Research shows HCPs bounce from site to site, so rep networks seem to offer both one-stop info shopping and industry contact. But do they provide quality interaction, or are they just a way to e-mail marketing materials?

Kent Groves, PhD
Vice president, life sciences, Merkle

On the surface, a “rep network” makes sense. This approach may appear analogous to the many “portal” attempts of pharma in the past, which were well intentioned efforts to own the HCP relationship. “Network owners” believe they have a unique value proposition, but outsourcing social and customer service relationships limits access to critical behavioral and first party data. For pharma, owning, managing and enabling big data is critical to building stronger relationships with HCPs, particularly since many of them have built their own unique mix of channels and media to meet their needs. Professionals (physicians included) don’t rely on one source for all of their information, so the best a “rep network” can hope for is to be just another stop in the physician’s daily journey.

Michael Q. Marett
SVP, head of global ­business development, WorldOne Interactive + Sermo

A multi-channel approach, which incorporates rep networks and email, is what’s especially attractive, as it supports enabling convenient access to pertinent information. Harnessing social channels and unlocking the power of mobile for knowledge sharing are both vitally important. HCPs demand on-the-go instant access to data and collective intelligence, so the key is to embrace technologies and tactics that meet the HCP at the right time with the right information across screens and channels. Networks have to evolve beyond sending out email. Bringing access to quality interactions and information across channels, which fit within the work stream of the HCP, will allow them to focus on patient care and diagnoses, not the arduous process of information gathering.

Jack Schember
Senior director, US marketing, Cegedim Relationship Management

Networking opportunities, discussion groups and clinical information still top the list of features healthcare providers expect from a dedicated social community. But physicians also expect, and are looking for, sponsored services from the life sciences industry such as sample ordering, patient assistance programs, and dialogue with medical liaisons. These value-oriented capabilities and services open new channels of engagement between HCPs and the life sciences industry in an environment that is flexible, secure and convenient. A social community for HCPs must aspire to reach beyond the simplicity of pushing messages or posting static content. As any community manager knows, to keep an audience active and loyal, the content of the forum must be credible and valuable.

Jeff Meehan
President, Strategic Edge Communications, a division of MDOL

Rep networks have a place in offering quality industry contact. However, for these networks to continue to be viable sources of information, they must evolve and incorporate options that complement existing sales and marketing strategies. New technologies should enhance sales and marketing efforts rather than replace them. A good example are ­programs that augment the “feet on the street” rep experience with an interactive experience. Through these innovations, physicians can stay informed, and pharmaceutical companies can continue to effectively communicate the benefits of their products. 

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