Healthcare marketers need to recognize that the EHR is not a traditional ad channel in which success can be measured in clicks, said Kim Biggerstaff, HCP digital channel consultant at Eli Lilly. Photo credit: Erica Berger

Even though physicians are spending more time using electronic health records, drugmakers need to make sure they are providing the right information at the right time, according a pharmaceutical executive at Eli Lilly.

“This is the one point in a physician’s day where we are actually in the room with a patient and physician,” said Kim Biggerstaff, Eli Lilly’s HCP digital channel consultant, at MM&M‘s Big Data for Big Decisions event in New York on Wednesday. “Many of them want information from pharma, but it’s very specific information that they want — they want patient resources.”

Healthcare marketers need to recognize that the EHR is not a traditional ad channel in which success can be measured in clicks, Biggerstaff said. “You don’t want them to click out of their workflow to go to your website,” she added. “You have to look at the EHR differently and change your goals for your marketing messages.”

See also: The truth about a doctor’s day: know-it-all patients and no time for lunch

There are more than 750 EHR vendors in the U.S. alone, and that makes the market understandably difficult for pharmaceutical marketers to navigate, said Biggerstaff.

“When a physician chooses your drug, you deliver hopefully something that adds value like formulary information, a savings card, or a print-out for the patient to take home and learn the first three things they need to know about the drug,” said Biggerstaff.

According to a 2015 Decision Resources Group report, 49% of U.S. physicians said they are interested in seeing content provided by a pharma company in an EHR.

See also: How Should Pharma Deploy Messaging in EHR Systems?

“What if we could deliver messages within a patient record or within the alert section of the HCP’s EHR that they can see everyday [that notes that] this patient has not yet filled or refilled their script?” said Biggerstaff. “Physicians can say, ‘I don’t care,’ or they can say, ‘I really do care about this and I’d like to know what’s going on.’”

Eli Lilly conducted a case study with type 2 diabetes patients that looked at how sending brand messages to patients affected prescriptions of new therapies. Biggerstaff said that healthcare providers and patients often delay starting new therapies, and those delays can have a significant impact on their treatment. Over a four-month period, the drugmaker delivered a branded message to a test group of patients based on their patient data such as their current medications and A1C levels, while the control group did not receive any messages.

Results from the study showed that the test group of patients was more likely to fill a new prescription and less likely to drop off at the first refill “because it was the right solution delivered at the right time,” said Biggerstaff.

“If we can identify the patient throughout the journey and give physicians support to help them make a recommendation at the right time, we’re going to generate better outcomes, and that’s what we really want to do,” said Biggerstaff.

See also: Infographic: The physician view on EHRs

In the future, Biggerstaff said she hopes EHRs will allow drugmakers to deliver patient education based on the prescriptions patients filled and check patients’ health benefits in real-time.

Drugmakers need to have an effective strategy that serves the physician, the patient, and the brand, and not just focus on one or the other, said Biggerstaff. And they need to keep the message short and straight to the point, keeping in mind that physicians use EHRs to do their job and they need to move fast.

“Whatever you are offering, make sure it’s adding value at any point in the workflow,” said Biggerstaff. “Use data to discover opportunities to add value to the HCP while supporting your brand.”