How well do you know your physicians? Venkat Gullapalli, MD shares his insights on physician profiles, why they‘re important, and what you can do to create your own.
Understanding consumer/customer needs, behaviors, and preferences helps organizations make important decisions around sales and marketing, designing products and services while helping to demonstrate business value. In healthcare, understanding physicians and their behaviors is not only significantly more complex, but infinitely more dynamic as well given there are numerous factors to consider including specialty, discipline, research interest(s), years in practice, location, level of education, and affiliation.
Today’s marketers are creating and leveraging customer profiles to gain a better understanding of physicians, their behaviors, preferences, and what they have in common. As in consumer marketing, these profiles help them to develop deeper relationships with their audience(s) and share personalized and timely information that fits into the physician’s daily workload through their channel of choice.
But what is a profile? Here are examples of two types:
Profile A: Primary care physician, 10 years in practice, subscribes to the latest clinical news on his iPad, has a geriatric patient population, and practice focused mostly around treating diabetes, heart disease, and vision/hearing loss-related conditions.
Profile B: Primary care physician has been using a physician portal 3-4 times a week for the past year, goes straight to the news section, and reads his messages spending an average of 20 minutes per session (but hasn’t logged in during the past 3 weeks)
Which profile do you think would be more valuable?
They’re both critical pieces of information to have, depending on how we look at it. Profile A is important because it gives you an idea of what type of content to create, and what channel/format the physician prefers, while Profile B provides information around behaviors, actions, and preferences.
Profile A provides value in the short-term by understanding what it takes to attract and acquire physicians. For Profile B, the insights are more behavioral in nature, since they show how the physician is behaving online and what type and level of involvement he has within the portal. Profile B allows us to ask and understand questions around when he’ll come back, what information he’ll access, and at what times. Looking at this type of data with a historical view helps marketers predict what a future relationship with this physician will be like. In the long-term, Profile B is far more valuable than the demographic information that Profile A provides.
Developing useful profiles isn’t that hard, and they’re a quick and easy way to understand your physician audience and what motivates them to engage with your brand or prescribe your product.
we’re going to give you a quick guide on how to create your own physician profiles.
Start building the profile by using the following top-level steps:
Before you do anything, compile as much qualitative and quantitative information about your physician audience(s) as you can using existing data, research, surveys, and interviews. This will help you gain insights into who your ideal physician is (or isn’t), and how your product and content will fit into their daily workflow.
Examples of information to collect can include:
- Demographic information: This includes the basics, ie – age, education, location, specialty, discipline, subspecialty, areas of research/interest, patient population served, practice type, office roles of nurses, NPs and PAs, etc.
- Behavioral information: With behavioral information, define what members of your physician audience really care the most about, where they get their information and how often, how they refer and to whom, what motivates them and how their behaviors relate to their motivation. This type of information is critical as it allows brands to connect with their audience(s), something that demographic data can’t provide, no matter how robust it is.
- Goals/Objectives: Going one step further, work to understand your physician audience’s goal is when interacting with your brand – whether they want to order samples online, access the latest clinical trial information, or prescribe your product.
As you compile your physician information and your understanding of your audience grows, your own goals will become clearer and your ability to fine tune your message will grow. Among the questions you will want to ask are:
Additional informational needs:
- How does your physician audience learn about new information when it comes to understanding a product?
- What channels, media, and formats do they use to access this information (blogs, journals, conferences, etc.).
Engagement and conversion behaviors
- How do they interact with a pharmaceutical company/product? How do they interact with your brand? Via the web, sales reps/MSLs, email?
- Who do they seek information from? Who influences them? Who do they influence?
- What motivates them to prescribe one product over another?
- What is a physician looking for when they come to your website? Is it the same as a nurse? An NP/PA?
- How do they typically prescribe a product? Why did they prescribe it? What factors, algorithms, guidelines, financial, and patient factors did they consider? Was the patient involved in the decision? If so, what was the patient’s level of education and awareness around their condition?
You can use a variety of tools to collect the information. These range from interviews, surveys, market research, and CRM data. Transactional data such as logins, views, and downloads from Google analytics and social media, can help also.
Savvy pharma marketers are beginning to capture information that until recently was unavailable to them. These engagement analytics provide a more comprehensive data set that most marketers have never seen. This data set includes:
This refers to your standard Google analytics, such as views, logins, downloads, bounce rates, etc.
This data captures the breadth, depth and types of involvement physicians have with pharma, such as frequency and quantity of what they’re reading or writing about.
This data captures the dynamics between the impact physicians have on content and the impact the content has had on the physician. For example, what did the physician do with the content? Did he/she share it, recommend it, or suggest it? And if so, what did the physician he/she shared or suggested it to do with that content? How long did they read it, how many times, did they share it, suggest it, etc?
This is the most unique set of data. How do the physicians FEEL about the content. Or how do they feel about the brand and the company?
At this point, you should have a nice picture of your physician, their behaviors, and the best places to engage them with content that is relevant to them. Taking it further, you should be able to measure how they interact with your brand and content to refine your profiles and improve your marketing.
By building a comprehensive and robust physician profile, you’ll have a much better chance in engaging a physician with your product or information and developing a deeper relationship with them through their channel of choice. By doing so, you’ll be light years ahead of your competition, as they try to reach their physician audiences without this information.