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How can pharma deliver returns on increased digital investment?

Independent online professional networks work best as part of a multi-channel campaign 

New research from Cegedim Strategic Data (CSD) confirms that the pharma industry's investment in digital channels rose by 40% worldwide in 2012; while sales forces were cut by 10% in the US and 12% in the top five EU markets. But as pharma relies more heavily on digital channels, what are the barriers to engaging with doctors in this way and how can they be overcome? 

Research conducted for Doctors.net.uk shows that while doctors would like to access the wealth of knowledge, data and evidence that pharma companies hold, trust and transparency is still a major stumbling block. Only 3% of doctors surveyed by medeConnect think online pharma resources are credible and 42% never visit pharma websites. 

Independent online physician networks, which are second only to peer reviewed journals in terms of the levels of trust that doctors place in them, can help pharma to break down barriers by developing a new kind of relationship with doctors. By sharing more of their scientific data in this trusted environment, pharma can deliver what doctors really want from the industry – an improvement in knowledge and levels of education – against a backdrop of falling training budgets and the need to be transparent and build trust. 

This 'push and pull' approach provides a far deeper level of engagement and ROI, and ultimately helps pharma form more meaningful, long term relationships with target groups of doctors as it begins to address trust and transparency issues, and build equity for its brands. 

However, as, Larry Mickelberg, Chief Digital Officer at Havas Worldwide, pointed out in relation to the Cegedim Strategic Data, the future does not lie in e-detailing alone: “While the future of e-detailing seems promising, e-mailing may be scrapped for other, more personal, approaches.” 

e-detailing is indeed only one part of the mix and the critical issue is to align it with other channel activities to optimise the experience for the physician to ensure that the service they receive from pharma is more needs based rather than the traditional push approach. 

In much the same way, independent online professional networks work best when seen as part of a multi-channel campaign that enables pharma to engage with the target audience through many different channels and on the customers' terms. This creates more opportunities for pharma and helps it develop stronger relationships with its customer base.

For more information on Doctors.net.uk, please call Simon Grime on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Simon.Grime@mess.doctors.org.uk. You can also follow Doctors.net.uk on Twitter: @doctors_net_uk

15th May 2013

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