The New Rules Of Doctor Engagement in the New Normal

Category : Pharma Marketing Author : Vikram Kotnis Date : 12 Jul 2020

The pharmaceutical industry is currently navigating through a challenging yet fascinating period. COVID-19 has swiftly changed the healthcare landscape around the world, influencing abrupt changes across the various functional domains within the industry.

2020, which could very well be the year of the coronavirus, has been witnessing drastic disruptions with enforced lockdowns, social distancing, new patient demands and healthcare systems put under extraordinary pressures. The pandemic has worsened the pharma market in India and is expected to lead the country towards a major slowdown.

Challenges that have arised

  • Doctors not ready to meet MRs
  • No physical events possible
  • Virtual events doesn't give FaceTime with doctors

In this situation the only way to reach a doctor is digitally, the calls appointments etc everything has to be done virtually.

Question is without FaceTime how do I measure doctor engagement.

We can apply the same principles which have been the core of ABM with a growth marketing tools and analytics framework to successfully engage doctors.

Secondly think about innovative ways of aggregating doctors with digital portals assets etc where they can prove their thought leadership and interact with patients and do biz.

A unique takeaway rate like 'doctor engagement score' is created and measured by different interactions that a doctor does with digital assets, and people. E.g. if you are running a launch campaign, has a doctor opened your email, clicked on sms, viewed content, accepted an invite for virtual edetailing, picked up a call by medical representative, time spent on call, etc can be mapped as a unique journey for doctor and setup experiments to understand which create better doctor engagement score.

At a time like this, pharma companies are being forced to adopt innovative strategies to combat the slowdown and accelerate progress. We are seeing an increase in remote engagement with healthcare professionals (HCPs), driven by the pandemic.


  • Shifting Trends
  • Doctors on Digital
  • New Rules Of HCP Engagement
    1. Virtual Detailing Platform
    2. Holistic Telemedicine Platform
    3. Content Marketing Portal
    4. Hyper-personalized Omnichannel Mix
    5. Hybrid Sales Model
  • Reimagining HCP Engagement

Doctors on Digital

What are they searching for?

A high number of doctors prefer online media for knowledge acquisition. Digital platforms are the go-to place to read about the latest drug molecules and related information. A significant number of doctors rely on online sources to stay up-to-date with industry best practices and policy guidelines.

What are they searching for
What are they searching for

When are they online?

While it’s not surprising but the majority of doctors spend a maximum of 5 minutes online with a smaller percentage dedicating 10 minutes or more. The peak surf times include office check-in time in the morning (10 AM), after the morning rush of patients (2 PM), in the evening (6 PM) and before signing off at night (9 PM to 10 PM).

When are they online
When are they online

How do they consume content?

Mobiles and laptops, because of the convenience they offer, are rightly the preferred devices for HCP to access online media. Desktops also continue to be popular for some but the percentage of users are much lesser as compared to the mobiles & laptops.

When are they online
When are they online

New Rules Of HCP Engagement

The pre-COVID era saw pharma companies investing heavily in sales representatives and face-to-face interactions with HCPs. More recently, they have begun their shift towards digital marketing for doctors but campaigns are too often isolated from sales and other teams, creating a disjointed, siloed approach.

In our view, for companies to thrive in a world shaped by the global pandemic they should be able to bring together the disparate elements of their business – leadership, sales, marketing, IT and more – to create an effective, holistic omnichannel approach to doctor marketing.

The keys to engagement are changing and it’s time to adopt innovative tactics and strategies around HCP engagement.

Virtual Detailing Platform

Pharmaceutical companies have already started resorting to virtual detailing platforms which offer an interactive and real-time online meeting between sales reps and healthcare professionals. It helps in delivering brief and effective F2F e-detailing for busy doctors, reaching target groups quickly and effectively for reps, and overall is extremely cost-effective. It also offers remote meeting & webinar, approved emails and content-on-demand features.

Holistic Telemedicine Platform

An end-to-end telemedicine platform for doctors is where patients can search for them, book an appointment and schedule an e-meeting or consultation with them. Technologies that come integrated with telemedicine software like electronic medical records, AI diagnosis and medical streaming devices, can better assist providers in diagnosis and treatment. HCPs can also benefit from increased revenue through more patients, minimized health-related risks and convenient practice.

