HCP engagement has felt a tremendous impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, with almost a complete shutdown in early 2020 that is gradually abating. As field forces begin to reengage, they are challenged by how to leverage lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and combine them with already existing trends to modernize the HCP engagement model and engage safely and smartly.
Even prior to the pandemic, industry trends were laying the foundation for a new model of engagement. Limited access to complex therapies was propelling increased patient centricity and patient-focused messaging. New educational needs and more complex messages were driving multiple channels of education, and busy HCP schedules were increasing on-demand or after-hours engagements. These needs have been accelerated by COVID-19; the pandemic has compelled field forces to embrace new, primarily digital approaches. Some of these approaches have been highly effective, as both field teams and HCPs alike are becoming adept at utilizing new technologies to communicate, learn, and engage.
As sales teams begin to reengage, they are developing a clearer understanding of both the appropriate circumstances in which to utilize virtual engagement and when face-to-face meetings are more beneficial. HCPs and sales reps alike note that virtual engagement can be highly efficient and structured. Virtual interactions provide HCPs the flexibility to meet on-demand, after hours, or at a time that works best with their busy schedules. However, virtual engagement provides fewer opportunities for both formal and informal collaboration. These interactions often take place with a larger group, making it more difficult for individual HCPs to conduct personalized discussions, negotiate with sales reps, or ask the specific questions needed to maximize the benefit of these interactions*.
HCPs are also finding that content delivered virtually may be less memorable. It’s difficult to see and impossible to touch a product during a remote engagement. And although its delivery mechanism has changed over the past several months, the content being shared is typically the same. For example, content that may typically be verbally summarized by a sales rep may not be as consumable when translated in more detail into a slide or email.*
Ultimately, engagement will be a mix of both remote and in-person detailing, and it will become more important than ever before to get the mix right. This means that the right resource must deliver the right message through the right channel at the right time. It's also imperative to maintain communication with HCPs, regardless of the mode of delivery.
Every organization will face unique challenges and opportunities in terms of reengagement; there is no "one size fits all" approach. However, embracing a data-driven approach to engagement can help sales teams gain a better understanding of HCP needs and enhance their focus on opportunities. This is increasingly important as conditions can vary so widely at the territory, state, and county level, particularly with regards to COVID-19 impacts.
Balancing Safety and Opportunity
In any phase of engagement, safety will be the top priority for the field force. IQVIA Safe Entry helps boost customer engagement while ensuring field force safety in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. With weekly-refreshed KPIs based on real world data such as new COVID-19 cases, new-to-brand prescription trends, and telemedicine appointments, Safe Entry provides an instant snapshot of the right territories for in-person versus remote HCP engagement.
*Source: IQVIA Channel Dynamics Global Reference 2020