Healthcare provider engagement with pharmaceutical companies changed during the pandemic. More and more possibilities have risen when it comes to content that can be shared with HCP. Yet there are a couple of elements to consider before making an impression. Today we will be taking a look at some of the main rules to have in mind before reaching out to doctors.
What changed in healthcare provider engagement from 2020 to 2021?
There was a study by Accenture on pharma and healthcare provider engagement and interactions, first in 2020 and then in 2021. 720 people (general practitioners, oncologists, immunologists, and cardiologists) participated in the survey.
Many of the inquired medical professionals stated that the COVID-19 pandemic was leading to significant changes. They referred to their new needs within the sector and their engagement with pharma companies. HCP said they want that new model of engagement to continue.
The good news for pharmaceutical companies? The HCP in this study have praised them for the improvements they’ve shown in regard to support services and relevance. One year later these complements still hold up. Yet they also pointed out that pharma can improve when it comes to understanding their needs, as well as the needs of their patients.
Beware of SPAM: How not to engage with healthcare providers
In this regard, not everything is bad news for pharma companies. 9 out of 10 HCPs have pointed out the fact that many of them have changed the types of content that they send them. Aside from product information, many helpful and relevant contents have allowed pharma to gain points with medical professionals.
Unfortunately, this also meant that HCPs started to receive a clutter of information in their inboxes. Although a new message in this context is always welcome, some companies emailing medical professionals have missed the mark. At least 65% of them have reported being spammed by at least one pharma company during the pandemic.
Many inquired about HCPs still felt that pharma didn’t understand what they needed. They are referring to their needs and expectations about patient treatment. 56% of the participants still feel that many of them still don’t understand the effect that COVID-19 had on them. Another 60% have also felt the same but in regards to the effect on patients.
On one hand, pharmaceutical companies are on a good path to building good relationships with HCP. It’s an opportunity wide open to them, especially in virtual means. Yet they still need to check the relevance of the content they send to their contacts.
In a healthcare provider engagement, time is of the essence
Another important detail that needs to be pointed out is the change to HCPs’ routines. The pandemic made them have a bigger amount of free time than ever before. Yet, medical professionals still feel that their time is valuable. This also applies to pharma companies’ approaches through virtual means of communication.
In the study, 75% of the inquiries stated that they had seen a decrease in patient numbers over the years. 61% have pointed out the fact that they have more capacity available than in the times before COVID-19.
The good news for pharma? HCPs are more open to engaging with companies. Especially those who can provide them with relevant content. 9 out of 10 medical professionals have noticed that there are pharma companies that have provided them with more meaningful engagements.
The secret? Blend the best of virtual and in-person relationships
Many of the HCPs in this study have rewarded the companies that have provided them with positive interactions. Once a pharma company has a healthcare provider’s attention, it needs to maintain that relationship. The best way to do it is with content that will help both them and their patients.
Without a doubt, remote meetings are here to stay. For the time being, the study has shown an increasing tendency for remote events. When it comes to mid-2020, the HCP inquired and stated that their meetings with pharma reps were 65% virtual and only 35% in person. The trend remains unaltered in 2021, with 61% of meetings taking place online and 39% face-to-face.
There was a relevant percentage (46%) that stated they prefer a mix of in-person and remote. 38% preferred total virtual meetings, and only 12% wanted to go back to in-person meetings.
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A good pharma rep is key to a successful interaction
Keep this in mind: the sales reps in pharma companies are key to helping in the decision-making. 88% of HCPs have admitted they’d be twice as likely to meet with a pharma rep if the interactions they have mirrored their best relationship.
- Here are a couple more statistics for pharma companies to consider in this regard:
- 35% of HCP in this study said that having a positive interaction with a pharma rep would make them more likely to meet with others from the company;
- 38% would be willing to have a second meeting with the person or company;
- 41% said they’d be more likely to open emails and listen to a company’s messages;
- 42% would be open to the possibility of engaging with the company in some other way.
What can we conclude?
In short, the pandemic had profound effects on healthcare provider engagement and how pharma organizations interact with professionals. The contents that pharma companies are sending are becoming more and more relevant to healthcare providers. On the downside, this may lead to a huge amount of spam in their emails.
The time of an HCP, as well as their real needs in their professional life and patient needs, are elements pharma companies should look into. One role proving to be more and more relevant in this communication game is one of the sales reps of a company.
In 2022, it’s pharma companies’ job to continue to progress in this matter. They need to have a deeper understanding of the real needs of medical professionals all over the globe thanks to the pandemic. A healthy relationship between pharma companies and HCP will make both parties benefit in the age we’re currently living in.