physician study

Digital Health Coalition Newsletter – April 2019

Digital Health Coalition Newsletter – April 2019

FEATURED CONTENT: DHC Members Weigh in on HCP Marketing Innovation

I believe technology will only get brand marketers so far… kind of like spending $150,000 on a new ZR1 Corvette but don’t really know how to drive it. Successful marketers are well aware of and how emerging tech and platforms have created new channels and capabilities with potential of driving impact and performance. However, they do not lose sight of how crucial good content is. They know their HCPs demand targeted, timely and relevant content and messaging…all of which is more about them and their patients, and less about the brand. These marketers would drive the extra few miles to fill their ZR1 with the hard to find, but must have, 94 octane with 10% ethanol blend, so they can enjoy 7th gear at 212mph. — Dave Guiga, Head of Commercial Acceleration, AstraZeneca.


Members from all facets of the industry agreed – the opportunity for innovation has more to do with messaging and its targeted delivery than on cutting edge technology changing the way marketers communicate with HCPs. The continued shift away from sales reps due to issues with access to docs, combined with the average HCP’s increasingly demanding schedule, means that marketers have to match their efforts with where the doctors are increasingly accessible – in the digital world.

The situation was summarized for us by Alina Levin of Crossix “Physicians have limited time. They are seeing more patients, back-to-back, with minimal time during the day to check emails, catch up with peers, meet with representatives, etc. As a result, there is less time to capture and engage their attention while they are in the physician role. Marketers and brands now need to find other times and means of engaging this highly influential audience. HCP marketing has already started to move in this direction with significant expansion of HCP programmatic display marketing, going outside of the standard endemic partnerships.”

As in-person rep access shrinks, pharma companies continue to be interested in how to engage with HCPs through the increasingly omnipresent EHR interface. And while we confirmed with experts that the EHR landscape has changed only minimally, marketers interested in being on the cutting edge should focus on understanding how to work with partners within the existing framework to deliver better and more accurate messages. “Patient-specific real-time benefit information integrated seamlessly into clinical workflow is enabling patients and providers to have meaningful conversation on the real out-of-pocket cost of prescription medication,” said Don Dorfman, Vice-President and General Manager, Veradigm Clinical Workflow Solutions. He further noted that for this sort of growth to be fully realized “greater information in the hands of consumers, where it can benefit their interests most, is inevitable. We see it throughout our lives as consumers. This trend can be an opportunity if approached thoughtfully with the right set of partners.”

A DHC survey of pharma marketers earlier this month agreed with the broad concept of better messaging as the next wave of innovation, with individual responses to the question of “Biggest Opportunities Related to Physician Marketing” including:

  • thinking beyond traditional means (e.g. sales reps)
  • engage in more technology-based approaches – what is the face of the next sales force?
  • partnership and solution marketing vs. product marketing
  • better engagement

While the topic is communicating to HCPs, smart marketers won’t lose sight of the ultimate goal – impacting patient behavior to deliver the right therapies and improve health outcomes. Which is why much of the insights we heard were focused on improving not the technologies used but the content strategies employed. Work within HCP marketing is often about resolving issues of speed to therapy – helping improve the friction around communication, time-waste, and drop off between script written and filled.

“See the HCP and Patient as a unified strategy, focusing on them with one message that works for both.” – Justin Chase, Intouch Solutions

As explained by Erin Fitzgerald “At Sermo, we’ve heard directly from physicians about the type of content they want from pharma co’s. The top types of content physicians are looking for are 1) Findings from medical congresses 2) Case studies/real world evidence 3) Diagnosis support/patient resources.” In other words – physicians are happy to partner with pharma companies to deliver the right messaging to the right patient; it’s up to the marketers to have the optimal strategy in place to get these resources to the HCPs. And in addition to knowing what physicians want, DHC research with PatientPoint (Q4 2018) looked at digital technologies used by HCPs to deliver this content:

So while most experts agree that list targeting has reached a significant sophistication point, there remains a lag in a matching granular content strategy. One senior representative of a DHC member company did note a continued impact on the landscape today as “Physician Authentication and Validation. Clients want to know precisely who they are reaching and want that data reported back to them in detail. Only a few players can achieve that at scale today.”

