With the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, there seems to be a promising future towards the "return to a new normal". Although it feels that all activities will pick up from where they left off before COVID-19, many would agree that industries and markets have vastly evolved during this unprecedented year. Most industries have shifted towards a fully digital landscape during the pandemic, which is likely to maintain its outlook post-pandemic, and the healthcare industry is no exception.
Pre-pandemic, call plans and pharma reps used to be the channel with the most weight when it came to omnichannel campaign measurement, leaving digital channels such as emails, banners, etc., ranking second. The COVID crisis has dramatically changed the omnichannel trends and, therefore, took away some of the power that call plans had through personal interaction. According to a March 2020 FirstWord pharma survey, less than 50% of healthcare providers (HCPs) consider interacting with pharma representatives through virtual channels while restrictions are in place to be a priority. In the absence of face-to-face meetings, most physicians prefer to be contacted via email (68%) and telephone calls (18%), with only 1 in 10 physicians preferring video calls. These numbers illustrate that digital (non-personal) is dominating over call plans (personal), and although the trends may change post-pandemic, they likely won't shift back to the levels they were before the crisis. Although the pharma representatives will probably be able to go back to the doctors' office and have dinner meetings or conferences in person, the deprioritization of personal highlights the rise of a hybrid model that is here to stay.
Rethinking Communication with HCPs
Not all physicians have the same channel preferences or similar technologies and resources available to them. The key for a successful future is to provide information to the physicians when they need it, in the form in which it can be accessed, and in the way that meets their access preferences. For this reason, marketers have to rethink testing and measurement. Test and learn is more crucial than ever in order to adapt to alternative methods of communications. The game is shifting more and more towards a more complicated decisioning orchestration solution with algorithms predicting the next best action, preference, channel, and content for each individual physician. Personal interaction will still have the most power when it's applied, but with AI, we have an opportunity to support physicians in a more timely and accurate manner with both personal and non-personal interactions.
These considerations position 2021 as an exciting opportunity to improve the experience between the HCP and key message engagement that could change the lives of their patients.