Multi-channel product launch in the pharmaceutical industry
HCPs reality is increasingly digital  and busy . However, HCPs do not feel that this reality is understood by healthcare companies and reflected in the Customer Experience provided.
Broadly speaking, HCPs increasingly prefer on-demand, real-time, snackable and personalized communication. This leaves a significantly smaller role for the traditional modes of interaction such as scheduled face-to-face interactions, formal commitments for engagement and longform content.
In the below, please find an approach to define a product launch omnichannel strategy comprising the following steps:
- Insights driven decisions
- Mapping the HCP decision journey
- Channel strategy & customer flows
- Targeting HCPs in the digital ecosystem
- Planning for success
- Leveraging experiences in product launch
Insights. Choosing between infinite digital opportunities
So, we have all accepted that marketing to HCPs has fundamentally changed. But what is the process to determine what to do and what NOT to do to close the gap between the demand of HCPs and what is provided by a given Biotech, Pharmaceutical and Device company through multi-channel communication and marketing?
Informed decisions require deep founded understanding of customers and context. Thus, the process of selection between digital opportunities starts with gathering outside-in insights. Insights about HCPs needs,opinions, beliefs, and preferences and specifically about their digital life and the ramifications of an unsustainable workload . And insights connected to the Competitive (commercial and non-commercial) context in digital and beyond, to provide an understanding of the context within which the Launch Brand is to operate.
Mapping the HCP decision journey –2 perspectives
On the back of insights, the HCP decision journey can be defined from 2 perspectives:
First. the value proposition from the viewpoint of the HCP: which Tasks related to the professional life of the HCP will the medicine and associated services help complete or eradicate? What are the associated Pains (e.g., patients not adhering to the current treatment regimen) which are currently in the way of completing a given Task, and what are the Gains which motivate the HCP to complete a given Task (e.g., reduction of # of visits by patients)?
Second, the journey from the viewpoint of the Healthcare company as derived from the marketing objectives of the launch. The objectives describe how the Healthcare company wants the stakeholder to think, act and feel differently as compared to the current point in time, ultimately for the HCP to choose to adopt and prescribe the drug.
The customer journey from the viewpoint of the HCP and from the commercial player: the Healthcare company launching a product into the market.
The term Behaviors to Change refers to the gap between the current behaviors and attitudes and the ideal behaviors seen from the healthcare company’s perspective. The barriers represent those challenges are in the way of the desired Behaviors to Change. The topics represent the messages and arguments that are required to funnel through the barriers to ascertain the Behaviors to Change. This forms the basis of the Content Strategy.
Typical main activities and concepts before, during and after launch.
Channel strategy & customer flows
Which channels should we leverage during launch; at which stage of the HCP decision journey; with what topic(s) and format(s)? The question begs an analysis of the channel preferences of different types of Healthcare Professionals, the Influence and Reach of different channels, and scrutiny of how different digital channels such as Display (Awareness stage) and Search (Decision stage) have varied relevance across the HCP Decision Journey.
Most healthcarecompanies conduct an analysis of the Reach & Influence of each channel aspart of defining the Multichannel Strategy along the lines of the above (Mockdata only)
Whereas such analysis is relevant, it is of critical importance to home in on compound effects of the touch points and how they are behaviorally linked for the HCPs. HCPs do not choose a preferred channel and use such in isolation. Like the rest of us, proverbially, HCP do not go online, they live online, and move seamlessly across the full digital ecosystem and beyond. As an example, even though research shows that HCPs are not heavily influenced by text messaging, at the end of several touches across channels, an SMS can be the trigger for a prescription, a request for a sales rep visit or another high value conversion. In other words, the specific context and timing becomes more important than the general potential influence and reach of a channel.
Therefore, the key challenge in an MCM strategy is the integration between the channels in Customer Flows.
A customer flow shows how the various channels work together to create the best possible and impactful Customer Experience.
Which flows and supporting touch points become a part of the omnichannel launch strategy need to be prioritized. At a minimum 3 criteria should form the basis of evaluation:
1. Strategic fit: the extent to which they support the underlying strategic imperatives of the launch
2. Value fit: the extent which they are in demand by the HCPs
3. Feasibility: the effort related to ensuring Compliance and implementing the solution, including tech infrastructure, content, and localization for affiliates
Targeting HCPs in the digital ecosystem
Healthcare companies have not — by and large — collected sufficient digital permissions for a given target audience to power a launch singularly. Thus, launches require a comprehensive third-party digital media strategy for traffic driving.
The targeting options on digital media are varied. They need to be matched with the variables of the HCP audience description — typically manifested in omnichannel personas. This allows the audience qualification which should form an integral part of the Launch Digital Media Strategy. Examples of variables includes:
1. Context– e.g., the user is visiting a certain event website regarding a therapeutic area topic in case
2. Behavior (explicit) — e.g., the user searches on Google on a specific topic
3. Demographics — the user has registered with a given demographic data point such as “profession” or “specialty”
4. Interest– e.g., on registration or via polls, etc, the user has indicated a certain interest such “diagnostics for disease area X”.
5. Onsite self-selection — e.g., various creatives with different messages are placed in a broad, third-party HCP portal and by assessing responses HCPs are qualified into separate categories.
A tendency is for healthcare companies to focus the Digital Media Strategy on driving the HCPs into own websites, collect First Party Data and attempt to secure permissions and cement the relationships within the walled garden of the enterprise, rather than “rebuying” the audience again and again across the different phases of the launch. Read more here.
Planning for success
The sequencing of the chosen initiatives is defined to mirror the fundamental dynamics of the launch phasing. All plans are consolidated into an omnichannel strategy roadmap featuring the full, planned digital ecosystem.
In addition, Vertic’s distribution principles (HUM– SING — SHOUT) are applied to the ecosystem.
This indicates which tactics, across the activated channels, are leveraged for always-on presence (HUM), regular attention grabbers (SING), and high value and impact initiatives (SHOUT).
The principles are laid out on a suggested timeline and related to key milestones, such as launch dates and industry events.
The rhytmn of the execution of the omnichannel strategy
Leverage Vertic experience in product launch
Embedding your product launch into a reality where the bulk of the info seeking process and decisions are made online, requires building new processes, capabilities, and new ways of thinking. At Vertic, we call it earning Share of Life®. Vertic is the Digital Agency of Record with several Fortune 500 Healthcare companies and behind the omnichannel strategy and execution of more than 10 healthcare product launches in the last year. Thus, Vertic has the capabilities and experience to deliver across the Why, What and How of delivering digital as a center piece in a product launch at a pharmaceutical, biotech or device company.
 Changing Expectations of Pharma AreHere to Stay, BCG 2021
 Global Physician Specialty Survey2021, Medscape
 The Digitally-Savvy HCP, Indegene,2021 Doctors’
 COVID-19: Impact on HCPs Behavior | Accenture
 The gaps between HCP demand andpharma supply …”, EPG Health
 Bryter, Digital Marketing toPhysicians, 2020,
 GP views on strategies to cope with increasing workload: aqualitative interview study, nih.gov