How Pharma Marketers Can Better Engage Physicians About COVID-19 Vaccines

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Photo credit: Depositphotos

By Harshit Jain MD, Founder and CEO, Doceree

Developments around COVID-19 vaccines and the subsequent vaccination efforts across the globe are encouraging. Pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have done impeccable work in coming up with COVID-19 vaccines in a short time, but the challenge pharma marketers now face pertains to the limited access to physicians in the absence of in-person communications. While the Department of Health and Human Services plan to spend a reported $250 million to influence consumers to receive the vaccinations, physicians must not be overlooked for their prominent role to educate individuals. 

With nearly four in 10 Americans stating they would “probably” or “definitely” not get a vaccine, according to a study by Pew Research Center, pharma marketers must elevate engagement with physicians to spread information and ease any mistrust. Time is of the essence for physicians to understand the intricacies of the COVID-19 vaccines and to be able to share those learnings with patients.

Digital to fill the gap, but important is right strategy

At a time when physical visits to physicians are curtailed, digital can play a pivotal role in raising physicians’ awareness. Now that the pharma industry has embraced online communications during the COVID-19 pandemic out of necessity, it is important for brands to recognize that the approach to garner physicians’ attention on digital platforms fails when they are not practicing medicine, tending to patients or conducting medical research.

When will physicians be most receptive to COVID-19 vaccination messages? When they have an open mind throughout their workday to advance their knowledge about medical products, treatments and diseases. During this time, HCPs are finding pharma support services more helpful, according to an Accenture study that also revealed that 69% of HCPs view “digital patient education” from pharma brands more helpful now than before the COVID-19 crisis began. Endemic platforms enable brands to better engage physicians and achieve desired outcomes – simply put, the best engagement on digital comes when physicians are on professional websites.

Thus, in order to more effectively connect with physicians, pharma brands should be targeting medical journals, professional networking sites and other physician-only platforms. The effectiveness of the messaging delivered would rely on incorporating meaningful facts and vaccination materials in a non-coercive manner to gain the attention of physicians. 

Being contextual to take brands far in COVID awareness journey

Pharma marketers are challenged in the highly regulated industry to streamline programmatic initiatives within the space with COVID-19 vaccine content. To drive engagement with physicians in the digital realm, messaging ought to stay contextual to optimize campaigns with real-time metrics. Relevant platform-centric messaging while keeping the communication consistent across the channels would boost a COVID campaign’s capacity to gain attention.

Besides, monitoring real-time metrics to gain insights to adjust campaigns would help identify the opportune moments to target physicians and the messages that are elevating engagement figures. Such a strategy would embolden pharma marketers with critical information relating to messages that resonate most with their target audience.

Point of Care platforms to play decisive role 

Point of Care platforms, including telehealth platforms, must be used effectively for the rollout of marketing campaigns to raise awareness about the latest research and potential side effects of the vaccines. Point of Care is a prominent space in pharma marketing that presents the key moments to inform a physician – when they are with a patient. At this moment physicians are attentive to patients while e-Prescribing or interacting with them during the Electronic Health Record workflow. 

If pharma marketers are to advance engagement with physicians about the COVID-19 vaccinations, then trust and reputation of the brand must reduce any distrust in the vaccine in order to have physicians well-informed to support the guidance of whether their patients should receive the vaccination. While other physician-only platforms would support brands in elevating the awareness levels of physicians, Point of Care platforms would make all the difference in passing on the knowledge from physicians to patients. Relevant brand messaging around COVID-19 vaccine on Point of Care networks thus gains significance for top of mind recall just when physicians are interacting with patients via Point of Care platforms.

A strong digital presence is imperative for pharma brands to drive awareness about the vaccines, as the industry lagged behind in the respective market for digital marketing prior to the pandemic. The developments from COVID-19 forced the sector to quickly pivot away from in-person interactions to embrace the digital space. For educating physicians quickly and efficiently as COVID vaccinations are being given, digital can surely go a long way.

About the Author:

Harshit Jain MD is the Founder and CEO of Doceree, the first global network of physician-only platforms for programmatic marketing. With Doceree, Harshit is aiming to address the acute problem of rising cost of healthcare by bringing in efficiency and effectiveness in marketing to physicians by pharma brands on digital platforms with methodical use of data and creativity. Learn more about Doceree at: doceree.com.

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