Pharma USA 2023

Mar 28, 2023 - Mar 29, 2023,

Pioneer unparalleled stakeholder engagement at North America’s leading commercial event

Connected HCP experiences: The holy grail of precision marketing

Still stuck in multichannel and too often serving up undifferentiated messaging, pharma has much to do to understand and serve individual HCPs

Pharma has a long way to go to achieve a truly tailored customer experience, down to the level of individual healthcare providers (HCPs).

Right now, HCPs don’t think the messages they receive are targeted and relevant to them and they can’t find what they want online, according to a recent survey from Treasure Data . 

The report found that less than half can find information they need on pharma websites (49%). Only 41 percent believe that pharma companies understand their unique preferences and patient needs, and less than one-third (30%) believe the marketing they receive from pharma brands is personalized. 

There are several reasons for this. While pharma’s multichannel offerings may be getting better, these still exist in their own silos. Multiple marketing and commercial projects abound without being linked to form a cohesive whole, says Fonny Schenck, managing director of consultancy, Across Health.

Different agencies commonly work across different channels, websites and webinars, while sales reps work on their own projects, all creating their own customer ‘micro environments’.

Another missing capability lies with the marketing function, which is typically not stitched into the delivery end of omnichannel, says Schenk. “Marketing has a stronger role to play in the end-to-end conversion effort for physicians, or at least for data generation to offer a view of the customer that the rep doesn’t have.”

Medical affairs, meanwhile, is often a blindspot internally, offering little visibility to other functions on its engagement efforts. In one recent example, a client had created separate iterations on Veeva for its sales and medical affairs field forces, says Schenk. 

It’s all a long way from omnichannel. “You would at least expect medical, marketing and sales touchpoints to be visible,” he adds.

The result is that most pharma companies are far from having a 360-degree view of how they engage with individuals and HCPs are still getting bombarded with undifferentiated ‘spray and pray’ messaging, says Michelle Teuscher, Life Science Industry Principal, Treasure Data.

Action on insights from engagement activity often also leaves much to be desired, adds Schenk. “The implementation is poor. Next-best action is relatively simple. It is still a rep-centric notion rather than a cross-functional capability - should I send the doctor an email or visit? That is still mono-functional, not cross functional.”

A final brake on progress towards precision engagement is the emergence from the pandemic and the resumption of physical HCP interactions. “The pandemic and the lack of face-to-face external engagement was a huge catalyst driving investment into technology and platform projects,” says Michael Zaiac, Head of Medical Affairs, Oncology at Novartis. “But post pandemic, the interest has mellowed in several countries because of the return of face-to-face interactions.”

To backslide here would be to miss an enormous opportunity to harness a precision approach to engagement that would yield more value for customers and deeper relationships.

So, what’s needed to achieve the precision marketing capabilities that other industries have already attained?

Pharma must build on its strengths in content by unifying the data and delivering a single view of HCPs
Pharma is doing a good job on content for customers who are increasingly looking to serve themselves. “The majority of pharma companies have a library of relevant and engaging content. Adopting a CDP is table stakes in creating a connected customer experience to ensure the right content is delivered to the right HCPs, using the right channel at the right time,” says Teuscher. 

Treasure Data’s survey found 84% of HCPs now prefer to spend equal or more time researching on their own (as opposed to relying solely on getting it from reps).

HCPs are seeking out information for themselves on a wide range of issues including condition management, side effects, data on patient benefits, financial information about treatments, modes of administration, coverage and co-pays, says Teuscher. 

“The content is there and the will to communicate more effectively is there, but how do you   define what, when and where to communicate? The opportunity now is to capture more information about how people are engaging with that content and then taking it a stage further: Who specifically interfaced with a white paper? Do they want to follow up with a rep? What is the best channel to use: email, an in-person meeting or something through Veeva?”

The potential is for even closer personalization by automating the content querying and delivery processes, says Zaiac. “What we can’t do at the moment is provide bespoke information for each customer. Let’s say I am an HCP and I ask your system to tell me patient-specific information, that would not work today because we can’t feed the risk calculator with the clinical information it needs.”

