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We often say to clients that reaching physicians and other health care providers is “different”. Their time is more limited, they are less likely to engage with traditional ads, and they are more scrupulous about where they get their information and who they trust. And while this remains true today, technology, media, and healthcare have dramatically shifted in recent years, pushing marketers to invest differently across channels and tactics. The pandemic and recent social and demographic changes have intensified these changes. The latest MM&M eBook, Engaging the HCP, provided several salient insights for engaging nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), and both general practitioners and specialists (MDs) with an overhauled playbook.

Here are some observations and takeaways from our experts to help make even more connections with this audience in 2021.

  1. 1. Be Credible and Trustworthy

HCPs are pressured to enhance the quality of patient care. They need content from a trusted source, rooted in science, that is as convenient as it is credible. A Q4 2019 study from Elsevier revealed that in the U.S., South America, Europe, and APAC, HCPs find the most useful sources in guidelines, clinical trials, medical congresses, journals, and books. In fact, in a related study from PM360, target HCPs had the lowest engagement with traditional—albeit high-quality—video. Instead, HCPs engaged the most with clinical data and prescribing information. In many ways, this desire for data-driven content isn’t new, but the rapid pace of today’s media landscape has forced HCPs to dig in deeper to sources they know they can trust. They don’t have time to sort through the noise, they need to get relevant and clinical information they need when they need it.

In fact, in a related study from PM360, target HCPs had the lowest engagement with traditional—albeit high-quality—video. Instead, HCPs engaged the most with clinical data and prescribing information.

In many ways, this desire for data-driven content isn’t new, but the rapid pace of today’s media landscape has forced HCPs to dig in deeper to sources they know they can trust. They don’t have time to sort through the noise, they need to get relevant and clinical information they need when they need it.

  1. 2. Throw Out the Old Playbook

The booming diversity in young HCPs demands a new threshold of relevance. Marketers will need to walk the line between convenience and relevance. “Lots of my mail goes straight into the recycling bin. Anything that’s not evidence-based is inherently not credible," says Dr. Joanna Haight, a resident physician at California Pacific Medical Center. Content also needs to be delivered “at the speed of TikTok” to keep up with evolving methods of consumption.

From the MM&M eBook: “There’s certainly a playbook of very effective pharmaceutical and device marketing from decades ago, but the ecosystem has changed,” says Dr. Brian Powers, a physician in internal medicine at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts, as well as deputy chief medical officer at Humana. “The standard marketing playbook of quote-unquote understanding the needs of your customers — I don’t know if that still exists. A lot of physicians are developing antibodies around certain strategies and buzzwords...’”

As HCPs’ time continues to be stretched thinner and thinner, advertisers are still competing for much of the same space. Crowded media is in jeopardy of being ignored. One doctor observed: “I enjoy hearing about pharma stuff on podcasts. I usually don’t look at emails about medications, because I get too many of them.”

So how can these HCPs be reached at the moment that matters? Many are seeking out new content channels. That content needs to be designed for each channel and not repurposed from the old ecosystem. Across MDs, NPs, and PAs, more interest is shown for Q&A's, Virtual roundtables, playbooks, podcasts, etc, over traditional "Webinars" (On-Demand vs. Live Events), which are less intriguing. 93% of those surveyed by Elsevier cite the importance of bite-sized, easy-to-digest, short-form articles, and downloadable bits of data.

  1. 3. Meet Them at Their Expectations

Most HCPs expect to be marketed to; especially at relevant events. Professional society meetings are critical for interacting with sponsors. That's when physicians and HCPs make time for that kind of engagement. 81% of HCPs value live events, even virtual ones.

Many HCPs go into these events expecting to learn, expecting to have sponsors vying for their attention, and are most ready to engage. This includes NPs and PAs as their scope of practice and impact on the care team increases.

Additionally, while young docs are wary of how their personal information is being used, many seem to understand or assume that marketers already have access to their profiles. Transparency will be key to maintaining or establishing a trusted relationship. Young HCPs are savvy enough to know when they are being marketed to, but that doesn’t mean they are unwelcome to it.

  1. 4. Provide Value

Unlike other industries, HCPs are less willing to have a conversation with or engage with a brand or advertiser unless they know what they are getting out of it right away. This might be in the form of quick educational opportunities, free webinars, or even free food or gift cards. Regardless of the channel, the perceived value of the content needs to be apparent. “Free webinars are always looked at,” said one Nurse Practitioner in the MM&M eBook.

These quick moments of value can be essential for a brand’s perception. Branded website content is a “source of truth”: HCPs are increasingly relying on professional brand sites as a source of clinical and prescribing information, with PM360 finding that 46% of HCPs deemed these sites as a credible source of information in 2019, up from 27% in 2017.
 

At HDMZ, we’re constantly endeavoring to stay ahead of the curve in reaching these critical audiences in the ways that matter. Need support with your HCP marketing? Drop us a line!