Looking forward, innovative HCP marketers are going to focus next on developing a personalized messaging strategy to rival the non-pharma consumer model. This means, to start, considering the HCP as consumer – what problem do they need help solving? Where can one-to-one targeting be best utilized to serve up content that will anticipate their needs? The good news… the digital arena is perfect for test & learn pilot programs. Amy Turnquist of eHealthcare Solutions advised marketers to develop better collaboration with partners to achieve true transparency end-to-end, resulting in a true understanding of the downstream engagement ‘after the click’. RJ Lewis (also eHealthcare Solutions) agreed, “Highly specialized and personalized content marketing to HCPs that focuses on the science and supports physicians needs for patient resources is the next disruption to HCP marketing on the horizon – FOCUS on the trust factor.”


To further inform our work on HCP marketing innovation, last week the DHC surveyed 100 physicians within the SERMO network to gauge their thoughts on digital trends. They agreed with our experts and marketers on several key points.

When asked about the “Top Digital Trends in 2019”, EHR (79%) and Mobile – Devices, Apps, Marketing (76%) came out ahead. Significantly, they repeatedly wrote-in telemedicine, seeming to distinguish that from the concept of “mobile”, where we would include it.

When looking at future trends, one physician wrote “using digital devices to optimized patient care. Patients are already familiar with these devices and using them for non-medical purposes. We need to get them to use them for medical purposes.” – highlighting the idea of applying the consumer paradigm to the pharma approach to messaging. This concept also appeared over and over within open-ended responses to the question of “What do you think is the biggest opportunity – related to the use of technology between a physician and a pharmaceutical company – over the next 5 years?”:

  • Apps to confirm compliance
  • Better communicators
  • Digital services “beyond the pill,” – like chat bots for fast answers
  • Information sharing
  • Integrated physican patient pharma communication
  • More tools to be able to communicate between the two

As we consider all of the shared insights around the question of HCP marketing innovation, one DHC member from a major pharma co. succinctly summarized where the greatest opportunity lies, saying “leverage insights from data to continuously optimize call plans, engagement model, and messaging”. We look forward to continuing to unpack the trends and advancements made by marketers and their partners as we all work together to create the most cohesive patient/HCP messaging strategy possible.


eBook: Physicians’ Perspectives on Patient Engagement Technology (and Pharma’s Role in It)

Via Patient Point | Website →

The Digital Health Coalition and PatientPoint worked together to study physician attitudes and behaviors when it comes to patient engagement technology – with data powered by SERMO. In case you missed it, you can check out the highlights here, and you can read in-depth analysis in the Q4 2018. Read more here →

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Rep Visits

Via Intouch Solutions | Website →

As access to healthcare professionals (HCPs) declines, the challenges facing sales representatives continue to increase: less time with HCPs, Sunshine Act restrictions, and integration of practices into larger health systems. It can be daunting. Once, influence was based on interactions between reps and HCPs more than just about anything else. But today, influence is spread across a variety of touch points, many digital, which can be accessed by an HCP at any time and place. To reinforce their value, sales reps are expected to have deep knowledge of the market and their customers, so that they can tailor their interactions to the unique needs of each. Read more here →

Maximizing the Value of HCP Virtual Events

Via MNG Health | Website →

Virtual events have become a pillar of modern training and meetings. In fact, according to Market Research Media the overall market for virtual events is forecast to grow from $14B in 2018 to $18B just five years from now. Pharmaceutical and other life sciences companies have been strong participants in this trend, and virtual meetings will continue to replace much of the live speaker and live training programs that in the past were mainstays of the industry. Read more to learn how to maximize the value of these events. Read more here →

Delight, Not Dread: Changing the Way Doctors Feel About Online Health Information

Via Healthline | Website →

Doctors are challenged by online health content because of the misinformation it distributes, while consumers are empowered by it to take control of their health. Healthline’s Senior Director, Medical Affairs, Hanh Le, discusses how she’s on a mission to change doctors’ negative perception of digital health information, so doctors and health content can harmoniously coexist. Read more here →


DHC Fall East Coast Summit
October 8th, 2019
Hosted by AstraZeneca

Mark your calendar now — reservation site opening soon!

Modern Marketing: Pharma’s Data-Powered AI Revolution
The Digital Health Coalition and Intouch Solutions “Modern Marketing: Pharma’s Data-Powered AI Revolution” – a research partnership exploring the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the pharmaceutical industry. Research results are presented in serial ebook format, available for download here. We encourage you to dive into the future of delivering highly personalized, agile marketing.
Learn more →