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Modular Approaches are Opening the Portal to Better HCP Engagement


Portals are finally a viable channel as life sciences companies shift to modular to build their digital ecosystems, create and approve content, and deliver omnichannel experiences.

Mark Melton

Mark Melton
Customer advocacy executive

Over the past several years, biopharma companies have accelerated their long-term digital transformation initiatives. Every organization is putting the foundation in place to stay ahead of evolving healthcare professional (HCP) preferences for how they want to connect and engage.

The HCP transition to digital channels has been significant. Nearly one-third of HCPs now start conversations with sales reps through an inbound channel,1 signaling that physicians prefer on-demand digital access for answers and resources, and that HCPs are behaving more like everyday consumers that start their journeys digitally.

This shift to digital is once again making branded biopharma portals a critical channel to getting HCPs information. Unfortunately, portals have been a long-standing challenge in the life sciences industry for commercial organizations and HCPs alike.

Companies have invested heavily in portals, but this has often led to siloed and disparate systems across their many brands, making the cost of portals too prohibitive and so high that it is extremely difficult to justify the ROI. Siloed and disparate systems have also led to disjointed online presences that are not only expensive to manage and maintain, but also slow operations and increase compliance risk. For HCPs, the portal experience has been underwhelming–content is often outdated, and it takes too long to find information.

But things are changing fast thanks to the emergence of modular approaches to compose and deliver digital content and experiences. Modular digital platforms are allowing companies to consolidate their brands sites for an easier and cheaper infrastructure to manage and maintain. And modular is freeing-up digital marketers to create relevant, compliant content faster to drive more meaningful HCP experiences on a larger scale.

Modular has finally made portals a viable web channel with a clear ROI. Moving ahead, modular approaches will help commercial organizations speed operations to get dedicated HCP portals up and running faster; improve medical, legal, and regulatory (MLR) review and ensure compliant content; and power omnichannel engagement to deliver greater value to HCPs.

Speed commercial operations with a modular digital ecosystem

Sales representatives’ access to HCPs had been declining for years before COVID-19 and once the pandemic ended, a lot of those doors stayed closed. This has not only accelerated the shift to digital engagement with HCPs, but also pushed physicians to find and access provider and patient resources online. Use of digital channels like compliant chat is increasing,1 for example, as more HCPs look for answers and information online directly from biopharma companies and their sales reps.

Digital portals benefit both HCPs and biopharma companies. Doctors can get anytime, anywhere access to up to date and relevant clinical trial, drug, and KOL information. And companies can promote congresses and continuing medical education opportunities, as well as provide medical inquiry support.

Showing ROI from HCP portal investments has been a consistent challenge, however. A main reason for this ROI gap has been the inability for companies to scale because of organizational and technology silos.

Various brand teams across a biopharma company use multiple different systems, have distinct MLR workflows, and want to control the look, color, and design of their portals and sites. This often leads to technical and publishing delays that make the entire process inefficient. Creating and assembling pages and content and getting them approved costs too much and takes months. Once complete, the industry has a bad track record of getting HCPs to visit their sites.

A modular digital ecosystem removes the technical and organizational silos to improve operations and speed portal development. Companies can bring together multiple systems–like DAM, CMS, CDP, CRM and analytics–on a single, technology-agnostic platform, making it easier to create and scale experiences across brands and sites.

Seamless integrations make modular ecosystems possible. Systems should be plug and play on a digital platform, allowing companies to easily swap tools and adapt as their business needs change. This helps commercial operations eliminate the cost and risk of switching technologies and simplifies management and maintenance of their technology stack.

With a platform that brings together many different types of systems, various brands can use the systems they want and have one common interface to create digital experiences. This frees them up to manage their own workflows, create and publish customized portals, pages, and content at their own pace, quickly launch new campaigns when needed, and deliver more personalized experiences–all without IT or a developer’s help.

Modular content accelerates MLR review, ensures compliance

Accelerating content creation is more important than ever for biopharma companies to keep pace with their increasing numbers of product launches and the rapid shift to digital engagement with HCPs. Modular content eliminates building assets from scratch every time and helps companies get compliant content to market faster.

The window from creating to publishing content is long and an industry-wide problem. Creative and marketing–either internal teams or outside agencies–develop portals and related content that go through multiple rounds of MLR review, taking months before it is approved for publishing. This creates risk when product claims change and sites and content need updating.

Using a modular approach, brand teams can use pre-approved content modules such as text, images, and claims that they can quickly and easily recombine into a variety of new polished assets. This gives commercial teams a powerful new way to deliver compliant content at scale.

For marketing, they can easily access approved modules from a central DAM, create MLR-approved content faster, and quickly publish it in an HCP portal. Knowing that doctors are searching online for content, marketers can continually enrich portals with fresh content and rich media that gives physicians the relevant information they need to care for their patients. Just as important, the same assets can be reused across brands, portals, and global teams.

For MLR review teams, they can improve workflows and processes with brand and digital marketing teams. Once content modules are MLR-approved, they stay approved and unchanged. Modules are tagged by brand, geography, and language for marketing to leverage in a shared pool of approved modules. When marketing reuses the modules, MLR teams have confidence that claims are accurate, and assets are compliant. Any time changes are made, they are synced automatically to keep content updated and compliant.

Deliver better experiences to HCPs with modular approaches

On-demand access to digital resources has become a growing HCP need to deliver patient care. Digital demands and expectations have evolved dramatically, and digital content is now an HCP requirement before and after a discussion with a sales rep.

Consequently, HCP portals are playing an important role in companies delivering great content and a valued HCP experience. Physician interactions with portals, however, arguably haven’t been good because of poor user experiences and the promotional nature of biopharma portals.

Most doctors would probably say they don’t want to spend time in portals, yet also expect a proper destination to meet other experts in their field, hear from KOLs on specific diseases, learn about drug warnings and adverse effects, and get questions answered quickly. Those are all best accomplished in a portal.

Content is king and modular content is key to delivering a valuable portal experience. Marketers can create content faster that reflects important industry trends and meets HCP preferences for dynamic content like videos and graphics. A modular digital ecosystem also ensures commercial teams drive greater consistency across brands, sites, and multiple languages.

With a modular ecosystem, marketers can also author content from a central user interface and provide HCPs with a seamless omnichannel digital experience. Time is indispensable for every HCP, so modular approaches make information personalized and easy to find in the portal and many different channels and, ultimately, improve HCP engagement.

Modular driving ROI in portals and beyond

The biopharma journey to modular is just beginning and will have a far-reaching impact. Modular digital ecosystems are enabling commercial processes to be more repeatable, flexible, and compliant. Portals are a major need as the shift to digital engagement has accelerated, and modular approaches are finally making portal investments worth it.

The impact of modular won’t stop there. Digital ecosystems will become unified across commercial organizations. The content creation and delivery process will be compliant and more efficient. Time to deliver value to HCPs will be faster, and a dynamic portal could become a major differentiating factor for key products as HCPs gravitate to the best information sources.

With newfound flexibility through modular approaches, commercial organizations are entering a new era of efficiency and effectiveness in serving their many HCPs.

Mark Melton is the customer advocacy executive at Magnolia.


  1. Opening Up Two-Way Communications Doubles Digital Engagement. Veeva. https://www.veeva.com/pharma-biotech-field-trends/

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