by: Peter H. Nalen, President and CEO, Compass Healthcare Communications Everywhere in the industry these days, you hear talk about Healthcare Professional Relationship Innovation Lab Panelists
Marketing (HCP RM), Non-personal Promotion • Alan G. Reicheg, SVP Commercial
(NPP), and Channel Preference Marketing (CRM). • Devin Paullin, Ex. VP, Business
on their “to do” list, but few are actually Development, Physicians Interactive implementing them. Why is this? On November • Mary Anne Greenberg, President
4, 2009, Compass Healthcare Communications hosted its Innovation Lab Series workshop in • Michael J. Laferrera, Sr. Vice President,
Princeton, assembling a team of participants Sales and Marketing, J. Knipper & Co.
and expert panelists to discuss this very topic.
HCP RM: Why Now?
The old model for how to target and communicate with healthcare professionals has been turned on its head. The time physicians have to interact with sales forces continues to diminish and access to physicians is becoming increasingly difficult. Up to 35% of all physicians are now considered “no see” docs and some states such as Massachusetts are imposing restrictions on sales rep activities. Add to this the fact that pharmaceutical companies are drastically cutting their sales forces and you have an environment that’s ripe for new and more What HCP RM Is Not
Before exploring HCP RM programs in more detail, it helps to establish a few things that HCP RM programs are NOT. They are not newsletters or mailers or phone calls created in a remote conference room and then force- fed to a recipient. They are not comprised of generic content that makes no provision for how the recipient wants to be communicated with, what his or her level of knowledge is with the brand, or where the recipient resides along the brand adoption continuum. They are, instead, customer-focused programs, delivering the right message to the right audience segment at the right time using the right channel. The right message is one that is meaningful to the HCP. Figuring this out means understanding who the HCP is—what their needs and interests are, what motivates them—so that you can truly service their needs, not just sell them stuff.
Where To Start
When many pharma marketers hear the term relationship marketing, they are quick to think of patient relationship marketing efforts such as compliance programs. But given that some physicians either cannot or do not want to meet with reps and that many prefer other and more varied forms of contact, it’s clear that HCPs want to engage with the brand through several communication channels. Building a successful HCP RM program is no easy feat. It all starts with understanding the different segments of your audience and delivering tailored, meaningful communications to them in the form, method or vehicle they prefer. Every disease state and therapeutic class is different. Organizations will have to adopt a different mindset beyond just a rep knocking on a quickly closing door. And there are no simple formulas that will guarantee success in any given specialty. But there are some best-practices tips we discussed over the course of the Innovation Lab session that can help overcome common challenges in the HCP RM space. In the late 90s/early 2000s the adoption of
1 Identify leadership, budget, and resources: One
of the biggest challenges to implementation, interactive marketing path went something like
especially in larger pharmaceutical companies is: Who is going to lead the initiative? Who owns this
“new” program? The brand? The sales force? Another
• Identify an emerging trend that presents a new party? Who will pay for it? And what changes will marketing channel opportunity (ie, the Internet) need to be made to the technical infrastructure to support the program? This may prove to be the • Research and purchase a large, comprehensive biggest obstacle. A truly effective RM program should system or platform that is a “best in class” solution be thought of as an infrastructure investment; not a for highly sophisticated marketing campaigns mere campaign. By its very nature and considering the many departments that an effective RM program • Pay an enormous sum for an outside consulting impacts, this initial step has the highest likelihood of firm to determine the best way to implement the derailing or significantly delaying the entire project. platform and train the organization…and then Our advice is to pilot a program with one or more brands that share the same specialist. Do not go
“enterprise wide” right out of the gate. Learn from the
• Attempt to force brands to use the resource by mistakes that were made with the adoption of online
mandating platform usage as well as providing programs in Pharma. (See sidebar)
• Do all this before the solution has been proven successful to brand marketers, or before they 2 Devise the right segmentation strategy:
Who are the right and wrong physicians for your program? What are the best messages understand how to integrate it into their marketing to deliver to your different audience segments? To succeed in this area, you’ll want to work with What then followed, of course, is that the platform
outside resources to “really” understand your
is under leveraged and usually deemed obsolete
audience segments. Successful programs are based
three years later, after millions of dollars have been
on segmentation that’s psychographic rather than invested and much time wasted. Finally it took
segmentation that’s demographic, script-driven, or some “Cowboy” brand manager on an overlooked
decile-driven. It’s important, too, not to forget the
brand (See Famvir at Novartis, circa 2001, the first
nurse segment, as nurses perform most of the legwork
brand to utilize an online coupon) to be the first
and patient interfacing. By first effectively segmenting mover, which the company then used as a model
HCPs and determining your goals, you can then move for the rest of the organization Let’s not make the
onto choosing the appropriate tactics and channels same mistake with HCP RM. Identify a brand or
group of brands that share the same physician
target, pilot a program from which we can build a
broader (if necessary) company-wide initiative.
