HCPs Prefer Digital Communication over Traditional Face-to-Face Calls
Teams across the fields of medical activities, sales, and commercial marketing must be able to meet the needs of HCPs, or healthcare professionals, in today’s competitive fast-paced pharma market. Thanks to digital technology, pharma reps can communicate with HCPs to make positive engagements, advance outcomes, and nurture relationships through the preferred channels of those HCPs at times they choose. Those reps who do not prioritize using software to be able to accomplish this, however, risk providing what may be considered substandard service.
Can you afford to provide substandard service?
Software is the key to providing what physicians want; they are increasingly amenable to using means of digital communication, which means that there are strong opportunities for pharma companies to engage here, giving HCPs exactly what they need.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for reps to meet with HCPs, but digital communication can be particularly useful in alleviating that issue – especially when digital channels take the place of face-to-face meetings when those aren’t an option. Customer engagement planning must implement the right software to provide a responsive, organized approach to these HCPs – 50% of whom find the normal timing of face-to-face meetings inconvenient.
Physicians are also increasingly interested in “Independents” and “Knowledge Seekers” as opposed to the now-outdated “Relationship Seeker” types of pharma reps. They are more interested in educational programs that pharmaceutical companies can offer and less interested in direct interactions with reps and pharma companies.
Pharma and Digital Communication
2017 marked a turning point in the way pharma views digital; previously, the industry had considered digital as a “shiny object” – that is, something that attracts attention quickly, but has no real lasting investment value. As interest in digital media increased sharply and more pharma networking events included discussions and panels on the subject, companies and reps took notice. From 2012-2016, digital accounted for just 14.8%-16% of average marketing budgets; however, in 2017 it rose to 18.9% and has continued to rise since, reaching 21.5% in 2018.
In 2019, digital pharma marketing is no longer an afterthought.
Those who adopt digital communications to connect with busy HCPs will gain a clear advantage over those who remain using face-to-face meetings as their main channel. Emphasis grows in developing multichannel capabilities to engage in activities that improve the quality and convenience of communications. While email and remote engagement are increasingly becoming routine, adoption of these particular channels varies greatly.
One Pharma’s Pre-Launch Test of Digital Channels
One European pharmaceutical company began to branch out to digital communication with limited experience on its use; however, once this channel was implemented, the company extended its reach, kept HCPs happy, and enthused its reps about the new approach.
This pharma company is one that specializes in vaccines; management started with a primary target audience of specialists and a secondary one of general practitioners. The specialists had previously been visited face-to-face with reps while the GPs had not. The overall score for satisfaction with the remote engagement was very positive, earning a score of 8.1 out of 10.
Seventy-one percent of specialists preferred a combination of remote engagement and rep visits; 23% stated they wanted only remote calls going forward. As for the GPs, 80% said they preferred being contacted through digital channels in the future.
Keeping Ahead of the Competition
Pharma reps, in an effort to become better aligned not just with the preferences of HCPs, but also with shifting customer needs, find that building on early successes with digital channels requires more than just traditional thinking and moving beyond the face-to-face meeting.
This new type of commercial organization can operate across divisions and brands according to the specific needs of the healthcare systems they serve as well as individual customers, and everyone in between. Embracing technology and the digital channel approach will not only help pharma marketers stay ahead of the game but will also benefit all involved stakeholders.