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HCP Access Drops but Connected Field Engagement Breaks Through: Q&A with Dan Rizzo


Veeva’s vice president of global business consulting discusses recent trends in HCP access and how the pharma industry is reacting.

Dan Rizzo

Dan Rizzo
Vice president of global
business consulting

After a brief, post-pandemic bump, the industry’s access to HCP’s is at lower levels than prior to 2020. According to new data, HCPs are limiting the number of biopharma companies they engage with. However, various sales, medical, and marketing teams are helping companies navigate the current situation. Dan Rizzo, Veeva’s vice president of global business consulting, discusses the situation with Pharmaceutical Executive.

Pharmaceutical Executive: Why is there such a strong decline in HCP access?
Dan Rizzo: Our latest Veeva Pulse data shows HCP access reverting to low pre-pandemic levels, from 60% in 2022 to 45% today. We believe the jump to 60% after the pandemic could have been an overcorrection after lockdown—and the shift back to 45% is a leveling out. There are a few factors contributing to this drop in access. They include new health system restrictions that block access or limit meeting frequency, heightened market consolidation, growing diversity and complexity of modern medicines, and increased patient loads. This varies across specialties and channels, with the hardest-to-reach HCPs in oncology, internal medicine, and psychiatry.

Yet, we also see that the share of HCPs who are open to in-person and video engagement with field teams has increased compared to prior years. It’s a signal to the industry that more coordinated engagement across teams and channels is crucial to remain a strategic partner and stay relevant.

PE: Why is access significantly lower for specific specialties? Do you think certain specialties will continue to lower access or open back up over the next few years?
Rizzo: In oncology, as an example, the majority of practicing physicians work in larger health systems, where it is not uncommon to have access restrictions and limits on the number of meetings per year. In oncology, most of the meetings with HCPs require an appointment as opposed to showing up unscheduled at an outpatient office.

PE: Is it safe to say that lower access levels directly correlate with HCPs becoming even more selective? Why are we seeing this trend?
Rizzo: We have uncovered that half of accessible HCPs meet with three or fewer biopharmas. Further to that, access also varies significantly across specialties with nearly 30% of those in internal medicine, oncology, psychiatry, and urology restricting access to just one company. Additionally, access policies have become restrictive, even HCPs who are open to meeting with field teams have set limitations on the number of meetings per year. This means they are going to spend time with field teams that provide the most value and resources.

PE: How can field teams break through access barriers and remain top of mind for HCPs in this new reality?
Rizzo: There are a few ways connected engagement models can strengthen HCP relationships. The ways biopharmas engage with HCPs evolved significantly during this period of access decline (from 2022 to 2024). We have seen that connected engagement models—where sales, marketing, and medical work together seamlessly across HCPs' interests, specialties, and channels—are extending conversations, responding more quickly to HCPs’ needs, and improving treatment adoption.

Now, there are early signs that the industry is engaging HCPs in a more connected way. From educating key experts before launch and leveraging compliant chat to share relevant content during meetings, to synchronizing field activity with digital advertising, biopharmas are strengthening engagement and improving outcomes.

PE: How do you see access evolving in the coming years? What factors in the market will continue driving access up or down, and how can field teams prepare?
Rizzo: Today and in the future, digital and in-person touchpoints coordinated across sales, marketing, and medical teams are giving biopharmas an edge in the field. We’ve seen companies optimize connected insights, focus on relevance, and real-time communication have more impactful engagement with HCPs.

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