Article: DHC Voices Offer Advice to Pharma Marketers During COVID-19 - March 2020

In our quest to help serve digital pharma marketers during this unique and challenging environment, we sought out expert voices to answer the question “What is your advice to pharma marketers in this unique environment as they also consider how to respond and best serve their customers?” A collection of responses follows.

Wendy Blackburn, EVP, Intouch Solutions

"Consider not only the short-term implications of COVID-19 on the ways we communicate, but the long-term impacts too. It’s clear there is an immediate need to change the way that pharma companies are interacting with professionals and patients. Reps can’t visit physicians. Patients’ access to physicians is now severely limited as well. Medical conferences are cancelled or are going virtual. Consider the possibility that these changes will become the new norm.

How well will your marketing plans pivot for the future? Pharma marketers need to reevaluate their marketing and sales strategies for the new barriers their customers are facing. Investing in connected digital experiences, leveraging key technology solutions, and facilitating virtual engagement will be the trends of the future that COVID-19 activated."

justin grossman

Justin Grossman Managing Partner/CEO, meltmedia

"In the blink of an eye, the world tilted. Collectively and individually, COVID-19 forced us to adjust to a new way of working and living.Even while we all long to get back to "normal," there are a few immediate things we learned that are likely to stick with us.

The buzz word "digital first" is taking on a new meaning. Digital has become our primary -- maybe even only -- mode of communication during this crisis. Patients need to use tele-medicine to be safe. They question which medical practices they can visit and still protect themselves. HCPs must go online to find information daily and to share and exchange information on how to respond to COVID-19. Right now, all HCPs are “no-see” for field reps.

Organizations must carefully assess how they interact digitally and create both an interim and longer-term plan on what their digital infrastructures should look like in 2020 and beyond.

The need for solid processes and the ability to move fast with timely decisions became very apparent during this crisis. We need to rethink what “fast” means in a regulated environment, in an effort to distribute digital tactics and messages with timely relevance.  

We are going to have to be more “intelligent” on how we interact.  It will be important to measure every interaction with HCPs and patients and what channels are most effective. Personally, I was overwhelmed with emails this week on COVID. Some were helpful, but many were not context sensitive to me and just created inbox noise.  Using the technology tools we have available to capture specific behaviors or events within our channels will be critical so we can analyze how best to interact effectively in the future.

I trust that this crisis will pass and I hope we choose to learn from it. Continued thanks to all our HCPs who are working to save lives and keep us safe. Let’s take a moment to honor our health care community.”

Linda Ruschau, Chief Client Officer, PatientPoint

"COVID-19 is impacting so many aspects of the healthcare system, leaving all parties seeking new solutions and sources of information. We are continuously speaking with our healthcare providers to adapt our platforms in a meaningful way. Those patients with serious and chronic conditions continue to need vital education and treatment information to ensure they receive the best care possible.

While this unprecedented crisis continues to change hour by hour, it presents opportunity for pharma brands to utilize point-of-care solutions as the non-personal promotion they need. Stay the course to continue to provide the education, patient support programs and savings offers to patients who need it now more than ever!"

RJ Lewis

R.J. Lewis, Founder & CEO eHealthcare Solutions

"With the salesforce benched, dinner meetings cancelled and no more medical or society conferences, what is a pharma marketer to do? Smart marketers know their brand marketing dollars go farther are far more effective when competitors retrench and the market has less noise. Several non-pharma advertisers have cancelled campaigns amid the COVID-19 crisis. There is less noise. Despite the disruption to the marketer’s tool kit, most brands still have growth and market share gain goals and their brand manager’s still have KPIs.

With social distancing, quarantines, and lockdowns, screen time on both phones and computers has skyrocketed for HCPs and consumers. So, open your Non-Personal Promotion (NPP) handbook and execute digital marketing plays from your home office. From self-quarantined lock-down, digital devices are our primary link to the outside world, and digital tactics to HCPs and patients are more relevant than ever. With increased screen time, these tactics are more scalable than they were even last month.

NPP digital tactics can target list-matched HCPs and deliver significant high prescriber reach at scale, while also providing engagement metrics back to the marketer, and are an ideal substitution for a benched at-home salesforce. Providing user-level engagement data to your remote salesforce through their CRM can also augment the handicapped salesforce’s ability to be as effective as possible with their own digital tools, be it email, video conferencing or other offerings. Providing relevant and helpful digital engagements is the best thing you can do for your valuable HCP customers right now.

Messaging should be enhanced on the DTC side too. Pharma is doing great things right now on the world-wide stage by collaborating and focusing on solutions, vaccines, treatments and cures. As vaccines and treatments emerge, people will be reminded of the important role pharma researches and scientists play, presenting an opportunity to regain consumer trust and confidence in our industry. The whole world is rooting for you.”


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