Saurav Kasera is the Co-Founder of CLIRNET, India’s largest live digital CME and doctor generated medical content platform. He leads the corporate team in forging business-fostering strategies while also heading CLIRNET’s fundraising efforts. Furthermore, he serves as the point of contact when it comes to establishing marketing blueprints and business relationships. Overall, he supervises the fluid functioning of specific departments while keeping a vantage view of the holistic development of the organization.
Content has and will always remain core to pharma marketing!
For the last 4-5 decades, pharma companies have been the primary source of information on drugs, their usage, benefits as well as adverse effects. Pharma companies have always delivered relevant scientific information through literatures that provided better understanding of the drugs, comparative presentations, etc. This included snippets of references from studies that substantiated the need and claimed efficacy of their product, or a print of the study itself relating to the USPs of their product, or sometimes a subscription of the journal itself.
Scientific content in leave behind literatures (LBLs) and study papers were fruitful in explaining the efficacy and quality of their product, directly impacting a doctor’s prescription decision and patient’s treatment. The snippet of references rendered with citations validated the relevance and authenticity of the scientific content in LBLs and justified the usage of the product. They helped in building trust in the brand.
Pharma spends a lot on content creation & distribution. But is it meeting both the pharma & doctor’s needs?
It was a late afternoon and Dr. Gupta had just started taking MR calls after. He was running late and in a hurry as patients were already waiting. More than 30 MRs and their managers, having waited for 30 minutes to an hour, lined up in their order of appointment. The MR with his Manager went in and came out in less than 2 minutes. The second person went in with a LBL folder on Teneligliptin – Metformin combination containing a few pages of a clinical study that he had received the previous day. He came out within a minute after the doctor did not give time to present his LBL and left the clinical study on the doctors table, although he had prepared well with the scientific communication and presentation. The third MR got less than a minute as he had nothing new to display aside from asking the doctor to join in the RTM planned next month. And so it went for next 30 minutes…
Currently, most of the scientific information delivered by healthcare companies meets a similar fate. There was a time when doctors attentively listened to scientific communication from MRs. That is a rarity today.
Does the problem lie in the presentation of the MR or the content? We believe, it’s neither. Rather the method, style and packaging of the content have changed with strong focus on gaining actionable clinical knowledge & experience.
What are some core changes in doctor behavior?
The advances in technology & social media are playing a big role in this change. With the emergence of online access to scientific material, mobile telephony and virtual healthcare socializing, doctors today have prompt availability of scientific information. Doctors with the benefit of technologically advanced methods of learning and research are giving less time to traditional information sources such as MRs and conferences.
Peer networking & collaboration is equally an important change. With digitization making social interaction easier and time at a premium, doctors are increasingly selective about the physical CME sessions they attend. Doctors take part in scientific discussions and CMEs, where they can directly interact with peers on diseases and therapies and benefits from practical experiences, or refer to those databases with specific and concise discussions for their reference.
MRs usually repeats what a doctor already knows or something he hasn’t relied on. MRs may provide the doctor with a 12 page print of a study to support their scientific discussion. But that may not meet his requirements, since it isn’t concise or explicable or may be difficult to apprehend its application in actual practice.
So what can be inferred about the content preferences for doctors today?
- Applicable directly to practice: Nowadays doctors look for concise information, relevant to their practice needs and queries. They are more interested in scientific content that is acknowledged by specialists and peers, conveying practical experiences and that can be applied in practice.
- Impact healthcare outcomes: They look for scientific information that benefits their practice by impacting patient lives. For example, the benefits and risks of higher dose of a drug and when to administer, or a new drug that gives efficacy with reduced adverse effects in comparison to the current drugs in use.
- Suited to current times: Doctors want scientific information that is relevant in the current times. For example, we may talk on the efficacy of an antibiotic, while they may be interested to know about its spectrum of coverage and resistance in the current times validated by authentic sources.
- Flexibility on accessing content: Doctors prefer information that can be accessed at their convenience rather than be bound by fixed times when a session may be held or involves significant time commitment due to travel requirements.
- New trends: Doctors are interested to learn about advances in medicine and not hear information that has not changed for a couple of years, like they would be interested to know more on Gliflozins than Sulfonylureas in the management of diabetes.
- Non-biased: Authenticity of the scientific content is always a concern of the doctors. Today they rely more on the unbiased information presented in CMEs by a specialist rather than industry sponsored studies.
Doctors will continue to look to pharma companies to rightly exercise their responsibility as health educators, making information easily accessible across the medical fraternity. Scientific information will have to be delivered in ways that meet the needs of each individual doctor and accessible through various channels. Technology not only delivers information, it also makes it relevant, easily accessible, searchable, practical and appropriate for a specific doctor, at the same time helping in justifying the need and value of a product building trust with a brand.