Imagine ordering a pepperoni pizza and getting one with a heavy pineapple topping. What would you call this feeling?

That’s what most HCPs feel about their customer experience from pharmaceutical companies - including the largest, most respected ones!

Multibillion-dollar pharma companies are still figuring out what almost every pizzeria has known for decades. It’s as simple as it gets, at least theoretically. Give your customers what they want - not what the companies want for them.

My chief motive for writing this article is to highlight the shift of marketing campaigns' focus to HCPs’ needs instead of marketers’ convenience.

Where Do We Stand Right Now?

The reason for deciding to write on this topic was only one. The current state of HPS’ satisfaction within pharma marketing.

To give you an idea of the current situation, let me refer to a survey titled ‘The State Of Customer Experience In The Global Pharmaceutical Industry, 2022: HCP Interactions’, conducted by DT Consulting.

The survey developed and measured a metric that they call Customer Experience Quotient® (CXQ®), designed to capture HCPs’ satisfaction with pharma companies’ interactions.

Based on over 6000 HCPs’ responses, the 2022 CXQ® came out at 59% which is not an encouraging score at all.

I can show even more pieces of similar evidence depicting HCPs’ dissatisfaction with pharma marketing interactions but I think I’ve already made the point. So let’s move on to actual solutions.

When it comes to engaging HCPs, the usual social media channels aren’t working. In fact, their performance ranked lowest as compared to non-digital or hybrid channels of marketing, like websites and virtual events. There are many reasons for this, comliance being a big one. But one can conclude that it is may not be wise to splurge on social media channels. Keeping a presence on the major channels would suffice.

How to effectively engage HCPs

Based on my experience working on challenging marketing projects in the pharma industry, I’m listing down the practical tips to capture HCPs' attention and engage them effectively.

Make HCPs the central point

It’s quite clear now that the pharma’s marketing functions need a change in mindset. Every single marketing activity needs to put the HCPs in the central focus.

To do it effectively, you’ll have to listen to them very intently and take note of their pain points and preferences.

This shift will automatically put you on the right side of your target audience. As a result, your marketing ROIs will start improving.

Take a hybrid approach to marketing

As we all know COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for shifting to digital mediums of marketing and interaction. At this time, virtual events increased in popularity, but now that face-to-face contacts are resuming, they are finding it difficult to remain relevant in the same way as they were before.

According to the DT Consulting survey I mentioned earlier, HCPs found videoconferencing with a medical rep to be the best customer experience. On the other side, HCPs are rating exclusively digital channels like websites and social media posts on the lower side.

Based on these facts, it is best to think of utilising both on- and offline- marketing mediums. A rightly balanced hybrid approach will increase the chances of getting the HCPs' attention.

Invest in reps' training for digital technologies

It’s good to be amazed by the potential of artificial intelligence and give it its due weight. But it’s not wise to stop focusing on the continuous development of your MSLs. In fact, it has become even more crucial because they will be interacting with cutting-edge technologies to deliver the required services.

While planning their development, also sensitise them about the overriding focus on HCPs’ preferences and keep them abreast of the latest engagement best practices. Give them access to live data and analytics so that they can pivot in real time for the best results.

This multi-pronged approach to reps’ development will ensure that your HCPs are in good hands and will keep on getting value from your company - resulting in higher engagement rates

Offer shareable insightful content

If you’re responsible for content creation, this is the silver bullet. Offer content that is insightful and HCPs can share it onwards with their patients.

[Source: The "new" rules of engagement, Accenture]

To make this possible, keep the following three points in mind:
a. The content needs to be relevant to the practice of the HCP you’re creating it for
b. It should be easy enough for their patients to understand
c. It should be made available to the HCPs in a way that makes it easy for them to share your material onwards

Interact only when they want

When HCPs are the prime focus of all your efforts, you also need to consider their convenience when it comes to the selection of interaction time.

A report by Future Ready Healthcare has made our lives easier on this front. They have conducted a preferences survey of over 900 HCPs from 8 countries. One of the questions asked about their preferred times of receiving information from pharma companies. Here is their response to this item:

[Source: The Digitally-Savvy HCP, Future Ready Healthcare]

Let me summarise this for your convenience:
a. Best time to reach them is on weekdays between 5 pm and 8 pm
b. The next best times are 11 am to 2 pm on weekdays and Mon. to Thurs. after 8 pm
c. Avoid contacting before 11 am and between 2 pm to 5 pm - all days


If you take away only one point from this article make it this: “Put your target audience (HCPs) at the core of all your marketing efforts - without any exception.”

Whenever you’ll try to make an exception, you’ll be putting your own preferences or convenience on top and that means your marketing messages are bound to fall on deaf ears.