Biopharmaceutical marketing has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past few years. In the 1990s, marketing was primarily salesforce-driven and healthcare provider (HCP)-focused, but by the 2020s, the biopharma salesforce size had shrunk dramatically and access to HCPs was becoming more difficult.1
Then the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world of biopharma marketing upside down. Sales rep access to HCPs had already been in decline; then, sales rep office and hospital visits were practically eliminated. Sales reps began replacing in-person sales meetings with more digital and virtual deliverables to stay engaged with HCPs.2 HCPs responding to a survey of more than 1,300 M.D.s reported that more than 95% of all contact with sales reps took place via virtual channels; more than 75% of physicians said they wanted to either maintain or increase this shift, irrespective of vaccine status, suggesting that digital marketing is here to stay.3
Traditionally, biopharma has been slow to incorporate innovative digital technologies for marketing, but as the pandemic began, there was a sudden increase in digital marketing investments.4 Many biopharma companies have begun significantly increasing digital marketing. In 2020, biopharma spent an estimated $9.53 billion on digital marketing, up 14.2% from 2019.1, 5
This article examines what can provide results in this new realm of digital marketing. We will also look at how to engage healthcare providers using digital channels, by providing information they will value.
Identifying what is and is not working
Marketers have limited visibility into what is and is not working in the new digital marketing landscape.6 Research shows that only half of pharma and biopharma respondents use quantitative metrics to determine the long-term impact of their marketing efforts. As a result, few biopharma marketers clearly understand which of their efforts are most productive. Research also shows that marketers typically waste about 26% of their budgets on channels and strategies that are ineffective.1, 6, 7
This means that although biopharma companies rely increasingly on digital marketing, they may be missing the opportunity to engage their markets with more relevant, targeted interactions. Biopharma companies typically market products to broad audiences using a wide spectrum of channels, such as TV, the internet and sales representatives, but this omnichannel approach often results in messaging that is disconnected and episodic.6 HCPs are already overwhelmed, making it critical to leverage analytics and data to understand the right content, right channel and right timing for messaging to be effective.3, 8
For instance, HCPs are difficult to reach using traditional Internet marketing. According to a recent report, many physicians today spend fewer than 10 nonworking hours online a week — compared to the average U.S. Internet user, who spends almost 7 hours online daily.9
In contrast, physicians spend an average of 4.5 hours a day interacting with their electronic health records (EHRs). On average, they spend 16 minutes on their EHRs per patient encounter. If the average HCP sees 20 patients a day, that means they spend about 320 minutes (about five-and-a-half hours) daily in their EHR systems.9, 10 This provides a massive opportunity for pharma companies to communicate with physicians at the point-of-care, which is especially important due to the declining access to HCPs via sales reps.11
Veradigm Digital Health Media delivers messaging to HCPs directly at the point-of-care via a channel they use every day: their EHRs*. Veradigm’s ability to reach HCPs at the point of care while they use their EHR means they are accessible far more frequently, and at the right time, than they would be using other promotional options. When advertisers attempted to reach physicians with banner ads, they found that 80% didn’t even see the banners because they were blocked by ad-blocking software.9
EHRs are also a preferred means of communication for many HCPs. Research shows that 78% specifically prefer product updates via their EHRs.12
Listening and learning
Marketers are increasing spending on a broad range of digital channels, but in the process, they have made a significant shift from personal to nonpersonal promotions.2, 10 Even when using EHR messaging, many biopharma companies use this opportunity simply to repurpose banner ads from other digital channels. However, EHRs provide the opportunity to deliver more personalized, targeted information.12
Recent research shows that many HCPs feel pharma marketers don’t understand their needs:13
• 70% of HCPs surveyed reported feeling that sales reps did not completely understand their needs and expectations
• 62% reported feeling overwhelmed by the product-related promotional content they received
• 63% reported the desire for companies to share only relevant content with them
A previous survey yielded similar results:13-15
• 64% of HCPs surveyed reported getting too much digital content from pharma
• 65% reported that at least one pharma company had “spammed” them during the pandemic
Healthcare professionals expect more from pharma brands.8 They are looking for tools to support the use of different drug products, such as access to biopharma if they have questions, or information and resources that can help in their day-to-day practice.12 Research shows that prescribers increasingly rely on their EHRs to include the same tools and capabilities within their workflow that they use to access externally.16
What do HCPs want?
According to one survey, one of marketers’ most significant opportunities for engaging HCPs is by supporting their communication with patients by making high-quality information and tools for patient education accessible at the point of care while the provider is in their workflow. Providers also have need of:16
- Easy-to-use drug product and prescribing information
- Tools to order drug samples
- Easy-to-use channel for contacting sales reps
- Other patient support resources
According to one survey, HCPs found information on drug affordability programs especially helpful.17
Effective point-of-care EHR marketing can help deliver your branded message throughout the patient encounter. 10 Veradigm Digital Health Media leverages de-identified real-time anonymized data from EHRs to deliver highly targeted brand awareness messaging so your messages can reach the providers who will benefit the most via a channel they use daily.* Awareness messaging is delivered across a broad range of clinical workflow elements used daily in provider/patient consultations, allowing it to be integrated contextually where it can be of the most value, all in a manner compliant with HIPAA and other applicable laws. 10, 12 Veradigm Digital Health Media delivers messages at the point of care alongside multiple EHR platforms and can even help you reach specific providers.*
Veradigm Digital Health Media
Biopharma has undergone a digital conversion in the past several years, completely changing its marketing landscape. Digital marketing provides a potential response to a world where traditional marketing strategies are no longer effective, and HCPs are no longer accessible, but it will only be successful if marketers pay attention to what channels and content are effectively reaching and engaging their target audience. Veradigm Digital Health Media can help you accomplish this by reaching providers via a channel they use daily — their EHRs* — and by leveraging real-time data to allow you to target messaging to the times and contexts where it will provide the greatest value to both providers and their patients.
