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For years the conventional wisdom has been that pharma brands should maintain dedicated websites to engage HCPs. The thinking is that dedicated sites are a viable opportunity for pharma brands to step up as valued partners to physicians. The concept is simple – to create online resources for HCPs and KOLs to connect and collaborate. Theoretically pharma brands can connect peers, provide meaningful and insightful content to physicians, and in the process promote their products.
However, HCP portals have proven to be rather ineffective in practice. Many HCPs look at branded pharma content with skepticism and suspicion. To be frank, they often consider pharma branded content to be purely promotional and without notable clinical value. Many find the quality of the digital experience to be lackluster. Most HCPs don’t trust dedicated HCP websites because pharma brands use them for direct advertising. Rather than providing resources for healthcare professionals, brands are incessantly pushing their products. No matter how useful the portal may seem to be, in many cases it is just another platform for advertising and promotion.
Perhaps by design, HCP portals are outdated and clunky with underwhelming user-experiences. The information on portals is not arranged intuitively. It takes a lot of time to find the information. It’s often a treasure hunt to find the therapeutic area and click on the desired data. And it’s costly. It costs more than $100 to get a single physician on an HCP portal to complete one marketing activity. For modern physicians, time is an indispensable and priceless commodity which they trade off against the value of content accessed.
Attitudes and Expectations are Changing
On top of these negative perceptions is a dramatic change in HCP’s workflow. The average physician spends greater than 50% of their time in front of a computer, not a patient. With increasing volumes of patients, inundation with administrative responsibilities, and a host of emerging technologies to deal with every day, physicians are challenged to maintain and improve patient care and have little time or patience to navigate confusing websites.
Mismatch of Needs: HCPs Want More Resources, Visualizations, Information
With increasing time pressure and mobility in workflows, there is a need for mobile information access on the go and at the point of care. Pharma brands with easily accessible, mobile-ready, user-friendly content will lead the race. Conventional HCP portal strategy assumes that doctors have the time and the interest to go to a single company resource for marketing materials. But they don’t. The average physician portal often gets less than 5 visits per doctor per year.
What Content Strategy Works Now?
It is evident that defaulting to HCP portals as a marketing strategy is a vestige of the past. Pharma can help address physician distrust and frustration with its digital offerings by better understanding their needs and challenges – and then providing content and services that go beyond promotion. Brands should ensure that critical content is discoverable in the right channels and is easily accessible for busy physicians.
Content should be easy to discover, navigate, and interpret – ideally suited for mobile. Convenience for the HCP is critical. And video is among the most effective methods to present information and data quickly and easily. This is no easy feat for pharma marketers. It’s imperative to keep on top of the evolving needs and channel behavior and digital preferences of physicians while analyzing and adopting best practices inside and outside the industry. The information and technology options are continuously evolving. Staying well versed with vendors and investment options on limited brand digital budgets is a serious challenge.
Social Media is Ascendent
The adoption and growth of social media for HCPs has become a given. Add a measure of pandemic protocols with a dash of remote WFH and widespread acceptance of telehealth, and voila! There’s a new way of working for all involved. It’s essential to know, and we mean really KNOW your HCP audience.
Here are 5 effective tactics:
The bottom line is that HCP focus has shifted away from traditional dedicated HCP websites to social media where mobility, urgency, video, and peer-to-peer conversation is prized. Effective pharma marketers will shift priorities and budgets as they plan for 2023 to improve targeting, enhance digital experiences, drive engagement and prompt HCP behavior change and satisfaction.
Umar Siddiqui, MD, is Chief Medical Officer, LiveWorld.com
“Preferences for Accessing Medical Information in the Digital Age: Health Care Professional Survey” – Journal of Medicine (ncbi)
“How Physicians Can Keep Up with the Knowledge Explosion in Medicine” – HBR
“8 Crucial Steps to Improve HCP Portal Experiences” – DRG Digital
“Portal Combat: Pull the Plug on Pharma HCP Sites” – MM+M, Medical Marketing and Media
“The Gaps Between HCP Depand and Pharma Supply of Medical Information” – EPG Health
“The Across Health Navigator” – Navigator 3.0
“How To Build A Game-changing HCP Portal (For You And Your Customers)” – NEXT Pharma Summit
“Taking the Pulse U.S., ePharma Physician” – Manhattan Research
“Information Seeking Behaviour of Doctors: A Review of the Evidence” – Health Information Library
“Best Care at Lower Cost” – The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America, Institute of Medicine
“Engaging with HCPs in The New Normal, A Roadmap for Success” – Hawk Partners