Great Expectations: The Shift to Data-Driven Physician Engagement Sets the Bar Higher for Commercial Teams
The physician engagement ante has officially been raised. After a year-and-a-half of pandemic-driven disruption, the industry has found a clear path through the chaos. Along the way, commercial teams have revolutionized the way they interact with providers and reset the conventional wisdom on relationship management.
The key to that transformation: data. When the world shut down in the spring of 2020, pulling commercial teams from the field at the very moment when the need for provider engagement was at its highest, many turned to real-world patient data as a solution to help fill that void in face-to-face interaction. While it was no longer possible to read body language or chat up the office staff to gain a little extra insight, it was possible to start analyzing patient data to spot nascent trends and new opportunities.
Personalization Changes the Game
In fact, commercial use of our Aperture and Iris solutions, which allows life sciences teams to track near-real-time engagement with the healthcare system to create representative patient cohorts and uncover valuable market insights, increased 44% over the course of 2020.
By digging into real-world patient journeys, commercial teams have been able to arm themselves with detailed data on provider populations and fine-tune their engagement strategies to target outreach to that provider at the optimal moment. That data could show anything from a patient experiencing a constellation of disparate symptoms that suggest a need for diagnostic testing to a consultation with a specialist or out-of-network provider to a change in prescription filling patterns.
Armed with this data on real-world patient experiences, commercial teams have been able to develop more personalized communications. They’ve done this by digging deeper to find red flags, anomalies, and patterns of behavior that creates a trigger event for a meaningful conversation with a provider.
Along the way, they’ve also started to shift provider expectations. As McKinsey wrote in their December 2020 paper, Ready for launch: Reshaping pharma’s strategy in the next normal: “The days of casual appointments and conversations in hallways are over. Whether an interaction is face to face or remote, it needs to be scheduled and an agenda shared in advance. A rep needs to have something new and compelling to discuss or risks that the meeting might never happen.”
Not All Data-Driven Strategies Are Created Equal
The shift to data-driven physician engagement has put the onus on Life Sciences commercial teams to tailor their messages more precisely than ever to the unique challenges of providers and their patients. That means fewer one-size-fits-all emails to join a group presentation and more micro-segmentation of markets based on treatment volumes, specific patient mix, and prescription patterns.
While several data providers have entered the market, eager to help commercial teams develop these patient-centric, highly personalized outreach strategies, not all datasets and analytics solutions were created equal.
In order for a data-driven physician outreach strategy to work, it needs to be informed by the collective history of the patient’s full spectrum of encounters and history of touch points with the healthcare system and capture near real-time information. Without those critical ingredients, commercial teams run the risk of missing the mark and actually doing more harm than good.
Common examples of this include flagging a potential treatment option for a patient who has already started a regimen on a competitor’s therapy, responding to a seemingly new diagnosis that is actually an old one triggered by a specialist or miscoded information that double-counts a single patient.
In any of these examples, commercial teams will approach their provider contacts with the illusion of quantifiable proof, only to find that they were following a false north reading.
With the advent of real-world, real-time data, we now have the tools to provide meaningful and timely insights to both providers and commercial teams. Patient-centric alerts connect the dots along a patient’s journey throughout the healthcare system and can signal key moments for intervention and support.
As commercial teams continue to refine their provider engagement strategies to include deeper data and more powerful analytics, it will be important that the tools they use are rigorous, timely and comprehensive enough to meet the constantly growing expectations of their target audience.
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