Research predicts the post-COVID landscape for HCP engagement

IQVIA’s Liz Murray takes us through the company’s latest research into HCPs’ attitudes to pharma engagement, and asks how pharma sales forces can adapt for future changes.

This article appears in full in Deep Dive: Market Access 2021. Read a preview below:

Recent ChannelDynamics data from IQVIA shows that while there has been a marked positive change in HCPs’ views of remote rep platforms over the past 12 months, there has not actually been much change in their views of face-to-face engagement, and there has only been a small positive change for telephone, email and automated online detailing.

“Physicians are not saying that their views of in-person interactions have gone backwards,” says Liz Murray, global lead, HCP Engagement Centre of Excellence, Contract Sales & Medical Solutions, at IQVIA. “That’s a really interesting point to keep in mind.”

Murray also notes that HCPs’ attitudes to engagement have varied wildly between different countries both before and during the pandemic.

“Countries like the UK saw a huge slowdown in HCP engagement over COVID, supplemented by remote engagement, and things haven’t really changed in the last 12 months,” she says. “Meanwhile, countries like Italy are now seeing a shift back towards face-to-face engagement – almost to pre-pandemic levels – while countries like Spain sit somewhere in-between.”

These statistics might go against conventional wisdom that digital dominance is here to stay, but Murray says that examples like Italy show that future strategies will not be a question of digital versus face-to-face.

Instead, companies will need to consider how those channels can be blended to fit different HCPs and environments.

“There will certainly be plenty of examples of standalone digital engagement, but we’re also going to see reps’ roles evolving into a more multichannel-orientated way of working.”

She says that this will ultimately mean reps are talking to HCPs in a “more connected way”.

“The tradition of reps just pushing key messages is probably not going to work anymore. HCPs want content with true added-value; they want it to be solution-focused and considerate of what they actually want and need.”

But not all companies are as far along this path as they could be.

“The pandemic has been the motivation missing for the past 15 years, forcing the industry to look at alternative ways of doing things, but the speed at which a company actually changes is dependent on how forward-thinking they were beforehand. For example, did they already have e-consents in place, or were they completely reliant on face-to-face and are now having to start from scratch?”

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