Our analytics team deployed a survey to SERMO users to gauge how HCPs think medical education will change over the next year. We received responses from HCPs across the globe representing different specialties. Survey results reaffirmed what many of us in medical marketing already knew—content is king, but you need to have it in the right place at the right time. The results reaffirmed that
- Channel placement matters
- Discussions led by key thought leaders drive physician engagement or interest to hear more
- HCP technology adoption is accelerating, with virtual meetings, virtual detailing, and other digital channels/approaches taking on a larger role in medical education consumption (for more information on this, read Avant Healthcare’s recent white paper here)
What Should Pharma Change?
The first question we asked was “What are the top three things you would change about how Pharma provides medical information on a new medication?” The two most-mentioned proposed changes were “More data/evidence-based information” and “More digital/virtual/online/self-directed tactics OR Less in-person.” What does this mean? For pharma brand leads, it means that content relevancy and improving engagement are the most crucial elements to medical education success. It means that as you look at your next phase of planning, you need to be finding new ways to conceive and deliver content to increase engagement. Respondents frequently mentioned “less buzzwords” as a desired change to pharma’s medical education approach, along with “more case studies.” We can see a pattern emerging here. HCPs say they are hungry for data/evidence and real-world case studies with less fluff, less “buzzwords.” Like I wrote earlier, content is king, but perhaps I should add that you need the right content at the right place at the right time.
Later in the survey, we asked respondents “What triggers your interest in getting information about a medication?” and “How interested would you be in engaging in the following activities to learn about a new medication?” The most popular answers were “Peer conversation” and “Dinner with peers” respectively. More so than advertisements or any other media, peer interactions are the main driver of HCP interest in learning about a new medication. We believe it is important to determine how to best deliver your content leveraging peer engagements.
The Importance of Thought Leaders
But not just any peer interactions will do. HCPs want to hear from thought leaders specifically, to not only learn about new medications, but to also learn new information about their respective disease state. We also asked HCPs “How likely are you to read online content about a disease state you treat?” and “Which of the following formats do you prefer for an online video containing scientifically correct info?” to which most respondents said they were “Extremely likely” to read the content of a “nationally known academic key opinion leader” and preferred “Panel discussions of nationally known academic key opinion leaders.” This survey confirms what everyone in healthcare marketing has known for years: thought leaders are crucial to brand success. However, it is interesting to note that local or system-wide sources of authority received high marks, with local thought leaders lagging only slightly behind national thought leaders in HCP preferences. This shows pharma has a unique opportunity to identify and partner with local thought leaders in implementing medical education.
Spending More Time on Medical Education
Finally, we asked HCPs, “When you are seeking information do you prefer to have information sent to you or do you prefer to search for the information yourself?” A little over half of HCPs said they preferred to have the information sent to them, while others said they preferred to search themselves. In our last question on the survey, we asked “How will the way you spend time on medical education change over the next 12 months? Will you dedicate more or less time?” and found that physicians believe they will spend more time on medical education due to COVID-19 and more time using self-directed/virtual/online tactics. We believe this is a shift that will survive long past the next 12 months.
What is a pharma brand lead to make of all of this? The survey results show that many of us in healthcare marketing have been on the right path—adopting virtual meetings, expanding virtual detailing, beefing up our multichannel approach to delivering medical education. But this survey also reinforces that we must continue to be innovative in our approach to medical education. We need to refrain from didactic, documentary-like medical education offerings and implement and engage the insight and authority of national and local thought leaders, while crafting medical education that is engaging and self-directed—putting HCPs in the driver’s seat of the medical education of the future.