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Social Selling and Team Collaboration for the Pharma Field Force

27 Sep 2019

The Changing Landscape of Physician Learning

Physicians have always been lifelong learners, keeping up with the modernization of healthcare. While some years back their trusted source of information was restricted to printed journals and local peers, today they use social media to stay up to date with medical information and interact with peers from the medical community. Social media has enabled doctors to keep up with the enormous amount of information that is available across the Internet, given each new journal or research article is discussed online by trusted peers across the world.

According to a study run by MedData Point, when 150 physicians from the United States were asked how active they were across social media channels, the results showed that the majority were active members of LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or Instagram.1 Going as far back as 2012, a survey of 485 physicians showed that 24.1% and 61% used social media daily and weekly, respectively; 57.5% 'perceived social media to be beneficial, engaging, and a good way to get current, high-quality information'; and 60% said it improved the quality of patient care they delivered.2

'The social media world is such an intense, immediately responsive place that you can have tremendous amounts of traffic pointing out the good and bad about an article itself technically, about the concepts that were put forward, and about potential flaws that were in a paper', said Dr. May, a cardiologist from Lewisville, Texas.3 American Medical News

Eric Topol, an American cardiologist, geneticist and digital medicine researcher, says on Twitter4:

Overcoming Social Noise

While social media can often overwhelm, with selected interactions and groups, it can be thoroughly beneficial to physicians. Social media is especially useful in detecting new trends (both local and global) that could then lead to deeper research.

While similar forums (mostly closed groups) have existed online for years, the openness of social media has advantages of scale, validation, accessibility, anonymity and the possibility of interactions between multiple stakeholder groups within the healthcare industry. It goes without saying that there is a large opportunity for pharma companies to provide accurate and insightful information directly to such groups, but the question has always remained: how can you do this compliantly and at scale?

Connecting with Millennial Physicians

DRG Digital reports from its 2017 survey of 2784 physicians in the United States, titled 'The Digital Native Doctor: How Millennial Physicians Are Engaging Online', that those under the age of 35 have their own unique ways of accessing medical information as well as interacting with pharma companies. While this cohort has become remarkably immune to sales reps' outreach, they welcome online information from pharma companies, especially high-quality videos that they then often share with peers.5

Empowering Sales

On the commercial side, while it has been a challenge to compliantly integrate social channels for field use, some life sciences-focused CRMs have started to integrate social media intelligence into their sales applications. For example, with access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Microsoft Dynamics customers have access to sales opportunities across 433 million users worldwide. Field teams can network with HCPs through their personal connections or directly message an HCP through premium LinkedIn account features, but in a compliant way. The social CRM module of Salesforce works for various business functions such as sales, marketing and customer service. It can be used to tailor advertising using unified customer data sourced from different functions.6

Making Life Sciences Field Forces Work Better Together

Collaboration between types of customer-facing teams on the pharma side has been inefficient so far. For example, sales, MSLs and KAMs should be collaborating. Typically, they have not because the sales leads need a so-called 'firewall' from information that the medical science liaisons have on hand about the same HCP. However, this firewall is just a backend configuration that could easily be set up, and these various groups can still interact within one session with the HCP without breaking any of the rules. The idea here isn't that a sales rep would be on the same call/meeting as an MSL – that's not allowed, but a digital passing of the baton is what is needed to meet all of the HCP needs seamlessly.

It is critical that the pharma industry rethinks the digital structuring of its field force within software tools like CRMs to retain access and continue to deliver added value to HCPs who are currently hard-pressed for time and reluctant to constantly meet with field teams. In addition, when considering the new complexities introduced by the Integrated Delivery Networks, the sophistication of the technology used to navigate these barriers plays a large role.7

Microsoft Teams is one such compliant and secure collaboration tool, part of the Microsoft enterprise Dynamics 365 suite, that helps healthcare practitioners connect with more information and a vast number of customer-facing team members such as sales, KAMs and MSLs more easily in one seamless session. Microsoft Teams provides a digital workspace, including chat functionality, meeting functionality, a repository for conference call files and other great modern tools. It breaks down silos between the biopharma field force and their operational groups and brings together business applications and real-time collaboration for HCP engagement in a secure environment, without switching back and forth between disparate systems or online portals like MedInfo.

Know more about how Omnipresence improves collaboration between field force teams and offers modern channels to communicate with HCPs.

Related Content: 7 Signs Your Life Sciences CRM Is Clouding Your Strategy


1 .   How Physicians Engage on LinkedIn. MedData Point. https://www.meddatagroup.com/wp-content/uploads/MDP_Physician_LinkedIn_Infographic.pdfAccessed July 22, 2019.

2 .   McGowan BS, Wasko M, Vartabedian BS, Miller RS, Freiherr DD, Abdolrasulnia M. Understanding the factors that influence the adoption and meaningful use of social media by physicians to share medical information. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23006336/Accessed July 22, 2019.

3 .   Doctors tell how they use social media as professional watercooler. Amednews.com. https://amednews.com/article/20121022/business/310229963/7/Accessed July 22, 2019

4 .   Eric Topol. Twitter. https://twitter.com/EricTopol/status/1147885195145572354July 7, 2019.

5 .   Meet the millennial physicians – young, mobile, and harder to reach. DRG perspectives.https://decisionresourcesgroup.com/blog/meet-the-millennial-physicians-young-mobile-and-harder-to-reach/Accessed July 22, 2019

6 .   Salesforce vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365: Who Has the Best CRM. SherWeb. https://www.sherweb.com/blog/dynamics-365/salesforce-vs-microsoft-dynamics-365-comparing-leaders/Accessed July 22, 2019

7 .   Stefano de Santis. ZS interview: why pharmaceutical companies are changing their sales force models in Spain – and throughout Europe. ZS. https://www.zs.com/publications/whitepapers/zs-interview-pharmaceutical-companies-changing-sales-force-modelsAccessed July 22, 2019.


Colleen Youngblood
Colleen Youngblood