Your Secret Elixir of Effective Interactive Visual Aids in Pharma Marketing 

Interactive Visual Aid

The song remains the same: reps go to HCPs with their tablets, in hope to provide quality details and influence prescriptions. The song remains the same even in the new-era multichannel pharma setting. The interactive visual aids (IVAs) shown to doctors have become more sophisticated, though, and admission rates are not exactly soaring. And not all IVAs are performing equally well.

Why is that? As a brand manager, when promotion is at stake and prescriptions are not hitting the benchmarks, you are naturally inclined to ask yourself:

Am I pouring money into content that just doesn’t make the trick?

And even if those CLM presentations are doing a good job, there’s always room for improvement. If you have an opportunity to match the performance of your best digital assets (most favored by doctors) and that one you’d rather not have mentioned around, the logical thing to do is as follows:

  • Pretend to be a doctor.
  • Really pretend to be one.
  • Look at both of the IVAs in question.
  • Ask more questions an HCP would be likely to ask.

This will make some of the issues easier to see – but of course no one is going to waste so much time on this sort of psychological experiment. This is why we have gathered some insights from teams who have worked on dozens of pharma presentations each – and the managers who experimented with this sort of content for years.

These tips and insights represent the experience of numerous people currently in the industry – and it’s here for one purpose: help brand managers understand what to change (and what not to change) in your detail aids.

On a side note: no, CLM presentations are not inherently evil. And no, med reps are not too “lazy”. It’s the IVAs content that may be the culprit.

When reps are not to blame

Working with the overworked is tough. HCPs are exactly that – overworked. When pharma reps’ activities are not producing the immediate, brilliant results expected, it’s not always the case of lacking skills and promotional push.

For one, doctors are limiting access to reps, mostly due to the increasing amount of patients and general stressfullness. As revealed by statistics, there is a correlation for this last factor. Oncologists restrict access in 65% of cases, while cardiologists occupy the second place at 58%. With primary care, the sheer amount of patients kicks in as a factor – resulting in 47% for the same index. Reps are not admitted before they even get to speak.

On the other hand, there are seemingly contradictory statistics on how HCPs perceive pharma detailing. About 54% are reported to prefer talking to reps as their primary source of information, AND about 53% say online research is more useful.

Wow. Let’s analyze. What makes online research so popular? Timing, availability and…

…content itself. When browsing, you get (almost) exactly what you want, without having to interrupt. Why, then, are reps still deemed indispensable?

Because some information is best provided in detailing, and looks best in interactive visual aids pharma develops for specific target audience. As a medical representative has found out, doctors often don’t have the time to do the research by themselves.

It’s not the method that fails to impact prescriptions – it’s the inability to produce content for visual aids that can be used as conveniently as a website.

Symptom checks for IVAs

So, there we are. The importance of visual aid in communication with HCPs looms large, so it’s a good idea to analyze the way presentations work. What elements and features impact performance? What were the flaws in previous unsuccessful detail aids? What was it that made the popular ones so exciting? In other words, how to make a good visual aid?

Here are just three possible symptoms to be checked for – so check to see if reps’ performance has suffered from these.


Where to look: NAVIGATION

Possible problem: The detailer aid contains a large amount of slides, but navigating between them is tough and uncomfortable, so the rep doesn’t simply have the time to switch over. In the flow of the conversation with the HCP, even seconds count. Suppose the doctor asked a question – and the issue is actually covered in the presentation quite well, there’s a slide to show, but since navigating to it takes time, the rep may be (subconsciously) reluctant to use it, sticking to the general flow. Of course, the result is a stale conversation. Exactly what doctors complain about – in 64% cases, it’s repetitive information again and again.

What to do: ensure that navigation is handy enough, doesn’t get obscured by the native elements of the CLM system – and that it’s consistent, so reps won’t have to search for, say, a sidebar where there is a bottom bar. Inconvenient navigation means paying to develop slides that won’t even be used.



Possible problem: Imagine the situation: the rep is sitting across the table, or next to the HCP, showing slides on tablet. Now what’s the screen size? Arguably not that large. And the slide is so much overloaded with information that font size is as if intended for a website. The HCP has either to strain their eyes to see the content, or waste another several seconds to take the tablet in their own hands – or just to ignore the entire slide. This is, unfortunately, quite common.

What to do: see whether any slides contain too many small elements. Maybe they were all put there because the idea of that slide expanded gradually, and placing that another thingy seemed innocent at first… “It’s okay, but let’s just add that key message” – that sort of thinking. Remember that these slides are not intended for large desktop screens – and event there, small fonts and elements are now recognized as a major usability fault on multiple professional forums. Better split the slide in two or use interactive popups, carousels or coverflow elements to show and hide content.


Where to look: UNIQUENESS

Possible problem: Plain old boredom. The information on slides is too general and predictable. After spending years studying medicine, what can be more tedious than have someone tell you about a condition you routinely manage? Doctors are quite open to reps unless there’s nothing new to hear from them.

What to do: of course, general information is needed to provide context – but it should be represented in such a way as to incite interest. For example, if a certain pathological process is represented as an animation, it should be not too long but well-designed. If you fear that the genuinely unique information in the presentation would be too tedious to demonstrate (e.g. clinical trial results), consider having it displayed in diagrams or graphs. These, too, can be animated and will serve perfectly to represent the highlights of research – whereas the more bulky part can be easily opened with one tap from the slide.

These are just three of the possible issues – but there are many more. Interested in examining your available IVAs to find out how good they really are? You can download a complete checklist carefully prepared by IVA professionals – and formulate your own elixir for efficient detail aids.