At times, the relationships between pharmas and the numerous content agencies can get quite tense (especially when the digital organization for pharma includes multiple scattered vendors) – but ultimately, both sides are doing the same thing when it comes to content. That thing is driving engagement. For the agency, it means becoming increasingly proficient from project to project; for pharma, establishing a more profound connection with their audience, the healthcare decision makers.

It is exactly this latter who really pushes the whole system to evolve. Healthcare communications have been notoriously slow at adopting the digital tech – marketers, bearing in mind the image of a nice older person who knows about viruses, but is adorably clumsy with gadgets, were at first cautious adopting the tablet-based eDetailing. Not speaking of other channels. At the same time, the stereotype is kind of… a stereotype. And we are not talking about the specifically “millennial” HCP audience, recently outlined in research. Things are happening on a much more general scale.

Right now, the physicians’ demand for digital interactions with pharma (reps included) often exceeds what the marketers can offer. While in, say, U.S., 36% doctors report they have “sufficient amount” of digital content, things look quite different in Europe. Namely, this percentage is much, much lower (61% in UK, 53% in France, 24% in Germany). At the same time, digital interactions fall short of demand in 41 to 100% cases (e.g. Italy).

All of a sudden, it is now obvious to pharma that:

  1. Digital for digital’s sake is no longer an attention drawer, and a tablet no longer a sensation;
  2. The physician audience is actually well-prepared to receive the interaction value promised previously by pharma;
  3. They now have to (somehow) supply loads of quality personalized content, while maintaining cost-efficiency and brand identity.

This is – inevitably – laying a mark on how pharma-to-agency (and vice versa) relationships are evolving. We tried to look what exactly is happening, and what type of content will best explain the nature of the process.

So what is happening?

The whole array of recent trends, so carefully investigated and surveyed through and through, can be boiled down to two simple key facts.

First: more content types are now available to the audience because there are more devices at hand – and at any moment.

Second: given the availability of content, the question of “Where is that informational value you promised?” has become one of top relevance for the physicians.

Dissecting the first point: while several years ago, a rep simply showing information on a tablet (instead of on printouts) naturally triggered more interest, now the doctors want more information of non-promotional type. A symptomatic example: 63% physicians highly appreciate rep visits without product-related resources – they can view this information whenever they please on their desktop/tablet/mobile device.

physicians use Internet for professional purposes

This means that with all the multichannel variety, [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”@Viseven_CLM”]the name of the game is now NOT to infuse each and every audience interaction with product promotion, but rather to combine these interactions[/inlinetweet] (occurring on different channels) into a vaguely inbound-marketing-like way to make room for informational value. If, for example, 45% rheumatologists want CME from pharma, then a smart marketer will want to make room for the CME without sacrificing the product-related message, so the answer will be…

…drum roll…

…integration of channels. There’s no way this could be shaken off, actually. And since there needs to be some sort of “bind-interactions-together” channel, easily accessible from anywhere, emailing (with mobile clients in everyone’s pocket) is, expectedly enough, rising in prominence.

Not that the actual statistics is so overwhelming – but rather they indicate demand. For example, only 12% doctors say they have contacted their rep via email in the past 6 months – and 36% say they’d want to. After all, this is the channel that at least 46% of them already use to contact their patients, so email templates are becoming a very common type of project for agencies.

However, what other channels are these beautifully styled, branded and otherwise crafted emails supposed to bind together, in pharma’s perspective?

The unique role of remote detailing

Scenario I. The rep knocks on the HCP’s door and starts a usual face-to-face detailing, swiping somewhat hastily through the tablet presentation. The doctor is (as usually) slightly annoyed and checking the clock on the wall – making the rep swipe even faster in an attempt to get to the “hit-me-with-the-message” promo slide. The physician says he has not much time left, so… they schedule a remote call. The doctor will get a link via email, and tomorrow at 6 p.m. they’ll get in touch – phone, or otherwise, while browsing together through those interesting bits that the rep has just omitted. Of course, the doctor will not have to install anything.

Scenario II. The doctor receives an email that interests him, and contains an invitation for a remote eDetailing session. Anytime he likes. Click… Tomorrow at 6 p.m.

In either scenario, there is time and room for information that didn’t fit into the time frame of the visit. In either scenario, the platform for remote visits collects KPI data to be later analyzed.

physicians are using remote detailing

This explains why pharmas are increasingly interested in remote interactions. The medical audience, too, is enthusiastic. Without remote detailing, the picture gets dim – at every rep visits, the doctors hear the same information, complain 68% oncologists, 62% dermatologists and roughly the same percentage of other specialties. At the same time, the platform is not novel or frightening anymore – about 30-40% specialists are interested in video consultations format for different purposes. Earlier on, we have already outlined the different benefits of remote visits and analyzed its popularity.

physicians have already experienced remote detailing

Now, briefly on why remote is the one channel poised to define further pharma-agency relationships.

  1. It makes more accent on content repurpose. Of course, it’s very tempting to just use the same presentations for both remote and F2F visits – and that’s what some pharmas actually do. However, there are subtle but essential differences that make presentations perfect, not just tolerable. This is a rather new type of work for agencies – repurposing existing content for remote interactions.
  2. It provides (and makes obligatory) a deeper understanding of the audience. Instead of hasty visits, a whole coherent branded story has to be built, and it needs to be as rewarding in terms of customer experience as needed. This is how standards rise.
  3. It fosters integration between channels. How, again, does the doctor get the link? If it’s email, and a link to some landing page, this content is as much of brand identity as anything else, so brand consistency becomes a great concern for both pharma managers and the agency. Understanding this is really important.

Wrapping up. What does this all mean in practice?

Focusing purely on how pharma to agency relationships are changing, the defining choice is, of course, that of the marketers. A sensible marketing specialist is now highly likely to impose new requirements on the agency contracted with a content project:

  • Ability to work with templates and repurpose global digital assets.
  • Understanding of global branding guidelines.
  • Knowledge of how the content will be perceived by the end user (e.g. how it will look and feel during a remote rep call).
  • Ability to interact within a single platform.
  • Higher speed of development (skillfulness working with templates, again).

There are solutions that ensure that both parties, pharma and agency, can reach out to each other and understand exactly what is required. Using a powerful remote detailing platform that integrates easily with systems in place, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, is most helpful for pharma to get used to the channel in no time. For agencies who work with pharmas already experienced in remote interactions, the accent is on templating approach and the set of tools that allow to match up to the expectations. You can get more information (and see these solutions in practice) at any moment – just contact our specialists, and get valuable insights on how to ensure even higher competitive advantage than before by starting with remote eDetailing opportunities.