This is very much a work in progress, however. For highly patient-specific queries to be served, clinical databases will need to work with each other to be able to combine archived information and also link to the omnichannel system to understand the context of a query. Regulatory questions around such high levels of automation must also be satisfied.

Marketing needs to see itself as an integral part of delivering for HCPs
The marketing function needs to be more deeply engaged in the operational delivery of omnichannel, adds Schenk. “Marketing is not just about creative or strategic positioning. It needs to play a role as well in end-to-end customer engagement.”

As a function it will need to reimagine how it works in order to deliver against new engagement targets, says Schenk. “Marketing needs to become more accountable – ‘I am going to engage x number of times with these people on these channels and I can bring x percent of the funnel from thinking this to thinking that’. This is objective and quantified and most marketing people are not into that at all. Currently they think they need to do third-party marketing. They do not see themselves as part of the field force.”

Start by focusing on the high-value prospects
The most immediate efforts can be focused on the areas likely to yield the most significant results - top prescribers. 

Building knowledge of the highest value HCPs and quickly using that to activate multiple platforms to build a lookalike audience on Facebook Doximity, LinkedIn or wherever you are interfacing with HCPs is a good way to begin to reach the most valuable customers, says Teuscher.

“Don’t try to boil the ocean,” adds Schenk. “Don’t try to get a 360-degree view for all doctors or all target groups at once. Focus on the golden segment of physicians. Do we have opt-ins for them? Are they registering for events? Then expand as you go. There’s no need to make the segment that is not seen by the field force a priority.”

Greater automation through AI is going to be essential
Ultimately the only way HCPs are going to be served with precision at the individual level is to deploy AI. There are so many digital interactions, and these will multiply as more information is generated. Human engagement will only go so far.

Customizing interactions with physicians can be done well by software but significant challenges remain in deploying AI routinely. Not least among these are internal misgivings about automating engagement, says Zaiac. “There’s an internal feeling of losing control and delegating it to a level the org is not comfortable with at the moment.”

There’s no question, however, that digital channels have changed the way HCPs interact with pharma. Digital and face-to-face interactions are feeding off each other and driving the demand for a richer set of interactions.

The data to build the fine-grained insights required for effective action need to be captured centrally
The cross-functional approach can only work if the data element is there, says Schenk. “The more different teams get involved with engaging with customers and the more customer centric you need to be the more you need that one view of the customer.”

There’s a clear need to collect, organize, and analyze customer data from across functions, to gather meaningful insights into customer behavior and preferences and to develop targeted marketing campaigns and personalized offers. “We want to touch HCPs on the channels that mean the most to them with a truly orchestrated experience,” says Teuscher.

Customer data platforms (CDPs) are going to be central to the ability to orchestrate campaigns from one central location. They are the place where all HCP engagement touchpoints are captured and supplemented with other data such as prescription information to create a truly 360-degree view of individuals and their needs.

These platforms need to be easy for everyone to use. The data and insights provided need to be in digestible formats so it’s easy on a per-HCP level to see what they have been doing, adds Teuscher. “How do you communicate the insights from a CDP into the tool that a rep uses every day? You don’t want to make salespeople login to multiple systems.” 

The only way to manage this and provide a joined-up experience for HCPs is by linking the data and creating a ‘central nervous system’ capable of ingesting all information relating to an HCP and then helping the organization act on it across as many channels as possible. 

That is the true promise of omnichannel.


About Treasure Data
Treasure Data helps enterprises use all of their customer data to improve campaign performance, achieve operational efficiency, and drive business value with connected customer experiences. The Treasure Data Customer Data Cloud, our suite of customer data platform solutions, integrates customer data, connects identities in unified customer profiles, applies privacy, and makes insights and predictions available for Marketing, Service, Sales and Operations to drive personalized engagement and improve customer acquisition, sales, and retention.

Treasure Data is trusted by hundreds of Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies, has won numerous awards, and has been named a strong performer and leader by top analyst firms. Headquartered in Mountain View, CA, Treasure Data has offices in Japan, South Korea, England and France to help leading brands around the world make the connection. To learn more, visit

Pharma USA 2023

Mar 28, 2023 - Mar 29, 2023,

Pioneer unparalleled stakeholder engagement at North America’s leading commercial event