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How can pharma build bridges with HCPs online?

Simon Grime, Director of Fendix, explains how pharma can reconnect with disillusioned doctors and other HCPs

Simon GrimeAccording to a recent report from McKinsey & Company: ‘81% of physicians are dissatisfied with their interactions with biopharmaceutical companies, and more than 40% no longer perceive a “need” for medical support from pharma’.

The report titled: ‘Medical Affairs: Key imperatives for engaging and educating physicians in a digital world’, states that physicians’ dissatisfaction is driven by a perceived lack of personalised, relevant content (28%) and appropriate communication channels (17%).

What is holding pharma back?

As referenced in the report, the highly regulated environment in which pharma and biopharma companies operate is partly to blame for their failure to harness the power of digital channels to provide the kind of targeted, personalised digital communications for healthcare professionals (HCPs) that are commonplace for customers in many other industries.

I believe that this isn’t helped by the rapid pace of structural change within the NHS, where new care models are emerging in different areas across England, key stakeholders often hold a number of roles and responsibilities, and collaborative decision-making is becoming increasingly important.

To complement face-to-face relationships developed by the sales force and medical science liaisons (MSLs), companies need to take – and are increasingly taking – a tailored, outcomes-based approach to engagement that highlights the health economic benefits of a new drug or service – and explains how it fits into the care pathway to improve patient outcomes.

These messages need to be communicated to key stakeholders across different geographies and functions as part of an integrated multi-channel programme that provides a joined-up experience and is aligned with key account management (KAM) activities nationally and regionally.

Engage with HCPs via the NHS’s own intranets

Choosing digital channels that HCPs trust and use regularly is key. One channel that is guaranteed to be used multiple times a day by NHS staff and should, therefore, be an integral part of the multi-channel mix is the NHS’s own staff intranets. NHS trust intranets provide a critical, digital gateway into everything that an NHS trust staff member needs, from booking patients on to specific care pathways and accessing medical test results, to keeping abreast of best practice and hospital policies. Indeed, they are one of the most frequently used touch-points for staff.

For example, Dr Raj Verma, Consultant Paediatrician, Blackpool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The intranet plays a vital role in enabling clinicians to get the information they need quickly and effectively, and to help the patient journey run as smoothly as possible.

“I use the intranet from the very start of the day when I first see my patients in clinic. I go through the intranet to access our clinical systems such as CyberLab and Cyber Radiology to request tests and investigations. I can access the intranet from any PC in the hospital, so I go back to it at regular intervals to check the results of blood tests I have taken in clinics which are normally back within two to three hours. After clinic, I would go back to the office to dictate letters to provide a full report on the lab results.

"On clinical days, I access the intranet around ten times a day for about five minutes at a time, mainly to use the clinical systems or access management information which we use for consultant job planning.”

Thanks to a unique agreement with NHS trusts, Fendix enables organisations to use NHS intranets to host content to provide information and educational value for HCPs.  This business model not only enables precise, secure and compliant engagement of staff within their workplace, it also delivers a revenue share back to the NHS trusts.

There are currently 71 NHS trusts in the Fendix network, which reaches more than 300 hospitals and 450,000 staff. Staff can be targeted via 80 NHS job functions, according to seniority and speciality, and also by region, including senior management.

What sort of information should pharma provide?

Pharma can collaborate more closely with the NHS by providing high quality content to HCPs via their intranets. Such content could include data, evidence and educational information, such as outcomes from joint working initiatives, conference highlights, clinical papers and continuing professional development (CPD) content.   There is a real need for the latter among clinicians as learning and development budgets have come under pressure, limiting opportunities for CPD.

In most instances, pharma already has much medically approved, clinically relevant and compliant content at its disposal, such as clinical data, guidelines and reports from joint working initiatives, which would all be valuable to selected staff regionally. NHS intranets can be used as a trusted platform on which to share this type of content, which can also be targeted to different groups of HCPs across multi-disciplinary teams.

For example, in one promotional programme, a pharma company used the Fendix network to educate and build awareness of a recently launched anti-coagulant product. The programme enabled users to click through to a landing page with content specific to the product’s indications and dosing regimens, plus external links to NICE guidance, clinical data and a practical guide on how to prescribe. The programme was targeted to HCPs in haematology, cardiology, geriatrics and elderly care audiences in ten key regions.

The programme achieved well above the average click-through rate achieved in other channels. Additionally, the average length of time spent on the page and content on the NHS intranet was more than three times that spent on the product information on the company’s own website, as measured through A/B testing.

Since Fendix can place content on NHS public websites too, a pharma company could go a step further and make relevant, supporting patient information available on those websites, and signpost its availability to the prescribing clinicians, via the corresponding staff intranets, and to the patient at the point of dispense, thus providing a very joined-up and tailored experience.


There is a golden opportunity to provide timely, relevant and targeted information to doctors and other HCPs online. However, the recent report from McKinsey & Company suggests that companies are failing to do so, and doctors are becoming disillusioned. The industry must act fast to provide more engaging content that is tailored to different communication channels and groups of HCPs, as part of its closer collaboration with the NHS.

NHS intranets should be a key element of the multi-channel mix because not only are these channels highly trusted and used by all kinds of HCPs, multiple times a day, they also enable precise targeting. This can help pharma to deliver the relevant and personalised experience that time-pressed HCPs need to assist them in their daily work.

For more information on Fendix, log on to

Simon Grime is Director of Fendix

In association with


18th June 2018

From: Healthcare



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