Engaging healthcare providers (HCPs) is an important activity for pharmaceutical companies during all stages of product development. In fact, plans for maximizing HCP engagement are typically included in pharma marketing strategies. A survey targeting HCPs and other healthcare professionals reports that HCPs desire better access to different types of content through the channels and formats they use the most. This post will discuss how to strengthen your HCP engagement efforts by achieving the right balance of content, channels, and format or features.

Content—The Type HCPs Really Want
HCPs want more or better access to different types of high-quality content, including diagnostic tools, continuing education, and medical images. Pharma companies looking for ways to maximize HCP engagement should carefully consider the types of content they provide to their HCPs. Let’s discuss some of these types in detail.

Nearly 90% of HCPs access diagnostic tools at least once a month. This presents an opportunity for pharma companies who engage with HCPs to provide access to diagnostic tools through their own platforms. Reliable and accurate diagnostic applications are increasingly available through digital channels, and support HCPs in decision-making for their practice. For busy HCPs, instant access to diagnostic tools can improve their ability to not only provide care but also interact with pharma companies who implement these tools into their platforms.

More and more, continuing medical education (CME) programs have been requested by HCPs; but half of HCPs surveyed reported that they needed better access to educational content. CME appeals to HCPs who want to stay on top of developments made in their discipline, who support innovation in their practice, or who wish to learn new techniques or therapeutic approaches. The opportunity for pharma companies to provide their HCPs better access to CME content is ripe. Focus on engaging HCPs with new scientific findings and treatments that your company is involved in to form a mutually beneficial relationship.

While an abundance of medical imagery is available to HCPs—who access them at least once a month—the quality, accuracy, and validity of the medical images they access are inconsistent. Traditionally, pharma companies supply HCPs with their own branded promotional materials. However, there are many other types of medical images that HCPs find useful and that your company can provide, positioning yourself as a first-line resource.

Channels—Balancing Digital and Traditional
For pharma companies interested in maximizing HCP engagement, there is a need to adopt digital channels and become less reliant on traditional ones. Traditional channels for communicating with HCPs include meetings with sales reps, medical conferences, and pre-arranged phone calls. Many HCPs still find value in communicating through these channels; however, they fall short in meeting the HCPs’ needs to access certain content. That’s why there is a demand for pharma companies to adopt a cross-channel approach and to promote high-quality content accessible via digital channels, anytime and anywhere.

That said, there are still great opportunities for pharma companies to evolve traditional channels. Medical conferences provide important, cutting-edge information that the majority of HCPs find extremely valuable. However, attending conferences and live events often requires travel, taking HCPs away from their practice. Pharma companies can expand access to conference content by offering satellite symposia or providing access to conference reports through digital channels. And by facilitating ongoing discussions, hosting virtual panels, and providing access to conference resources and material, companies can even continue to engage HCPs after the conference.

Of course, digital or online channels are most frequently accessed by HCPs, but while most HCPs reported visiting independent websites more than once a week, they rarely accessed pharmaceutical brand websites. HCPs cited primary deterrents as a lack of interest, credibility, and trust. Herein lies an opportunity for pharma companies to beef up their current digital channels by fitting them with better quality content. A collaboration with other independent channels, specifically those established as credible, is another effective way to maximize digital engagement with HCPs.

Format and Features—Consider the User Experience
Digital content has evolved exponentially and with it, the types of formats and features used to support content. Among features that HCPs request in accessing digital content are search tools, download capabilities, visual illustrations or animations, synopses of key content, ability to filter content by disease or specialty, and the possibility to save and organize content. In other words, HCPs want customization. Pharma companies need to focus on the user experience of their online platforms, evaluate current features that support their content, and consider the list of features above. More importantly, websites and features developed to engage HCPs need to be optimized for mobile devices, providing a seamless experience. If they are not, you risk failing to capture valuable HCPs with a preference for using mobile devices.

Balancing Solutions
Ultimately, maximizing HCP engagement relies on pharma’s ability to supply HCPs with the content they crave, in the formats they like, and on the channels they prefer. A need for evolving traditional methods of communication alongside a strong digital presence is the first step. Consider collaboration with other independent channels or websites, and offer access to enduring content including diagnostic tools, CME, and visual resources. Finally, by focusing on the needs and preferences of HCPs, pharma companies not only increase quality engagement, but gain credibility, trust, and receptiveness to targeted marketing efforts.