Pharma Design Thinking

A Global Smart Workforce Concept



A large pharma company was looking for an innovative strategy to replace its classical salesforce approach with focus on East Europe and China. The classical interaction between doctors and their respective pharma sales representatives happens in regular personal visits of the representative in the doctor’s office/practice. Since these interactions are highly regulated but at the same time remain very cost-intensive compared to other ways of interaction, many consider this traditional approach to be outdated.


To be prepared for the future, the company was seeking for potential solutions that produce at least the same results as the traditional sales model when it comes to the generation of sales and customer satisfaction, but with the restriction of reducing the number of representatives available at least by half. Yet, nobody developed such a comprehensive new concept – singular initiatives and tools addressed the challenge only partially.


Together, we set out to approach the challenge: ”How may we we re-design the go-to market model for prescription medicine products?”


A strong focus was put on the individual needs of doctors in our target countries like China.

Customer Research at Hospital in China


For every country we extracted insights, which guided us later in the ideation and prototyping phase.

Switzerland Insights: The Swiss market can be summed up by the focus of doctors on scientific and unbiased information, the efficient health care system and the great possibilities from the doctor’s side to provide the necessary care to patients. We found Swiss doctors to be pragmatic and very focused on providing the best care for their



Poland Insights: The Polish market can be summed up by a strong importance of the status of doctors, and a bureaucratic and mostly inefficient public health service. Doctors in Poland face pressure from different angles: their patients, the pressure to keep cost low, and from bureaucracy.


China Insights: The Chinese market can be summed up by the lack of trust between doctors and sales representatives, and the inefficiency when sales representatives bring information to doctors.

Synthesizing Insights from all Countries

Summarizing, we found that doctors have four key needs:

  • First, they need efficient ways of communicating with pharma;

  • Second, they need trustworthy sources of information from which to be informed about the new developments in their field.

  • Third, especially doctors in Poland and China need to have the feeling that they are appreciated for their work.

  • Fourth, doctors need to have access to individualised information, which is customised to their work.

Through the various Design Thinking phases we narrowed down our ideas to come to our final prototype.

Intense Prototyping



The prototype features a threefold solution system, consisting of an app, an online platform and a physical reminder.


This system solves the challenge by replacing and/or supporting the key functions of a pharmaceutical sales representative, and solving the needs of doctors. The main functions of this solution are a chat function (solving the need for efficient communication), a news function (solving the need for individualised information and trustworthy sources) and a status and gamification element (solving the need for personal attention). During our need finding, we learnt that doctors are very busy, and need efficient ways to find information. Therefore, a communication function is at the heart of the solution. Doctors will be able to chat directly via text or voice message with their personal medical assistant. The medical assistant is a person that the doctor knows, either from personal visits or from professional gatherings such as medical conferences. The chat allows an easy and informal communication between these two parties, allows doctors to ask questions, and the medical assistant to push news, invitations to conferences, and other special happenings of interest for the doctor. By shifting communication to a mobile app or a platform, doctors can choose when and where to communicate with their personal medical assistant. One additional finding was the need to be informed very well, thus,  we integrated the possibility for doctors to benefit from free access to such content mainly via the online platform. On the application, doctors can read the most important news.

Customer Journey Linking the Main Prototype Functions

Sales representatives can use this whole solution to build a relationship with doctors and deliver information, market and remind of products, while increasing their reach and customer base.

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