Digital Solutions That Make Sense to Support Sales Team Initiatives

Contributed by:

Brandie Lifante, VP Engagement Strategy, Digital, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, a WPP Health & Wellness company

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Personal detailing by pharmaceutical sales representatives to physicians and other healthcare professionals has traditionally been the foremost effective way of brand marketing. Reportedly, pharmaceutical companies’ per capita spend on personal detailing visits exceeds direct-to-consumer marketing efforts, research, and development of new products.

The sales detail appointment typically consists of a visit where the benefits of the treatment will be discussed, resources may be introduced and shared, or safety concerns addressed. A conversation between a healthcare professional and a sales representative that transforms into a daedalian overlay of medically and scientifically specific information will be referred to a Medical Science Liaison (MSL). Seems straightforward — but in many instances, it isn’t that simple.

Since 2015 and the Affordable Care Act’s Open Payments provision, which restricted and required reporting of any type of gifts or tokens provided to healthcare professionals, many academic medical institutions and hospitals have instituted limitations on sales representative visits. They have become no-see facilities that hinder pharmaceutical companies’ ability to market their products.

When you additionally factor in budget cuts at pharmaceutical companies that in turn bring about reductions in sales force personnel, and having brands that have a limited number of sales representatives that just can’t effectively cover their regions or have had to exclude visits for segmented specialties, you have a need to supplement the sales force. To effectively continue providing education and marketing for your brand(s), additional customer relationship management is required, and the logical place to turn is technology and proven solutions that can effectively segment, target appropriate stakeholders, and deliver the right messaging at the right time, all while reducing costs and driving efficiency.

That may sound like a lot to ask for, but we are already there.

Technology to the Rescue

While many prescribers value the input and education offered by pharmaceutical company detail visits, the percentage of physicians who don’t participate has grown to 36.5% in 2016. Add to that the increasing number of physicians now employed by hospitals and health systems, and the total no-see/no-access rate is over 50%.

Physicians need to stay abreast of data, new treatments, and resources for their patients, and with many having little to no visits from knowledgeable representatives, they find resources through their own research and non-personal digital promotion. U.S. healthcare professionals are turning to technology to gain information that can help advance the quality of care for patients.

To that end, there has been an influx of prominent, forthright digital solutions, or e-solutions, that can address the necessity of prescribers to learn more about brands. We will review three solutions that pharmaceutical brands can use to drive awareness, and get medical education and resources out to physicians and healthcare professionals.

Electronic Health Record (EHR) Strategy & Marketing

EHRs were designed to standardize and optimize physician-patient interactions and accurately track a patient’s medical history. EHR implementation accelerated with the adoption of the Meaningful Use Standards for EHRs developed by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, whose mission statement includes improving quality and safety, reducing health disparities, as well as engagement by patients and caregivers, improvement of care coordination, and keeping patient health information secure and private.

The goals of Meaningful Use and EHR compliance are better clinical outcomes, increased transparency and efficiency, empowered patients, and improved overall population health outcomes. Today, more than 91% of physicians are using EHRs for associated patient care.

Physicians’ views of instituting EHRs into their workflow vary, which is not surprising given that there are over 500 different platforms available in the marketplace. In a poll published by Medscape1 in August 2016 — where they surveyed 15,285 U.S. physicians across 25 specialties — the most helpful EHR features according to US physicians are:

62% E-prescribing
57% Ability to locate patient records easily
49% Enabling other healthcare professionals to access or add to patient records and lab results
49% Drug/allergy checks
49% Incorporation of lab results
35% Providing clinical summaries to patients

However it’s interesting to note that The Physicians Foundation’s 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians Practice Patterns and Perspectives findings, which assessed “Ways in Which Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Have Affected the Practices of US Primary Care Physicians vs Specialists,” had a resounding number of physicians expressing that instituting EHRs has detracted from efficiency (51.7% primary care and 56.1% specialists) and from patient interaction (59.3% primary care and 60.2% specialists).

On the patient/consumer side, in a March 2017 Kantar study outlining the “Top 10 Digital Health Related Activities Conducted by US Consumers,” using a patient portal to access electronic health records was No. 6 overall in the total. This includes accessing their records on a desktop, laptop or tablet, and not through their smart phones (which did not rank in the top 10). It’s anticipated that patient awareness of portals an adoption will continue to grow and fuel greater efficiency and less dissatisfaction with healthcare professionals.

Taking a strategic approach to EHR marketing, pharmaceutical companies can deliver display messages, clinical messages and patient resources aligned with healthcare professional and patient data. EHR can amplify messages between sales visits, or provide messages to non-called-on medical professionals. It can be used to effectuate broad awareness or deliver focused, targeted messages through the development of intuitive business rules that enable relevant messaging within the workflow, as well as provide access and the ability to populate enrollment forms or deliver copay/coupon details.

