Creating easy-to-navigate digital experiences for HCPs with a well implemented design system
What can pharma teams do to create better digital experiences for HCPs that build trust and strengthen relationships?
We caught up with Maria Nieves Alvarado, Associate Director, Omnichannel Marketing Excellence, at Astellas Pharma, to understand her perspective.
In case you missed it, we recently launched a new whitepaper exploring whether trust was the key factor in digital HCP engagement, and looking at what pharma teams could do to strengthen relationships and create better digital products and services.
You can download your copy of the report here: graphitedigital.com/trust
Here, we speak with Maria Nieves Alvarado, Associate Director, Omnichannel Marketing Excellence, at Astellas Pharma, to delve into some of the themes raised in the report.
Hi Maria. Thanks for speaking with us today.
Firstly, what do you think pharma teams can do to foster more positive perceptions and relationships amongst HCPs?
It is imperative for us, as pharmaceutical companies, to strike the right balance that enables us to deliver enhanced value to both the medical community and our patient population. We need to transition from focusing on metrics like 'target visits, frequency, and adoption scale' to prioritising 'engagement score, customer satisfaction, and value perception.' This calls for a more specialised approach that is rooted in a comprehensive understanding of the needs and interests of all stakeholders involved.
“We need to transition from focusing on metrics like 'target visits, frequency, and adoption scale' to prioritising 'engagement score, customer satisfaction, and value perception.”
Our research revealed disparities in perceptions of pharma-owned digital content and channels across the UK, USA and France — with the most favourable perceptions and highest interaction levels in the USA, and lowest in the UK.
Do you think it will always be the case that HCP relationships are stronger in the US and similar markets due to the healthcare models? Or can relationships with UK HCPs move the same way?
In my opinion, as the commercial pharmaceutical model evolves towards a more specialised medical visit, there is a potential for UK HCPs and pharmaceutical companies to foster a closer relationship. However, the realisation of this potential is contingent upon how effectively pharma companies adapt to the current circumstances and respond to the rapidly changing environment.
When we asked HCPs about the limitations, pain points and frustrations they feel with existing digital platforms, one of the most common issues raised was about usability and navigation. They felt that platforms are difficult to navigate and often have overwhelming amounts of information.
Why do you think that these problems around usability and navigation are so common?
In my humble opinion, there are two pivotal elements at play here.
Historically, pharma companies have not been trailblazers in embracing these concepts, particularly when compared to industries that are naturally more innovative, such as the tech sector.
The regulatory environment is a significant factor. It is vital that we, as an industry, communicate more effectively with our healthcare professionals (HCPs) to help them understand the necessity of a 'gated website.' This also includes emphasising the value of accessing reliable and trustworthy information.
Regarding the first point, there appears to be a course correction underway, or at least an initiative to resolve this issue, as companies have greater control over this aspect. However, when it comes to the second point, there is a substantial 'perception' challenge that has justifiably grown over time. Compounding this issue, other industries have developed tools that surpass those available in the pharma sector (e.g ChatGPT), widening the gap and making it increasingly challenging for pharma to catch up.
There is certainly hope, but swift and decisive action is not just beneficial — it is essential.
And given how essential this is, do you think that pharma teams are paying enough attention to the design and usability of their digital products?
Over the past year, I have noticed an increase in initiatives by some pharmaceutical companies aimed at changing this situation. It appears that weQ&a are currently in a 'renewal phase,' where there is a more consistent effort being invested in optimising the user experience. These efforts are showing positive changes in areas such as website design, usability, accessibility, and content strategy.
Nonetheless, there remains significant work to be done, particularly in relation to enhancing access and exploring potential partnerships that could streamline the navigation of available information for healthcare professionals (HCPs). This naturally introduces another layer of debate concerning channel and data ownership issues, such as first-party versus third-party data and customer relationship management (CRM) strategies.
“It appears that we are currently in a 'renewal phase,' where there is a more consistent effort being invested in optimising the user experience.”
How do you think pharma teams can create more consistent digital experiences for HCPs across a brand’s digital touch points?
Undoubtedly, we need to enhance our understanding of our customers' data and the interplay between various touchpoints, which translates into adopting a customer-centric approach. Following this, it is essential to deconstruct and clearly define our objectives for each brand, and then harmonise these objectives across therapeutic areas or specialties. This alignment is crucial in order to craft more effective and engaging customer journeys.
By fostering integrated touchpoints that function cohesively rather than in isolation, we stand to make a significant positive impact. This essentially means sculpting customer journeys through a comprehensive omnichannel approach.
“It is essential to deconstruct and clearly define our objectives for each brand, and then harmonise these objectives across therapeutic areas or specialties. This alignment is crucial in order to craft more effective and engaging customer journeys.”
Another point raised by the HCPs we spoke with was frustration with having to login to gated platforms. Do you think it’s necessary to ask HCPs to login to access platforms and content?
Navigating the regulatory landscape, particularly in the European Union, presents a delicate balance for us in the pharma industry. EU regulations explicitly mandate that certain information must be exclusively accessible by certified healthcare professionals (HCPs). On one hand, this regulatory framework can be viewed as beneficial for the industry, as it allows us to gain a more refined understanding of our customers' data.
On the other hand, this exclusivity creates a significant barrier for HCPs in accessing high-quality information. The stringent access controls can inadvertently direct them towards more generalized sites that may lack the necessary verification protocols, yet still provide medical information. This can be a particularly concerning issue when patients, who may lack the medical background to critically evaluate the information, can access these same sources.
Thus, while the regulations are designed to maintain a high standard of information, they also, unfortunately, complicate the information-seeking process for HCPs and potentially expose patients to information of varying quality.
Thanks for sharing your perspectives, Maria.