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Redefining HCP Engagement

A Blueprint for Omnichannel Excellence in the Pharmaceutical Industry
The case for evolving the commercial model within the pharmaceutical industry is undeniable. Despite compelling evidence supporting the shift, widespread adoption of innovative models is sporadic, and prompts us to explore the obstacles that are hindering more extensive applications.
In response, IQVIA and Indegene have united to offer this comprehensive resource aimed at demystifying the transition towards new HCP engagement strategies. Our partnership began as a way to shed light on the road ahead with solid, data-driven insights and actionable advice, thus building the confidence necessary to drive the broad-based acceptance and adoption of these trailblazing commercial models
Our goal is to provide the industry with broad and validated data and insights to build the body of evidence necessary to expedite the embrace of advanced HCP engagement models.
Shifts in market and customer dynamics
The traditional face-to-face (F2F) representative model is well-understood and provides a predictable foundation for interaction-based forecasting. However, we’ve recently seen a seismic shift. As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly propelled healthcare providers towards diverse communication channels, this significantly diminished the frequency of in-person interactions. This shift has exposed the limitations of the conventional F2F reach and frequency model, which no longer consistently achieves what it once did. In the wake of this change, HCPs are increasingly gravitating towards digital and virtual channels. Despite a continuing preference for face-to-face engagement — as evidenced by approximately 65% of HCPs in IQVIA’s extensive Channel Dynamics Preference Study1 — the necessity for a diversified omnichannel approach has accelerated with COVID-19’s reshaping of HCP interaction, and will have a lasting impact on individual HCP preferences for information.
The case for hybrid HCP interaction models
As we dissect the data of existing commercial models, Indegene’s analysis uncovered its own thoughtprovoking insights. Data reveals that, on average, sales representatives are only able to connect with and convey their message to top-tier HCPs less than 50% of the time annually2 — a striking figure when considering the effort and resources allocated to these interactions. This insight underscores the need for a more efficacious model, and integrated approaches are showing promise. In fact, ROI analyses on these hybrid models, which blend digital and traditional methods, suggest a significant uptick in effectiveness.
Moreover, a 2023 U.S. report by Indegene illustrates that a hybrid method in which sales reps engage HCPs via video calls has resulted in the highest levels of customer satisfaction. Yet, the pharmaceutical industry still leans heavily toward traditional face-to-face engagements — this sentiment was also captured in global customer experience surveys, where non-digital channels remain predominant, accounting for 45% of all interactions within the U.S.3 This preference shows an interesting contrast: while there is clear evidence that advocates for a modernized approach, there remains an industry standard that gravitates toward established face-to-face communications. The challenges and opportunities lie in balancing these preferences with the efficiencies and expanded reach that hybrid models offer.
Nearly four years post-pandemic, 50% of therapy areas are below 70% of their pre-pandemic face-toface call volume, despite face-to-face engagements being twice as effective in leading to an Rx being written than any other type of engagement.4
Of HCPs like virtual details, when focused on specific topics (i.e., efficacy)
Of HCPs feel peer to peer virtual discussion is the most favourable method
BrandImpact and IQVIA customer market research Q2 2023 (n=324) Transforming Customer Engagement Strategy into Executional Excellence September 2023
Trust the Process
It’s important to examine multiple factors when selecting a new HCP engagement model. Traditional engagement strategies were typically centered around a single mode of interaction—be it faceto-face, virtual representatives, or non-personal promotion (NPP). However, these channel-centric models no longer suffice in today’s dynamic healthcare environment. Vic Clavelli, Senior Pharma Commercialization Leader, emphasizes the historic strengths of traditional models: “The strength of the traditional rep-dominant sales model was the trust developed and earned through the information exchanged between clinical staffs and tenured representatives in service of patient care goals.” However, Clavelli also notes the challenges that have weakened these models: “A perfect storm of regulatory templatization, serial redeployment of sales colleagues, and corporatization of health systems conspired to weaken the effectiveness of the traditional sales model over the last decade.”
He further elaborates on the shifts challenging traditional engagements: “These factors conspired to weaken the trust and relevance of manufacturer efforts to integrate new medicines into the standard of care, in effect reducing commercial effectiveness before new channels were sufficiently mature to serve the communication needs of newly launched assets.”
To navigate this complexity and fully harness the potential of a data-rich environment, adopting advanced analytics and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) is critical. These technologies not only streamline and structure data but also act as an orchestration platform to align various engagement channels. This alignment facilitates the calculation of the Next Best Action (NBA), which offers predictive insights with actionable impact.
Clavelli asserts the value of innovative tools: “The true benefit of innovative tools lies in the ability to integrate human and technological insights within a multi-channel engagement process to inform a seamless, learning, customer-centric approach.” This approach is vital for rebuilding the trust necessary before novel clinical data can be absorbed and actioned into the clinical habits and practices of customers.
Models centered on the customer offer unprecedented flexibility and capability, applicable across different stages of product lifecycle management—from pre-launch activities to medical, commercial, clinical, and market access strategies. By embracing these innovative, trust-rebuilding strategies, modern healthcare engagement models find their strength and resilience.
