The biggest transformation in pharma marketing since DTC

This is an exciting time to be in healthcare marketing. We’re witnessing the most significant transformation in healthcare marketing since DTC was approved in the ’90s. We’re moving from an era of “promotional marketing” to an age of “data is key” and “helping patients become consumers of healthcare.”

HCP’s are moving quickly into 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 the critical factor to ensure success for any multichannel marketing initiatives.

FutureReadyHealthcare listed the following 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.

What this means, in short, is that HCP marketers need to discard the promotional messages and be more transparent about data, patient outcomes, and product costs to patients. The days of quick promotional messages are disappearing.

When it comes to DTC marketing, the transformation is even more pronounced.

Data will show that the percentage of people who see a DTC TV ad and ask their doctor for the product is minute. Today, the journey from awareness to getting an Rx is more complicated and filled with more noise.

Drug websites are too promotional and not updated enough to address patient needs about new drugs. DTC marketing will be less about “selling” as opposed to helping patients understand their treatment choices with clear language of side effects as applied to real-life scenarios.

Pharma needs to experiment with ways to help patients and caregivers instead of “buy us.” Pharma websites have become akin to medical journals in content, often frustrating online health seekers to use social media or spend more time online. DTC marketers need to monitor conversations and develop content in Internet time that addresses their questions.

What about telehealth?

Patients and physicians don’t want pharma becoming part of the conversation in telehealth visits, but that’s largely because they see pharma as trying to “sell them.” If physicians recommend a specific drug to a patient during a telehealth visit, they should direct patients to a pharma website that has detailed information. Getting HCP buy-in is the first challenge, and mistakes will be made, but it falls in line with helping patients instead of selling them.

This is a fascinating time filled with endless opportunities to really make a difference. Pharma marketers need to get out of the mindset of “just ROI” and need to acknowledge that the ROI of helping patients choose their product can’t easily be measured.