Healthcare marketing and physician engagement are at a critical moment. Consumer demand for privacy is changing how data is handled. It is no longer enough to reach the right audience. Today, pharma marketers must reach the right customer with the right message at the right time after obtaining consent.

In a recent MM+M sponsored podcast, digital editor Jack O’Brien sat down with Bob Whiting, director for digital media solutions at IQVIA, to discuss the importance of data consent and data consistency in HCP marketing, and how both present opportunities to drive healthcare forward.

A look at identity data

Whiting kicked off the conversation by noting that HCP identity is at the forefront of the greater conversation on healthcare professional audiences “Because there are so many people touching data and bringing data to campaigns,” he said, “we have this tremendous responsibility in this ecosystem to make sure that the data is accurate and consistent.

“Consent needs to be added onto identity in order to meet and exceed all the privacy rules and regulations,” Whiting added. “You need full consent to deliver an ad specifically in the healthcare professional space.”

While identity may create some “obstacles and stumbling blocks,” Whiting also pointed out it presents many opportunities. For example, with many pharma organizations taking more digital services, data, business intelligence and analytics capabilities, greater opportunity exists to establish consistency with identity data. And even when agencies, data companies and other partners are  still being Whiting pointed out there is additional opportunity to ensure the work everybody is doing is successful across multiple channels, social, connected TV, programmatic, email and in-person activities, alongside measurement and analytics. 

The importance of data consent

Whiting noted that marketers have a responsibility to deliver relevant communications to healthcare professionals that help their business. “If we are successful, HCPs will consent to delivery of information, whether through an email, a digital ad, programmatic ad or an ad on a social platform,” he said.

“A lot of people are taking consent for granted,” Whiting added. “There’s too much at risk. IQVIA, for example, hired a chief privacy officer to monitor all of the privacy acts in the U.S. and make sure we are meeting and exceeding not only the privacy policies at the state levels but also at our partners.”

When partnering with agencies: “Talk about that consent framework,” he advised. “Where is it coming from? Is it single sourced? Can you prove to me that your audience is fully consented?”

Consistent data across channels

To pull meaningful and consistent data, it’s important to understand what consistency means. Whiting said, “There are seven or eight steps where you need data consistency.

“First is the planning stage when marketers use data within their business , whether for in-person engagement or across digital channels. From the very beginning, data consistency is necessary. For audience creation,  when the audience is shared with an agency, for analyzing or enhancing and creating advanced audiences, using certain behaviors,” he explained. Data consistency continues to be important when that data is then shared with other vendors, such as email providers directly with an endemic property, DSP, social platform such as Facebook or LinkedIn, or an identity provider.

The problem is if, anywhere along the way, there’s interaction between multiple datasets. “There is an opportunity for inaccurate data matching or data leakage. That can put your brand at risk,” Whiting said, “because you’re not actually campaigning the targeted healthcare professional.” Which in turn will impact reporting back to pharma marketers about the engagement on that healthcare professional and measurement overall.

Strategies for executing plans

For companies looking for more effective digital engagement, Whiting recommended taking a look at assets already in-house. Those assets include not only data but talent as well.  “Ask: What do you have that you don’t have to outsource and how can you maximize what you already have in place,” he suggested.

Social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook offer “a low point of entry” for pharma marketers, he added. “You can power your own campaign using your own first-party data with fairly easy do-it-yourself solutions.”

When considering channels: “Do not overlook the power of email,” Whiting cautioned. Determine your email strategy and if you have internal expertise or can leverage external expertise. “Make sure that you’re in that email game in an intelligent way,” he said. “Then, investigate the programmatic buying world, which can be managed without substantial upfront licensing.”

Most importantly: “Set aside money — 10% to 15% — to try new things,” Whiting concluded. “That way you can always be innovating, testing and monitoring, and researching new opportunities to connect with your target audience regardless of who that audience is.”