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What pharma communication will be all about Post Pandemic?

Rediffusion Healthcare today released a research report focussing on how the healthcare space has undergone a major metamorphosis during the pandemic. The Healthcare arm of advertising agency conducted a nation-wide in-depth study with 115 doctors & health professionals… each interaction lasting almost an hour where a whole host of patient-doctor relationship issues & the changing nature of pharma communication was discussed.

The Report was released in Mumbai by Mr. N. Rajaram, Managing Director, Sanofi India Limited, in the presence of Dr. Sandeep Goyal, Managing Director of Rediffusion.

The standstill life in pandemic made everyone realize that earning money is not everything, health also matters. Everyone understood the importance of “slowing down & taking it easy.” With absence of physical meet-ups, everyone across healthcare industry adopted digital tools to function & reach out to their stakeholders. The pandemic has changed the overall healthcare system, with a paradigm shift in doctor patient relationship & doctor- sales representative relationship.

Rediffusion Healthcare conducted an all India survey amongst the key stakeholders to understand the consumer perspective towards health, doctor consultation, impact of digitalisation on buying behaviour & changed doctor-sales representative communication and how much of this will continue post Covid-19.

Some of the interesting findings of the survey were:

Holistic approach towards managing health: Consumers are more aware & cautious with their health. Their perspective changed to leading healthier & stress free life with holistic approach. More than 50% respondents interviewed resort to home-made food, home remedies & alternative medicines like Ayurveda & Homeopathy.

Buying medical gadgets & installing Health app is flavor of the season:

As a precautionary measure more than 40% respondents invested in buying medical devices to check vitals for themselves or their family leading to surge in medical gadget sales. And many downloaded health related app to monitor their health.

Increasing trend was seen towards buying medicines online: Currently, 30% respondents interviewed bought their medicine from online pharmacy. Consumers & doctors agreed that this trend will continue post pandemic.

Hybrid model for patient visit: Though initially, patients & doctors showed interest in adaptation of digital platforms for consultation. However, with life returning to normalcy, doctors are now interested in hybrid model- which is like first visit in-clinic and then follow it up with teleconsultation or online consultation.

Personal branding for doctors: We found that 83% doctors interviewed now feel “Personal Branding” is very important in today’s scenario in reaching out to more patients socially /digitally & build positive image about self. They would need help in terms of creating disease related awareness, managing website & managing online patient appointments.

The Doctor- sales representative communication changed post pandemic

Due to restricted entry in doctor’s chamber, the in-clinic detailed conversation have changed to

hallway conversations/detailing from outside the doctor’s consulting room & digital tabs changed to big size visual aid which are visible from a distant. Mode of communication with doctors have changed with usage of various digital platforms- whatsapp & i-message, FB, Instagram, Blogs & microblogs & YouTube video & zoom calls for remote detailing.

Doctors now want healthcare companies to adopt a hybrid model - PHYGITAL

While discussing with the stakeholders, we realized that everyone is looking to adopt hybrid model with a mix of in-clinic physical visit & online interactions. In-clinic discussions will be more at the specialty level whereas digital medium will play a big role to communicate key messages of the product & brand.

“As it is general practitioners were becoming a rarified species. With more & more consumers looking to find information, data & validation on the net, there is increasing preference for self-assessment, self-medication & self-advice amongst patients today. The pandemic created some amount of self-restraint in terms of seeking face to face doctor meetings which further pushed up google search as a bridge to self-awareness and self-knowledge” says Dr. Sandeep Goyal.

Adds Ms. Aarti Dharmadhikari who heads up the research wing at Rediffusion Healthcare, “The research study has only confirmed that phygital will be the way forward both between doctors & patients & doctors- pharma professionals. The internet will become an increasing source of both information & reassurance for patients”.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR HEALTHCARE STAKEHOLDERS?

With patients being more concerned about their health & taking efforts in managing it themselves by buying devices, downloading health apps & buying medicine online, marketers need to rethink their communication strategy & messages.

Digital engagement is here to stay & the trend is catching up, marketers will have to be more innovative & use creative ways to engage doctors & help them connect to their patients.

Pandemic has created a need for healthcare ecosystem that is integrated digitally to enable reach for patients and doctors who refrain from in-person visits to avoid infections. With the rising adoption levels and a promising growth of virtual care, healthcare businesses will further need to refine and simplify their business models.

Going forward, the ability of companies to digitize fast, optimize the use of data analytics and improve customer experience will be the biggest differentiator in the industry. 

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