Insights on Omnichannel, AI and Next-Best Action in HCP Engagement

Avatar for Steve Silvestro
President OptimizeRx Corporation

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The phrases “omnichannel,” “artificial intelligence” and “next-best action” have become ubiquitous in conversations around how to overcome the challenges of reaching HCPs and, ultimately, their patients. But what do those on the front lines of life science data and marketing think is working, and how should brands pivot for future success? 

I recently had the opportunity to moderate a webinar panel of industry thought leaders who shared their insights and opinions about the remarkable responses to our recent physician survey, effective next-best action, and more. Our panel included: 

  • Daniel Kinney 
  • VP, Global Commercial Data Science, Janssen 
  • Andrew Miller 
  • EVP, Digital Activation, CMI Media Group 
  • Angelo Campano 
  • General Manager, Commercial Products, Doximity 
  • Mark Bard 
  • Co-Founder and Managing Partner, The DHC Group 

Next-best action is a way for brands manage the “signal to noise” ratio, so HCPs have the resources they need to make the best treatment choices for their patients.


Three key takeaways from our experts’ discussion

  1. Unmet physician needs are a big opportunity for life science brands

In OptimizeRx’s recent survey of 120+ physicians across five specialties, we learned they are even busier than anyone might have thought. They’re using 10+ channels a day to find brand information, but 77% of them are finding it hard to keep up with new or changing treatments. Our panelists are not surprised, with one noting that these numbers are “inching up” across healthcare – physicians are simply too busy, and the number of complex treatments is increasing along with the pace of medical innovation generally. 

It's no wonder that nearly half of HCPs want more information on clinical and non-clinical topics such as patient affordability (48%) and prior authorization (43%). And just over 30% want to hear about patient eligibility, formulary coverage, and prescribing guidelines. But they don’t want generic information – 59% say it must align with patient needs.  

Our panelists see meeting these physician needs as a significant opportunity for brands’ HCP marketing programs, one that can be enabled by today’s more robust AI audience data and targeting capabilities. To paraphrase one of our experts: “The highest number is 48%, so it's not one size fits all. There's 52% for whom [a specific need or message] is not top of mind. That’s why it becomes so important to understand, on a physician-by-physician basis, what the needs are so that we can tailor our communications … and help fill experience and knowledge gaps.” 

  1. Curing the “trust hangover” comes from better anticipating and meeting HCPs needs

One of our experts shared the anecdote of an oncologist plagued by frequent cardiology ads and messages – often when that physician was busy and least interested in any brand communications (let alone those for a different specialty). And the other panelists saw the same pattern – where sending irrelevant, “spammy” or mistimed brand information caused a brand to lose physicians attention or increase opt-outs. 

One of our panelists also noted that brands can’t underestimate the demand on a physician’s time: for example, standing between the physician and the co-pay cards left at the front desk is a “landmine” of other demands. Another panelist said: “the most common thing coming from the clinician audience is that … a lot of them don't really know a lot about the types of affordability programs that are out there for their patients.”  

So while pharma companies have provided great support for HCPs – well beyond the dinners, pads and pens of a prior era – there’s still room to add real value. To be successful, future HCP engagement programs need to not only reach the right physicians at the right time, but also provide them with the information they actively need in that moment. This likely explains the growing interest in next-best action strategies as we way to feed HCPs’ appetite for messages that are relevant credible, reliable, and trustworthy, at a time and on the preferred channel for overwhelmed HCPs. Next-best action is a way for brands manage the “signal to noise” ratio, as one expert put it, so HCPs have the resources they need to make the best treatment choices for their patients. 

  1. Next-best action should be reframed as a patient-first approach

Our panel agreed that the number one word to keep in mind when considering how to best reach HCPs and their brand-eligible patients now and in the future is “dynamic.” Life science marketing has evolved from multichannel to omnichannel, increasing in relevance and garnering HCP trust along the way. But many brand ads are still generic. Patient journey mapping is static. A single, annual brand plan still rules marketing execution. And even next-best action strategies are overly focused on what one of our experts called “the PLD [physician-level data] mandate.”  

But patients are people, and their experiences are varied. The patient journey is often complex and fluid, not linear and unchanging. Testing and diagnostics are changing how and when certain medications are prescribed, and barriers to access and adherence continue to impact patient care. In response to this ever-shifting landscape, brands need to embrace a flexible, adaptable approach to stay relevant – which can be a tall order for a tightly-controlled industry. 

One of our panelists described it as: “We're dealing with patients who are by definition alive. So their day-to-day changes, and their physician’s behavior changes based on the patient pool that they're working with. We have to be nimble and able to address those needs.” 

Next-best-action strategies are one way for brands to evolve from static to dynamic programs. But first, brands need to reframe their traditional understanding of next-best action through a patient-centric approach. Instead of a message/channel/timing framework, a stronger approach:  

  • Starts with defining the ideal patient 
  • Identifies their full care team  
  • Predicts their next care milestones 
  • Delivers just-in-time communications 

By keeping the focus on patients, this revised framework maximizes the relevance of each and every message to HCPs – increasing the value of brand communications to HCPs, supporting care and treatment decisions, and driving impact of HCP engagement campaigns. 

Interested in Exploring a Next-Best-Action Strategy for Your Brand?

Book a meeting with our team today to learn more about how our Dynamic Audience Activation Platform (DAAP) meets all of these challenges to drive higher HCP engagement, script impact and conversions.


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