3 Build the right databases. Having a database at all levels. To do so, it is imperative that all parties see
that meets your RM goals is key to delivering the value of the program from the beginning and be customized communications to each specific allowed to not only participate in the upfront design audience segment. Successful and strong relationships
but also have direct access to all ongoing reporting can only be attained when the database can continually
“learn” and react over time. Pharmaceutical companies
are notorious for having physician databases that are anything but robust. And many lack the capability to 6 Measure results. It’s amazing how many
companies budgeting for HCP RM programs fail appropriately design, build, and maintain the right to invest in proper metrics. ROI strategies are kinds of databases. Unfortunately, many vendors key to analyzing which strategies and tactics worked, who excel in this area have proprietary databases which didn’t, and which audience segments are worth that pharma companies can only rent, preventing the investing in. It is hard to predict which tactic will work, pharma companies from truly owning, mining, and and which path is most successful for each segment. leveraging its own data. Still, there are tips for creating There are no easy formulas for determining all this. At an effective database. It’s essential, first of all, to set up a minimum, everyone needs to identify and agree to
your database correctly from the beginning, ensuring specific measurement criteria before ever launching
that the data fields you collect are indeed the right a single program. Given the pioneering stage of HCP
ones and that the right people are using the database. RM programs and the number of variables involved, It‘s critical, too, that the database be designed to
pre-program ROI analysis is difficult. Many times, a acquire and decipher incoming information—eMails
combination of models, formulas, and basic trust opened, poll questions answered, site pages visited, rep
among your partners and internal measurement team observations—so that the database continually learns
is all that will suffice. You take your best collective where each target is on the behavioral continuum
guess ahead of time, implement a pilot of your and what is required to move them further along. This
program, and then closely measure the results.
ensures that your communications meet the specific information needs of each segment, reflects their knowledge of the brand and where they are on the 7 Develop a program of tactics. This is not about
eMarketing or Interactive Marketing, but about
continuum. Your budget and technical requirements giving your targets another opportunity to
must also be able to support the data to be collected engage with your brand. It’s less about selling and
more about customer service. There is seldom one
singular tactic that you can pursue at the expense Abandon political silos. Beware the turf battles
of all others. Tactics should be regarded as an entire that may ensue, although this may be easier program. Thinking multimodal is key. We have to give said than done. Chances are, a lot of hands will physicians a chance to respond to determine their be touching your RM program, and there will be many preference for not only the tactic but also how it is interested, affected and vested parties—from individuals delivered. The good news is that physicians are already in multiple internal departments to a network of outside accessing some of the technology you’ll be using. An vendors. This is not the time to retreat to political silos. estimated 80% of all physicians under the age of 45 These different teams need to work together and carry smart phones and nearly 1 in 4 participates in complement each other’s contributions. Pick the core
eDetail programs . There are many vehicles at your
competencies of each group and have them focus on the
disposal—take the time needed to invest in the right
task at hand. Everyone needs to know how to play well
together in order to deliver the best program results.
5 Address sales force fears. Nearly everyone 8 Don’t lose sight of the message. If you’ve been
delivering the same message to your audience would agree that the in-person relationships for a while, changing the medium in which developed by the field force are the number one you communicate that message is not likely to have relationship marketing vehicle available. However, it’s much of an impact. Concentrate instead on delivering not uncommon for sales reps and their management information that’s new and meaningful to physicians. to view HCP RM programs with resentment. In reality, Translate those hours and pages of physician insight
these programs aren’t intended to replace the sales research into meaningful content that can result in
force—ideally, these programs should serve to assist and
behavior change. Find a balance between branded
augment sales force efforts. A successful RM program
and unbranded communications. Focus on providing must be integrated with all the efforts put forth by the needed services to your audience versus simply selling sales group, and be developed with their involvement yourself and you just might find yourself becoming the Clearly, HCP RM programs are growing in prominence. Finding success in this area requires understanding your customers like never before in order to offer them meaningful information and tools that they actually want to use. By integrating these tactics and resources so they all work well together you can successfully shift from the mindset of physician “selling” to one of physician “service.” Making that shift will strengthen your relationships with all your key targets—a critical requirement in moving HCPs closer toward ultimate brand loyalty.
, full-service interactive and relationship marketing agency focused exclusively on healthcare. Our innovative communications solutions help improve the health of people with serious and chronic conditions such as Diabetes, Acromegaly, CTCL, and PAH. We solve challenges creatively and are relentless about ongoing measurement and optimization. These strengths, combined with our company-wide belief in honesty and integrity, are what drive our organization and keep our clients coming 1 1 The Innovation Lab series is an informative and collaborative workshop that provides insight and guidance about emerging marketing trends and how to successfully apply them. More than passive “sit and listen” sessions, these are engaging and interactive events from which attendees emerge smarter and armed with real marketing solutions for their company or brand(s). Previous sessions have focused on Social Media and Mobile Media.


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