Trends in Digital Physician Engagement

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Publication Date:
April 2020
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Next level opportunities for developing physician relationships across pharma's business

Digital technology has transformed pharma's communications with often difficult to engage physicians. But merely having a suite of digital channels is not enough. Intelligent data-driven tools which deliver personalised content and allow physicians to engage via the channel and at the timing of their choice is the future. AI and ML-based solutions, allied to advanced technology such as voice controlled assistants, chatbots and virtual reality are opening up exciting new channels with applications across pharma's business.

It's time to benchmark your digital engagement strategies and exploit the opportunities that will take your physician relationships to new levels. That is why, in March 2020, we interviewed 8 digital experts from companies such as GSK, Amgen, Roche and Daiichi Sankyo. In Trends in Digital Physician Engagement they reveal current thinking about how best to employ the digital communications of today and the advanced technologies pharma should be looking to implement.

Experts answer key questions...

  • What digital tools are being used by medical affairs for medical communications with physicians and what are the untapped opportunities that will improve engagement?
  • What digital technologies are being employed by sales forces during remote meetings with physicians and can contact productivity be improved?
  • Which private/public social media platforms are being used by marketing teams to engage with physicians and what benefits do these platforms have over others?
  • How do different functions in pharma communicate and coordinate digital physician engagement to prevent overlap of efforts?
  • What data is being used to segment physicians and tailor digital engagement to them?
  • What organisational changes are being deployed to meet the changing demands of physicians and how has pharma's workforce changed as a result of increased digital communications?

This report covers all major pharma functions

To avoid overlap of engagement activities between the various functions, many pharma companies are making changes to traditional operating models. By promoting the adoption of a customer-first mindset, different teams are encouraged to collaborate by sharing KPIs and having all engagement activities flow through a central execution hub. For that reason, this report examines digital engagement from the unique perspectives of medical affairs, marketing, sales and R&D.

What Experts say

Currently, if you look at the medical call centres or medical centres, if you have questions specifically, the time to answer these questions is taking far too long. Some of these answers are getting lost within the organisation. So, I think we will see a trend towards how to provide a good service that is available anytime, but also gives you fast answers that are reliable by using bot technology: basically, voice and chatbots on websites. This could also include app development where you can simply speak a question into a device, whatever device you have, and get the answer immediately. Those are topics that we're putting first preference on. My strong belief is we need to provide the information via any channel, make it accessible anytime and anywhere to doctors to really support their diagnosis and treatment. We're not there yet, but that's the strength of digital and new technology. I think you will see a strong push over the next three to five years into voice and automated bot environments, as well as with the machine learning processes and artificial intelligence.
Patric Jarchow
Merck KGaA

"During face-to-face meetings with physicians, the sales force uses iPads and tablets. Instead of using a paper sales aid to walk the physician through, it's being done electronically. The follow-up is also happening quicker than before. Previously, after meeting with a physician, the sales rep may have to get home before sending the email follow-up, whether it's just a simple 'thank you' or an email follow-up that has an attachment of the article that was just reviewed with the physician. Now, that is all happening instantaneously. While the conversation is ongoing, the sales rep can go into Veeva [or any of the relevant platforms] and select the content they want to share, then say, 'Okay, doctor, thank you for your time. And just so you know, I've sent you an email of what we just talked about. It's all now happening instantaneously."
Paul Murasko
Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals

"You can segment via prescribing behaviours, product preferences, and even from a standpoint of a rep's access to the provider. Physicians can also be segmented based on where they are positioned. Are they an advocate, not an advocate, a thought leader, an early adopter, not an early adopter? So, you can segment in multiple ways and most companies do that. The question is now about how we can use artificial intelligence and behavioural science to drive suggestions to the field. For example, say the doctor went to Medscape to look for our drug, and he was looking for efficacy, and then you saw that after he Googled it, he was Googling it again around efficacy. The suggestion could potentially be, 'Hey, you may want to give an efficacy message to this physician.' Or if you've got a peer-to-peer programme coming about an efficacy message, you may want to invite him to that, so that you're reinforcing what that physician is actually interested in and providing some value in additional information to help inform that provider."
Large US Pharma Company

Case studies

  • Chatbox: an enterprise messaging platform
  • The Johnson and Johnson Institute VR training program for HCPs
  • ConversationalHealth: Using AI to provide pharmaceutical information to HCPs

What to expect

A detailed report exploring how medical affairs, marketing, sales and R&D teams are using digital channels and technology to engage physicians and the advanced technologies, strategies and approaches experts identify as valuable for driving ever better communication:

  • An examination of 8 key issues that impact physician engagement strategies
  • 15 targeted questions put to digital physician engagement experts/li>
  • Their responses which provided 51 insights supported by 83 directly quoted comments

Expert contributors

The experts selected for this report all met the following selection criteria:

  • At least 3 years' experience in digital physician engagement
  • Representatives from medical affairs, sales, marketing, or R&D
  • Direct experience of designing, executing or influencing digital solutions or strategies for physician engagement in the last 12 months.

