27.09.2022 | Health Strategy

HCP customer insight: How to make it work for you

By Jerin Thomas

HCP customer insight: How to make it work for you

At CREATION.co, we deliver industry leading consulting by learning from healthcare professionals (HCPs) online. We have vast experience of delivering expertise to the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector for more than 20 years, presenting actionable insights to global audiences based on solid understanding developed through tried, tested and improved methods of HCP and industry understanding. We have had opportunities to present our world-class methodology at popular conferences as well as to our clients. From all our previous experiences, I have listed down key learnings for pharmaceutical companies to consider on what can be achieved by implementing a successful HCP Insight study.

1. Define the business need

When developing a successful customer insights study, it is important to define the business needs and challenges; you need to get a clear picture of what you want to understand from or about your customers, and the desired outcome. At CREATION.co we work with pharmaceutical business leaders who are able to define a specific challenge or opportunity that they are facing, that can only be solved through a better understanding of their HCP customers. When we support and enable pharmaceutical companies to implement actions based on insights, it becomes more valuable for the team in reaching their objectives.

Considering the product development pipeline, there are several areas where it is hugely beneficial to look at HCPs’ online conversations. You could use HCP online insights in the pre-launch, launch or post-launch phases.

For example, pharmaceutical companies can leverage online HCP insights post-launch to understand HCPs’ attitude towards a drug class or product. This would allow them to identify and solve customer needs ultimately to influence HCPs’ decision on treatment choice.

2. Establish business critical questions to answer

As part of CREATION.co’s way of working, we start the project by inviting our clients to an ‘UNDERSTAND’ kick-off workshop where we help to establish business questions based on their business needs. 

We call this the ‘Understanding Phase’; it gives an opportunity to imagine what is possible, to dive into the mind of the customer and uncover the details we’ve always wanted to know. A successful implementation of this process and the delivery of a successful project would lead to a closed loop system where we answer the business questions and see how the identified business needs have been met by actions agreed at the end of a project. New content or engagement plans among the online HCP communities, patient advocacy groups (PAGs) and other medical organisations can be tracked to gauge how well tactics resonated; and you can keep informed with customers’ new needs in order to anticipate and respond. In this way pharmaceutical companies can actively support HCPs and a wider audience, building trust and changing HCPs’ attitudes.

3. Finding your target audience and Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs)

The Pharmaceutical industry has a great advantage in that it already has a clearly defined customer audience: HCPs are the key group to understand and engage with since ultimately, they will be making the decision regarding treatment and prescription (even though other healthcare stakeholders e.g., payers, policymakers etc. also play a role in treatment decisions). 

With CREATION Pinpoint®, we can filter out all other noise and just focus on HCP conversations. This allows CREATION Pinpoint® to fill the gap between traditional market research, where there is a low volume of data from a selected group, and conventional social media listening, where there is a high volume of data from anyone and everyone who wants to talk about a particular topic online.

HCPs such as Philip Gardiner and Richard Brady have been pioneering social media use and have demonstrated effective use for professional collaboration. This kind of collaboration is far from an uncommon phenomenon; right across the healthcare spectrum we see HCPs connecting with one another online.Even back in 2016, in a UK study carried out in Type 1 Diabetes, we found that the top 25 DOLs, those HCPs who are the most influential and guiding the online conversation, exist in a highly connected network of following relationships. This allows peers to collaborate quickly and extensively and for their opinions to be heard by global networks of followers. These connections have only grown stronger and bigger, and in a 2022 webinar we shared our distilled wisdom from 100,000+ hours of research into the behaviours of online health stakeholders.

4. Explore and develop engagement strategies

Once the research has been completed, we encourage our clients to bring their cross-functional teams to explore ideas and develop and evaluate HCP engagement strategies utilising the online insights. This ensures the strategies and tactics developed will cover different angles and help the team avoid running into roadblocks. We also see that a cross-functional effort quickens the implementation of tactics and encourages collaboration and shared learnings within the organisation. 

What can be achieved through an HCP insight study?

Here are a few examples of how a social media study can be leveraged. 

  1. Use your customers’ language
  2. Meet customers’ expressed needs
  3. Develop digital customer advocates
  4. Improve offline marketing
  5. Provide timely patient support
  6. Target digital content
  7. Integrate social and CRM data
  8. Prepare informed policy response
  9. Identify Digital Opinion Leaders
  10. Differentiate from competitors
  11. Leverage congress meetings
  12. Enrich your digital/social media campaigns
  13. Combat misinformation

Identifying the conversations that matter allows you to stay ahead of the game. Knowing the needs and questions of customers helps to address them before they turn into significant issues. In order to ensure this is a successful endeavour, you need to:

  1. Define the business need
  2. Establish business critical questions to answer
  3. Find your target audience
  4. Explore and develop engagement strategies

All these steps are framed around the end-goal of producing actionable insights to solve a challenge or need through a strategic approach to HCP social listening.

For more information on how to make an HCP customer insights study work for you, sign up to one of our webinars which are free to those in pharma/healthcare organisations. Alternatively, get in touch, we’d love to chat.

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Meet the Author

Jerin Thomas

Jerin has several years of experience working in life science and healthcare companies. He combines his passion for healthcare and problem solving to journey with clients through every step during a project and beyond.

As a new father, when the opportunity arises he loves to watch and play table tennis, football and tennis. He also enjoys cooking and spending quality time with family and friends.