Q&A with Matt Titus, CCO of Epocrates


Non-Personal Promotion (NPP) is increasingly becoming a key part of any pharmaceutical marketing strategy, regardless of where a brand is in its lifecycle – from pre-launch or awareness to the state of the disease until maturity (just before the loss of exclusivity). When done correctly, NPP messaging can allow brands to reach the right audience at the right time.

As opportunities for personal relationships with physicians dwindle, synchronized tactics creating a continuous story offer the opportunity to deliver the story the way brands want targets to consume it. The global shift to digital-centric marketing is here to stay – and using NPP as part of an omnichannel storytelling approach will be key to future success in pharma outreach.

Pharmaceutical Executive spoke with Matt Titus, CCO of Epocrates

Pharm Exec: What does the growth of digital channels look like in a post-pandemic environment?

Titus: In recent years, in-person access to health care providers (HCPs) has declined significantly – a trend that has been rapidly accelerated by the pandemic. As a result, there has been a massive increase in demand for digital approaches, including non-personal promotion (NPP), as a key part of any pharmaceutical marketing strategy.

At the same time, healthcare professionals are also looking for more efficient ways to access information, with the emerging “new normal” creating a space where virtual presence is even more relevant than it was by the past. While brand marketers are seeing an increased reliance on NPPs through easy-to-access online sources, nearly 50% of healthcare professionals1 indicated their dissatisfaction with the current state of pharmaceutical marketing – an alarming figure that shows the industry has a lot of work to do.

How can brands strategize on digital platforms?

Brands considering leveraging an NPP approach to reach healthcare professionals should first ask themselves the question: “Where are they spending their time?”

While computers are certainly present in every modern practice, smartphones are used almost as often for business purposes, followed closely by tablets and a growing number of smartwatches. By diversifying the approach to digital marketing and using different sources to emphasize the message, the pharmaceutical industry can minimize the risk of direct brand promotional fatigue – presenting a full story across all platforms instead.

Engaging healthcare professionals through multiple channels is key to the success of any campaign. But rather than deploying siloed or cut-and-paste messaging at each outlet, brands should deploy a content journey to tell a story. Measuring healthcare professional engagement with different channels will result in a more personalized set of materials to reach physicians on an individual level.

What questions should be asked when considering which digital platform to use?

These are key questions all marketing teams should ask when looking to leverage NPP across campaigns:

  • What is the user experience offered by your platform?
  • At what point in the workflow does the healthcare professional interact with your content?
  • Can you provide information about the behavior of my targets on your channel?
  • How engaged is your audience?
  • Do you have data showing user influence?
  • Are there any ROI or case studies showing the benefits of your platform?
  • Is there an opportunity to create a content journey for targets?

What’s the best way to find “real engagement” with a digital audience?

It can be tempting to maximize message reach by reaching as many targets as possible across all channels, but this comes at a significant cost of decreased engagement. Maximizing reach without planned engagement results in minimal contact with each individual HCP, and with fewer opportunities to engage each individual, there is a higher chance that the message will not be seen. This is crucial because memory is tied to repetition, which can be achieved by hitting each target multiple times throughout the content journey.

As a next step in reaching an audience of healthcare professionals, consider: is it enough to just get the message across, or is it about getting deeper engagement? When evaluating total channel reach, it’s important to look at each platform’s user base. Some providers will list the target reach in their channel history, while others will provide the reach to their engaged (or active) audience. This discrepancy can lead to inefficient solutions when estimating multi-channel reach. Instead, a balance must be struck between total reach and how often physicians will interact with each channel during the day, as well as their inherent trust for each resource.

How can brands maximize the non-personal promotion landscape?

Part of when considering maximizing the NPP landscape is understanding which tactics have the greatest impact, the greatest reach, and the most aligned Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), but that also includes building awareness. personal through a better engagement approach. While only 10%2 of doctors say they would return to the pre-pandemic ‘norm’ for in-person meetings, the sales rep can still play a role in a virtual campaign approach – although it may not have as much of an impact as other digital strategies.

Since sales reps, medical science liaisons, and email aren’t considered high-impact resources, promoting through NPP tactics like non-pharmaceutical apps can drive higher engagement. from the HCP audience. The use of mobile applications in particular presents a significant gap between the influence of the pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical sector. According to data from Epocrates, only 37% of physicians found pharmaceutical apps to be very influential in 2020, compared to 55% for non-pharmaceutical apps. As physicians progress through a content journey, aligning sales touchpoints with content on a more influential platform like this emphasizes the overall message.

1 https://www.indegene.com/about-us/news/satisfaction-not-guaranteed-doctors-disappointed-pharmas-digital-pandemic-efforts

2 https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/pdf-130/accenture-hcp-survey-v4.pdf


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