'Clinical relevance' and 'benefit' are key drivers for engagement with pharma marketing campaigns - according to a Doctors.net.uk survey of 1,000 GPs. But how can pharma companies ensure their digital activities fulfil these critical requirements and really add value to doctors' clinical practice as well as to their own future?
Our experience shows that doctors want well researched, timely, educational resources that assist them in their daily working lives. Such resources, which can include sponsored research papers, case studies and learning needs assessments, are popular with doctors because they can count towards CPD requirements as well as keeping them abreast of the latest data, evidence and developments in a particular therapy area. Of course, accredited education resources are one valuable component, but using existing educational resources also adds value.
Using already approved resources and sharing the huge breadth of pharma knowledge with doctors, adds real value to doctors, as well as minimising the need for timeconsuming approval of newly created resources, that affects competitive advantage. By contributing a measurable improvement to doctors' competence and/or confidence in managing specific patient conditions pharma companies can associate themselves with promoting excellence in their therapy area. The potential benefits are enormous, however, the service has to be delivered carefully to ensure it complies with the ABPI Code of Practice.
Before launching an online educational campaign, it is important to explore doctors' perceptions and opinions, and even conduct a comprehensive learning needs assessment to identify knowledge gaps among target doctors. The results of this insight gathering and research can then be used to create an optimised and tailored programme of educational resources that meet those learning needs, thus maximising not only engagement, but also the measurement of the change in understanding and value among doctors about a specific disease or therapy area. These insights will also help pharma understand levels of knowledge, attitudes and behaviour, which can be very important when considering how doctors are likely to respond to the introduction of a guideline, for example.
Evidence and activity confirms that online is the best place to engage with doctors on an educational basis and specifically with GPs since eight out of 10 GPs now rate online learning as one of the most useful things about the Internet. Almost one million eCME modules have been completed by doctors within Doctors.net.uk alone during the past eight years and we expect to see this increase rapidly with the introduction of revalidation in 2012.
Statistics show educational campaigns not only improve doctors' knowledge, they can also change their clinical behaviour. Research conducted by Doctors.net.uk shows 60% of doctors who have completed education modules say they would modify their practice as a result and 30% would consider modifying their practice after seeking further information.
In summary, the clear need among doctors for well researched, timely educational resources that enable them to achieve their CPD goals and keep abreast of the latest thinking and developments in their therapy area, present a golden engagement opportunity for pharma companies to build and extend relationships that complement their offline activity. By carefully researching doctors' learning needs and identifying knowledge gaps, pharma companies can provide valuable resources that not only break down traditional communication barriers but also help doctors deliver best practice.
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