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Clark Health Communication’s top three tips for re-engaging with healthcare professionals in a COVID-19 world

We have all found ourselves in unprecedented times over the past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 and the societal changes this has brought have caused major upheavals across multiple industries and the pharmaceutical industry is no different. The ‘traditional’ way of engaging with healthcare professionals (HCPs) has been changing for some time and COVID-19 has acted as an accelerant for this. Here we identify some trends that are influencing the transformation of HCP engagement and how what first can appear as challenges for the pharmaceutical industry can actually be viewed as opportunities.

From promotional to educational content

Movement from the development of promotional content to scientific/educational content is not a new trend, but COVID-19 has accelerated it. HCPs are asking for a broader service from the pharmaceutical industry beyond product information. The industry has an opportunity to work with agencies to adopt an agile approach to provide timely accurate content which remains relevant in the rapidly changing COVID-19 environment. For example, we’ve been supporting HCPs to improve their virtual consultation skills, helping them to re-evaluate the role of physical examinations during diagnosis. The choice of the right channel at the right time to deliver content to HCPs will also be key as we move away from in-person engagement to more virtual methods. It is more important than ever for these decisions to be data and insight driven so that the content resonates with audiences from different disciplines/therapy areas and the desired objectives of the piece are met.

Collaboration and co-creation

Collaboration with stakeholders within the broader health environment, including healthcare providers, will be important in shaping the role that the pharmaceutical industry plays as partners during our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The different policies in place for different therapy areas, how delivery of care has changed and the specific issues that different groups of patients face directly or indirectly because of COVID-19 will all have an impact. Co-creation of content with patients will accelerate because of COVID-19, as companies attempt to develop materials relevant to their rapidly changing needs. This provides us with an opportunity to be leaders in the delivery of solutions applicable to the ‘new normal’ patients find themselves in.

Shifting from in-person to virtual meeting formats

As you might expect, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the move from traditional in-person meetings to virtual formats. In the future, a blend of digital and physical interactions at medical meetings is likely and live broadcasting of events will remain crucial where travel and time do not permit in-person attendance. When leveraging virtual formats, there will be an opportunity to engage with a larger number of HCPs and it will remain crucial to maintain participant engagement and peer-to-peer exchange, reflecting a trend of HCPs being more influenced by their peers rather than individual opinion leaders. Involving participants in the selection of agenda topics and making allowances for informal breakout discussions can be effective approaches for maintaining engagement when using virtual platforms. When using digital methods to deliver meetings there is a need to be wary of a ‘digital backlash’ where HCPs receive an overwhelming volume of virtual meeting invitations – a balance will need to be struck.

The quickly evolving COVID-19 environment poses significant challenges for the pharmaceutical industry. However, there is an opportunity for the industry to effectively re-engage with HCPs, collaborate with stakeholders to deliver patient centric solutions and embrace virtual meeting formats. Our ability to grab hold of these opportunities by adopting an agile approach will define the role industry will play in the COVID-19 recovery phase.

Want to find out more?

To discuss the trends highlighted within this blog and re-engagement with HCPs in a COVID-19 world contact us at [email protected]