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What does HCP engagement look like in a post-Covid world?

HCP engagement has changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with pharmaceutical companies and agencies having to rapidly adjust to a new way of communicating. Digital channels have become critical and a new breed of online meetings and events has taken off.

What does HCP engagement look like in a post-Covid world?

HCP engagement has changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with pharmaceutical companies and agencies having to rapidly adjust to a new way of communicating.

Digital channels have become critical and a new breed of online meetings and events has taken off. But how will this new landscape influence engagement going forward?

The rise in remote and virtual HCP engagement

According to a 2021 pulse report from Veeva CRM, the use of virtual meetings for rep-to-HCP engagement increased sixfold between January and October 2020, with reps also sending five times as many emails as they did prior to the pandemic. This tallies nicely with a 2021 engagement report showing 66% of HCPs wanting to receive relevant, compliant emails from reps. While these figures aren’t that surprising, they amply demonstrate the scale of change in the industry.

"While the rapid adoption and growth of digital engagement was primarily driven by the restrictions brought about by COVID-19, life sciences companies and HCPs are finding that a full return to in-person, business-as-usual approaches is no longer needed. They appreciate the convenience, efficiency and fewer interruptions that digital channels provide."

-2021 Veeva Pulse Report, Emerging Trends in Global HCP Engagement

Innovating new methods of HCP engagement

Of course, there’s a reason face-to-face meetings had long been the norm prior to Covid. More than anything, they’re a tradition that has stood the test of time, which hadn’t (until more recently) been significantly disrupted by external or digital forces.

People often thrive on personal interaction and are far more able to read body language and reactions in a face-to-face meeting than in a video or phone call. The willingness to travel for a meeting can also establish a level of trust between parties. However, with the global pandemic effectively thrusting digital adoption onto HCPs, entrenched behaviours have been challenged, and changed.

While vaccinations have been rolled out at varying rates around the world, offices have reopened and some events have restarted in a limited capacity, the majority of conferences and 1-to-1 meetings continue to be held virtually.

A blended approach?

With various countries either lifting restrictions on meetings and travel, or re-enforcing them where needed, it’s fair to predict this trend will continue until everyone feels safe. Beyond this, a mixed-channel approach to personal sales meetings – combining face-to-face, video, phone and email – appears a reasonable expectation.
Figures from Veeva seem to support this. Its APAC Veeva Pulse Data showed that face-to-face meetings dropped dramatically in the top five therapeutic areas – respiratory, cancer, infection, diabetes and cardiovascular – between February and April 2020, before increasing back to pre-Covid numbers by July 2020, when many restrictions were lifted at that time. However, use of Veeva CRM Engage Meeting, Veeva’s video conferencing software, increased significantly over the same period, implying a hybrid approach is here to stay.

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2nd March 2022

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