PM360 asked experts in engaging with healthcare professionals to address key issues the industry should know about in 2018 including:
- How can pharma shift its strategy to make sure they are still engaging with no-see physicians? Alternatively, how can reps maximize the time they get with the doctors they are able to see?
- How can pharma deliver more personalized experiences to HCPs? What new targeting and segmentation techniques can be used to help accomplish this?
- How does the changing role of the doctor in healthcare affect how pharma should engage with HCPs? What tools or services can pharma offer to HCPs to help make their jobs a little easier?
- What new technologies/techniques offer the most promise to help marketers better engage with HCPs?
To achieve better access to “no-see” and “hard-to-see” physicians, biopharma companies may want to explore modifying how sales reps are trained and coached by their managers. Sales reps are extremely well trained on products to the point where they become “experts” for the brands they represent. That said, too much emphasis on the brand during exchanges with physicians is not always the best way to earn a return ticket to the office.
Instead, placing more emphasis on how a brand can assist a physician to practice better medicine for their patients provides more value and earns better access to physicians. No brand is the sole solution for a particular disease. Promoting a brand as the panacea/semi-panacea for all doesn’t ingratiate reps with physicians or deliver realistic value.
Introducing formalized customer satisfaction training to reps, including training curriculums that emphasize how to better meet the needs of physicians and their practices, can go a long way to improving access. Increased value can also be delivered by training reps to ask more intelligent questions, listening intently to the answers, and tweaking their presentation accordingly. Physicians don’t walk away when they are speaking and engaged. Being better informed, sales reps can have more knowledgeable, interesting, and thought-provoking exchanges with physicians allowing them to focus on providing better medical care for patients—not just brand accolades.
When it comes to engaging no-see physicians, I like to break it down to five basic strategic principles:
- Be outcome based. Be clear in the outcome that you want with your target: Is it awareness, market share, ROI, engagement, etc.?
- Know why. Have a clear understanding of why these are no-see physicians. Is it by circumstance or by physician choice?
- Take action. Once you know the why, start to gather data on what the physician’s needs/knowledge gaps and interests are that will allow you to know that physician more than any other company.
- Customize content. Once you know specific drivers, gain physician respect by serving up relevant, credible content that evolves based on feedback.
- Be flexible. Continue to optimize or change your approach until you surpass your outcome through A/B testing and continuous physician feedback.
Remember to keep it simple, complexity often challenges great execution.
With access to physicians becoming more difficult, the pressure is on to make engagements more relevant and impactful. Everyone in the industry has been reeling from a recent blogpost on MedPage Today by esteemed clinical investigator, Dr. Milton Packer. Dr. Packer laments that most published medical research is not being read and he wonders if authors are wasting their time. Whether or not you agree, it seems physicians are interested in the latest data and innovations in their respective fields but do not have the time to read the original research.
To help, pharma can take complex, and sometimes confusing, clinical data, translate it, and break it down into salient points that are relevant to physicians and their patients’ care. This is a fantastic opportunity for sales reps and MSLs to put their tablets to good use and show physicians impactful information (e.g., curated slides or interactive PDFs) that summarizes the latest relevant data to the physician’s practice.
Think of it as offering a physician a personalized medical tabloid summary. In just a few minutes of the engagement, they can receive clinical updates and may opt to delve further and locate the original article or simply start a dialog with colleagues on the subject. This experience adds value to the physician’s practice and may lead to a physician actually looking forward to the next engagement.
For a long time, non-personal promotion has been forced to distill messaging down to a “one-size-fits-all” approach. But, as anyone with boots on the ground knows, personal salespeople are most successful when they tailor their messaging to the topics that a particular doctor is most interested in. Digital marketers can learn from this behavior in two ways:
1) Dynamic display ad creative: This approach allows digital pieces to be built out with dynamic fields that populate with personalized info (e.g., the names of institutions in that doctor’s proximity that have brand KOLs working in them).
