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Customer Experience in Life Sciences: A Q&A with Rich Schwartz, Medallia’s New Solution Principal

Customer Experience in Life Sciences: A Q&A with Rich Schwartz, Medallia’s New Solution Principal

The life sciences industry is at an inflection point where the need to prepare for the future and remain relevant are front and center. The relationships between pharmaceutical companies, physicians and patients have changed dramatically this year, making customer experience in life sciences more important than ever.

To help companies address those challenges, Medallia recently hired Richard Schwartz as our new life sciences solution principal. Rich — who’s favorite saying is “health is the best problem to solve” — joins Medallia after working more than three decades in life sciences for companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb, WebMD and Publicis Health.

We recently caught up with Rich to discuss what trends and emerging signals he’s seeing in life sciences and where the opportunities lie for biopharma and biotech companies to create more value for patients and practitioners. 

What changes are you seeing in life sciences right now? 

We are currently sitting in an era of outcomes, be they implicit or implied. Providers are being held accountable for positive patient outcomes, and pharma is facing a need to demonstrate value and deliver positive experiences along with their medicines. All of this means we are in the early stages of a shift from product marketing to experience marketing — this is the experience era. And while there is a lot of positive talk about great customer experience, we are in the infancy of assessing and addressing it in life sciences.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate customer experience in life sciences? 

I won’t give them a score, but some are excelling and some are lagging. I will say that they are lacking a unified definition of what experience means and the criteria for a great engagement. There are metrics against websites or call centers to inform, tackle questions or address adverse events, but these are lagging indicators and largely operational. We need to be connecting at a human level with people needing or taking medications and the doctors prescribing and managing them. What was the experience for the sick patient during a clinical trial? How well did the provider explain the drug access and its effects? It’s the emotional side of experience we are currently missing. Secondly, medications are emerging that are really effective at treating niche health issues, making them very expensive and the process to get them too complex. People simply give in or give up. 

What can we be doing differently, better? 

Orchestration! The utopian world we all crave in healthcare and pharma isn’t too far off. We just need to let go and lean in on some new areas. Imagine a world where everything is radically simplified. Experiences should be invisible — that’s when they are beautiful. What if there were no forms to complete if you have cancer or mental health issues? You don’t need the added burden. There is a powerful future filled with ease for those who are ill. Data-driven technologies and human empathy can move us into the future today. 

Why Medallia? 

I came on board because the experience people have in healthcare should directly link to patient outcomes and I want to move that notion forward. We have seen some incredible studies on the power of human touch in care and healing, but we have not seen it at scale. We live our lives today with incredibly elegant and harmonized experiences. Still, we have not quite identified or mitigated some of most simple gaps, not to mention the complex ones. Medallia can help people understand what’s missing so they can fill the gaps. My role at Medallia will be to help both healthcare and pharma companies identify and fill the gaps. 

How do you recommend pharma start their experience journey?

People generate signals all the time. Some are loud and some very quiet. Pharma has an opportunity to gather and capture signals in more meaningful ways and in critical areas. We lose more than 100,00 people a year from non-compliance with their medications alone. Tighter connectivity with practitioners, systems and the individual build better collaboration.

I’d encourage them to be open to new ways and look outside the usual approaches and the industry norms. The gravitational pull of familiar approaches is strong, but not always ideal. In health, we have to be human-centric. People are not always customers or patients, but we are always human. Everyone involved wants people who need medication to get the best one in the best way for the best opportunity to get better. 

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to do away from work?

I’ve been married for 30 years and have three children. I love horses; they are so powerful and tuned in to what people are feeling. They have taught me to understand people better. I have two hound dogs and chickens and live in Pennsylvania. I love watching football with my family when I’m not working. 

To learn how you can improve the customer experience in life sciences, watch our on-demand webinar, ‘Return on Experience: Pharma’s New Opportunity to Engage and Support.’