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Timing Is Everything: 4 Trends to Bolster Your HCP Marketing Strategy

By Jay Shah

In the past few years, it’s become more challenging for pharmaceutical companies to promote their products directly to healthcare providers (HCPs), and COVID only exacerbated this trend. Physicians are more selective in who they choose to meet with, and many no longer accept face-to-face meetings with pharmaceutical reps. According to 2023 research, more than 50% of physicians now meet with three or fewer pharma companies on a regular basis.

At the same time, physicians are still eager to know more about novel treatments and innovations for their patients. Research indicates that HCPs continue to be interested in receiving medical information from manufacturers and reviewing product safety and efficacy data. The majority of HCPs also value visits by medical and science liaison (MSL) personnel.

So how can manufacturers best promote their brands in this evolving environment? The short answer is that brand teams are getting creative out there, from the use of real-time lab alerts to better tracking for pull-through messaging. Here are four trends we’re seeing in successful physician engagement campaigns.

    1. Virtual visits and asynchronous information
      Before the pandemic, physicians were inundated with office visits and dinner invitations from any number of sales reps from competing pharma companies. The national pause on extraneous social interactions brought in-person promotional visits to a halt. In the meantime, physicians became more accustomed to attending on-demand virtual webinars to receive the same information on forthcoming therapies.

      As physicians’ comfort with video conferencing has grown, field reps are having more virtual interactions with HCPs. Many manufacturers find that chatting with physicians online is actually strengthening their relationships—paving the way for more face-to-face interactions. According to research by the national CRM Veeva, oncologists who met with field reps in person averaged 4.5 monthly meetings with pharma companies, while those who met with reps both in person and online averaged 11 meetings a month.

    2. Wide range of non-personal promotion methods
      One post-pandemic trend that shows no signs of declining is the rise of non-personal promotion as part of a greater HCP outreach strategy. Digital marketing campaigns are more ubiquitous than ever, while ads on television, streaming television, social networks, and print and online media are common. Manufacturers are also producing more branded videos, in keeping with the national trend toward consuming more on-demand virtual content.

      Another new option is pharma involvement in organic conversations on private social media networks for HCPs. Manufacturers are starting dialogues in specialty- and indication-specific groups, prompting physicians to chime in about topics like current treatment options for a particular subset of patients. By encouraging physicians to share what’s working best for their patients, manufacturers have an opportunity for their product to be referenced within the dialogue.

    3. Near-real-time physician targeting and RWD alerts
      With the advent of new technological capabilities, pharma companies can now track shifting prescription volumes more readily. Instead of spending a few weeks developing a static physician target list to be used for the next several months, manufacturers can now choose to routinely update their physician targeting to reflect the current landscape. Having a holistic view across multiple territories helps sales teams respond proactively as volume shifts from one location to another.

      The increasing integration of real-world data sources into market access programs is also contributing to more precise HCP targeting. Even in the pre-commercial phase, some pharma companies are using this data to identify high-value HCPs who treat their patient population. In the past, pharma companies relied on retrospective claims to help identify the providers, IDNs and specialists treating a given patient population. Now, more manufacturers are bringing in lab data, which allows them to closely follow the patient journey.

      Lab tests show which physicians are ordering relevant tests and which are not, while de-identified results allow pharma companies to track the number of patients diagnosed with a particular condition in a given region. Testing trends help manufacturers discover net new NPIs who are diagnosing their patient population. Sales reps can prioritize HCPs with a high volume of potentially eligible patients, especially patients whose health plan covers the treatment.

    4. Complementary channels for a cumulative impact
      In an omni-channel marketing strategy, each element plays a complementary role that amplifies previous messaging and supports the next outreach opportunity. For example, when a field rep first visits an HCP—whether in-person or via video conference—they might discuss the benefits of the drug and share real-time coverage information.

      Instead of mailing or leaving behind printed materials, the rep can then email that pull-through to the physician as a digital asset. With tracking in place, brand leads can quantify how many times an account or a specific HCP subsequently opens that coverage email. If utilization is low, manufacturers can then refine their messaging to prompt greater engagement.A strong omni-channel strategy involves several mechanisms for taking action, too. For example, when a lab test result for an HCP’s patient comes back positive, the field rep might receive an alert, which in turn triggers another email to the physician. The manufacturer can then ensure that brand information and area coverage is top of mind during the prescription window, when the provider is ready to decide which treatment is best for this particular patient.

      Along with relevant RWD alerts, reps might also receive real-time payer coverage notifications, prompting them to reach back out to targeted HCPs to let them know that the major payer in their area has just removed a restriction on the product. By keeping physicians informed about favorable coverage and changing utilization management requirements, pharma reps can foster a mutually beneficial relationship with key HCPs in their territory.

As many pharmaceutical companies have multiple brands in the market, they don’t necessarily have the time or resources to attempt in-person communication with all relevant HCPs. Prioritization is critical. A manufacturer might choose to run only non-personal communications for a well-established brand that still has patent exclusivity, while running a hybrid in-person, non-personal strategy for a newly launched brand.

For a new brand in a more competitive indication, they might opt for a true omni-channel approach, tailoring every message and touch point based on what the HCP has already seen or been told—resulting in strong brand awareness, and hopefully, greater patient access to the new therapy.


To see how integrated tools can support your omni-channel engagement strategy, learn more about MMIT’s FormTrak solution suite, including non-personal communication via Skipta. For net-new NPI identification, learn more about MMIT’s HCP Targeting Report.   

0 Comments Commercial Strategy |
© 2024 MMIT
Jay Shah

Jay Shah

Jay Shah has an industrial and electrical engineering background, graduating from California Polytechnic University of Pomona (Cal Poly). His technical background married with his passion for the pharmaceutical industry has been a pillar in his career to help manufacturers intersect data and business to help solve complex problems in order to draw insights to support strategy, initiatives and key decisions. Jay recently joined MMIT in June of 2021, however prior to his time with MMIT he was a consultant for ZS Associates, who helped various pharma companies with their business operations. As a solutions consultant for MMIT, Jay supports our pharma clients by being a technical lead in aligning some of our new MMIT solutions to their business needs.

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