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Three Ways To Close The Preference Gaps Between HCPs And Pharma

3 Jan 2022

We all have our preferences for consuming content, whether for personal or professional reasons. These preferences are driven by the devices we use, our schedules, the user experience, and the channel or platform on which the content is delivered. Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) are no different! HCPs expect pharma organizations to understand their needs and deliver a superior experience that is built on personalization. It will not be a stretch to say that HCPs increasingly expect pharma companies to engage them through the content of their choice via channels they prefer and as per their convenience. In fact, 55% of HCPs are overwhelmed to a certain extent by the content that pharma companies share with them. Further, 70% of HCPs also feel that representatives (reps) do not completely understand their needs and expectations.1 These findings indicate that there is a gap between HCPs' preferences and their experiences while engaging pharma organizations.

Pharma organizations are looking at ways to refine their commercial models to meet the evolving needs of the HCPs and increase their share of engagement. While there are plenty of tools and technologies that have made a marketer's job relatively simpler when it comes to understanding the digital footprint of the HCPs, pharma organizations still face the gargantuan task of distilling these insights at a granular level to truly understand what drives the HCPs' behavior.

Moreover, with the new operating models, HCPs are placing greater emphasis on those engagements, which are adding value to them and helping them deliver better care to their patients.2 Therefore, delivering a great HCP experience requires not just pharma marketers or sales reps but also all stakeholders in pharma organizations to collectively push for making sustainable changes. Given the scale of changes that need to happen, it is often easy to get either overwhelmed or confused about where to start. Following are the 3 things that pharma organizations can consider as they plan toward delivering a great HCP engagement:

Operationalize patient-centric approaches: Pharma organizations should focus more on gathering actionable insights about patients and embedding these insights into the HCP engagement models. Pharma organizations can look at multiple channels – such as patient communities, social media, and digital health apps – to gather the voice of the customer beyond the conventional sources and build a good understanding of the patients and their expectations. A patient-centric approach to HCP engagement will help pharma organizations effectively design their omnichannel strategy, help HCPs drive better outcomes for their patients, and help HCPs to realize greater value from their customer engagement. Further, pharma organizations should also encourage greater decentralized decision-making. An operating model built on decentralized decision-making will help local teams to choose and customize the engagement strategy based on their needs and situation and allow greater flexibility to react to the market needs.

Capability reorganization to match changing consumer preferences: In the absence of leadership buy-in, change is always difficult to drive, takes longer, and costs more. Leading from the top-down, through education of key stakeholders about the change so that they can champion the cause and communicate the message to the rest of the organization, will assist in driving the changes across the organization effectively. As organizations move from a reactive to a proactive operating model to adapt to the changes brought in by the pandemic, integrating various systems and platforms, and bringing key stakeholders together will be critical to ensure that relevant information is available for decision-making. Talent and culture will play a critical role as organizations look at making sustainable changes. While getting talent from other industries that have undergone a similar transformation would be helpful, pharma organizations should also look at upskilling the available talent, which excels when it comes to domain knowledge, and should be comfortable navigating the existing system. Identifying internal talent who can act as a catalyst and play the role of change-maker will be instrumental in driving the changes.

Mindset shift to create a long-term value: This is also a great time for pharma organizations to re-assess their existing strategy and look at creating a long-term value for their customers. One of the critical ways to approach this is by shifting from a product selling to a therapy building mindset. The other is to build a data-driven culture. The pandemic has already challenged the traditional sales model to a great extent, and now is a good time for pharma organizations to move away from transactional KPIs and invest more toward segmenting the customers and mapping their digital and content affinities. Pharma organizations can take the bias away from actions and move toward an outcome-driven mindset. The mindset shift should be complemented with the right kind of investments in analytics, building a strong data foundation, and adopting agile ways of working. At the same time, pharma organizations need to set the right expectations when it comes to measuring the outcomes they aspire to drive for their customers and employees.

As pharma organizations innovate their commercial models, one of the pitfalls that they should avoid is to assume that they know everything about their customers. Preferences of HCPs vary by region, age, and therapy areas. Furthermore, these preferences are constantly evolving and increasingly being benchmarked to the engagement that HCPs experience in other areas such as retail, banking, and e-commerce. Pharma organizations can bridge some of the gaps and fulfill HCPs’ preferences through a well-planned capability rebuilding exercise, by leveraging the power of data and analytics, and by integrating feedback from HCPs, patients, and other stakeholders in the ecosystem. At the same time, pharma organizations should resist the urge to move back to traditional ways of working. By developing the right mindset and investing in change management strategies, pharma organizations can fight the urge to move back to old ways of working and focus on delivering a superior customer experience.

The thoughts in this blog have been derived from perspectives shared by members of the Digital Council from APAC. The Digital Council is a #FutureReadyHealthcare initiative, which serves as an independent platform for healthcare leaders to explore the topics of common interest and share personal stories and experiences with like-minded peers.


1. The Digitally Savvy HCP Survey, 2021

2. The Healthcare Customer Experience Playbook, 2021


Gurpinder Singh
Gurpinder Singh
Anant Puranik
Anant Puranik