2) Segment list-matching: Pharma companies usually have the data they need to segment their physician targets into sub-groups that will likely respond to certain messages. For example, high-decile brand writers will likely respond to a copay message, and high-category but brand-agnostic writers may respond to a comparative data message. Setting up granular digital ad campaigns and targeting every piece with list-matching technology (which is now possible across most digital formats) allows any advertiser to A/B test messages, confirm or deny assumptions, and respond appropriately—optimizing creative rotation within small segments as opposed to against the entire specialty.
Today, most pharma companies have meaningful data on their target HCP audiences. What they don’t have are advanced analytics and the resulting data and insights that help them to understand, predict, and apply an individual HCP’s propensity to engage and respond to promotional stimuli. This can have a meaningful impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of a branded commercial campaign.
By augmenting traditional pharma marketing analytics through analysis of various data sets across HCP profiles, demographics, sales force promotion, digital promotion responsiveness, engagement, as well their current and historical treatment and Rx behaviors, companies can design customized campaigns that prioritize outreach to certain segments, limit resources expended on lower-priority HCPs, and uncover high-potential segments that traditional methods often overlook. These intelligent campaigns include the right mix of channels, messages, cadence, and sequencing for each target. Since no two customers are alike, this ensures that promotion is delivered in the most efficient and effective manner, based on a specific HCP audience.
By leveraging a comprehensive digital touchpoint marketing campaign, pharma marketers can both segment and personalize messaging at such a granular level that the rest of their organization, such as MLR, sales force, etc., will have a hard time keeping up.
Marketers’ limitations today are not technical; they are organizational. Personalization and segmentation are possible from a technical standpoint, but the bureaucracy of MLR approval and the coordination of communications with the rest of the organization can make these cutting-edge digital touchpoint programs challenging.
Instead, keep it simple. An initial digital touchpoint program should gain experience through leveraging all major channels such as email, banners, social, and contextual recommendations. However, the segmentation should be kept simple by limiting the division of your target list into perhaps three to four distinct categories, in which the messaging can be most effectively segmented to drive the highest share movement among each segment.
These segmentations should be consistent. Are you exploiting regional differences? Analyzing behavioral differences? Or simply looking at differences of script volume? However you define your segmentation, keep it consistent along one dimension, so each prescriber fits neatly into one segment initially, and differentiate your messaging accordingly. Most importantly, be relevant to your audience.
In today’s healthcare setting, a doctor’s role has morphed them into becoming a partner and an educator to the patient. An aging population with high rates of chronic conditions means it is crucial to provide patients with the tools and knowledge to manage their own care.
Physicians need to use healthcare appointments to understand the patient’s level of comfort and understanding of their disease state. This could mean using teach-back methods or role playing with the patient. Additionally, providing meaningful and personalized education is an enormous help to patients.
The HCP-patient counseling time is critical if “shared-decision making” has the opportunity to take hold and make a lasting positive impact. The goals of the HCP-patient dialogue include activating and empowering patients and their caregivers to be partners in the management of their health through effective education; understanding the impact of missed medications; setting treatment expectations; and being knowledgeable of the treatment goals.
Because patients or caregivers are left to their own devices post appointments, having materials to reference that detail in expectations in the language the patient can understand is a critical factor in how they will manager their care. Ultimately, helping the patient understand and effectively manage their own care will help make the HCP’s job easier.
More than half of U.S. physicians now practice as employees of a multi-physician group or integrated health system, according to IQVIA data. When physicians join a corporate practice, they become subject to new prescribing influences. For example, health systems and ACOs influence prescribing thru:
- Treatment pathways that consider clinical and cost outcomes.
- More restrictive formularies/narrow networks to realize shared savings and manage risk.
- Clinical decision support tools to implement pathways and formularies.
- Physician incentives tied to outcomes, cost, and payer contractual terms.
- Their own comparative data and personalized therapy initiatives.
In response, an evolved engagement model should deliver:
- A well-aligned, coordinated team deployed to account decision-makers, combining market access, sales, medical, HEOR, and others.
- Patient care value propositions, such as care coordination tools.
- Value-based programs or contracts; and ways to support IDN risk-sharing arrangements.
