Express Pharma

Reimagining healthcare professionals engagement with omnichannel experiences

By Akash Kedia, MD and Lead – Life Sciences, Accenture in India and Vinita Vasanth, MD and Commercial Lead - Life Sciences, Accenture in Growth Markets

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The pandemic not only transformed the way we buy, work and live but also changed our behaviour with preference for virtual consultations, immediate assistance, review based preferences and more. This in turn has also influenced the needs and expectations of healthcare professionals (HCPs) or doctors. With limited time for engagement with pharma companies and their medical representatives, more platforms to access disconnected information, HCPs often feel overwhelmed with the volume of content that is available to them. 

Today, HCPs seek more meaningful, personalised, and relevant engagement from pharmaceutical companies. Not only that, but our recent survey also finds that more than 84 per cent HCPs prefer differentiated experiences, i.e. relevant content delivered through the right channels in the right frequency and sequence. This in turn, results in better brand recall.  

Given that the Indian pharma industry is dominated by branded generics, it is important for pharma companies to differentiate themselves in this fragmented market to drive differentiation.  Improving the quality and frequency of engagement with HCPs can help the Indian pharma industry to communicate their unique value proposition to HCPs and stand out in the marketplace. 

Essentials for elevating healthcare professionals engagement

To address the changing needs of HCPs, pharma companies need to adopt a customer-centric approach. This involves a fundamental shift – understanding the HCP needs and then customising the frequency of outreach, channels to engage on, the conversations to have and content to share. 

Pharmaceutical companies have traditionally built large forces of sales representatives for face-to-face interaction with HCPs. Gradually, they expanded to digital channels such as webinars, emails, instant messaging and more. While the pandemic was a catalyst for adoption of new digital channels, HCPs preferences also added to the shift. Our survey shows that out of 10 interactions with pharma companies, a majority (94 per cent) of HCPs prefer at least one-third meetings to be virtual or digital.

Today, most of the channels are disconnected and often result in burdening the HCPs with repetitive and often irrelevant messages. Our survey highlights that an HCP on an average prefers only 8-10 monthly touchpoints with various pharmaceutical companies across their brands and channels.  This is why the need to effectively engage HCPs with unified and coherent messaging across connected channels has become critical to deliver coordinated experiences to doctors. 

Moreover, as per our survey findings more than 80 per cent of HCPs strongly believe that pharmaceutical companies should personalise experience and content according to their own priorities and interests. Personalising and unifying coordinating experiences can be delivered by a pharmaceutical company through an omnichannel marketing approach can not only help in optimising resource allocation but also in topline growth of approximately 3-5 per cent based on our estimates, if implemented correctly at full scale. This means that while representatives will continue to remain the key interface for HCPs engagement, reach and effectiveness can be amplified through virtual and digital channels.

To implement a successful omnichannel engagement strategy, pharmaceutical companies must make progress on the below five pillars: 

    1. Knowing the customer better: Enhance the data captured on the demographics, behaviours, and segments of HCPs to effectively target them based on their needs, preferences and interests. 
    2. Orchestrating unified engagement journeys: Plan the content, messaging and outreach plan and connect these cross-channel journeys to engage with the HCPs effectively at the frequency they desire through the channels they need and with the content they want to consume. 
    3. Curating content: To ensure that content corresponds with the unique requirements and interests of an HCP, it should be pertinent, modular and preference based. 
  • Connecting technology and analytics: To deliver an omnichannel engagement strategy at scale, companies will need to effectively use technology for automating, simplifying, and driving efficiencies along with AI including generative AI, analytics for better targeting, measuring performance and continuous refinement.
  • Upgrading organisational capabilities: Pharmaceutical companies also need the right skills, capabilities, and a customer first mindset to promote agile and collaborative ways of working to deliver enhanced customer experiences. 

Towards Omnichannel Execution Excellence 

Delivering exceptional experiences to HCPs through an omnichannel engagement strategy is not just a ‘good to do’ but is fast becoming a ‘must do’ for pharmaceutical companies operating in a highly competitive market with changing doctor behaviours. Adapting and differentiating   through exceptional engagement strategy will be a key driver of growth for pharmaceutical companies. Investing in talent development and committing to prioritising customer-centricity, embracing an omnichannel approach, and orchestrating personalised journeys, to exceed the expectation of HCPs, ultimately contributing to improved patient care and sustained business growth. 

 

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