Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Evolving Your Marketing Strategy to Engage with Physicians

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Regulatory changes and advancements in healthcare technology are motivating providers to adopt new technologies. Federal incentives and payer pressure for high-quality data are spurring healthcare practitioners to integrate e-Prescribing and Electronic Health Records into their practice. A study published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that eight out of 10 office-based physicians now have some type of EHR system and 72% are now certified e-Prescribers, according to the 2013 National Progress Report from SureScripts.

However, increased adoption of healthcare technology into physician practices does not necessarily mean these solutions are being fully embraced. Impediments to workflow caused by new technologies, as well as functionality shortfalls are causing practitioners to depend on tried-and-true traditional methods alongside these digital tools. For example, HCPs remain reliant on pen and paper even when they have access to electronic prescribing, particularly to prescribe controlled substances. In fact, less than 25% of all prescriptions dispensed in 2013 were actually issued electronically.

So how does pharma engage with prescribers as they blend traditional tools with new digital solutions? The key is to evolve marketing strategies into a multi-channel approach that allows marketers to analyze which channels are achieving engagement goals and determine a truer return on investment of marketing communications activities.

Merging Traditional Channels with Digital Solutions

Pharma companies have all the tools at their disposal to develop a comprehensive multi-channel program that integrates traditional marketing with new technology. Implementing a successful strategy involves six critical key steps.

1.)    Set Clear Goals – Knowing what you are looking to achieve makes reaching these goals more likely. Defining objectives of a campaign is the foundation for building a strong strategic plan, as well as a reference point for whether the campaign is delivering. Don’t forget to establish a baseline for measurement.

2.)    Define Your Target Audience – Leverage your physician database or work with a third-party provider to establish the best target audience. Defining targets will help you to optimize the marketing spend by narrowing in on the physicians that are most likely to contribute to your end goal.

3.)    Determine Your Channel Mix Put yourself in the position of the provider. Practitioners today are more time-pressed than ever before, and therefore, are more selective about when and where they interact with pharma. Choose an integrated mix of digital and traditional channels that best fits the needs of your target audience.  

4.)    Adapt Your Message – It’s important that your brand message remains consistent across all channels, but cater the message slightly for each individual channel in order to yield the best response from providers. If you are targeting different audiences with your campaign, it’s also critical to customize your message  for each physician group. It is worth investing the extra MLR time to customize your messaging.

5.)    Harness Data – A multi-channel campaign is only successful if you leverage the collected data to tailor the use of channels and messages in future marketing campaigns. Build profiles for each physician that identifies their responses, interaction, conversion, etc. This insight can result in increased engagement and relevancy.  

6.)    Optimize for Mobile – Your targets are viewing this content at the point of care on their smartphones or tablets.

Reaching physicians and impacting their behavior requires pharma to be in the right place, at the right time. In an environment where physicians are using a combination of digital solutions and traditional methods, the best way to engage with providers is through a multi-channel approach that leverages the unique advantages of each tactic.
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