The experts who contributed

  • Stefania Alvino is an e-health expert and conference speaker who currently serves as the Digital and Multichannel Marketing Manager at Daiichi Sankyo, Italy. Over the past 19 years she has been involved in digital media. She has 10 years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry across several digital communication and marketing roles. Over the course of her career, Stefania has led the design of digital engagement strategies targeting several stakeholders of the pharmaceutical industry. She is a specialist in multichannel marketing, digital strategy, digital marketing, digital analytics, and sentiment analysis.
  • Jörg Corsten is the Digital Medical Engagement Lead at F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., Switzerland. He has almost 19 years of pharma industry experience across various roles, most of them related to the use of technology to drive engagement and sales through the development, coordination and implementation of digital strategies. With a marked passion for customer-centric digital transformation and innovation, Jörg is an experienced digital marketing specialist with a strong economics and business administration background. In addition to leading teams in the implementation of Roche's digital strategy, he has also provided volunteer mentorship to trainees seeking to maximise social media channels for marketing and sales. His specialities include digital brand planning and digital engagement.
  • Robert Cuddihy is Vice President of US Medical Affairs at Amgen, US, a role he has held for approximately two years. Robert has nearly two decades of previous experience as a Clinical Diabetologist, holding positions at the Mayo Clinic, International Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of Minnesota. He has also worked at Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson. Robert is dedicated to advocating for diabetic patients, speaking frequently at national and global medical conferences, and educating physicians involved in diabetes care. Any comments in this report are the views of Robert and not his company.
  • Patric Jarchow is the former Head of Global Multichannel Strategy & Execution at Merck KGaA, Germany. For almost 10 years, he also owns and manages Simplidea GmbH, a company he founded to develop simple ideas that bridge online and offline media to increase sales and to found companies such as the multichannel specialist company intouch hcc GmbH in Berlin. Patric has more than 18 years of consulting, advertising and sales experience on both the vendor and industry side, with a focus on evolving and innovating customer-centred digital and non-digital engagement models. His specialties include multi-channel strategy, customer-centricity, real-time segmentation and targeting, innovation and process development.
  • Paul Murasko is the Senior Director, Head of Digital Customer Interaction (DCI) for NA at Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals. He has over 25 years' experience in healthcare, with his current role being to lead and build DCI capabilities to help the organisation improve the effectiveness and efficiency of all digital interactions with healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers. With a proven track record of developing and implementing award-winning sales and marketing campaigns in complex, dynamic environments, Paul is also a speaker and industry panel leader on topics such as social media, multichannel and omnichannel marketing, and customer experience and engagement.
  • Anonymous is the Digital and Customer Solutions Lead at a multinational pharma company, where he promotes and leads initiatives linked to the agile transformation of the company, around-the-pill solutions, digital marketing, and customer engagement. He also works to maximise the value that digital technology brings to customers, with a particular focus on projects related to the current digital disruption of the industry. Anonymous is skilled in digital technology strategy, business analysis and insight development, and public-private partnerships.
  • Anonymous is Head of Digital Marketing and Commercial Effectiveness at a multinational pharma company, where he leads digital transformation with the key objective of reinventing pharma's commercial model in the digital age. He has over 16 years' experience in healthcare and has remained passionate over the course of his career about delivering digital experiences to healthcare professionals and consumers. His areas of expertise include digital marketing, sales force effectiveness, and brand management.
  • Anonymous is a healthcare marketer who currently works with a large American pharma company as the HCP Strategy and Portfolio Lead. In her current position, she leads efforts to improve HCP customer experiences by evaluating, developing, and implementing customer engagement solutions. She also fosters effective collaboration among internal teams to establish guidance for appropriate customer-centric engagement. With over 20 years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Anonymous brings expertise in customer experience, professional relations, branding, strategy, and leadership.

Why Choose FirstWord ExpertViews?

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