SUMMARY: Quantitative and qualitative data was gained through surveys with EPG Health’s multi-stakeholder databases (HCP, pharma, and service providers) and interviews conducted with pharma execs by Impatient Health. The objective was to identify new and preferred pathways for the creation and delivery of medical information.
Key Findings 1: HCPS ARE IN CONTROL AND PHARMA KNOWS IT. Tighter access has put HCPs in the driving seat. They have been exposed to more convenient digital engagements and have many digital options for accessing what they need. Those who deliver superior customer experience will punch through the digital noise. Pharma must level up the value they deliver. It’s not about shouting the loudest – it’s about being present and relevant at the right place and time.
Key Finding 2: Pharma demonstrates a good understanding of HCP needs and expresses intent to fulfill digital engagement preferences. However, many are not demonstrating that awareness and intent through their strategic and tactical focus. There’s a divide between the content and channels HCP value, and those pharma prioritize, partly due to a capability gap but not entirely!
Key Finding 3: The wheels are now in motion with digital innovation, but pharma is far from full speed ahead. Adopted engagement tactics are simply a digital expansion of what was there before. Learning & development has been concentrated on virtual meetings and eDetails with limited success/ROI. As we continue towards a new normal, some virtual replications of HCP engagement have been successful and are likely to remain post-pandemic.
Key Finding 4: FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTION WILL NEVER FULLY RETURN. We will see an irrevocable change in HCP preferences. The replacement of face-to-face with virtual engagement has sustained an impact on HCPs, and demand to bounce back has been limited. Decision-makers will need to focus on virtual and hybrid models. These will need to be fluid (across time and function) and flex to evolving customer journeys, preferences, and levels of tech-savviness
KEY FINDING 5: DIGITISATION REQUIRES AGILITY AND EXPERIMENTATION In order to stay competitive during the pandemic, investment in digital engagement strategies and technology increased. Social media and webinar platforms have seen a massive increase in usage across the industry, and many cite them as an important engagement channel. However, COVID-19 presented the industry with an ideal opportunity to experiment and many companies did not respond or adapt quickly enough. Pilots need to continue at pace.
KEY FINDING 6: COLLABORATION AND SHIFT OF POWER IN PHARMA FUNCTIONS The pandemic brought about a real change of power. Digital initiatives are primarily led by growing digital leads with marketing teams not stepping up, relying heavily on brand heritage despite low expectations. A value-driven conversation puts Medical in the driving seat where commercial functions struggle to adjust. Meanwhile, customer experience requires increased cross-functional collaboration to leverage digital assets among teams. Innovation has been hampered by a fundamental lack of internal capacity coupled with a time lag for reorganization.
Key Finding 7: A BRAND AND ‘MINE’ FOCUSED MENTALITY. There’s a push and pull internally on branded hubs versus third-party platforms, with a heavy focus on delivering own content and channels. This is despite acceptance that ‘independent’ is preferred and more effective at meeting objectives. Digital leaders, who understand that HCPs care less about brand, don’t see long-term value, but currently invest in their own hubs anyway. Due to access pressure and digital options, HCPs
are unlikely to create space for such ‘promotional’ engagement. The long-term trend is towards educational, non-promotional content, based on scientific exchange, delivered through independent/co-sponsored educational platforms.
The priority that pharma give to field force activities is far removed from the value that HCPs attributes to them.
I thought the content and findings of this research were right on target. Pharma still hasn’t, in my opinion, gone full in on digital. They need to hire more digital professionals and the drive towards digital needs to come from the top.