Medical affairs and medical communications teams at biopharma companies have traditionally relied on face-to-face interactions to engage key stakeholders. With physicians and other health care providers (HCPs) providing less time for in-person interactions and wanting more non-promotional scientific content, Medical Affairs and Communications teams must rethink their approach as the industry becomes more digitally driven and faces increased expectations for quality engagements.
For example, a McKinsey study reported that 81% of dermatologists were dissatisfied with their interactions with biopharma companies resulting from a lack of personalized content and compelling experiences (28%). Physicians need intuitive communication channels and seamless dissemination of scientific evidence (17%; Figure 1).
Figure 1. Personalized, relevant content and appropriate communications channels are priorities for physicians.
Interactive and tailored digital channels can deliver high-quality information and complex data-driven tools to biopharma clients on-demand, while providing advanced analytics to have more customer-centric engagements with a better understanding of the audience’s preferences. These channels are becoming critical to maximizing stakeholder access to key medical education and scientific evidence, debunking the traditional mindset that digital tools are a ‘nice-to-have’ addition! The captured analytics help medical communication teams to continuously refine their digital strategy and make real-time adjustments to content based on the HCP/patient insights. HCPs can then make evidence-based decisions because they feel more connected to medical affairs professionals who are perceived as credible and trustworthy.
In some cases, the path to digital transformation comes down to gathering business recommendations and making them actionable. Indegene commissioned a survey among 15 global Medical Affairs organizations that found that only 27% of them are satisfied with their companies approach and progress with digital plans, and 67% noted that their teams are planning to invest in digital capabilities (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Status of implementing digital capabilities at a global level. (source: indegene.com)
What value can Medical Affairs and Medical Communications teams bring to healthcare providers? How can they find a story that resonates with an expanding customer base that includes physicians, patients, policymakers, professional societies, and other stakeholders?
Real world data is becoming integrated with enhanced analytics platforms. Thus, there is a need for increased transparency regarding patient outcomes, drug safety profiles, and effective use. Medical affairs teams need to ensure that the right message is presented to the right audience and that highly impactful content is created, packaged to an expanding customer base, and designed to facilitate the user-friendly interactions. This messaging needs to be easily adapted and fine-tuned to support both commercial and scientific dialogues as needed.
The importance of an agile digital strategy
Having an agile digital strategy includes trying out new ideas and implementing a prototype version of the strategy, while continuously refining the approach based on customer insights. It may include implementing new ways for customers to view relevant medical educational content such as through interactive medical books, publications, e-posters, patient lay study summaries, and treatment pathways, combined with the use of big-data to guide clinical decision making at the point of care. Partnered with an agile strategy and a strong vision, the insights garnered can then help Medical Affairs and Communications professionals collaborate with other departments, influence R&D decisions, establish a competitive edge, and refine brand strategies.
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Evers, Matthias, et al. “Medical Affairs: Key Imperatives for Engaging and Educating Physicians in a Digital World.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 15 Sept. 2021, https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/life-sciences/our-insights/medical-affairs-key-imperatives-for-engaging-and-educating-physicians-in-a-digital-world.
Dwyer, Mary A., et al.” 73% of Medical Affairs Professionals are not satisfied with their companies digital progress.” PharmaVoice
Dwyer, Mary A., et al. “Only 27% of Medical Affairs professionals are satisfied with their company’s digital progress. Let’s change it!” Indegene, 29 July 2021.
Properzi, F., et al. “Building Digital Capabilities In Medical Affairs For A Post-COVID Multichannel Reality” DT Consulting, 31 December, 2021.
Furtner, D. et al., “Digital Transformation in Medical Affairs Sparked by the Pandemic: Insights and Learnings from COVID-19 Era and Beyond.” Pharmaceutical Medicine volume 36, pages1–10 (2022)