What healthcare professionals want from pharma

Meghan Oates-Zalesky discusses why relationship building, efficiency and simplicity are so crucial

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meeting with healthcare professionals

Healthcare profession (HCP) input is invaluable in drug development and maintaining pharma brand health, yet it’s often hard won with key opinion leaders and high, likely prescribers. Physicians, among all HCPs, are perhaps bombarded the most with requests for “just a bit of your time,” with the demands of patient care and academic workloads leaving less time and access for industry feedback.

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Recent data from ZS Associates shows that only 46% of physicians worldwide are “accessible”—defined as meeting with a pharma sales rep in 70% of requests in the past year—a figure that has declined from 78% in 2008. These doctors estimate they receive more than 2,800 contacts from pharma reps each year via digital and non-personal marketing channel—contacts that consume an estimated 84 hours per year, or two full work weeks of their time. This level of “white noise” makes it imperative for insights teams to rethink strategies for reaching prescribers.

Only 46% of physicians worldwide are "accessible"

InCrowd has monitored the issue of how best to engage with HCPs over the past nine years. We’ve worked with HCPs as they’ve provided millions of answers to our life sciences clients. We find that HCPs are quite clear in what they want.

1) Respect

This goes beyond the obvious offerings of automation, digital engagement, and efficient interactions, but rather being respectful of their data, insisting upon opt-in participation only, and limiting the time it takes for them to support your research needs. A MicroSurvey of 200 HCPs conducted by InCrowd showed 68% rate online surveys the most enjoyable form of market research, versus 25% for qualitative research—primarily due to convenience and the ability to complete at their leisure. While the presence of honoraria is a given in market research with prescribers, fewer than 4 per cent of respondents mentioned low honoraria as a pet peeve with market research. To busy physicians, time is money, and at a 2018 pharma industry conference, physicians emphasized that the vendors who respect their time, get their time.

2) Simplicity

Make the physician experience easy, with clear messages and straightforward requests. In an analysis of over 120,000 questions presented to HCPs, complex market insights survey question types (e.g., matrix questions, forced ranking, or multiple short answer questions) were between 4x and 10x more likely to cause drop-outs from a survey than a simple multiple-choice question.

3) Efficiency

Leverage technology effectively to pre-profile contacts with demographic, specialty, practice, and other information for accurate targeting of HCPs, while using it to accurately estimate the time involved.

HCPs also want their feedback to provide meaningful impact on patients. Pharma professionals can support this by:


  1. Optimizing the timing of HCP dialogues, armed with real-time insights in response to market events or competitive launches, teams enable timely interventions for positive outcomes and purposeful HCP participation.

  2. Making access mobile-friendly, so teams reach stakeholders in the right moment, where they were, when they could focus. In a 2017 analysis, 83% of HCPs said they take market insights surveys on a smartphone, with just 44% preferring a tablet, laptop, or desktop. Seventy-three percent of HCPs said the ability to take surveys on any device was the most important features determining their participation.

  3. Assuring quality, by knowing the HCPs you reach are the right audience for the research you’re doing, applying the highest security, using advanced methodology (e.g., automation, branching, piping, skip logic, etc.), offering a streamlined, more personalized HCP experience.

As digital media options and touchpoints proliferate, reaching the right HCPs remains an exercise in focus and consideration, aimed at being as respectful and intentional as possible.


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