Content Marketing Portal

Content marketing is a natural fit for doctors because of their technical expertise and medical knowledge. Creating a portal, exclusively for doctors, with information about relevant medical news, clinical reference, education, the current market scenario, etc. would help create a community of engaged doctors. By sharing therapy-specific content, doctors would be able to share this information with peers or customers.

Hyper-personalized Omnichannel Mix

HCPs are already subjected to a lot of medical information, sometimes irrelevant ones, throughout the day. So pharma companies need to differentiate themselves by delivering personalized, evolving experiences consistent across channels. Omnichannel medical marketing for doctors centres around HCPs delivering the messages in the format they need, in the way that’s most convenient to them. By leveraging CRM data on HCPs, personalized videos can be created, thus increasing their engagement and the possibility of conversion.

Hybrid Sales Model

With the increased utilization of technology, sales reps can take on a more evolved role. Instead of being the single face of the company, reps can be just one of the many ways a pharma company communicates with a doctor. For the representatives of the future, this mix of new and enhanced capabilities will mean that the sales role becomes more valued. In this new model, a representative’s success will need to be measured by the positive impact on HCP perception.

Reimagining HCP Engagement

The pandemic-induced shift to digital engagement channels is likely to stay even post-COVID. The changes we make now will have lasting value-chain behaviours. HCPs, as well as patients, will get used to the convenience that digital channels offer.

Pharma companies need the right technology and personalized content to fit these new channels. A cultural shift will be required, embracing integration between functions, as well as new metrics and agile ways of working that are constantly evolving to meet changing customer needs.

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time for a change - during this pandemic and also for the future of your business. We are India’s pioneering growth marketing agency that has helped numerous pharma brands achieve sustainable growth over the last ten years. Get in touch with us to experience the new normal of consumer & doctor marketing. Schedule a demo call now.

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Comments (40)

  Sylvia posted 14 days ago

I think additionally, pharma companies can hold webinars to further sensitize HCPs on the importance of shifting to a digital/online model. It could potentially improve the adoption rate of the technology.

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  Storm posted 14 days ago

From the data, it looks like more people engage online through their phones (53%). As such, digital migration should be geared more towards mobile devices.

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  Anderson posted 14 days ago

I really love the idea of a Holistic Telemedicine Platform. It holds a lot of convenience for patients and doctors alike.

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  Shantel posted 14 days ago

The pandemic has taught the pharma companies that they shouldn't invest too much in sales representatives. I can foresee a case where quite a few people may lose their jobs.

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  Louis posted 14 days ago

Doctors should be given more incentive to spend more time online. More time online means more data for the pharma companies which is always a good thing.

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  Teddy posted 14 days ago

Indeed, the internet remains a valuable resource for doctors to keep up with the latest trends and best practices. Any doctor who hasn't adopted it yet will be left behind.

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  Daphne posted 14 days ago

What I like about the shift to digital platforms is the ability of pharma companies to use the data to better their services. With online platforms it is easier to collect and analyze all the data from doctor-patient interactions.

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  Oliver posted 14 days ago

The online channels are cheaper for all stakeholders involved in healthcare. I am in total support of it.

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  Patricia posted 14 days ago

More people are now starting to have a positive attitude towards online channels of contacting their doctors. That to me is a step in the right direction.

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  Meg W posted 14 days ago

I hope the new rules adopted for engagement last even after the pandemic. The paradigm shift in the healthcare industry has been amazing.

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  Roy posted 14 days ago

The Covid pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. A lot of new marketing strategies have been enacted in light of it.

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  Trevor posted 18 days ago

The world wasn't ready for this. And the medical field obviously wasn't ready for this. Your article is profound. Will share on FB & linkedIn!

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  Danielle M posted 18 days ago

Very imformative article. Is always goodto know how are the things going to work in the future regarding medical services. It seems that COVID has changed many aspects from normality and many things including medical services are turning digital.

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  Erza posted 18 days ago

I hope this becomes widespread as we all need this now. Telemedecine can work but consultations needs adjustment. Now that interaction is very limited.

