More than virtual 

COVID-19 has, without doubt, caused a major upheaval in the way health care providers (HCP) deliver services. The massive acceleration toward remote visits and digital medicine means the models of the past are now very much in the rearview and as we move toward the “new normal”, much is being made about the patient-doctor dynamic.

However, one aspect of the transformation that is getting lost amidst the noise of this rapid change is the core nature of the relationship between HCPs and biopharma companies. In our most recent HCP survey, we worked to understand how HCP operations and needs have changed during COVID-19 – and which of these changes will have long-lasting implications for how HCPs interact with their patients and with pharma companies.

The good news: the transformation taking place may actually open doors previously closed for biopharma companies.

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The shift in relevance spurred by COVID-19

As the pandemic stretches on, pharma companies have realized that they need to do more than just communicate product information in order to be relevant to their customers. In fact, our survey showed that 82% of HCPs have seen pharma companies change what they communicate about, with many delivering more value through additional insight and support, such as education on remote support, digitized patient information, and guidance on how patients can retain access to care. But while new messages from pharma companies were shown to be welcome, HCPs are also receiving high volumes of digital content from some companies that is less relevant and missing the mark.

58% of HCPs agreed that at least one pharmaceutical company has ‘spammed’ them with digital content during COVID-19.

Key to this new kind of communication is that the information is being delivered thoughtfully. Pharma companies are starting to redefine their relevance in this landscape, and healthcare providers are seeing the value – and what was once smart approach to interacting with HCPs has quickly become necessary.

In order to find success, biopharma companies need to ensure that the information they are sharing is of higher value than what can be found through a simple Google search or on core digital tools like Epocrates.

A recent example of this was with a client communicating about a new drug for a disease that causes for a rare condition affecting a juvenile immunocompromised population. Amidst COVID-19, immunocompromised patients shouldn’t be seeing doctors in person unless there are specific protocols in place. Our client contacted every lab they could to ask what they were doing for such immunocompromised patients. Armed with that information, they provided it to their sales people who could then help the HCP find appropriate options for their patient as it related to their specific new offering.

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The majority of HCPs are now interacting with sales reps more than before COVID-19. However, they want sales reps to have a greater understanding of their needs and expectations.


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Doctors may have more time to consider new therapies - Making this an opportune time to introduce them to the market

43% of HCPs said that they are currently restricting who can enter the office for professional reasons – which often means no pharmaceutical reps – especially oncologists (46%) and immunologists (44%). Restrictions in access to healthcare facilities will continue for some time—perhaps even permanently.

While this may seem like a challenging obstacle, this new paradigm might actually prove to be a boon for the industry. 50% of GPs reported a decrease in the volume of patients they saw in their practice. That decrease in in-person visits is helping free up time that was previously occupied through administration and other business operations – leaving HCPs with more time to review and consider potential new therapies. In fact, the majority of HCPs are now interacting with sales reps more than before COVID-19. However, they want sales reps to have a greater understanding of their needs and expectations.

88% of HCPs want companies to continue to launch new products for conditions they treat, despite ongoing prevalence of COVID-19. If biopharma companies are able to capture the shift to at-home treatments and therapies while continuing to communicate about innovative products, they have an opportunity to capitalize on the changing face of healthcare.

To read the full report visit our site.

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The opinions, statements, and assessments in this report are solely those of the individual author(s) and do not constitute legal advice, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of Accenture, its subsidiaries, or affiliates.

This document is intended for general informational purposes only and does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances, and may not reflect the most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this presentation and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals.

Copyright © 2020 Accenture.

All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks.

Ray Pressburger

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Commercial, Sales and Marketing, Life Sciences

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