In The Know: How digital tech is transforming physician engagement

Digital technology has transformed pharma’s communications with often difficult to engage physicians. But merely having a suite of digital channels is not enough.  

Accessible, intelligent data-driven tools are needed now more than ever as physicians seek personalised content delivered how and when they want. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)-based solutions, allied to advanced technology such as voice controlled assistants, chatbots and virtual reality, are opening up exciting new channels with applications across pharma’s business.  

To understand how advanced digital technology is driving change in how industry engages with physicians, FirstWord researchers recently conducted in-depth interviews with leading experts from companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen, Roche and Daiichi Sankyo. Findings of this research, published in the report Trends in Digital Physician Engagement, shed light on the key trends and opportunities for pharma to use technology to build stronger more valuable relationships with doctors. Key takeaways include...

Medical affairs are gaining momentum

Often described as pharma's ‘pillar of communication’ with physicians, medical affairs are seen to be more transparent and trustworthy when compared to sales reps. Due to their scientific and technical expertise, rather than commercial interest, medical affairs teams are tending to grow stronger, sustainable relationships with healthcare professionals (HCPs).

As a result, medical affairs have become physicians’ preferred contact point with pharma. This has led to an expansion in content-based engagement rather than channel-based engagement, as physicians tend to be more concerned about the reliability of the information than the channel through which it is delivered. 


Pharma R&D turn to virtual remedies

R&D is increasingly using digital tools for clinical trials and engagement with physician advisory boards. Recruiting and retaining participants has remained one of the biggest challenges of clinical trials, but the use of technology and virtual trials is making it easier for physicians to assist with the process. 

For engagement with physician advisory boards, pharma R&D is utilising virtual ad boards and video conferencing tools in efforts to provide more interactive and in-depth communication with physicians. 


There will be an increase in AI and machine learning

Voice-controlled assistants, AI, podcasts, augmented reality and virtual reality are untapped opportunities for digital physician engagement. Given that these platforms provide daily touchpoints within a physician’s routine, the findings reflect that some of these advanced technologies are being experimented with, but they are yet to be fully optimised by pharma for physician engagement purposes, leaving much to be explored.


A unified transformation is key 

In order to successfully transition, experts express the need for a company-wide adoption of a digital first mindset, which starts at the top and permeates throughout the company. Culture, infrastructure and organisational change are necessary transformations driving innovative physician digital engagement. 

For more information on next-level opportunities for developing physician relationships across pharma’s business, check out the full Trends in Digital Physician Engagement report.


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