Digital Engagement With Physicians and Other Healthcare Professionals

June 30, 2020
Robert Adler, Brand Insights Contributor, Founding Strategic Partner, CultHealth
Brand Insights - Thought Leadership from Marketers I Paid Program

Whenever you hear “tried-and-true” used to describe a strategy, tactic, workshop, or any other fundamental step required to achieve market domination-ask the speaker what year it is.

Whenever you hear “tried-and-true” used to describe a strategy, tactic, workshop, or any other fundamental step required to achieve market domination-ask the speaker what year it is. Case studies and experience have a place, but when they’re used to justify outdated thinking, that’s not cool. One area where spoiled milk is rebranded as cheese way too often is online, non-personal engagement, and everyone should be bothered by that because this channel is now as essential for success as any other. If you are not lapping your competition with share of attention and truly deep engagement online, you can forget about exceeding expectations and dominating your market.

Physicians and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) live in a world with many distractions. Some are urgent and important, many are not. They all steal time from the essential task of continuing professional development.

Hoping to provide a shortcut to behavior change, industry offers content as information. Access to information is not enough. Information is quick and easy to produce and consume; and it mirrors traditional formats such as detail aids and reprint carriers. The problem is, it doesn’t change behavior very well because information is not knowledge.

HCPs change behavior quickly when knowledge, rather than information, is transferred in ways that provide clinical context. Why? Because they “know that they know,” which raises clinical confidence, solidifying new therapeutic beliefs and behaviors. HCPs learned how to learn via Socratic dialogue; at the foot of patients’ beds, grand rounds, and morbidity and mortality conferences-challenging environments where belief systems are tested in real time, and information without immediate application context is irrelevant. The mantra, “see one, do one, teach one,” summarizes the expectation that the very next patient (not the patient six months from now) deserves the best knowledge we have.

Maintaining knowledge and knowing you can apply that knowledge in diverse clinical scenarios to the broad range of patient psychographic segments found in a typical practice require a commitment to lifelong learning that grows and maintains clinical confidence. The need to update credentials and translate science into patient-centric actions changes weekly. The half-life of information alone is measured in days and hours; from one patient encounter to another.

When a new product campaign or so-called disease-state education program is presented online, didactically, informationally, as if a sales rep, or MSL, is pointing to bullets, the very strong possibility exists that applied clinical confidence will be eroded as often as it is enhanced.

Delivering against KPIs with declining HCP–rep encounters has been a challenge to the industry model for information exchange. In a post-COVID-19 personal-selling environment, we may look upon access to 50% of HCPs with envy. Online formats, based on corollaries to adult learning theory that uniquely apply to HCPs, can change these access trends and propel the rapid behavior and clinical belief changes that HCPs are trained to form and assimilate into practice.

Industry can earn the purposeful online attention of HCPs by offering programs that recognize the following:

• Behaviors and beliefs are directly linked to confidence.

• The ability to apply knowledge consistently, flexibly, and in diverse situations raises confidence.

• Knowing needs rather than names makes communications “personal,” and non-personal selling needs to be very personal. • Disease-state education is for professors, and innovation-in-context education is for industry.

• Mechanistic actions are not outcomes, and mechanistic outcomes are what matter.

• Awareness, trial, and usage are not representative of true belief systems.