Big industry players know this is true, with major firms increasing their budget for marketing more so than for research and development initiatives — highlighting the importance these companies place on communicating their work to the general public. But what is the most strategic way pharma companies can spend these dollars? The answer lies in a surprising place: leveraging physician insights and influence to create authority and stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Emergence of the digital physician
Reverberations from the COVID-19 pandemic have reshaped the foundation of the healthcare industry, with the telehealth sector coming more to the forefront as the convergence of software capabilities and decades of medical experience are paving the way for a more accessible, more streamlined mode of patient care. And as digital health offerings expand, so does the concept of digital physicians — a savvier version of our everyday doctor who takes a digital-first approach to care, and takes advantage of things like digital tools and apps. They even leverage social media and create content on various platforms, from TikTok to Instagram. One example of this is Dr. Mike, a physician who recently built a following on social media for making healthcare more relatable and fun.
But while digital physicians are relaying their expertise to everyday consumers through social media, their influence doesn’t stop there. These physicians are experts in their fields, as well as speaking to the general public about medicine, and should be must-use resources on any pharmaceutical team’s checklist to provide expertise that top marketing firms likely couldn’t compete with.
Impact of working with physicians
Physicians offer a unique point of view where they can help position pharma companies as authorities in their field — not to mention ensure they are medically accurate, as well. With brand authenticity being a constant point of feedback from consumers, giving physicians a seat at the table signals a strategic and successful marketing campaign or drug development. The added layer of credibility drives messaging home, and in turn boosts companies’ bottom lines.
What’s more, physicians bring other benefits to pharma teams because they are experts on the end product. Physicians are interacting with new drugs and patients every day and, therefore, they are helpful resources when it comes to decision-making around the best ways to present and market drug-related information to end users.
Physicians understand the product better than most marketing teams, as they are frequently talking to patients and their families, as well as other medical professionals about it. And because physicians know the patient audience inside and out, they know what content best resonates with this group. They also know how and where to distribute it. Simply put, content created with the insights of physicians in mind stands out.
How to best leverage physician insights
There are several ways in which physicians can offer their expertise. First, pharma companies can leverage physicians for in-depth exploration into consumer sentiments at large. By doing so, these firms can discover insights into effective marketing strategies for their key audiences, leading to a better understanding of their unique needs. This can in turn extend a campaign or a new drug’s reach exponentially.
Pharma companies can also leverage physicians in other ways beyond expanding reach, such as panel discussions or internal communications, where their insights and experience could be beneficial. Incorporating a physician’s personal relationship to a particular drug can offer both empirical data and general observations for consideration. Additionally, these insights could be useful in request for proposal (RFP) planning, where physician insights are essential — getting an RFP off on the wrong foot could lead to unsuccessful vendor bids and relationships, or even underwhelming project results.
The last year was a banner time for many pharmaceutical firms — and there’s no sign of slowing down. As the industry continues to boom, it’s imperative that these companies leverage various tactics that reflect relevant and fact-based research, as well as real-world experience from physicians who better understand consumer demands and preferences. By working closely with physicians and leveraging their insights and influence, pharma companies can stay ahead of the curve and make a greater impact across the industry and, ultimately, with patients.
Lauren Hanson is the CEO of flipMD, an on-demand consulting platform for physicians. Hanson cofounded the company in 2020 with her husband, a practicing physician. GoodRx acquired flipMD in February 2022.
Filed Under: clinical trials, Drug Discovery, Drug Discovery and Development