How Hybrid Engagement is Transforming Communication Between HCPs and Pharma
As specialty care undergoes a digital transformation to meet medical staff and patients’ changing needs and priorities, pharma organizations must transform their engagement strategies to meet this shift.
The initial excitement of digital communication channels during the height of COVID has started to wane as specialty care HCPs are inundated with digital contact and pharma companies struggle to create deeper, more effective relationships through Zoom. Still, it’s become clear that medicine has entered a digital-first age. It’s impossible to go back to in-person engagement before COVID.
To fill this gap, hybrid engagement is becoming increasingly popular to create deeper relationships with specialty care physicians while still meeting them where they are. Here is what you need to know about hybrid engagement and how pharma companies can use it to improve customer relationships.
Rise of a Digital-First Environment in Specialty Care
While the technology to support digital conversations has been around for decades, medicine’s conservative approach to technology has slowed its progress in the industry. However, COVID and the need for social distancing pushed aside many obstacles that kept medical professionals from adopting a digital-first environment. Doctors unfamiliar with technology were forced to push through their frustrations, such as dealing with IT server issues and disruptions, and adopting collaborative digital technology, like learning to hold virtual meetings.
Both specialty care HCPs and pharma companies were excited by the new possibilities of the digital environment. Healthcare providers could become efficient, and pharma companies looked toward lowering overhead. Even large pharma corporations restructured their businesses to account for the new shift to digital.
In-person meetings are becoming possible again, but no one is ready to leave the digital-first attitude behind. Instead, the medical and pharma industries have entered a new era of hybrid engagement that provides HCPs and sales reps the flexibility they need to be most effective. One recent survey found that 47% of all HCPs interacted in person with a pharma salesperson in the last year. However, 60% also anticipated continuing with remote meetings over the next 12 months.
Hybrid Engagement in a Post-COVID World
Personalization and hybrid interactions are critical to engagement in the new hybrid model. Each specialty provider has unique circumstances, patients, and needs and requires flexibility in their interactions. While a dermatologist might want digital communications, more conservative specialties like cardiology or oncology might still want to conduct more in-person meetings. While in-person meetings help build relationships, online conversations can help further engagement and fill gaps in communication.
Pharma organizations that can be flexible in their engagement will be more successful in fostering deeper relationships. They break from the one-size-fits-all approach to meet specialty care providers where they are.
Personalized communication is a key pillar and advantage in a hybrid environment. While HCPs still meet face-to-face with reps, they also want the option of a Zoom call. Since sales reps are not always available when providers have the time or need to learn more information, HCPs no longer have to wait to physically meet with a salesperson.
Successful hybrid models require a customer-first, “outside-in” focus. Pharma organizations must listen to the preferences of HCPs rather than the convenience of their stakeholders. Typically, focusing on the organization’s needs tends to result in a single formula for interactions, and companies lose the advantages of flexibility and personalization of the hybrid engagement model.
Focusing on the needs of specialty care providers means there will be a certain level of variability. Some physicians prefer in-person meetings and lean more heavily on them, while others seek more digital and virtual communication. Focusing on their needs requires companies to empower their reps to engage with however fits the customer best.
Using Data to Empower Reps and Improve Specialty Care CX
New technology often frightens employees because they worry that digital tools might replace them. However, data is becoming an increasingly critical tool to help reps provide the best possible customer experience (CX) for specialty care providers.
Data and digital solutions, such as a modern omnichannel CRM platform, empower rep communication and accelerate their results. For example, reps can connect with more stakeholders, which extends beyond engaging with HCPs alone. They can speak with nurses or patient advocates to get vital information and help build more relationships.
The right digital tools also free reps to concentrate on their job’s valuable aspects. Software that fills out forms and captures critical customer notes gives salespeople the time to speak with more physicians and close more deals instead of filling out endless paperwork. Any time spent away from potential customers impacts reps’ ability to build relationships. Data and valuable tools cut down on this wasted time and improve their results.
The rise in hybrid communications and data gives reps valuable tools to enhance their overall sales, not replace them.
Hybrid Engagement: Providing Specialty Care with Flexibility and Personalization
In-person engagements are not going anywhere anytime soon. They will always be necessary to build deeper relationships and provide valuable interactions. Grabbing a coffee or getting dinner with HCPs will have a better and more lasting impact that an hour-long Zoom call. However, providing flexible communication and the power of data through an omnichannel approach will make reps far more effective than in-person or digital engagement alone.
An effective hybrid strategy emphasizes the needs and desires of customers over organizational convenience. Pharma companies need to empower their sales teams with the freedom and tools to meet each HCP exactly where they are required.
The future of pharma sales in specialty care is a flexible and personalized approach, leading to a better experience for everyone: reps, HCPs, and, ultimately, patients.
Exeevo’s Omnipresence is a single digital ecosystem that provides critical support for commercial and medical customer relationship management (CRM). Harnessing the capabilities of Microsoft AI, our omnichannel CRM platform enhances CX interactions for life science organizations all along the customer journey across devices and applications.
 Jensen, K. 2022. Novartis details plans to lay off up to 8,000 amid sweeping restructuring. Biopharma Dive. Retrieved from https://www.biopharmadive.com/news/novartis-restructuring-layoffs-switzerland/626265/
 Arnold, M. 2022. Remote and in-person, sales reps continue to inform patient care, but physician needs vary. Clarivate. Retrieved from https://clarivate.com/blog/remote-and-in-person-sales-reps-continue-to-inform-patient-care-but-physician-needs-vary/