The healthcare industry has witnessed a seismic shift in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the rise of telehealth — the delivery of health services remotely through the use of live video conferencing, phone calls, email, and secure messaging — patients have grown accustomed to receiving medical care on their own terms, anytime and anywhere.
Gone are the days when pharmaceutical marketing solely relied on in-person interactions between sales representatives and healthcare professionals. The rise of telehealth has created a new reality, where patient consultations occur via video calls, medical advice is sought through secure messaging platforms, and virtual care providers seamlessly connect patients with healthcare professionals. This shift not only redefines the patient-physician relationship, but also lends itself to pharmaceutical companies taking a fresh approach to digital marketing.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, telehealth visits jumped from 840,000 in 2019 to 52.7 million in 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, interest in virtual medicine has continued to increase – albeit, at a slower pace. Federal legislation designed to extend telehealth flexibilities for Medicare will run at least through December 31st, 2024, and perhaps even longer.
On one hand, telehealth makes it easier for patients to access healthcare, including prescription drugs. This could lead to increased competition for pharmaceutical companies, as they compete for patients’ attention and business. At the same time, it’s important to consider that telehealth also provides pharmaceutical companies with new channels to reach patients. For example, pharmaceutical startups can now market their products directly to patients through telehealth platforms. They can also use telehealth to provide educational resources to patients and healthcare providers.
The potential for pharmaceutical companies to leverage telehealth as a conduit for effective marketing can’t be overstated. This revolution brings forth an array of opportunities for pharmaceutical brands to engage patients, empower healthcare providers, and strengthen their connections to the broader healthcare ecosystem.
Navigating this new landscape successfully requires a clear understanding of the regulations that impact pharmaceutical marketing, as well as the desire to innovate in a field that’s constantly changing.
Embracing Digital Engagement
Telehealth has created a digital landscape where patients and healthcare providers interact seamlessly. To effectively market their products, pharmaceutical companies must establish a strong digital presence.
What does that entail?
For starters, pharmaceutical brands must optimize their websites, develop user-friendly mobile applications, and leverage social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok to engage patients and healthcare professionals. Interactive educational content, informative blogs, and live webinars can empower patients and enable healthcare providers to make well-informed treatment decisions.
Telehealth offers a unique opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to tailor their marketing communications to individual patients and healthcare providers. By utilizing data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), companies can segment their target audience and deliver personalized messages via email, text messages, or in-app notifications. Customized communication not only enhances patient engagement, but also fosters a stronger relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical marketers.
Collaborating with Telehealth Platforms
Pharmaceutical companies should establish strategic partnerships with telehealth platforms and virtual care providers. Digital agencies like EsperienzaRx can assist in connecting pharma brands with the right platform partners.
When they’re done right, these collaborations can enable seamless integrations of drug information into telehealth platforms, ensuring that physicians have access to accurate and up-to-date medication details during their virtual consultations. Additionally, partnerships between pharmaceutical brands and telehealth platforms can facilitate targeted advertising and sponsorship opportunities, enabling pharma companies to reach a wider audience.
Providing Virtual Detailing
With telehealth becoming more prevalent, fewer pharmaceutical sales representatives will soon be needed to visit medical offices or provide healthcare professionals with product samples in-person.
That doesn’t mean sales reps are needed.
In fact, pharmaceutical sales representatives may be even more necessary in the coming years as they adapt to offering virtual detailing services. Through video conferences and secure messaging platforms, sales reps can engage with healthcare providers remotely, highlighting the benefits and efficacy of their products.
Virtual detailing saves time and enhances accessibility, ultimately improving the dissemination of pharmaceutical information.
Fostering Patient Education
Telehealth empowers patients to take a more active role in their healthcare decisions. Pharmaceutical companies can contribute to this by providing educational resources that promote health literacy and encourage informed treatment choices.
By developing user-friendly apps, online forums, and educational videos, pharmaceutical companies can enhance patient understanding of their medications, potential side effects, and adherence practices.
Informed patients are more likely to actively engage in their treatment plans and achieve better health outcomes.
Leveraging Telehealth Data
Telehealth platforms generate a vast amount of valuable data that pharma brands can use to inform their digital marketing practices. In addition to collaborating with healthcare providers to gain insights into patient needs, treatment patterns, and preferences, the opportunity also exists for pharmaceutical companies to use data to inform their targeted marketing campaigns, support product development, and drive evidence-based decision-making.
Leveraging telehealth data enables companies to optimize their marketing efforts and align their product offerings with evolving healthcare demands. However, it should be noted that this is an advanced marketing approach that almost always requires the guidance of a digital marketing firm that specializes in working with pharmaceutical brands.
Take Action: 5 Pharma Marketing Strategies to Try Today
Ready to get started? Try these marketing strategies to reach more patients and healthcare providers through online telehealth platforms.
- Create telehealth-specific marketing materials. This could include educational brochures, videos, or webinars that are designed for patients who are using telehealth.
- Train sales representatives on how to sell to telehealth providers. Sales reps should be familiar with the telehealth landscape and how to reach patients through these channels.
- Develop a telehealth-friendly website. Your company’s website should be easy to navigate and should provide patients with the information they need about your products and services.
- Use social media to reach patients. Social media is a proven way to connect with patients who are using telehealth. Pharmaceutical companies should use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok to share educational content, answer questions, and promote their top-selling products.
- Leverage telehealth data for marketing. Find ways to use the data generated by online telehealth platforms to inform your digital marketing efforts. Given the ample regulatory and privacy considerations, you should only consider this approach if you’re working with an agency that specializes in pharmaceutical marketing, like EsperienzaRx.
The growing role of telehealth in medicine presents a unique opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to adapt their marketing strategies and connect with patients and healthcare providers in innovative ways. Embracing digital engagement, personalizing communication channels, collaborating with telehealth platforms, and leveraging telehealth data are crucial steps toward success in this evolving landscape.