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What is a Clinician Engagement Strategy?

What is a Clinician Engagement Strategy
At the onset of a new life sciences treatment, advocacy from the right clinicians is critical for success. However, clinicians are not easily accessible. These professionals carry a lot of responsibilities, are pressed for time, and new treatments may struggle to garner
their attention. Building an effective clinician engagement strategy is a multifaceted process
that requires the right tools and forethought. Below is an in-depth explanation of what a
clinician engagement strategy is and steps to develop said strategy.

A Closer Look at a Clinician Engagement Strategy

A clinician engagement strategy is a fully developed plan to reach healthcare providers, engage with them, educate them, and involve these professionals with a new product, treatment, or brand. Not all clinicians are created equal, however. Some become Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and influence other KOLs and other clinicians. KOLs often earn the trust of their peers through their work in clinical trial involvement, contributions to publications, development of best practices, speaking engagements and other opinion-shaping activities. The end goal is to optimize engagements with clinicians so over time they evolve into advocates for the brand or treatment.

The Importance of a Clinician Engagement Strategy

A clinician engagement strategy is an important part of the foundation for life science brand’s marketing plan. The connection between a manufacturer and the end-user patient is through the clinician.

Prospective patients put faith in what their clinician offers as advice and in what they support. In fact, 91.9 percent of people surveyed claim they trust their physician, making healthcare providers the most trusted professionals.

Once a clinician evolves into a brand advocate, the brand benefits from:

  • Enhanced engagement opportunities
  • Advocacy for brand awareness and use among fellow clinicians
  • Facilitating overall market access
  • Ongoing feedback and support throughout the product’s lifecycle

Building a strategy to connect with clinicians on their terms ensures a stronger relationship as a product comes to market. However, retaining the power of this relationship beyond the product launch is just as important for brand growth in the longer term. For example, clinicians may offer firsthand insight into patient experience with the new product or offer feedback regarding other appropriate customer targeting opportunities for future marketing purposes.

Steps to Building a Clinician Engagement Strategy

Clinician engagement is a battle for mindshare. An effective clinician engagement strategy will consider the following:

1. Targeting the right clinicians

The first step in the clinician engagement process is determining which professionals are worthy of targeting. Not every clinician will be worthy of the time it takes to foster engagement. The goal should be to target those with the most efficient reach to a brand’s target audience. Think about disease area specific healthcare providers or ThoughtLeaders (also known as KOLs), then consider:

  • Who does the clinician influence the most and to what degree? (e.g. patients, fellow practitioners, medical organizations, etc.)
  • Which KOLs have the highest treatment volumes (stand as “high writers” in their respective fields)?
  • Is the treatment volume solely attributed to the clinician? Or do other professionals contribute to patient treatment decision making process, such as Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician’s Assistants (PAs)?

2. Developing Plans to Reach the Right Clinicians

With an understanding of which ThoughtLeaders should be targeted in the clinician engagement strategy, develop plans to message and engage them with an appropriate degree of frequency. Several strategies can be utilized at this point, such as:

  • Arranging in-person meetings and engagements via a medical science liaison (MSL) or sales representative;
  • Use of digital platforms, such as email, webinars, social media, as well as use of direct mail to connect and engage;
  • Creating peer-to-peer engagement opportunities through advisory boards or round table meetings may also be appropriate.
  • Involving a KOL in clinical trial research and in published findings associated with the product; potentially utilizing a KOL as an educational speaker may also be appropriate.

A well-developed plan will reflect that different clinicians prefer to be engaged in unique ways, and some may engage with in multiple ways. The key is to meet clinicians on their terms, using innovative tactics, and engagement that reflects their choice or preference. Engagement tools like Activeer® from MDOutlook can be especially helpful in this process.

3. Shaping Plans to overcome common clinician engagement strategy challenges

Challenges with clinician engagement will likely arise. When building the strategy, prepare workarounds or alternative engagements to overcome unforeseen challenges. For example:

  • Problems with regional variation – get a better grasp on regional variation using Pulse Research, and consider engaging other constituents – like payers for instance – for more insight to flex the strategy as needed
  • No-see practices or clinicians – this can make a clinician especially hard to reach, so examining peer-to-peer prospective engagements may help overcoming this barrier
  • Hard-to-reach clinicians – examine how to reach that clinician on their terms — targeted email, links to brief podcasts, brief mobile-friendly surveys, or virtual lunch programs.

A thorough strategy will have alternative plans in place to pivot, adapt, and adjust as needed so the brand still gains the support needed.

The Right Tools Support a Successful Clinician Engagement Strategy

MDOutlook offers tailored solutions to support the creation of a clinical engagement strategy. Get KOL Insights, activate the right clinicians, and perform pulse research with actionable precision intelligence solutions.

Are you open to a conversation about how our solutions power meaningful engagement? Let’s talk.