Product launch excellence during the COVID-19 pandemic: The omnichannel approach

 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown restrictions have had a huge impact on the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, changing the way that we all work as the usual face-to-face interactions have become impossible.

As leaders in healthcare communications, Porterhouse Medical Group has embraced the opportunities that the rapid advances in virtual technology and data analysis have provided and adopted an omnichannel approach to launch communications campaigns for our clients. Our approach combines powerful insights, with scientific and strategic expertise, to help our clients generate a greater understanding of their customers and reshape the way that they engage with HCPs and their patients.

Below we look at some of the elements that we combine in this approach and what it means for our clients.

The omnichannel approach

With an in-house research and insights team combined with scientific communications expertise, the Porterhouse approach starts by developing a clear understanding of the data, the market and the behaviour of HCPs and their patients. These qualitative and quantitative insights allow for customer segmentation. Additionally, advances in digital technology have allowed for highly targeted messaging, focused direct channels of communication and the sophisticated collection of engagement metrics, allowing us to measure what works and what doesn’t.

So which channel?

Research has shown that HCPs value channels based on their credibility, but every channel has an important role:

Pharmaceutical Industry: HCP engagement – EPG Health Report 2019

Observations:

  • Medical societies – the most trusted channel
  • Congresses – although virtual, HCPs still keen to engage
  • Medical journals and congresses are the most useful ways of receiving information.
  • Professional social networks – highly valued, possibly more than pharmaceutical representative visits

The omnichannel approach employs all channels – old and new – bringing together all elements of the marketing mix to reach the HCP and putting them first and foremost, in their (newly) preferred environment. It also ensures that that the messages are consistent wherever they are received.

omnichannel approach -elements

The sales force

Traditionally, the sales force has been one of the key methods for pharma companies to reach their customers, and this is likely to continue (whether face-to-face or remotely as social distancing allows) as HCPs continue to value this human relationship and one-to-one level of support.

Our creative and scientific services teams provide remote ‘train the trainer’ sessions, including printed and digital educational materials, which provide connectivity between the traditional sales force, digital channels and HCPs.

Digital Strategy

Digital marketing campaigns have become an invaluable means of reaching both global and local HCP communities, and of driving KOL advocacy and patient support. At Porterhouse, we know and employ the third-party channels that doctors already trust and use to gather information. With paid media, the educational content that we create for our clients can have a guaranteed and highly targeted reach.

A blended channel approach can be optimised over time and can easily be scaled to achieve maximum engagement and suit budgetary constraints.

Digital channels can also be used to increase the visibility of disease awareness campaigns and allow the sales force to be better informed – with access to the latest information and focused on their key customer base

The website is, of course, central to the omnichannel approach, acting as the hub where all strategically planned and approved content can be published and sourced. In addition, assets on other channels can drive visitors to this central platform, improving awareness and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for that brand/treatment/disease.

KOL Advocacy and patient support

Engaging with the expert community to drive advocacy is all important in an HCP/patient-centric approach, as HCPs value the opinions and experience of their peers. We have built an extensive global network of industry thought leaders to endorse product messages and help change behaviours. We offer therapy specific awards programmes to attract medical expertise. We also partner with patient advocacy groups to obtain real world feedback and provide support.

Scientific and educational meetings

Another traditional area that is key to a successful launch campaign (and other types of communications programmes) has been the face-to-face educational meetings and events–whether large or small – such as congresses, advisory boards and symposia. Again, since the start of the pandemic, the pharma industry and HCPs have quickly become more comfortable with virtual meetings, and technology has provided creative, interactive environments that deliver informative, engaging experiences.

Our expert team can identify the correct congresses and events for product updates and launches, creating compelling content and maximizing experiences with an extensive global reach.

Measuring change

To create an effective an omnichannel launch programme, we work hard to understand how and when to engage with our target audience and what kind of content is wanted. We also measure the impact of the interventions on the target audience.

Porterhouse BPS diagram

In addition to the metrics provided by digital technology, Porterhouse Insights has also developed a behaviour change metric – the Porterhouse Behaviour Promoter Score (BPS). Based on a thorough evaluation of the healthcare market and the involvement of experienced practitioners, the Porterhouse BPS is an evidence‑based tool that measures the impact of communication programmes, training and other educational events and assesses the resulting behavioural change. This can help provide insights on which aspects can be optimised to meet the needs of HCPs and patients.

Conclusion

When eventually lockdown conditions ease, it will be interesting to see which channels will be preferred by HCPs, and how the balance between face-to-face and remote interactions changes, and how this will impact on the role of the sales force.

In the meantime, we will continue to work hard to keep our clients at the forefront of technology, and to provide launch campaigns and multichannel communications programmes that are customer-centric and make a positive change for our clients, HCPs and their patients.

If you would like more information about how we have embraced challenges that the pandemic has presented with our omnichannel approach to launch campaigns, or the powerful, insight-led communications programmes created by the Porterhouse Medical Group, please get in touch.

We would love to hear from you!