The only sure thing is change, and as the healthcare system and technology continue to evolve at a rapid pace, marketers will need to continuously update their approach to eDetailing to keep up.

Frankly, I’d say that eDetailing is dead. That’s a strong statement from an eDetailing guy, but by that I mean that the traditional one-way push of material based on limited information is an outdated, inefficient way to reach potential prescribers. Today’s astute marketers know that content is still king, but it needs to be part of an ongoing communication dialog that encompasses in-person selling, marketing, digital self-service, analytics and a smart content strategy. This combination enables the team to extend the story in today’s much more customer service-oriented environment.

But first, with changes in healthcare the team must understand the market, and solid data is the starting point. For example, ACOs are establishing exclusive formulary agreements that exclude certain products. Accessing and understanding related data enables more precise targeting, so that companies don’t expend resources on physicians or organizations who aren’t potential customers.

Next, advanced analytics can generate insights about a prescriber’s online footprint. By overlaying various databases, we gain a better understanding of the attributes of each physician and how they align as potential customers. Taking that one step further, a knowledge of their online behaviors allows us to predict who are good candidates for digital interaction, where and when to focus live resources, and how to continuously make marketing programs smarter.

Yet, while digital engagement with physicians has evolved, we’re still just past the infancy stage. With only 43% of physicians using mobile technology in their practices1, there’s still much room for growth. We’ve gone from passive, “flat” websites to more active engagement that asks questions and develops accurate profiles by drawing out information. The key to this active approach is great content—because not only are we supplementing human interaction, we’re also working to maintain a conversation in an environment that is not one size fits all.

Such a steady stream of rich content helps to create the surround sound that provides a better online experience for the physician and the data to understand him/her. It opens the door to bridging the gap between the office visit and an email push and establishes a deeper relationship with your brand.

We see a number of physician-directed networks entering the market to build on what was eDetailing. While it could get crowded, in general it’s good that doctors will be getting more comfortable in a digital relationship with their reps and various brands.

Looking beyond the horizon of the next five or more years, we see a market where digital has touch points across the care spectrum, from pinpoint marketing in EMRs to CME offers based on browsing habits. There will always be a need for live interactions, but we’ll do a better job of supplementing and extending that relationship through digital. While we’ll walk a fine line between obtrusiveness and trust, we’ll know where to draw the lines, and in the end, we’ll deliver more value to the marketplace and greater return on investment for marketers.

References

1. Physician Adoption of Health Information Technology: Implications for Medical Practice Leaders and Business Partners. Deloitte. http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/Health%20Care%20Provider/us_
dchs_2013PhysicianSurveyHIT_051313%20(2).pdf.

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