It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the changes happening in the healthcare delivery landscape. Just imagine what it must feel like to be a provider of care today—pressure to become employed; a changing payment model aligned with performance; mandatory adoption of new workflow tools; ICD-10 codes; and let’s not forget about the Sunshine Act. All of these changes are putting pressure on healthcare providers’ time and mental health.

As healthcare marketers, it is our responsibility to find ways to reach our potential prescribers with the right brand messages without adding more burden or frustration to our targets.

To achieve this, we must focus on five key activities:

1. Properly identify and segment our targets.
2. Don’t forget the “invisible prescribers.”
3. Create relevant and concise messages for each segment.
4. Deliver messages based on channel preferences.
5. Measure marketing mix performance to optimize future campaigns.

Properly Identify and Segment Our Targets

Every manufacturer, and sometimes even every brand team, takes a different approach to establishing targets for digital, non-personal promotion. This ranges from targeting just your “called on prescribers” to including all possible targets since the additional cost is often nominal—what we call “the land grab.”

What’s the best approach? The answer is somewhere in between. Digital channels can offer a lot of flexibility to reach potential prescribers outside of your personal promotion targets, but if you target the wrong healthcare professionals with an irrelevant message, you can add frustration to their already complex day and can erode the value of a channel—and possibly, that relationship.

It is important to work with your agencies and your channel partners to establish a smart target list of current and potential prescribers for your brand.

Don’t Forget the “Invisible Prescribers”

Up until now, MDs and DOs have been the prime pharma targets overshadowing a crucial segment of providers—the “invisible prescribers.” They are the nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs) and pharmacists whose positions have expanded over the years as they take on more empowered roles on coordinated care teams.

As the insured patient population rises, NPs and PAs will treat more patients and in turn, they will become bigger prescribers. In California, clinical pharmacists can now prescribe, thereby making them one of the largest untapped groups of prescribers in the country.

Then there are the unidentified influencers at the ACO level. Who they are and how much of an impact they will have on drug prescribing remains to be seen. The industry is keeping a close watch on these unknown variables because to stay competitive, pharma will need to figure out who the influencers are and how to message to them.

Create Relevant and Concise Messages for Each Segment

We all know that one size does not fit all; however, we often find ourselves reverting back to this because of time constraints or the ability to get unique messages through an already burdened regulatory team.

Whenever possible it is extremely beneficial if you can segment your messages to make it most relevant for your target audience.

With healthcare providers having less time, it is also important to keep the message as brief as possible. Another action sometimes hard to achieve, but wouldn’t you rather get the most important part of your message consumed by your targets than no message at all? Especially if you are embedding your messages within the providers’ workflow, it is essential that your message is supportive at point of care and can be absorbed quickly.

Deliver Messages Based on Channel Preferences

Just as healthcare providers are often overwhelmed with the myriad of changes happening in the delivery landscape, pharma marketers are equally overwhelmed with the number of VC-backed startups entering the pharma marketing space. It is often hard to decide how to best deploy a brand’s digital marketing budget.

The answer has to be based on your targets’ preferences. Find a few partner channels where the majority of your targets are interacting on a regular basis and embed your concise, relevant message where they are open and receptive to consuming information about your brand.

Measure Marketing Mix Performance to Optimize Future Campaigns

Many pharma manufacturers are developing internal databases to understand all of the various touch points they have with each individual target across all internal and third-party activities. It is important to work with your channel partners who are willing to share campaign results at an identifiable level. Over time, you can develop insight into channel preferences and optimize your marketing mix.

Remember, no one tactic or channel is an island. It is important to measure and optimize across your marketing mix.

Nothing described above is rocket science, but following through on this approach takes discipline and a willingness to really put yourself in the shoes of your targets. When you are willing to truly market this way, you should see increased consumption of your messages and increased scrip writing if you have a viable product for the patient population of your targets.

Next month, I will be discussing the value of reaching your targets at the moments of care and what healthcare providers are telling us they want during this precious time. Until then, I welcome comments.

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