COVID-19 has not dampened healthcare providers’ interest or need in engaging in peer to peer education. A recent survey found 88% of providers are looking to hear about new treatments, either through all virtual or a mix of virtual and in-person meetings, even after the pandemic wanes. Yet the majority of physicians also report being overwhelmed by the sheer number of webinars they need to attend to stay up to speed on the latest therapies.
This has left brand managers grappling with how to connect with providers, without burning them out. Telling a brand story today involves more than just getting a provider to watch a video. Launching brands online requires offering a meaningful, human experience. That’s why innovative pharma companies are applying digital peer-to-peer communication practices. Here are some ways you can raise the bar on provider engagement:
1. Create a long-form engagement strategy
- What doesn’t work: Reliance on single-day events (whether in person or virtual) is risky now that providers are more swamped than ever. In the first wave of the pandemic, it was common to use a range of tools like Teams and Veeva to reach providers. However, hosting one-off events on disparate channels has not proven to be the best investment.
- What does work: Developing a continuous campaign of both live and enduring content has more staying power. These integrated digital experiences result in greater reach and relevance. Having a steady cadence of thoughtful, methodical content flows is an effective way to keep providers coming back for information about the latest treatment options, scientific data, patient perspectives, and more.
2. Make it easy to consume content
- What doesn’t work: For most brands, telling a clinical story takes time, particularly early in a drug’s lifecycle. Yet providers don’t have the time or patience to sit through long videos to get the information.
- What does work: Providers appreciate the ability to consume content when they want, how they want, whether they’re “binge” watching programs all at once or viewing short video chapters in between patient visits. Think through how to “chapterize” your brand presentation in advance so this can be turned into online programs.
Offering 8-12-minute snippets of content broken out by topics such as core clinical trial data, safety, and patient case studies results in providers watching more of what they want. An analysis of recent PlatformQ programs revealed the average time in session was roughly 22 minutes for single-session programs, while the average time in session for “chapterized” multi-session programs was close to an hour.
3. Offer multiple learning paths
- What doesn’t work: Not all learners are alike, so having one learning path for all providers can increase dropoff in participation.
- What does work: Adults learn more effectively when they have input into directing their own learning. Ideally, educational programming should make it possible to refine the learner’s recommended path based on input (such as registration information or answers to assessment questions), or to allow learners to branch off into specific learning modules based on their area of clinical interest.
4. Gain full analytics across the engagement funnel
- What doesn’t work: Assessing the effectiveness of in-person campaigns has long been a challenge, and this became even more complex when hosting events across fragmented in-person and virtual delivery platforms. With no integrated way of measuring results, there were limits on how deep you could measure the impact of messages.
- What does work: Using a consistent virtual education channel makes it possible to measure activities across brand campaigns in a standardized way. Analytics should include not just what providers watch and for how long, but how the activities they participate in are influencing their behavior. These data-driven insights can help bolster future budgeting requests, and inform upcoming education needs and messaging.
5. Create opportunities for engagement
- What doesn’t work: Zoom burnout is very real, and is causing people to tune out long meetings or presentations, especially those that talk “at” them.
- What does work: Deliver content based on what providers are researching, and give them opportunities to join a discussion with peers and key opinion leaders. Offering live polling and Q&As also keeps providers connected in the session.
6. Keep compliance issues from becoming a bottleneck
- What doesn’t work: Legal compliance is crucial, but requiring providers to slog through a long ISI disclaimer video before learning about a product or disease state leads to frustration.
- What does work: Strategically present ISI information in a way that is compliant with regulations but doesn’t slow down providers’ access to the content that’s most important to them.
7. Become a trusted source of information
- What doesn’t work: Busy providers want to understand the latest treatment options, and often it can be a challenge to dig through the vast amounts of data online to determine what is accurate. The FDA approved 53 novel drugs in 2020, which is the second highest number of approvals in two decades. The steady increase in drug approvals – and the growth of personalized medicine – bring much promise as well as many challenges for providers to keep up with the wealth of new information. The 2020 Stanford Medicine Health Trends report noted that while 55% of clinicians surveyed see personalized medicine as beneficial to future patients, only 5% feel very prepared to use this innovation in practice.
- What does work: Involve key opinion leaders to deliver content that providers trust and help them stay up-to-date on the latest standard of care. Offering online programs in partnership with well-known advocacy organizations is one other way to further credibility and extend reach to the right providers.
Improve engagement throughout the pharmaceutical lifecycle
- Use disease state awareness programs to lay the foundation one to two years ahead of medication approval.
- Make a big splash with live broadcasts to announce your launch. Sales reps can encourage providers and their staff to watch broadcasts along with them, so they can get instant answers to their questions, from the presenters and their rep.
- Keep interest going with branded programs as well as unbranded programs on topics such as early diagnosis, managing adverse events, and improving patients’ quality of life.
- Reinvigorate older brands with content such as patient vignettes/videos.
The path forward
When it comes to commercializing a new drug, there is no room for error. As we enter another year of uncertainty, every dollar needs to be invested in a way that reduces risk and has the greatest impact. You need to be able to control how you tell your story, ensuring that the provider community, advocacy groups, and patients fully understand the value of the products you’re bringing to market.
Digital peer-to-peer engagement that offers a personal connection can drive awareness, engagement, and adoption across all stages of the pharmaceutical lifecycle. Whether you’re looking to share clinical trial results, drive interest in emerging therapies, or provide risk profile data for a mature product, you now have a highly-effective way to connect with the right patients and providers.
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