HCPs are overwhelmed by promotional content in digital

As HCPs get more digitally savvy, pharma marketers should understand that engaging physicians through channels and time of their preference with content relevant to the individual customer. is no more an option but a critical factor to ensure success for any multichannel marketing initiatives.

Key findings:

  • 77% of HCPs use digital channels primarily for personal learning and development. For remote interactions with pharma representatives, 58% of HCPs indicated flexibility to schedule and reschedule meetings as the main reason for using digital channels.
  • 70% of HCPs said that pharma representatives do not understand their requirements completely. Further, 62% of HCPs said that the most significant area where pharma representatives can add value is, by understanding the needs of HCPs and sharing only relevant content with them to make the interactions more insightful. The one-size-fits-all approach will no longer work, and pharma companies will have to invest in greater personalization at scale and build better content development and operations capabilities.
  • With 68% of HCPs indicating webinars or webcasts as their most preferred channel to receive information, it is evident that HCPs are extremely time constraint and prefer to engage with pharma organizations on their own terms when it comes to channel, content, and type of devices.
  • Only 47% of HCPs prefer receiving communication through the marketing email channel. At the same time, marketing emails are among the top 5 channels used by pharma companies to engage HCPs. Pharma companies need to better understand the HCPs preference for receiving content on digital channels in order to bridge such gaps.
  • 62% of HCPs are overwhelmed by product related promotional content pushed by pharma companies on the various digital channels.
  • 50% of HCPs preferred to receive promotional content on their mobile or tablet while 62% of HCPs and 57% of HCPs preferred to receive clinical and medical content on computer/laptops respectively.

We asked HCPs how extensively they used digital channels for various activities related to learning, networking, telemedicine, and remote engagement. Globally, HCPs used digital channels mainly for personal learning and development (77%), followed by video conferencing for professional networking (68%), and telemedicine/telehealth practice with patients (63%). While the adoption of digital channels for remote engagement has increased in the recent past, HCPs’ usage of such channels for small interactions with pharma companies or for monitoring patients remotely could be better.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the interactions of traditional in-person pharma representatives have declined steeply. In response, pharma companies had to train their sales force to use digital channels and help them have valuable discussions with HCPs virtually. Globally, 59% of HCPs are still unsure if pharma representatives completely understand the HCP’s requirements, as shown in Figure 5. With pharma companies investing resources in multichannel engagement frameworks, there will be
a more vital need for a digitally-savvy sales force to recreate the in-person experience using virtual channels. Given the critical connection of the sales force between the industry and HCPs, companies who do not prioritize this stand to lose out on their ability to engage physicians.

More than 50% of HCPs in Europe (excluding Germany), the United States, India, and China prefer to meet representatives remotely because of the flexibility in scheduling appointments. For HCPs in India and China, apart from this factor, the ability to access more educational content in various formats was a driving factor to prefer remote engagement models.


This study shows that HCPs are demanding more from pharma, but these data points should not be used across all specialties. Oncologists, for example, have different relationships with pharma reps than GP physicians.

HCPs don’t want the “canned promotional pitch”; they want scientific data and their questions answered with data. The worst thing that a pharma company could do is a lack of transparency around clinical trials and outcomes.

HCP teams need digital-savvy people to help reach their audience. Even though they may have been tested, marketing messages are not relevant anymore.