In brief

In brief

  • Survey of 720 healthcare providers (HCPs) on their evolving needs due to COVID-19 and how pharmaceutical companies can best engage with them.
  • Participants identified themselves as one of the following healthcare disciplines: general practitioner, oncologist, immunologist or cardiologist.
  • Three key findings reveal an opportunity for pharma companies to gain time, trust and influence with HCPs and their patients.
  • Pharma companies should seize this opportunity to test bold new ways of thinking and working.


An evolution of engagement

When asked in 2020, healthcare providers (HCPs) told us that COVID-19 was driving lasting change in what they need and value and how they want to engage with pharmaceutical companies. They indicated that pharma companies had shown improvement in both relevance and the support services they provide.

A year later, HCPs said that while the improvements were sustained, they still feel that more can be done to better understand their needs and the needs of their patients.

With this survey, we sought to understand how healthcare provider needs and pharmaceutical companies' expectations have evolved since the pandemic began, and which changes will have long-lasting implications for the way HCPs engage with pharma going forward. Our research revealed three key findings:

1

Pharma companies need to do more to better understand and meet the expectations of HCPs due to COVID-19.

2

When pharma companies do more, they are recognized and rewarded by HCPs with more time and attention.

3

HCPs most value connections that blend the best of virtual and in-person, focused on the needs of their patients.

Pharma companies need to do more to better understand and meet the expectations of HCPs due to COVID-19.

We have seen that the notion ‘reinvention of relevance’ is starting to set in. In fact, almost 9 out of 10 of healthcare providers have seen pharma companies change what they communicate about beyond product information to be ‘truly helpful’.

However, truly helpful content can get lost in the clutter of communications they receive. While new messages from pharma companies were welcome, HCPs are also receiving high volumes of digital content that is less relevant and missing the mark.

Sixty-five percent of HCPs feel at least one pharma company has “spammed” them with digital content as the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved.

HCPs still believe pharmaceutical companies do not understand their changing needs and expectations for patient treatment due to COVID-19. This understanding gap is as pronounced today as a year ago with HCPs maintaining the impression that pharma companies are failing to understand the real impact of COVID-19 on them (56%) and their patients (60%, up 9 percent from 2020).



When pharma companies do more, they are recognized and rewarded by HCPs with more time and attention.

When asked how COVID-19 has influenced their day-to-day activities, HCPs told us they have more time available than before COVID-19.

75%

of HCPs have seen a decrease in patient numbers over the past year.

61%

have more capacity available than before COVID-19.

This has allowed HCPs the opportunity to take note of and recognize those pharma companies who provide more meaningful engagements. Almost 9 out of 10 of HCPs acknowledge that some companies offer better engagements, with 41% noting “significantly so”.

We also learned that HCPs are rewarding pharma companies that deliver positive interactions with more access and engagement opportunities.

Eighty-eight percent of HCPs would be twice as likely to meet with other companies/reps if their best relationship was replicated.

HCPs most value connections that blend the best of virtual and in-person, focused on the needs of their patients.

After you’ve captured a HCP's time and attention, the focus of the interaction remains clear: they most value content that helps them better serve their patients. Half of the “best content” HCPs recently received was either content they could easily pass to their patients for support or content helping them with the administration associated with treating their patients.

In terms of how they are engaged, all indications are that virtual meetings are here to stay. Similar to our first survey and despite the lifting of travel restrictions in many countries, there has been no significant return to in-person meetings.

Almost half of the HCPs surveyed (46%) told us they prefer a mix of in-person and virtual meetings after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

However, almost half of the HCPs surveyed (46%) told us they prefer a mix of in-person and virtual meetings after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Pharma companies must seize the opportunity to test bold new ways of thinking and working.

There is no single approach to success, pharmaceutical companies will need to continuously challenge what defines relevance across the healthcare provider landscape. Our research shows that the best interactions combine multiple facets of quality and relevance and vary by area of practice.

To get there, we suggest the following actions:

Continuously challenge what defines relevance

84% of HCPs believe the content they are receiving from pharma companies today is more relevant than before the COVID-19 crisis.

Don’t view the field force as a separate channel

44% of HCPs said discussions with pharma representatives are the most dominant factors shaping their treatment decisions.

Minimize the content clutter

41% of HCPs said they would be more willing to open emails and listen to messages from a company if their best interaction was replicated.

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Laura Dix

Managing Director – Life Sciences, United Kingdom


Suzy Jackson

Managing Director – Life Sciences


Ray Pressburger

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

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