Author: Allen Wellings, Commercial Director at EPG Health
In a year that has forced people to behave differently, in both their work and personal lives, communication has changed, perhaps forever. In my post, I reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities that this situation presents for pharma engagement with healthcare professionals.
I work (pharma customer facing) for a digital medical publisher that was coming through the other side of an intense period of digital transformation when COVID hit. For pharma, the process is similar in many respects to our own, though intensified by the need (imposed by the pandemic) for speedy action.
Separating the opportunities from the challenges
Pre COVID, the pressure for pharma to meet demand for online delivery of medical education already existed of course. So did the challenge of implementing digital consumption models as a vehicle to support behaviour. The urgency to embrace the opportunities and overcome the obstacles has simply been accelerated by the sudden decline in on-site meetings and rep visits.
The question of whether digital strategies can provide the same level of personalisation and influence as peer-to-peer events or rep activity is a valid one. For comparatively new and still evolving digital channels, there is still much to learn and perfect. However, the web has become the first port of call for HCPs meaning their behaviours are already being influenced by what they find there, whether from pharma or other providers occupying the same space.
The challenge now is not as simple as choosing the right digital activities and channels to replace traditional activities for dissemination of the same information. The real challenges are how to break through the noise in a crowded digital space, how to ease HCPs’ discovery of relevant content online, how to format it to support online consumption and how to understand if the key messages are consumed and acted on.
Successful digital engagement requires a different way of working, with communications designed specifically for online behaviour and with journeys that are personalised for the user. Anyone who thinks they can take content intended for a scientific meeting or a detail aid and shift it online with the same level of engagement and impact will be disappointed. A valuable KOL interview video that is buried in a website and 20 minutes long is unlikely to be found or watched.
Fortunately, with advances in technology, and the advent of AI and machine learning, it is now possible to engage, educate and influence HCPs online in a more personalised way. Other industries have adopted these technologies at a faster rate than pharma and can teach us a lot about digital publishing, with companies like Amazon leading the way on influencing behaviour through a personalised customer experience.
With the design of ‘Medthority’ (www.methority.com), our medical website for HCPs, EPG Health took cues from such advanced digital publishing techniques. We invested in both technology and an internal infrastructure that would support discovery, enhance customer experience and ensure our messages (and those of our pharma customers) are heard.
Through the platform, we are able to surface relevant content based on HCP profiles, behaviour and peer activity, providing the kind of digital customer experience they have come to expect in their personal lives. And, through our 10-step HCP engagement roadmap, we support online journeys through key educational messages, with content chunked and optimised for digital consumption.
We’re proud to have done the hard work and achieved a significant transformation, one that makes online engagement better, not just for the HCPs that use our platform but for our pharma customers too. We are equipped to help our pharma customers reach the right audience, with the right messages to support patient outcomes, while gaining meaningful insights through KPIs/metrics aligned to customer journeys. Medthority is both personalised for healthcare professionals and tailored for pharma.
The opportunities to support HCPs through digital channels will only continue to evolve, and our experience (at EPG Health) is that pharma is looking to seize those. The COVID pandemic is pushing industry along the learning curve, which may seem steep and costly for many, but if the pandemic helps pharma to overcome the challenges to digital transformation in a shorter timeframe than would otherwise have been the case, both immediate and longer-term benefits will come from a difficult situation.
Let us help you
We understand pharma’s top 10 HCP website challenges and have undergone two years of digital transformation to improve how time-poor HCPs get access to valuable medical information, outlined in our case study, The Development of a User-Centric website for HCPs.
Based on that experience, our advice would be to focus on personalised discovery, optimise content for digital, create journeys through key messages, and align KPIs/metrics to those. These key steps are outlined in our whitepaper: Accomplish Meaningful Engagement Online.
I’m happy to discuss - message me on LinkedIn to arrange a chat.
Allen Wellings - Commercial Director at EPG Health
With a wealth of experience in designing digital education programmes Allen takes pride in building new relationships and supporting clients' challenges to create innovative solutions that fit a brief and make a difference to HCPs.