The true benefit lies in the harmonization they bring to the multi-channel engagement process, offering a seamless, customer-centric experience.
Vic Clavelli
Senior Pharma Commercialization Leader
The data that powers new commercial models
In the past few years, the repositories of information that inform segmentation, targeting, and the development of commercial models have grown exponentially. Traditional datasets have been narrowly focused on prescribing potential and fall short for the needs of contemporary models.
New models should incorporate not only prescribing behavior, but also HCPs’ scientific interests, market access positions, and preferences for digital content, to name a few. This will provide a more detailed, actionable foundation for the latest commercial engagement frameworks.
However, the essence of this strategy is dependent upon the integrity and granularity of the data— specifically, the level of detail afforded by National Provider Identifier (NPI) level data, which is pivotal for actionable insights. With the increase in data availability, understanding the source is important is when making selections. While survey-derived data is becoming more accessible, it often lacks the predictive power of real-world data, particularly regarding affinity preferences that reflect actual HCP behavior, such as online engagements.
That’s why it’s important to collaborate with data providers who can deliver scalable, NPI-level actionable insights. It’s equally important to mandate that all campaign and media partners channel back performance metrics at the same level of granularity, whenever possible, to reinforce the data-driven decision-making that will serve as the foundation for your commercial strategy.
New commercial models: The omnichannel approach
While there is a lot of experimenting happening, a definitive structure for new models has not been universally established, even though key themes are emerging. Traditional models predominantly rooted in either F2F interactions or digital engagements make up the majority of interactions. Nonetheless, the integration of F2F, digital, and virtual channels into a deliberate omnichannel strategy is gradually gaining traction, but are not yet standard across the spheres of commercial, medical, and access engagements.
Omnichannel customer engagement models are effective for pre-launch, launch, maintenance and mature product lifecycles. The goal of omnichannel customer engagement models should be to find the optimal mix of channels, content, and cadence to drive customer behavior change. Any customer model that sets out to omit a specific channel, such as elimination of the sales reps, will compromise the model’s effectiveness by introducing bias.
At the core of omnichannel engagement is the commitment to placing the customer at the forefront, providing personalized, relevant interactions that are seamlessly integrated, ensuring that channels and content are synced in a way that resonates with HCPs. This strategy’s strength lies in its predictive capabilities, allowing for well-informed actions across all touchpoints—both personal and non-personal— thereby making a measurable impact on both sales and marketing outcomes.
Insights drawn from research spearheaded by Indegene reveal that the decisions to adopt commercial models are predominantly made at the brand and country levels—80% and 79% respectively2, as reported by respondents. This underscores the significance of tailored strategies that accommodate the unique needs of brands and markets, further emphasizing the potential of the omnichannel model’s adaptability to different organizational and geographical contexts.
Multiple factors should go into selecting a new customer engagement model. These factors can include:
Therapy Area (TA) dynamics
Every therapy area possesses distinct characteristics and should influence the engagement model’s design to ensure it aligns with the therapeutic needs.
Organizational culture
The prevailing culture within a company and its openness to change, adaptation, and innovation, will significantly impact the model’s integration and performance.
Treatment complexity
The complexity of a treatment regimen can guide the choice and implementation of a commercial model, as it affects how interactions are structured.
Market access
The access for a product/portfolio can vary by region and MSA/ DMA, which should be factored into the model to optimize reach in favorable regions while mitigating challenges in less accessible ones.
Profitability and revenue targets
Different commercial models may necessitate varying levels of time and investment, influencing the overall profitability and revenue objectives of a brand or portfolio.
Competitive landscape
The model must take into account the intensity of competition spend and market share of voice to maintain or enhance competitive edge.
Capability requirements
Newer commercial models may demand additional resources and skills, necessitating investment in people, processes, and systems.
Strategic partnerships
Commercial model success requires access to the right internal and external capabilities. Understand where you need to develop in-house capabilities, purchase solutions, or collaborate with partners.
Experience tells us that a key driver of effective models is defining clear metrics for success and aligning analytics and integrated data across sales, marketing, operations, and analytics teams.
A key success factor of any new commercial model is the ability to measure its adoption and efficacy accurately. Different metrics can be used to give early or leading indicators of success versus metrics that may take longer and are considered lagging indicators. It is important to assess both as particularly vital during the initial launch and the critical hypercare phase post-launch.
Leading indicators
Engagement Metrics
These vary depending on the channel but are crucial in measuring interaction levels and quality.
Performance vs. Benchmark
Compare current performance to historical benchmarks or set standards to quickly identify trends.
Insights/Data Generated
The quantity and quality of data and insights collected from the new model can indicate engagement and interest.
Operational Metrics
Include metrics such as delivery rates and bounce rates, which provide immediate feedback on operational efficiency.
Lagging indicators
Behavioral Changes
Prescription rates (Rx) can reflect the ultimate impact of the engagement model on HCP behavior.
Perception Metrics
Brand attributes and recognition, as well as the understanding of unmet needs, provide a longerterm view of the brand’s position and resonance in the market.

