News and Events

Defining the digital strategies and capabilities required to support HCP and patient engagement in a COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the traditional engagement practices between pharma and healthcare providers. Not surprisingly, this led to a decline in brand growth. CEO David Ormesher moderated a virtual panel co-hosted by MATTER that discussed the role digital will play in a post COVID-19 world. Below are the five key takeaways from the event.


Digital technologies and data science tools are playing an increasing role in enhancing patient and provider engagement and experience, especially in an era of pandemic-mandated social distancing. The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced changes in personal interactions up and down the healthcare chain, with disruptive effect on traditional sales and engagement practices between life sciences manufacturers and healthcare providers. Understanding and implementing robust non-personal and virtual selling capabilities has become a high priority for life sciences organizations. Here are five takeaways:

1. COVID-19 increased demand for digital support and services content to maintain HCP engagement

With COVID-19 presenting new and unprecedented challenges for HCPs, life sciences companies have responded quickly with digital resources and information to support the changing needs of their healthcare contacts. Companies that attempted to forge ahead with their promotional messaging were quickly branded as “tone deaf.” The priority became unbranded support content that could be disseminated to customers via email or other digital platforms, such as websites or Veeva Engage. Sales leadership encouraged their field sales force to focus on their customer relationships and provide what their doctors needed.

Although this is particularly important in response to COVID-19, a balance of branded promotion and unbranded content should become a central objective for non-personal promotion (NPP) strategy going forward.

2. Effective COVID-19 responses require strategic collaboration to build a dynamic omnichannel strategy for customer engagement.

Even prior to COVID-19, sales teams acknowledged a precipitous decline in physician access. With COVID-19, office access by sales reps became virtually non-existent. During this initial quarantine period, the need for a comprehensive non-personal promotion strategy quickly became obvious. Providing tight strategic and operational integration between virtual sales rep calls, rep-triggered emails and digital NPP tactics is essential. Meaningful HCP engagement will be based on a thoughtful series of digital and virtual tactics that build on each other. Workstreams between marketing and sales need consistent alignment on goals and timelines; all require company-wide commitment to omnichannel marketing.

3. Sustained investment in digital will require better metrics and KPIs to report on its business impact.

The widespread adoption and scaling of digital NPP by life sciences companies during COVID-19 was rapid. While many brand teams have reported a growth in email open and opt-in rates and website traffic as a result, senior management is now looking for metrics and KPIs that tie directly to sales–it is unclear if digital outreach successfully compensated for the suppression of sales rep activity.

A reporting platform that can tie campaign activities to script lift is the reality for some life science companies that have been investing in this area for several years. But for others who are newer to the game, the process starts with beginning to capture data on HCP and patient engagement. Over time and with the support of regression analysis, certain activities will take on specific weighted scores, and these can be used to make marketing investment decisions.

4. Digital resources that enable HCPs to “self-serve” have been brought to the frontlines of sales and service communications.

Practical promotional strategies, such as sampling, often require in-person sales representatives walking into physicians’ offices and stocking shelves. With COVID-19, physician offices began limiting the number of patients in waiting rooms to allow for social distancing, and physicians are still generally apprehensive about allowing representatives into the office and around their patients. This has resulted in the need to adopt more non-personal and streamlined sampling strategies for sales representatives and their customers. Online self-service HCP resource centers provide the opportunity for HCPs and office managers to order samples on their own.

5. COVID-19 should be seen as an opportunity to accelerate the broad adoption and integration of digital strategy by life sciences companies.

Most participants expect that even after a vaccine is readily available, business will not return to the pre-COVID norms. Telehealth adoption, limitations on rep access and growing HCP and patient expectations for more convenient digital resources will change the landscape for life science sales and marketing. Already, many companies are rethinking their budget priorities for 2021 with a greater investment in digital transformation. More and more, digital sophistication will become table stakes for competing in a world that expects online sophistication.

closerlook and MM&M Transform logo

Physically distant, socially connected: What COVID can teach us about rare disease patient engagement

How to create a meaningful and authentic digital experience for patients and caregivers that are likely to endure after the global pandemic subsides.

Read more
abstract art

Brand Stewards: Creating an omnichannel experience for HCPs and patients

CEO David Ormesher leads a PharmaVOICE 100 panel discussing the creation of content platforms to support patients and HCPs

Learn more
HCP looking at report

Restoring Growth

Since mid-March, biopharma marketers have scrambled to balance the need to protect their employees, especially their field sales force, while maintaining some semblance of relevant share of voice in the market.

Read more

Letʼs work together.