There’s a disconnect between the number of pharma leaders who agree omnichannel engagement is crucial for their organization and the actual execution of such a strategy, according to a study released this week. 

A new report out of intelligent customer engagement company Aktana indicates that this is particularly true in regard to healthcare professional (HCP) engagement across touchpoints 

The report, which surveyed 50 executives across pharma digital, brand marketing and data analytics, found that unsurprisingly, 98% believe omnichannel is “very important” for strategy. 

However, half of the companies noted they’re not fully taking advantage of physician engagement across omnichannel touchpoints.

The survey also asked executives where they felt their organizations currently stood in terms of omnichannel development. 

Just 11% noted they had fully embraced omnichannel across their business, while 14% reported they were still planning out their omnichannel operations. The vast majority fell in the middle, having a set strategy but are not fully there yet.

Among the 11% who deemed their business fully advanced on the omnichannel front, they pinpointed cross-functional ownership, investment in intelligence tools and AI as the main factors that fueled their maturity.

The report also highlighted the main challenges businesses face in reaching omnichannel success. More than half pointed to change management; 48% said people, skills and experience; 47% blamed their current organizational structure and 47% faulted a lack of alignment across teams.

Technology is another issue. Physicians are expecting seamless and personalized customer experiences from pharma companies, but without a “connected technology ecosystem,” the “real-time touch” is difficult to enact, the report noted.

“Everybody expects that real-time touch,” Joyce Ercolino, director of digital excellence at Harmony Biosciences, said in the report. “This is how we work everywhere else in our lives. Physicians are no different. And we just have to meet them where they’re meeting us — it’s the path of least resistance.”

The upshot from the report is for businesses to examine where they are in their omnichannel journey and to “be honest about your gaps.” 

That includes taking a look at how data and analytics, culture, customer insights, content delivery and cross-functional collaboration are working together. Planning how to measure and communicate success, and taking time to “pause and get an objective maturity baseline will reap long-term rewards,” Amy Turnquist, a principal at North Highland, noted in the report.

“It’s a strategic imperative for brands to transform the HCP experience into a seamless, cross-channel journey that’s personalized to a segment of one,” Derek Choy, co-founder and COO of Aktana, said in a statement.

He continued: “With so many more options for engagement, organizations also need a scalable way to prioritize actions with the highest impact, refine strategies and focus valuable resources where they’ll deliver the greatest ROI.”