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  Saanvi Parmar posted 18 days ago

This is the finest way of keeping up with the doctor in difficult times. Thanks for sharing this vital information.

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  Akinleye posted 18 days ago

This is a reasonable and lifeguarding post for positive results. Thanks for sharing this post.

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  Akinleye posted 19 days ago

This is a reasonable and lifeguarding post for positive results.

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  Vivek Rastogi posted 19 days ago

Some of the best methods for keeping up with the doctor during these difficult times.Thanks for sharing. One problem that I have encountered that the HCPs are not ready to take this up, the platform(virtual detailing/telemedicine) stickiness gets degraded after a certain time. Can you propose any solution to keep the HCP hooked to the platform and keep the engagement up ?

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  Niharika Jhanar posted 19 days ago

Very insightful article. With time being one of the major barrier in doctor engagement, digital marketing has shown us the way to create automated touchpoints

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  Ashmita posted 19 days ago

Worth reading the article! In this pandemic, where social distancing is the demand of time what innovative ways one should implement to improve HCPs engagement score?

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  Mico posted 19 days ago

This is the future but I do not know how we do this? Particularly for serious conditions. No online thing is gonna fix that. It will happen just not now.

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  AJ posted 19 days ago

With the hospitals not an ideal place to go see a doctor face to face at the moment, these are real game changers. Lives are really affected during the pandemic, and we need to be able to cope with these changes and survive.

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  Amrita posted 20 days ago

You have spoke about how HCPs can use digital media in the present situation? Can you explain how can healthcare system learn and be better prepared to react to acute changes and evolving needs in medical care?

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  Raymond posted 20 days ago

Will I say it is challenging time not only for the doctors even patients too since most things are virtually done.

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  Mary Tatung posted 20 days ago

Various pharma firms require the appropriate technology content to suit the new channels. Ther is the need for a cultural shift.

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  Oyeyipo Oladele posted 20 days ago

The world is gonna be one soon with this realistic blog. Thanks for this educative post.

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  Jiffy Rando posted 20 days ago

This is pretty much the New Normal wherever you go. I still prefer the face to face though. I guess it can return once a vaccine is available???Hopefully soon.

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  Prince posted 20 days ago

Thanks to digital platforms where doctors can prove their thought leadership and interact with patients and do biz. If not, what would have been our case; atimes I just thank God for what he has done.

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  Mira posted 20 days ago

Nice article and very timely. I will surely tell this to my family and friends.

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  Athena posted 20 days ago

I will definitely share this post.

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  Kei posted 20 days ago

I salute to our brave doctors. They are doing everything even risking their lives.

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  Angelo posted 20 days ago

Everyone should know about this. We should still be safe in the new normal.

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  Mariz Tina Mispeñas posted 20 days ago

As this is the new normal, it is right only that doctor's and MR's practice no physical contact with each other. So now engaging in digital world also lessen the possibilities of acquiring any diseases.

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  conrad pranze villas posted 20 days ago

People are getting used to our new normal. We now know that doctors and health professionals are one of the most essential workers. We need to give them a priority, without them we are done.

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  Wilson Jake posted 20 days ago

Thank God to telemedicine and likes, else what would have been the case. But my concern is still physical appearance can't be overlooked in some cases; like physical examination. How is this gonna work??

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  Maury Cheskes posted 20 days ago

Looks like Amura is paving the way for pharma brands and healthcare professionals. They obviously can offer elite services for remote technology and virtual platforms with a very high focus for doctors and patients. Thanks for the informative read.

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  K Murthy posted 21 days ago

"Doctor engagement score" sounds a pretty useful metric to measure the doctors performance. The virtual e-detailing sounds more interesting would like to read more about it...

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  Rashmi posted 22 days ago

A very detailed explained blog. Thanks for sharing! Just one query, can doctor engagement be increased using social media? If Yes, which platforms do you prefer?

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  Bhupendra posted 22 days ago

Like the HCP Engagement rules. Can you please share some basic strategy for digital marketing as I am looking for the best.

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  Nirav S. posted 23 days ago

Insightful guide. Thanks for sharing this complete guide about new rules of doctor engagement. I think we can also use marketing automation to increase doctor engagement.

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