3 Key Challenges for Biopharma Marketers Trying to Reach Healthcare Providers

Blog Posts  |  29 December 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant changes to the biopharmaceutical marketing environment. Traditionally, biopharma has relied on face-to-face meetings with healthcare providers (HCPs) to share product-related promotional information—but face-to-face meetings have been severely restricted in the past few years. According to a recent survey, 43% of HCPs limit in-person visits from pharmaceutical reps. Among physicians with restrictions, 28% believe they may implement those restrictions permanently; 44% expect to keep restrictions “for the foreseeable future.” In another international survey, physicians predicted long-term changes in how they interact with biopharma companies. More than 95% of biopharma contacts currently occur via virtual channels; more than 75% of physicians said they want to maintain or increase this shift.

At the same time, HCPs face increasing workloads; they are frequently too busy to sit at a desk for virtual meetings with biopharma reps. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, half a million healthcare workers have left their jobs since February 2020. The healthcare sector remains 78,000 workers short of pre-pandemic numbers. Meanwhile, a 2022 Medscape survey reveals that burnout continues to affect 47% of physicians.

HCP interactions with biopharma markets are changing: It’s time to update your marketing strategy. Keep reading for three of the biggest challenges you may encounter when trying to reach HCPs in the post-pandemic era—and a unique solution to help you to overcome them.

#1. Avoiding “promo fatigue”

To combat reduced access to HCPs, marketers have increasingly turned to digital solutions. The result? According to recent research, “promo fatigue” is on the rise—doctors feeling that they’ve been getting spammed with digital marketing overkill during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over half of HCPs (62%) report feeling overwhelmed by the product-related promotional content they’ve received from drug makers.

Another survey yielded similar results:

  • 64% of HCPs reported getting too much digital content from pharma
  • 65% said at least one pharma company had “spammed” them since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

With so many barriers to in-person meetings with HCPs, digital solutions have become more attractive—but when overdone, they are also a sure way to get HCPs to ignore your messaging. How can biopharma engage HCPs in the new marketing landscape? The first step is to avoid bombarding them with too much content or content irrelevant to their current needs.

Unfortunately, according to a recent report, 70% of HCPs feel that biopharmaceutical marketers don’t fully understand their current needs and expectations. Nearly 1 in 4 physicians surveyed reported the belief that pharma companies don’t adequately understand their changing needs and expectations for patient treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

This means targeting promotional messaging based on providers’ needs—which requires reaching the right providers. Only then can you support HCPs with the current, context-appropriate information and tools they need.

#2. Finding the right HCPs for your product

Targeting the right HCPs is critical if you want providers to engage with your approved promotional messaging—but it can also be extremely challenging.

Identifying the right HCPs is all about recognizing their needs and context, so you can work to provide them with relevant solutions to help them help their current patients. That’s why finding the right HCPs requires data: To identify your ideal audience, you need to know things such as HCP specialty, location, patient type, and prescribing habits. You also need to be able to track and measure the progress of your efforts to reach your target market, so you can support effective strategies and adjust those that are falling short.

Veradigm Digital Health Media uses de-identified, HIPAA-compliant, real-world data to deliver highly targeted messaging, directly to the point-of-care. Digital Health Media reaches physicians through a channel they use every day: their electronic health records (EHRs)1. Because Veradigm is the source of the data itself, Digital Health Media is able to leverage de-identified, near real-time EHR data to ensure your approved brand awareness messaging is seen by the HCPs most relevant to your brand or therapeutic area, all in a compliant with HIPAA manner and other applicable laws.

In addition to getting your messaging to the right HCPs, Digital Health Media also allows you to deliver messaging throughout the patient encounter, across a broad range of clinical workflow elements that are key to the provider/patient consultation. This allows messaging to be delivered via the EHR at points where it will be most beneficial.2

#3 Reaching HCPs where they are

Even after you identify the best HCPs to reach with your approved promotional messaging, it can be challenging to figure out where to reach them. Numerous digital channels are available, but it can be difficult to pair the right channels with the right physicians.

That’s one strength of point-of-care messaging: By reaching physicians via their EHRs, it reaches them through a channel they use every day. As of 2021, nearly 9 in 10 (88%) of office-based physicians used EHRs in their day-to-day practice. According to a recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, today’s providers spend an average of about 16 minutes per patient using their EHRs. If the average HCP sees about 20 patients a day that translates to about 320 minutes, or nearly 5.5 hours, of EHR time daily.

Point-of-care messaging is also a preferred method of communication for many HCPs. According to a recent survey, 78% of providers prefer to receive product updates from biopharmaceutical and healthcare companies via their EHRs. Note, though, that this doesn’t include just any promotional messaging. Providers aren’t interested in generic banner ads. In another survey, more than 4 out of 5 EHR-using physicians said they were not interested in accessing biopharma ads in their EHRs.

However, these same physicians were interested in resources that would help them better care for their patients, such as patient education, patient support programs, and patient assistance programs. Physician-preferred messages are those that can provide value to their patients, better equip them for interacting with patients or help make their workflow more efficient. Providers want clinical information; clinical resources; information that focuses on the needs of the physician and patient rather than solely on promotional messaging.

Reaching the right providers at the right time creates the opportunity to engage your target market by thinking beyond your products’ basic promotional messaging to provide HCPs with educational material tailored to their current situations. For more examples of information, providers may find valuable, see our previous post on the value of point-of-care messaging.

Veradigm® Digital Health Media

HCPs are changing how they interact with biopharma, which has created multiple challenges for marketers trying to reach providers. However, biopharmaceutical companies will have the most success standing out above the noise if they can engage their healthcare provider audience with information and support relevant to their current needs.

Veradigm Digital Health Media can help you accomplish this. Digital Health Media reaches one of the largest EHR provider audiences in the U.S. It enables you to reach targeted providers at the point-of-care, using a channel they interact with daily—their EHRs. By delivering highly targeted messaging, Digital Health Media helps your brand messaging reach providers of interest at multiple points throughout the clinical workflow, providing the greatest benefit to both providers and their patients.

Contact us to learn more about Digital Health Media and how it can help you better engage providers.


1. Advertisements are displayed in an iframe window that is separate and distinguishable from the clinical and practice management workflow within the EHR.
2. No biopharma or device advertisements appear during the prescribing workflow consistent with applicable law.

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