MDOutlook's® Guide to HCP Engagement

Governed by Independent ThoughtLeaders

Healthcare providers, also known as HCPs, lend vastly to the success of new treatments from development through release. Pharmaceutical brands that have a comprehensive HCP engagement strategy are far more likely to achieve meaningful results.

What are HCPs?

HCPs are often described as “treaters”, such as clinicians, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs), that provide healthcare services, treatments and prescriptions to patients. HCPs support pharmaceutical companies in two primary ways:

  • They provide expertise that shape product development
  • They influence perception and adoption of new healthcare treatments

 When pharmaceutical companies build effective HCP engagement strategies, they are able to champion support for treatments from the very beginning stages of development through testing, marketing and launch. HCP engagement is an important part of the healthcare industry because clinicians influence the products that are ultimately prescribed to patients.

How Do HCPs Help Brands Succeed?

HCPs can be engaged at various stages of a treatment’s lifecycle to help companies achieve product and development goals. Here are a few ways HCPs help brands:

  • Advise on market demands and unmet needs
  • Lead clinical trials and guide treatment adaptations
  • Influence public opinion and other HCPs
  • Write articles on treatment research for respected journals 
  • Impact formularies and treatment algorithms 

 When companies leverage HCP engagement strategically, they build credibility and excitement for the products they’re developing. HCPs help pharma brands develop treatments that meet unmet needs, build more effective marketing strategies, and reach more patients. 

What Different Types of HCPs Are There?

When designing an HCP engagement strategy, understanding the different types of HCPs can help determine how, when and where to target and engage them at different stages in a treatment’s lifecycle.

For example, some HCPs have amassed a lot of credibility and influence in a particular disease state and can sway the opinions of their peers. These HCPs, known as ThoughtLeaders (TLs) or Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), are often heads of institutions, published authors of key pieces of research in respected journals, or social media influencers. Rising stars are TLs that are relatively new to the industry but have already made a splash, oftentimes because of their presence on social media or because they are actively involved in clinical trials or research. Identifying and engaging “Rising Stars” can help a brand achieve competitive advantage.

 In a similar manner, there may be local TLs that help companies expand their reach in a particular region or with specific institutions, or national and global TLs that have larger-scale influence and disease-state expertise. In all cases, TLs are able to sway public opinion and provide useful information to brands.

Another type of HCP that’s important to involve and engage with are high-writers, which are clinicians known for writing a high volume of prescriptions. These HCPs can have a direct effect on the success of a treatment because they are the gatekeepers of prescriptions. Companies that engage high-writers ahead of a product launch might find that they’re more likely to include the treatment in their prescribing decisions.

How to Find the Right HCPs

One of the best ways to obtain a competitive advantage is to start strategizing about HCP engagement as early as possible in a treatment’s lifecycle. It’s important to determine the HCPs that you want to reach and involve with your brand in advance. By doing this, you will be able to build a plan that engages HCPs and wins some over as brand advocates to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. 

  Here are some of the best ways to find HCPs:

  • Read respected research and journal articles in the disease area
  • Identify leading institutions and research the clinicians in charge 
  • Look through social media sites where TLs are active
  • Work with an HCP engagement platform (such as MDOutlook)

The Best Ways to Engage HCPs

Once a brand has mapped out the types of HCPs they need and the individuals they want to bring into the fold of research, development and marketing, it’s time for companies to begin the engagement process. 

HCP engagement can be a difficult process because clinicians are already very busy seeing patients, conducting their own research, making their own public posts/appearances and authoring their own journal articles. Companies that merely attempt to contact the clinicians on top 50 and 100 industry lists might not achieve the results they are seeking because successful HCP engagement often requires multiple digital and in-person touchpoints.  

By identifying and engaging ThoughtLeaders beyond the top 25 to 50 (say the top 200 to 400) pharmaceutical companies are more likely to find the exact HCPs they need. And by taking a more personalized approach when attempting to make contact, they’ll increase the likelihood that the HCPs they’re targeting will choose to engage with their particular brand.

Winning HCP Engagement Strategies

So, what are the most effective HCP engagement strategies? Pharma brands will have the highest chance of success if they’re meeting HCPs where they like to engage (increasingly online), at the times they’re most likely to respond, and providing value in exchange for their attention. 

One of the best HCP engagement strategies is peer-to-peer events, such as webinars, panel discussions, pharma dinners and other networking events where HCPs can hear from and network with KOLs they respect in particular disease areas.

 Brands can engage KOLs and Clinicians through a mix of virtual and in-person touchpoints. Perhaps they’re  engaging them early on to provide feedback about treatment development, or asking them to lead clinical trials and author reports. They might ask them to be figureheads on panels and in the media representing the brand. Other engagements can include serving as speakers or participating in peer-to-peer panels.

 In all cases, HCPs are far more likely to engage if they know they’re receiving value. In fact, studies have shown that clinicians are more likely to consider treatments in prescribing decisions when offered valuable exchanges, such as unique knowledge, prestige or peer-to-peer networking events with educational opportunities. 

Keep in mind that many clinicians are eager to get out and meet, network and learn from their peers after years of pandemic restrictions. However, virtual events also remain incredibly popular in a post-COVID world. 

When hosting content-rich events, consider that:

  • TL participation will attract HCPs who align with your product strategy
  • Providing high-value content will entice HCPs to engage
  • Networking provides marketing opportunities for your brand and value to HCPs

When HCPs are engaged effectively, companies gain the opportunity to learn more about their market and patients, seamlessly present treatment and clinical study data to an eager audience, and impact the prescribing decisions of HCPs in their disease area. 

The pharmaceutical companies with the greatest competitive edge are usually the ones that have compiled extensive data about their market, disease state and HCPs. Insights are the fuel that power the success of HCP engagement strategies. 

Leveraging an HCP Engagement Platform

Now that we’ve discussed the ways your company can find, target and engage HCPs, it’s ideal to identify the right HCP engagement platform.

HCP engagement platforms are software solutions that compile data on HCPs, facilitate meetings and engagements, and help brands track the success of their efforts. Robust HCP engagement software will also provide pharma brands with comprehensive insights about their market, disease state, clinicians and competition. 

In other words, these online platforms are an incredible ally to pharma brands in an increasingly digital world. In fact, a survey of more than 1500 clinicians in Europe showed that just 44% of HCPs were rep-accessible in 2016, compared with 80% in 2008, as newer generations of HCPs shifted their preferences to digital. 

HCP engagement platforms are helpful tools in an ever-changing market.

MDOutlook Delivers Winning Engagement Strategies

In a shifting landscape for HCP engagement, it’s imperative to have the right tools at your disposal. MDOutlook’s robust platform helps pharma brands identify and engage HCPs, and then track the success of campaigns.

MDOutlook’s Lumineer platform delivers up-to-the-minute insights about TLs and KOLs, while our Pulse Research tool provides pharma brands with relevant and constantly evolving market data. Our Activeer platform helps companies create engaging touchpoints, such as virtual pharma dinners and peer-led panels, while our Orienteer platform helps brand’s track the success of their campaigns and quickly assess market dynamics, such as competition.

 As more HCPs demand a hybrid approach to rep meetings, HCP engagement platforms such as MDOutlook offer pharma brands a way to reach the right clinicians at the right time in formats that are effective and valuable.

 Contact us today for a free consultation to discover all the ways that we can help you drive meaningful results throughout the stages of your product lifecycle.