Remote calls with physicians. This channel has gained its initial popularity among pharma marketers as a response to the issue of low frequency and short duration of meetings with physicians. Today, it is used not only to broaden the area reach, enabling teams to cover hard-to-reach or vacant territories without spending money and time on commuting. It also allows for deeper insights into pharma customers’ behavioral patterns and undiscovered needs the industry can satisfy. Let’s dive into some fresher, lesser-known win-wins for pharma and its audience brought by remote communication.

#1 Opportunity, awaiting to be provided

Building durable business relationships starts with valuing each other’s time. With this in mind, nothing expresses respectfulness and consideration towards your client better than teaching your pharma sales teams to be as illustrative as possible in valuing their customers’ time. This especially concerns the doctor audience, whose everyday working schedule looks more like a chaotic pressure-cooker than a sleek clockwork. It is already of no wonder that doctors don’t have enough time or willingness to see reps, even if it’s a scheduled face-to-face visit, not an impromptu knock on the door. Lack of control over their time is one of the most frequently cited reasons for physician’s burnout and overall dissatisfaction from results of daily work interactions and environment. Contributing to the prevention of the infamous doctor burnout by giving them back control over their own time is something pharma as an organization should strive to provide for its main category of customers.

doctors choose remote communication

Here’s where remote communication comes best into action. Providing the audience with the choice to schedule time for themselves is the “soft method” of HCP engagement strategy at its best, with 92% (!) of physicians to repeat their remote detailing experience after the first call. Furthermore, according to the ZS 2016 report on physician engagement, when doctors do choose to engage with pharma reps via remote communication, they can later recall their interactions much better in this case, than after a face-to-face interaction; with info retention levels 62% to 38% respectively. Thus, all this communication, filled with content, which was carefully calibrated by pharma marketers, does not fade into obscurity. In one of the Manhattan Research surveys, 35% of physician respondents who never used remote detailing said they would like to discover this tool’s possibilities. So, there is a lot of evidence of the need to explore remote detailing, whether the audience has already had experience with it, or is just waiting for pharma to provide this opportunity. Surely, pharma should implement it in the right way, whereof we will speak in the second part of this article.

#2 Choose your channels carefully

The first mistake (and pharma marketing used to repeatedly commit it) is to provide physicians with a full, 100% immersion into a multichannel environment. From this time onward, instead of just an every-now-and-then rep’s knock on the door, the doctor gets bombarded with opportunities to connect: email, calls, invitations, suggestions on pharma websites, social media platforms – this whole constellation of attempts to engage does not lift the time pressures; likewise, it often makes the daily info-burden even heavier. MCM approach has been heavily criticized back then to the point where it was questioned as simply bargaining one issue (restricted access to physicians for reps) for another (physicians ignoring reps’ emails and calls).

Then, the era of the omnichannel came into its own right. It was high time to realize that the right content flow for physician engagement stands out in a complex ecosystem instead of a walled garden approach. In other words, instead of using all opportunities, all channels at once to engage with doctors, it’s more efficient to consider more tailored, individualized methods. Now, it’s easy to imagine that only some sophisticated AI algorithm could identify the best mixture of channels for each doctor or even each specialization group. If you are aiming for perfect precision, then this solution would be the most suitable one, but if you are down for something that just works, a collection of the most important KPIs should be enough. That is the task eDetailing presentations do best, apart from their interactivity wooing. The information collected from (which correlates with attention paid to) every slide, provides a solid ground for omnichannel campaigns. Be it swiping through during remote detailing, self-detailing or face-to-face visits – all KPIs collected would equally help to identify the doctor’s info needs and tells you what type of content to provide and how best to reach him/her next time.

the right content flow for physician engagement

#3 Close the loop with digital follow-through

With all the budgeting, time-saving, KPI-measuring advantages remote detailing provides, the list of advantages would not be full if we did not consider the response of the market to this communication scheme. There’s a recent peculiarity to that: physicians perceive remote communication more like an on-demand service than a permanent tool. This comes in two aspects: asking follow-up questions remotely for general reasons, and seeking elaboration.
It is an opportunity for pharma marketing to close the loop with thorough digital follow-through. 56% of doctors agreed they would like pharma account managers to give them an opportunity of asking follow-up questions remotely. Where does this lead the future of remote calls? It is clear that docs who communicate remotely with reps use this mean mainly to ask non-urgent follow-up questions. As stated in the interview, conducted by DRG Digital on this matter, a 24/7, always available response window was deemed acceptable by most of the physicians. “I use remote detailing if I have a question about the drug, usually about availability or the copay program”— as one neurologist stated. So, is this the way to go for remote detailing? A live consultation provided by a specialized rep-consultant? With the rise of 24h apps in all kinds of service industries, it is very likely so. But whatever it will be, if it is for the benefit of physicians and their care to patients through pharma, this looks like a winning situation for both customers and providers.

What’s the starting point?

Thus we have seen how in one fell swoop of a tool, the interaction between HCPs and pharma reps can be transformed drastically. And, what’s equally important, to the benefit of both sides. Interested in further information on the topic? Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on implementation strategies; for any specific questions, you can easily address our experts. Today, the market offers a huge number of first-class services for remote communication with physicians, such as Veeva Engage Meeting, for example. However, if your company (due to varying reasons) cannot choose to use such an advanced solution, here is a good place to start. Your audience is waiting; all you have to do is provide the way to appreciate your content!