Managing Director & Partner
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacted an enormous professional and personal toll on health care professionals (HCPs) and is changing the way they work. Some of these changes are likely to be permanent. For biopharma companies, this means interacting with HCPs very differently in the post-COVID-19 reality.
BCG recently conducted a survey of more than 1,300 MDs in seven countries: the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, and Japan. (See “About Our Survey.”)
In the first two weeks of May 2020, BCG surveyed more than 1,300 physicians from a variety of specialties, institution types, and regions in the US, Europe (Italy, France, Spain, and Germany), and Asia (China and Japan). The physicians surveyed work in 13 specialties and treat more than 30 diseases. (See the exhibit.)
Here are the headlines:
You can explore the most significant survey findings in the slideshow. We also discuss our conclusions and their implications for the biopharma industry below.
Implications for Biopharma Companies
Biopharma has historically relied on in-person customer engagement models for sales, account management, and medical education. While we recognize that our research reflects opinions at a single moment in time, we believe the results indicate that companies need to evolve these models in order to meet changing customer requirements with respect to both marketed products and new product launches.
Most biopharma companies need to radically accelerate virtual engagement with MDs, integrating online and offline journeys in preparation for less in-person engagement in the future. Digital and other technologies are key to enabling this, including the latest-generation virtual call technologies, webinars, and HCP support platforms.
Personalized customer engagement will become a key driver of success. Doctors are already overwhelmed, so leveraging analytics and data to understand the right content, right channel, and right timing of delivery will be critical to optimizing outreach and engagement. Understanding the topic, channel, and content preferences of physicians is critical. Using advanced analytics to determine when and how to push content into the field (not overwhelming reps, keeping it simple) will be new success factors. Companies that get this right will leapfrog competitors.
Rapidly generating digital-first content for personalized campaigns and managing the balance between global and local delivery will be important supporting capabilities. Over time, personalizing outreach and engagement may move biopharma companies away from the traditional annual brand planning cycle to a more agile marketing operating model that involves several targeted campaigns throughout the year with quick deployment and a test-and-learn approach.
Medical science liaison and key account management (KAM) techniques will likely become more important. MDs are craving more scientific information, and as call planning becomes increasingly adaptive (and health care practices and facilities potentially consolidate), the KAM role will be critical to support account-level sales strategies.
As the use of telemedicine for patient interaction continues, biopharma companies must think through updated patient journeys to ensure that they can help doctors support patients in the most effective ways and that the companies are part of the care-giving ecosystem in an environment characterized by many fewer personal interactions.
Companies must also think through alternatives to the traditional customer sales and service models, integrating inside sales teams and customer support hubs with the frontline sales function. They need to be more nimble and adaptive in call planning, monitoring customer restrictions on in-person visits and moving reps to where they can be most productive.
COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on the health care sector. The biopharma companies that are first to embrace the new reality have a substantial opportunity to accelerate their commercial performance.