For pharmas dealing with HCPs, the future is digital first—and sales reps 2nd

While many people are suffering from Zoom fatigue and looking forward to in-person meetups, that isn’t really the case when it comes to HCPs and pharma reps.

As with everyone, pharma reps were at a loss when COVID-19 hit—they couldn’t see their clients. But unlike in a social setting, the HCPs soon realized that fewer rep interruptions in their day were actually a good thing and started limiting those contacts.

Bozidar Jovicevic, CEO of Evermed, a Netflix-like education streaming platform aimed at pharma, said these companies need to switch up how they approach HCPs post COVID-19.

“In very plain language, doctors are either closing the doors to pharma, or, if they're keeping them open, they're keeping them open just occasionally—sometimes we call it closed door syndrome,” he said.

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Jovicevic, who had a 17-year career in pharma working at Sanofi and Novartis, referred to research by Veeva showing access to HCPs dropped by 57% in 2021. Evermed's clients include Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Janssen Biotech, Merck & Co., Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Roche and Sanofi.

To prepare for the new normal of engagement, Jovicevic said there needs to be a shift from in-person to digitalin fact “80% digital, 20% in-person.”

The key, he noted, is “Netflix-like education streaming.” Instead of binging “Narcos” or “The Queen's Gambit,” it’s about targeted unbranded medical educational videos. That’s followed by approved data collection, so the rep knows the right time to contact the HCP with either an in-person visit or video call.

Jovicevic explained that it's less about actual calendar times but more about when HCPs will be more receptive. As part of the approved data collection, Evermed is able to analyze an HCP’s viewing behavior—mapping it versus other behavioral data in the platform—to suggest the next best action.

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The process is similar, in a way, to how people behave as general consumers these days: Everyone does their own research before they buy. Jovicevic says most people’s minds are already made up before speaking to a rep or salesperson.

“The main thing is that the future of HCP engagement is digital first and then sales rep second. The future is about the pull mindset, where you add value to HCPs, educate and build trust first, and only then talk about your product.”