Pharma sales are vital to survival in a highly competitive industry. Achieved results are reflective of a product’s success as well as of the contacts the reps have. One of the key stakeholders is HCPs (healthcare professionals), whose words greatly influence patients.
The question to pose now is, how has this relationship between HCPs and pharma sales reps changed in the past few decades in the US?
What changed for HCPs in the last two years?
Even before COVID-19 came into play, a slow shift in communications was felt. Online interactions were increasingly becoming the norm in healthcare communication. The pandemic did nothing but accelerate this shift and turn it into a complete turnaround for digital healthcare.
That wasn’t the only change that came into play when the pandemic erupted. Its effects on healthcare were so profound that it ended up changing the business model in practice. HCPs felt one of the deeper blows regarding their workflows and daily activities.
A consequence came from this, one that still affects many HCPs to this day: burnout. The amount of stress placed on physicians and healthcare workers had a devastating effect on many of them. According to AMA, an inquiry to almost 21k respondents working in healthcare revealed that they’ve experienced high stress, fear of exposure, anxiety, and work overload during this period.
This factor is one big reason why HCPs started to value their work-life balance a lot more. Not all pharma companies were aware of this, which led to some positive and negative experiences among these two workforces.
Interactions between pharma and HCPs
A recent study by Accenture provides a comparison of HCP-pharma interactions before and after the pandemic. Before, most interactions took place in person. Then, this trend shifted to a virtual scenario. To many HCPs inquired by Accenture, the restrictions in healthcare access will most likely continue for a time, and some of them might even become permanent.
This relevant change brought forward a new model of communication between pharma sales reps and HCPs. We’re mainly talking about new communication tools that have been brought to the forefront. Some of these are:
- Video meetings,…
All in all, HCPs are exhausted and burned out. So, these now want to interact with pharma in the most optimized, tailored fashion possible. Therefore, HCPs opt for electronic communication for its countless advantages, such as convenience and time efficiency. This, on the other hand, is creating new demands that pharma companies ought to respond to promptly.
What would HCPs like to see from pharma?
According to a survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), HCPs are embracing the possibilities of tailored and personalized content. The once predominant one-size-fits-all approach no longer serves them. HCPs want content that addresses either their patients’ pain points or helps them progress in their knowledge in their area of expertise.
HCPs have a high interest in medical information and relevant scientific data. This is exactly what they want pharma companies to provide them with. Furthermore, they want to see and understand how pharma can help them support patient care through virtual engagement.
These expectations that HCPs have toward pharma companies end up influencing their judgment of their competence. All of the contents that they address to physicians have an impact on their perception of whether their needs are properly met or not.
For that, unspoken rules were created to “regulate” HCP-pharma interactions. Targeted, niche content became one of the primary physician needs. This is impacting how these relationships happen in the digital spectrum.
Pharma reps who adapt to this new reality can prove quite useful for healthcare professionals. An expansion is necessary to provide better support to them in areas such as:
- Patient medication use;
- Compliance support tools;
- Assistance in the case of home care options;
- Useful information on patient home monitoring options; and
- Resources to help in patient education.
In short, pharma sales teams need to adapt to the new reality of HCPs’ digital needs. Interactions need to be able to make the most efficient use of HCPs’ time and provide them with useful information for their medical areas.
How can pharma companies re-think their engagement strategies for HCPs?
Here are a few considerations for pharma companies to make before creating an interaction strategy fit for HCPs:
- Send each HCP relevant information for their work area:
Ensure that each content piece created and sent is aligned with the HCPs’ TA. A healthcare professional’s specialty and practice equally dictate the type of content to send them.
- Inform before trying to sell:
Messages with a selling goal in sight no longer stick with HCPs. If they’re going to read a message, they want it to be informative and educational. Pharma reps can still present a product or treatment, as long as there’s a catch to it that catches an HCPs’ curiosity about the product at stake.
- Point helpful tools to HCPs:
Pharma-HCP interactions can also focus on providing useful tools. All the messages that provide HCPs with suggestions of relevant resources for them to do their jobs are more than welcome.
- Make sure that the content is aligned with HCPs’ goals:
More than being aligned with their marketing goals, pharma companies should also align with the goals of the HCPs they interact with. Their objectives center mostly on providing the best clinical options well-received by their patients. Therefore, the messaging should be aligned with this option.
- Use visual content:
Lastly, there’s the fact that eye-catching materials score points with HCPs. Don’t use long texts to convey your message. Instead, you can use resources such as charts, diagrams, infographics, and even video content. The easier the information is to digest, the better for HCPs.
It goes to show that content these days is “king” in online strategies, but the contact list is “queen.” If pharma companies can provide relevant content to the HCPs with whom they interact, these virtual relationships have a good chance of blossoming. In an ever-growing virtual reality in healthcare, there must be a human factor to keep it real.
Access to educational content is beneficial to the relationships between HCPs and pharma companies. RedNovius can help you present these contents in a new fashion.