Why Pandemic Launches are Underperforming Globally


Since COVID first banished us to our spare rooms and home offices over two years ago, we’ve been asking Healthcare Professionals about their attitudes towards education and engagement in the digital space versus face-to-face meetings and conferences. We’ve discovered that there’s a lot to be said for online events, but it never quite takes the place of old-fashioned ‘pressing the flesh’ or networking over a coffee or glass of wine after the day’s events are over.

As healthcare market researchers, we have been in the same boat ourselves over these last two years. We’ve been unable to attend any education or networking events due to COVID cancellations or because they were held overseas while we - in Australia - were unable to travel. It must be said that we have felt somewhat isolated from global industry developments, so we were delighted that EPHMRA (European Pharmaceutical Market Research Association) decided to run their 2022 Annual Conference online this year. We didn’t get to share a coffee or glass of wine with our peers in Europe, but we did get to catch up on trends and developments in the healthcare market research industry.


So What Research has been involved with EPHMRA for several years, due to its focus on:

  • Creating an environment that encourages excellence in providing insights combined with business knowledge
  • Providing a hub for excellence in research thinking to empower healthcare market researchers to provide consultancy to the business
  • Driving the development of best practice in healthcare market research


It’s important to us that we stay abreast of industry trends, and the great benefit of EPHMRA is that it straddles both market research and healthcare, meaning every topic in the three-day conference was directly relevant to our work. We’ve heard about the latest thinking on Patients, Digital, Forecasting/Analytics and Behavioural Science, giving us some ‘food for thought’ to implement in our daily work.


Of all the topics and talks offered, our top three takeaways have been:


1.   Navigating the Launch Landscape

An interesting meta-analysis of global launches by IQVIA highlighted that 80% of launches continue as they start in the first six months – well or badly. This was a real eye-opening statistic for us and reinforces that the work we do with our clients in preparing for launch excellence really does benefit in both the short- and long-term. Their analysis also shows that, after 21 months of measurement, pandemic launches are still underperforming. This is sobering news, but on the flipside it reinforces the need to do the hard yards prior to a launch.

To create a resilient launch excellence strategy in our post-pandemic world, there are three key imperatives:

  1. Understand the post-pandemic patient journey
  2. Create a strong customer engagement strategy
  3. Respond to current economic challenge with evidence-based value demonstration


2.   Untangling Patient’s Journeys

This paper really highlighted the difference between the theory and practice of mapping a patient’s journey. Firstly, a patient’s journey is usually ‘non-linear’, so by trying to simplify it into a ‘linear’ process we are already losing specificity and a realistic understanding about all the steps involved in a patient’s experience of their care. Second, a focus on the macro level of a patient journey means it’s easy to miss tangible, tactical areas that drive better outcomes.

We were encouraged to see how much ‘best practice’ we are already doing in our patient journey work, but this paper gave us some fresh ideas for our next patient journey project.


3.   Patient meets market researcher – when two worlds collide

This was a brave and enlightening paper from a market researcher who lives with a chronic health condition. She was able to talk from the perspective of both patient and researcher, highlighting what it’s like to truly walk in the shoes of a patient living with an incurable illness. It also raised our awareness of how easy it is to see patients ‘out there’ when we undertake healthcare market research, when in truth we are all patients ourselves at some point in our lives.

A few members of our team are living with chronic health conditions too, and it gave us food for thought of how it may serve them, and our clients, to explore the experience of personal meeting professional when it comes to health.


 If any of these topics are of interest to you, or you’d like to know more about our learnings, please contact us for a no-obligation chat at