Incorporated insights

Throughout both IQVIA’s and Indegene’s experience in partnering with clients to implement new HCP engagement models, we have gained some valuable insights. Sharing these lessons is essential to avoid pitfalls and leverage collective experiences for future success.
Every organization has its own distinct strengths and capabilities while facing unique challenges in its customer base and market dynamics. Customized HCP engagement solutions are most effective when they are designed and optimized while taking these factors into consideration.
Despite the differences across organizations, certain recurring insights have appeared throughout:
Ensure that digital KPIs are translated into broader business KPIs to promote cross-functional alignment on business objectives.
Pilot programs take years to yield results for hybrid engagement models. Although they can generate valuable data and insights, it’s far more advantageous to focus on generating hypotheses for long-term testing to identify sustainable strategies. This way, it sets an expectation that people will work to make the model successful beyond the lifespan of a temporary pilot initiative.
Engagement models centered on customer needs, as opposed to specific channels (e.g., rep or digital) may demand more planning and coordination, but they are ultimately more successful than models limited to single-channel designs. The industry’s progression toward truly customer-centric models for HCP engagement is still in its infancy.
Get specific and avoid generalities. For example, “digital” is often used as a category. This is too general, and within digital there are some subchannels that are well established (such as email) as well as newer channels that are still being adopted and understood (such as newer social channels). Draw the distinction between newer/ unknown channels versus more well-established channels to really maximize impact and learnings.
Traditional internal structures and decision-making processes can impede the adoption of innovative models. Embracing omnichannel strategies requires novel operational methods and analytical tools designed to support a customer-oriented, rather than a function-oriented, approach. This involves realigning internal incentives with the collective aim of fulfilling customer objectives. Truly customercentered omnichannel models require new ways of working and new analytical methods (e.g., forecasting) that are not built to enable functional (e.g., internal sales or marketing) approaches, rather they are designed to support external (e.g., customer) focused approaches. Actively align internal incentives and objectives to support collaboration in achieving shared external customer goals.
The speed at which markets and customer needs evolve calls for an agile and iterative planning approach. Encouraging teams to embed a culture of learning and experimentation will ensure that strategies remain relevant and responsive. Technology is not the solution.
Ultimately, technology is a tool that can enable new commercial models but is not the only answer. True value emerges from the strategic application of technological tools to enhance customer experiences and refine commercial strategies, rather than relying on technology as the sole driver of transformation.

Best Practices for Developing an Omnichannel Strategy to Engage HCPs

A Guide to Enhancing Interactions Across Channels
1. Strategy and Alignment
Identify and connect with HCPs through their preferred channels.
Foster meaningful interactions that provide value to HCPs.
Encourage HCPs to take action through informed and personalized touchpoints.
Develop a cohesive strategy that involves all functional areas, ensuring unified goals and actions.
2. Data and Insights
Utilize detailed data to understand behaviors and preferences.
Enhance data sets with insights on digital engagement, content preferences, scientific interests, and market access considerations.
Group HCPs by shared characteristics to tailor engagement strategies effectively.
Integrate internal data with external insights to form a 360-degree view of the HCP.
3. Implementation and Engagement
Ensure that HCP segments have strategies that are implementable across all relevant channels.
Initiate with the best available data, and refine strategies as more data becomes available.
Use a mix of internally developed solutions, external partnerships, and hybrid approaches for optimal results.
4. Optimization and Learning
Incorporate methods such as A/B testing to learn and adapt the models continually.
Assess the performance of various channels, content types, and engagement frequencies to find the most effective strategies.
Adjust campaigns regularly to align with evolving dynamics of the market and organizational context.
5. Foundations for Success
Gain support from the C-suite as a “burning platform” for change.
Align business strategies with the execution plan.
Establish KPIs and metrics that accurately reflect value to stakeholders.
Ensure all teams are interconnected and work towards common goals.
Foster collaboration across teams and with partners.
Invest in digital capabilities and talent.
Set distinct targets for different channels and segments.
Adapt the operating model to stay agile and responsive.
Encourage a mindset that embraces change and innovation.
Glossary of terms
Omnichannel Marketing
A customer-centric marketing strategy that focuses on creating a unified and personalized experience. Channels are integrated to deliver a consistent customer experience by deploying relevant content for each customer across multiple channels and devices.
A marketing strategy that focuses on using many channels to increase engagement. Each channel is optimized for itself rather than being integrated across channels, and customer engagement and content are siloed.
Healthcare professionals
The integration of F2F+Digital+Virtual channels to provide maximize access to HCPs on the channels they prefer.
The coordination of F2F+Digital+Virtual engagements in an orchestrated and coordinated way. Data demonstrates that when F2F and digital engagements are synchronized within a 3-month window, there is a 23% improvement in ROI.
Virtual Rep
A rep (can be commercial, medical, clinical, access) that uses virtual tools to connect with HCPs. Virtual tools can include video and chat.
F2F Rep
A rep that is F2F and makes physical calls to HCPs. A F2F rep can also make virtual calls if empowered with the right tools.
Next-Best Action
Omnichannel decision engine that provides predictive suggestions for personal, virtual, and/or digital engagement with believable impact.

Insights to build #FutureReadyHealthcare