than 700 life sciences companies call the Basel area home, and 10 out of the top 50 biggest pharmaceutical companies by market capitalization have their headquarters or European base in the Basel area, including Roche and Novartris.

It’s why, earlier this year, we chose to host there our Basel Social: Life Sciences Edition, a platform that brought together leaders from the life sciences sector—and beyond—to discover the latest in the industry.

It was also an opportunity for experts to shed light on what they’re seeing in the life sciences space. I spoke with some of them. Here are their thoughts.

Making the digital journey more human for patients and consumers

With the shift toward digital channels, especially after the pandemic, the life sciences industry is seeing more touch points where companies have an opportunity to address the needs of patients and customers.

But this can also become a tangled web for life sciences organizations.

“Life sciences is becoming increasingly more complex,” says Eugen Burau, Customertimes VP of Sales in Europe and managing director of DACH region.

The best way to alleviate that complexity is to place your patient at the center, he says.

“Customer focus, and patient centricity is becoming more critical,” Eugen adds.

He points to the importance of personalization in digital interactions, and he highlights the effectiveness of face-to-face interactions, despite the growing adoption of digital channels in the industry, suggesting a balance of the two.

Using precision marketing to make the patient journey smoother

Haider Alleg, co-founder of Kainjoo, and general partner of Allegory Capital, says that precision marketing in the pharmaceutical industry is picking up steam.

This trend is being borrowed from consumer goods industries and now it’s being used to target healthcare professionals effectively with artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven strategies.

Sanofi, a French multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare company, is one organization that is currently deploying new strategies and tactics, with a recent team hired to tame the usage of precision marketing techniques.

Haider points out that companies like General Electric and Thermo Fisher Scientific, meanwhile, are using AI to analyze data and optimize marketing content.

For example, tracking emotional levels during remote calls to adjust sales approaches accordingly.

 “And it doesn’t end with marketing. We’re also seeing AI and data analytics provide a scientific edge to pharmaceutical companies,” Haider says.

 This includes detecting new disease patterns, understanding patient behaviors, and improving patient support programs.

The key takeaway?

Embrace the power of precision marketing and AI in your pharmaceutical company to stay competitive. You can effectively target healthcare professionals by adopting data-driven strategies, which entail optimized marketing content.

Implementing AI: The current business challenge

Aside from the usual apprehension around an emerging technology, leaders in the life sciences & healthcare space are faced with the challenge of regulatory concerns when it comes to implementing AI, and buy-in woes from stakeholders across their organizations.

Head of Data and Digital Engineering at Customertimes, Dmytro Kobryn, says senior leaders need to consider whether their teams and customers are willing to accept AI solutions.

“Not everyone is ready to interact with AI solutions, internally or externally,” he says, adding that with customers, many are looking to interact with humans rather than robots, as the case is with some AI-driven chatbots we see across company websites.

Ask yourself whether the implementation of AI-laden solutions aligns with your organization’s strategy.

Regulatory considerations can also be an impediment to organizations who aren’t sure how to approach AI implementation.

Life sciences companies in Europe could face hefty fines for non-compliance with the EU AI Act.

Companies found to have violated the Act’s rules against prohibited AI practices will be subject to a fine of either nearly $38 million US or 7% of their worldwide annual turnover, whichever is higher.

For any other form of non-compliance with the AI Act, companies could face fines of nearly $22 million or 4% of their total worldwide annual turnover.

The penalties are part of the EU’s efforts to incentivize adherence to the new regulations and ensure a consistent approach to enforcement across member states, especially when it comes to patient data.

“The cost of a mistake in healthcare…can kill an average-sized company,” Dmytro says.

The key takeaway here is that AI implementation in the life sciences and healthcare sector requires balancing regulatory compliance with stakeholder buy-in.

As a leader, assess the readiness of your teams and customers to adopt AI. Ensure alignment with organizational strategy and stringent EU regulations that could result in hefty fines for non-compliance.

Prioritizing human interaction alongside AI solutions and understanding the regulatory landscape are crucial to successful AI integration.

The latest data-driven approaches to drug and molecule development

Lead Data Scientist at Customertimes, Artem Dolgun, says we’re seeing innovative approaches in molecule development thanks to AI.

Large neural network models use AI to teach computers to process data in a way that is inspired by the human brain. And this technology, along with text models, is being used to create new chemical structures.

This demonstrates the integration of data-driven approaches in molecule development.

It doesn’t end there.

Dolgun says that we are seeing the integration of data-driven approaches throughout the drug development and clinical trial process. And that’s emphasizing the transformative potential of AI and data science in advancing healthcare and life sciences.

Using omnichannel strategies in the life sciences industry

Julia Osipova, a global engagement manager at Roche, sees a shift happening in the healthcare and life sciences space—one that’s more human centered.

And omnichannel strategies, which are a brand’s holistic approach to every customer touchpoint across channels, are a powerful way of offering value to the patient or clinician.