Contact us to learn more about Veradigm Digital Health Media and how we can help you engage your target audience.
1. Haimowitz I. Measure twice, cut once: AI in biopharma marketing. Deloitte. Updated August 9, 2022. Accessed December 10, 2022, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/health-care-blog/2022/measure-twice-cut-once-ai-in-bioparma-marketing.html.
2. Phillips N. Marketing to HCPs in the New World Order. PharmExec.com®. Updated May 30, 2020. Accessed December 10, 2022, https://www.pharmexec.com/view/marketing-hcps-new-world-order.
3. Wolf F, Shah S, Meier C, Schulze U. What Doctors Want and What This Means for Biopharma Now. BCG. Updated July 27, 2020. Accessed February 22, 2022, https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/what-doctors-want-and-what-this-means-for-the-biopharma-industry.
4. Kudumala A, Konersmann T, Israel A, Miranda W. Biopharma digital transformation: Gain an edge with leapfrog digital innovation. Deloitte® Insights. Updated December 8, 2021. Accessed December 10, 2022, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/life-sciences/biopharma-digital-transformation.html.
5. Droesch B. US Healthcare and Pharma Digital Ad Spending 2020. Insider Intelligence – eMarketer. Updated September 30, 2020. Accessed December 10, 2022, https://www.insiderintelligence.com/content/us-healthcare-pharma-digital-ad-spending-2020.
6. Miller M, Ramamurthy S. Ho AI Can Help Drive Biopharma Marketing ROI. The Wall Street Journal. Updated March 23, 2021. Accessed December 10, 2022, https://deloitte.wsj.com/articles/how-ai-can-help-drive-biopharma-marketing-roi-01616526137.
7. Benes R. Marketers Waste About One-Fourth of Their Budgets. Insider Intelligence – eMarketer. Updated March 23, 2018. Accessed December 10, 2022, https://www.insiderintelligence.com/content/marketers-waste-about-one-fourth-of-their-budgets.
8. Jain M. Seven Trends Affecting Direct-to-Physician Pharma Marketing. Healthgrades. Updated September 6, 2022. Accessed October 14, 2022, https://b2b.healthgrades.com/insights/blog/seven-trends-affecting-direct-to-physician-pharma-marketing/.
9. Veradigm. Messaging the right HCP at the right time via their electronic health record (EHR). BioPharma Dive. Updated August 15, 2022. Accessed December 10, 2022, https://www.biopharmadive.com/spons/messaging-the-right-hcp-at-the-right-time-via-their-electronic-health-recor/629002/.
10. Warren AT. Why You Multichannel Marketing Mix Should Include EHR Point-of-Service Marketing – Partner Content – MM + M. Foru Mask. Updated July 30, 2021. Accessed February 22, 2022, https://forumask.net/why-your-multichannel-marketing-mix-should-include-ehr-point-of-service-marketing-partner-content-mm-m/.
11. Sporrer L, Bogus S. Electronic Health Records and Pharmaceutical Advertising. CMI Media Group. Updated February 23, 2021. Accessed February 23, 2022, https://cmimediagroup.com/resources/electronic-health-records-and-pharmaceutical-advertising/.
12. Reifsnyder C. Highlight the Value of Point-of-Care Messaging. Veradigm. Updated March 24, 2022. Accessed December 11, 2022, https://veradigm.com/veradigm-news/value-of-point-of-care-messaging/.
13. Adams B. The drive to digital in pharma marketing is ‘overwhelming’ doctors. Solution? Train digitally savvy reps. Fierce Pharma. Updated January 10, 2022. Accessed October 13, 2022, https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/drive-to-digital-pharma-marketing-overwhelming-doctors-as-industry-must-train-up.
14. Missakian N. How can pharma avoid HCP ‘promo fatigue’? With synchronized campaigns and storytelling. Fierce Pharma. Updated February 16, 2022. Accessed October 14, 2022, https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/how-can-pharma-avoid-spamming-hcps-synchronized-campaigns-and-storytelling-marketing.
15. Missakian N. Don’t spam us, healthcare professionals plea, as they seek quality over quantity from pharma marketers. Fierce Pharma. Updated January 4, 2022. Accessed October 15, 2022, https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/hcps-want-less-clutter-more-relevance-from-pharma-marketers-survey-shows.
16. Heinold M. What Prescribers Really Want. PM360. Updated February 9, 2015. Accessed December 12, 2022, https://www.pm360online.com/what-prescribers-really-want/.
17. Pharma Companies Have Improved How They Engage with Healthcare Providers During COVID-19, Finds New Research from Accenture. Accenture. Updated August 10, 2020. Accessed December 12, 2022, https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/pharma-companies-have-improved-how-they-engage-with-healthcare-providers-during-covid-19-finds-new-research-from-accenture.htm.
* Veradigm Digital Health Media services operate in a manner that is compliance with HIPAA and other applicable laws. In addition, the EHR displays advertisements in an iframe window adjacent to the EHR workflow that is separate and distinguishable from the clinical and practice management workflow within the EHR. No biopharma or device advertisements appear during the prescribing workflow.