A year ago the amount of the population that had heard of AstraZeneca would have been in the single digits. Today it’s becoming a household name as one of the vaccines to be used across the world in the fight to protect people from Covid.
This has meant incredibly intense timescales, distribution volume, and the necessity to deliver clear and precise information to all stakeholders, i.e. everybody.
The pharmaceutical giant was one of the first to run ahead and find a vaccine.
Intense timescales, unprecedented distribution numbers, and the need to cater to local markets on a global scale. How AstraZeneca met the challenge head on with Adobe.
It got government approval in the UK back in December, 2020, and its first vaccine was jabbed into the first person in January, 2021. Its plan is to distribute billions of doses around the world with the agreement to do it on a not for profit basis.
Beyond the physical and scientific challenges involved, there have also been digital ones, too. Just like all companies with a digital presence, AstraZeneca was tasked with creating engaging channels for patients and healthcare professionals, to get out knowledge to international but also local markets, as well as to track the amount of jabs that have been given.
“The vaccine has now received approval in more than 50 countries and is already benefiting patients around the world,” stated David Simpson, AstraZeneca’s head of global commercial IT. “We’ve committed to make that vaccine at no profit for the duration of the pandemic and to make sure that we produced it and distributed it in such a way that was broad and equitable. That we made it as widely available as possible.”
There were many difficulties involved during the last year. “We have faced some interesting challenges,” added David. “Certainly in the early part of the project, we weren’t really sure how we wanted to use digital channels – but what we knew was we didn’t want to leave ourselves waiting and the delivery of those digital projects became a delay in rolling out the vaccine. So we had to make a lot of ground early, without the certainty that we were heading towards a clear destination.”
They simply couldn’t ignore online presence. “We knew we needed to use digital,” said David. “We couldn’t rely on offline channels exclusively. We knew that the solution would need to be flexible, that the needs of patients and HCPs would vary significantly, regulation wouldn’t go away. And at the same time this commitment was over and above our normal business, and we needed to protect that.”
To meet these massive challenges, it needed a strong and reliable digital solution. And they found the answer in Adobe Experience Manager. They started out designing a major template in which they could then localize to all of their markets.
“One of the realisations that we reached quite quickly,” said David, “was that what we were trying to do was support a small number of very specific use cases. And those were quite different from the normal conversations that we would have with patients or HCPs.
“So for example, a typical conversation with a HCP [healthcare professional] might be to support and inform a prescribing decision, to choose a therapy for a condition. Well, this is a vaccine programme driven by the government and informed by organizations like the W.H.O. So the prescribing journey is very different.
“The journeys that we did need to support were to provide product safety information, or to allow healthcare professionals to ask information about the product, or to submit reports, submit new questions, or to look at expiry dates for the product. So very specific.”
When it came to traffic, AstraZeneca knew that it was going to change. In a typical year it’s whole digital presence would receive around 1 million visitors. “The profile of the traffic was likely to be unusual as well, so lots of single visit users from basically anywhere in the world. Different journey, different volume. We quickly realized that what we needed here was a standalone solution, rather than putting the content into existing channels. And that we would put that destination on a different infrastructure.”
Localizing markets was the central purpose for the new system. And central to localizing markets is the power of personalization. “We needed to serve a different experience depending on the country that was being accessed from,” said Daniel. “So whether that’s the language, the regulatory guidelines that change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, etc. So each market would need a different experience. However, we also knew that we would need to use the packaging to direct traffic towards the site, so we imprint the URL and give a QR code on the medicine packaging.
“What we didn’t want to do was lock in batches to a certain market too early on in the process. If we put a UK-specific URL on a package, that could only then be distributed in the UK, and that wasn’t helpful from a logistics point of view. So what we chose to do was go with a single Global Gateway, where we have one URL, that takes every user in the world, regardless of whether they are a patient or a HCP, regardless of which market they’re in. It takes everybody to the same gateway and from there you can self drive to make sure you get the right experience.”
Moving to Adobe Experience Manager, much of the risk was removed. “We took a lot of risk out of the project,” added Daniel. “And we were also able to move really quickly at the start of the project. Make sure you’ve got some strengths and rely on them. When you’ve got to move quickly, understand where you are strong and try to get most use out of that.”