Pharma-to-physician social media and app marketing will soar by 2018: report

Pharma companies’ marketing communications to their target audience of healthcare providers are increasingly digital. That's not terribly surprising, considering the uptake in digital channels among physicians for professional use.

What is changing, however, is the way pharma reaches doctors, according to an annual report from from healthcare and pharma solutions provider Indegene. In 2016 in the U.S., brand promotional emails, healthcare provider portals and key opinion leader webinars are the top three ways pharma companies reach out. However, by 2018, KOL webinars, social media and mobile apps will top the list, with social media and mobile apps growing the fastest, by 50% and 27%, respectively.

The social media investment is already underway, which will power the expected usage jump, Urvi Mehta, senior manager, strategic relationships at Indegene, told FiercePharma.

“Social media is a very powerful channel that can help in understanding the end consumers. It’s easy to make marketing decisions like segmentation, course of patient education, and influence adherence through listening and analysis of the social behavior,” she said.

While KOL webinar growth will be smaller at 8.8%, that channel was identified as the best return-on-investment generator by the more than 100 global pharma and life science companies that responded to the survey.

ROI, in fact, is an ongoing concern. Even among the rise in projected spending, seven out of 10 pharma companies noted that demonstrating ROI is the biggest barrier when implementing new communication strategies.

U.S. pharma companies are second globally in digital spending, with 31% of companies spending more than 20% of their budgets on digital. By 2018, Indegene expects that to increase to 40% of companies. China leads with 33% of its pharma companies spending more than 20% on digital, and that figure is expected to rise to 50% by 2018.