- Dashboard of real-world patient pathways in target IDNs. This analytics innovation informs allocation of resources to the right accounts. By sharing this information with IDNs, patient-centric partnerships can be planned.
Given the changing role of the doctor, pharma can help make a HCP’s job a little easier in a number of ways. While it’s fashionable to imagine equipping physicians with new digital tools, in reality what they really need are services that save them time and help patients.
Many of the recent changes in healthcare have led to more administrative work and less patient time. Ask a physician what she needs the most, and she will reply, “more time.” This can be in the form of more efficient ways to support patients. Examples include paper-based patient education tools and easy-to-navigate educational websites for patients that provide customized content such as meal plans, recipes, and exercise schedules. Help with prior authorization and access to high-touch patient assistance programs for those struggling to get access to the drug they need are seen as very valuable.
For a busy physician, a sales rep on a promotional reach and frequency call only takes time away from the practice. But offer a 15-minute lunch presentation from an industry leader or a two-minute immersive MOD/MOA animation on an iPad that describes the impact of a new class of drugs, and now you are providing value. No formulary information—the HCP will never remember it—but the facts delivered succinctly and in terms of patient benefit and you have their attention.
While technologies such as VR for medical education, patient data tracking, virtual consults, and 3D printing are among the emerging tech creating the most buzz, the greatest opportunity lies in technology that builds on platforms physicians are already using—most especially EHRs.
Physicians spend more time on an EHR than they do on any other digital resource for professional purposes. While EHRs are a bugbear of clinical practice and viewed as a strain on the physician’s ability to dedicate time to patient care, what if we could judo that time spent into a positive? If we have to spend time in these systems, why not increase the value of that time?
Building clinical algorithms and population-based health insights into EHRs will continue to help validate and sharpen clinical decisions, and the inclusion of disease-specific education and next steps at diagnosis (such as quick start guides and directed patient education) may be the enhancements most likely to be seen as a tech benefit by clinicians. As pharma clients seek to move from simply messaging about product to collaborating with physicians to better their practices and patient health, looking to embed such helpful resources within the EHR will be a cost-effective and valuable way for marketers to better engage with HCPs.
Attending live pharmaceutical meetings has always been the gold standard for educating healthcare professionals. Most would agree that there is no better forum to learn, interact with their peers, and collaborate. Yet, demands on their time, coupled with regulatory challenges, travel restrictions, and growing travel anxiety have resulted in many healthcare professionals limiting or stopping their participation in live meetings.
Virtual meetings have provided a potential solution, but they simply do not have the engagement of face-to-face meetings. As the former CEO of a global healthcare marketing and communications agency, I saw the challenges of access to influential Key Opinion Leaders, the increasing need for more frequent collaboration, and the accelerating costs associated with travel.
Peer-to-peer collaboration remains an important value to healthcare professionals and finding new ways to enable them to do that is incumbent on the industry. Next-generation technologies must come closer to the experience of a live meeting, led by an in-person moderator who works with a live studio production crew to ensure that meeting execution is flawless and participants from anywhere in the world can engage effortlessly with the moderator, content, and each other.
Brands providing a superior customer experience with personalized, relevant content conveniently will earn engagement and perhaps even loyalty.
Technologies such as chatbots, voice assist, and AMP for email are new ways marketers can make stronger connections.
Servion Global Solutions predicts that by 2025, 95% of customer interactions will be powered by AI—and chatbots will be so advanced we won’t “spot the bot.” You can use chatbots to mimic rep conversations and services—such as getting questions answered quickly, ordering resources and samples, or even uploading mobile coupons.
According to DRG’s Taking the Pulse® U.S. 2017 survey, 58% of U.S. physicians use or are interested in using voice assistants (Siri, Alexa, Google Home). Adding branded content, such as Alexa skills or Google actions, puts you in modern, convenient places for HCPs to find information and have questions answered quickly.
AMP for email is the newest way to interact with your user through an old medium. Instead of getting your HCP lost in apps and linking out to sites, infuse your email with AMP so your email is the web. They can share, pin, and tap all within the email environment.
Convenience, speed, and ultimate relevance will have you #winning the engagement game