The enhanced analytics associated with these platforms are based on real-time performance with activity tracked over time and cumulatively, which can be utilized to inform changes in campaigns or the content strategy of future campaign development.

EHR marketing is a proven solution where 72% of healthcare professions are using the ePrescribe module in their EHR as the primary way to write an Rx for a patient, and 78% are saying that they prefer that pharmaceutical/healthcare companies provide product information within EHRs.

Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Account Based Sales Development (ABSD)

Account Based Marketing isn’t a new concept — it’s sales and marketing that focuses on accounts that will drive the best results in conversions/sales. Modern programmatic ABM utilizes firmographic data and B2B segmentation to deliver at scale with much of the process automated, so that it covers hundreds, even thousands of accounts.

As with any other technology solution, for ABM to be successful, the strategy, goals, and objectives need to be established. A strategic ABM tactical plan will likely contain a combination of targeting new accounts as well as focusing on additional opportunities within existing accounts. It’s divergent to the typical marketing approach of casting a wide net (often referred to as “spray and pray”) by unleashing quick real-time insights that will identify key clinical institutions, hospitals and health systems that have a higher propensity for engagement opportunity, and then delivering relevant personalized content to those targets.

ABM is zero-waste marketing. You are creating a refined ecosystem of targeted messaging and activities that cause hand-raisers to seek you out and say they want to learn more about you, and can use the information gained to inform sales teams, or to nurture the contacts through CRM streams (channels like email, direct-mail, call centers, etc.). Using the rich data derived from ABM to inform sales and marketing provides a competitive differentiator. It truly revolutionizes B2B marketing.

ABM can certainly stand on its own as a worthy solution, but when you combine it with Account Based Sales Development insights, it becomes a treasure trove of data that is sure to enrich your tactical plan. Starting at the account level, deeper analysis transcends the firmographic data. ABSD is the scanning of the business web at terabytes of scale seeking topics relevant to your customers — looking at social and blog posts, media articles, quotes, direct and indirect signals, investments made, hiring needs, partners, competitors, customers and suppliers. This provides in-depth insights to enable better outreach, development and delivery of customized content.

With the ABM/SD combination, you have the power of individual profiles, data that reflects content preferences, and preferred media channels to inform CRM and/or the sales team efforts. By delivering personalized messages based on interests, you will be delivering a higher response rate.

Some of the biggest challenges companies state they face with using ABM are length of time for results and not knowing how to start. It’s important to use a company that has experience and a proven track record, like Demandbase, who has a keen focus on ABM and ABM/SD, and who can bring speed-to-market techniques, provide a real-time dashboard and monitoring of accounts, incorporating business rules and making appropriate adjustments as needed.

To reach physicians or other relevant stakeholders (including payers, pharmacy, C-suite) in the expanding “no-see” space, ABM/SD has been proven to engage customers with a hyper-targeted approach. It provides for access to prescribers not being seen by a sales force, and can also work to build an aligned communication channel for sales and marketing.

Connected Sales Tools and Management

Sales force management and customer relationship tools picked up momentum after the iPad launched in 2010. With the advent of portability, detail aids became interactive and data capture became mainstream. Calls could be logged, notes captured, and follow-up emails could be sent — all while being prior approved by medical/legal departments.

Sales representatives could more easily space out their call plans, and still have a robust plan for communicating with the healthcare professionals and keeping their brand(s) top of mind. While early adopters may have felt that these solutions added to their current workloads, these types of solutions became mainstream and have proved out to be the way to manage customer relations and expectations.

A good example of a niche-pharmaceutical and life-science industries platform is Veeva. When it launched in January 2012, the company had 95 customers, and today — just a little over five years later — they have acquired more than 500 customers. Today’s platforms have multiple solutions that expand beyond the detail interaction, including database management, clinical, regulatory, and medical solutions as well as consulting services. These products focus on customer success and innovative solutions that can drive results and efficiency.

Sales and Marketing Future

Sharing of data and insights is essential across sales and marketing, as are open communications and planning to help brands and companies grow. Creative solutions are continuously evolving and emerging, giving us a world full of opportunities to solve for problems that include enhancing field representation, bridging personal and non-personal promotion, and expanding upon non-personal promotion.
Marketing will continue to play a critical role in pharmaceutical and life-sciences companies’ innovation agenda, and aligning marketing and sales will become a foundational strategic function.(PV)

Editor’s Note:
1 More Physicians Saying ‘No Drug Reps Allowed’ – Medscape – Sep 13, 2016.

Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide — the health behavior specialists of Ogilvy & Mather and a WPP Health & Wellness company — is committed to creativity and effectiveness in healthcare communications, everywhere.
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