“Our focus is not just on connecting with our audience through multiple channels, but on making sure these connections are highly relevant and consistent—whether it’s through digital platforms or face-to-face interactions,” Julia says.

She also highlights the importance of understanding and addressing the needs of healthcare professionals and patients through personalized engagement and content across various channels.

Julia stresses the significance of measuring the impact of engagement strategies, promoting a culture of teamwork and innovation, and adopting patient-centric approaches.

“We’re going toward a more compassionate way of interacting, reaching a pivotal moment where the focus is shifting so that we are truly improving outcomes,” she says.

As the industry continues to change, so should we, Julia adds.

“Achieving excellence in omnichannel engagement requires us to continuously adapt and innovate.”

Innovation that aligns with your business goals

Innovating for the sake of it isn’t a worthwhile strategy.

That’s what Salesforce Practice Head at Customertimes, Mykhailo Maksymenko says, noting that innovations in your organization are incorporated into your business processes and have a budget allocated for them.

And while leveraging new technology like AI may pose implementation challenges, Mykhailo suggests that’s when companies need to consider investing with a partner to help find solutions.

Such investments can streamline the implementation process when it comes to new technology.

It can also lead to significant value generation, he says.

What the world of agriculture can teach us about life sciences

Monika Trehan, the M&A Europe Lead for Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, spoke about her experience outside of the life sciences sector while working at Syngenta.

She emphasized the parallels between human health and plant health. “I discovered that [they are] very related industry,” she says.

Monika highlights bringing a new product to the market in agriculture can take almost as long and cost as much as in healthcare, with timelines of about ten years and costs of around $300 million US.

And to meet the growing demand for food without expanding farmland into natural habitats, Monika says there’s a need for advanced technologies and sustainable practices.

“We have to increase the yields in the existing land area…without the overuse of pesticides, insecticides and other crop protection products.”

Digital tools and data science are crucial in helping with this

She points out the potential of digital farming similar to digital health, which has become a $200 billion industry as of 2023, driven by advancements in technology and changing consumer preferences.

Monika detailed how Syngenta is leveraging AI and digital tools to enhance both product innovation and farmer support.

AI is being used to improve research and development productivity, design new molecular drugs, and conduct early safety and toxicity assessments.

For instance, collaborations with InSilico Medicine and IBM are helping design new herbicide molecules and pioneering new chemical synthetic routes.

From a farmer-centric perspective, Syngenta is developing tools like Cropwise Protector, a mobile app that allows farmers to quickly identify pests and diseases and receive recommendations for crop protection solutions. This app provides real-time alerts and tailored advice to optimize farming practices.

Additionally, technologies such as satellite imagery, drone imagery, and smart hardware like optical spot spraying systems are being implemented to enable precision agriculture, helping farmers make informed decisions to increase yields sustainably.

While the adoption of these technologies is still in its early stages, Monika says she is optimistic about their potential to transform agriculture.

The life sciences sector can learn a lot from industries outside of it, as demonstrated by Monika’s experience and insights from her time working in the agricultural sector.

As a key takeaway, life sciences leaders, look to other industries for inspiration around how to tackle your own industry specific challenges.

The importance of being flexible in the life sciences industry

What is a key skill you need to succeed in the life sciences industry? Flexibility.

That was a point made by Leonid Parshenkov, senior director partner at Corza Medical.

Leonid shared valuable lessons from his career, emphasizing the importance of agility and learning from experiences.

“You have to be nimble; you have to be agile,” he says.

“To be bold or to be innovative means that [you should] wake up tomorrow and start brushing your teeth with the left hand.”

This need for changing things up, shaking the routine, leads to creative solutions and outcomes—necessary now more than ever in the life sciences space.

Leonid also challenges the expectations in the pharmaceutical industry, noting that managers are often asked to “show me the money” and demonstrate return on investment.

He argues that true value comes from mindset changes and organizational transformation.

He illustrates this with an example from his experience working in emerging markets where success is measured not just by immediate financial returns, but by the team’s ability to adapt and learn.

If there’s one key takeaway from Leonid’s insights, it is that effective business transformation requires a shift in mindset and a willingness to make bold, sometimes uncomfortable changes.

Final Thoughts

Basel stands as a beacon of innovation and collaboration in the life sciences industry. It’s why, I believe, the city draws in some of the biggest names in the sector.

Basel’s prominence in the life sciences arena not only reflects the city’s rich history but also its commitment to creating advancements that improve the lives of patients.

And as the experts from the Life Sciences Social in Basel have made clear, embracing patient-centricity, leveraging AI responsibly, and fostering strategic innovation will most likely shape the industry’s trajectory towards a more impactful future.

Max Votek

Max is one of the co-founders of Customertimes and also a trained pharmacist. He’s used his clinical knowledge to drive innovative tools that advance the life sciences industry. He’s committed to drive collaboration with pharmaceutical organizations around drug development, clinical trials, patient support, and field sales—all to continue the trajectory of innovation in the life sciences & healthcare sector.


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