For clinical practice to change with the introduction of new medicines it’s clear that we need real evidence of the value each new medicine brings. However understanding this value is not always easy, as the value is always in reference to an existing medical option. Like all other times when we need to understand something we look for ways to help our brains make sense of the information we are presented with. Simple references are dealt with in a metaphorical way. For example “This is a bit like that”. In more complicated conversations, archetypes guide us on a knowing path to help toward the expected outcomes of conversation. Wrap these up and you have the beginnings of a Pharma story. It’s the narrative that surrounds brands, value propositions and clinical evidence.
It’s highly probable that the work by Daniel Kahneman in ‘Thinking Fast and Slow” supports the thought that we naturally resist new ideas or concepts without a resonating story. Kahneman says this is due to our desire for cognitive fluency. Fluency is a state where the intuitive system of our minds readily processes information as it looks for meaning. Where meaning cannot be found the reasoning part of our brain takes over and enters a slower but more methodical approach to work out meaning. As he says the brain is lazy and likes a compelling story to guide it.
Changing medical practice requires compelling data and product evidence, but eventually to complete the complex and distant sales model we need compelling stories or short narratives. We need the intuitive system to give the green light for the rationale system to engage and make the changes suggested by the data. In the absence of a compelling story the intuitive system can create a story of its own with the potential for biased assimilation of data ie the use of data to support reasons not to use the brand. For this reason even the best evidence based brands can struggle to engage without a compelling story to carry the data into understanding.
Our jobs in creating the Pharma story are to generate significant advances in clinical data but also to enable cognitive fluency in the communication of it. Our minds are set to look for and create stories. Phama needs to connect its data with compelling stories that aid understanding.