The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left a lasting impact on the entire healthcare industry, forcing HCP marketers to pivot their strategies and adjust their approaches to more effectively connect with their target healthcare providers going forward. 

To analyze these long-term changes to the HCP marketing industry and discuss what lessons were learned, PDQ Communications in collaboration with global pharma news site FirstWord produced the three-part podcast series ‘From Conference Rooms to Zooms: How Marketing Has Changed Since 2020.’ Episodes are moderated by PDQ Communications VP of Marketing and New Business Development Kevin Kingree, and hosted by FirstWord Perspective’s Ashley Rapp.

The third and final episode of the series “Looking Ahead to a Post-COVID World” features an incisive look at the future of the healthcare marketing landscape, with panelist Wesley van den Heuvel, Senior Director of Omnichannel Engagement at multinational pharmaceutical firm  Novo Nordisk. He and Kingree share their insights on what changes they expect will continue, and how marketers can effectively rise to the challenge. 

“As experienced marketers in the industry, they’re here to help us better understand the challenges facing the industry today, and to share their thoughts on how they think it will evolve,” Rapp says, introducing the pair. 

Van den Heuvel kicks off the conversation by expressing thanks for being invited to the conversation, while expanding on his experience in the industry. 

“I’ve been here 15 years having worked in market access, patient marketing and healthcare professional marketing,” he shares. “I’ve launched a couple of brands and most recently leading the non-personal promotion team here at Novo Nordisk.”

‘New Normal’ Is Here to Stay

Kingree starts off by posing the question: “What do you most look forward to when you envision pharma marketing returning to some level of normalcy?” 

“That’s a great question I get a lot, and I always reply the same way: I don’t really like the term ‘return to normalcy,’” responds van den Heuvel. “I don’t know what that means for us after everything we’ve experienced [in 2020]. What I do look forward to is our field getting back in front of our healthcare professionals again in a more meaningful way and feeling comfortable there.” 

He then reflects on the new awareness and prioritization of non-personal promotion strategies, and how they can be used to help better inform healthcare audiences. 

“They’ve now embraced [these strategies] in a more meaningful way, hopefully that will continue as things ‘return to normal’ as you say,” continues van den Heuvel.“I think all of those things and more will continue to be different than they were in the past. I don’t see a complete return to March of 2020, but rather embracing some of the new technology and new means of connection that we have.”

“The healthcare professional conferences I think will probably be the most changed as we move forward, as they’ve had to embrace a virtual type of environment and ways of sharing information, that should, and I hope does, allow more healthcare professionals to participate in these events, because now they don’t necessarily have to travel to a city, or spend time away from their practice, etc,” he adds. “I think that’s a great thing. It allows us to have a more informed healthcare professional audience.”

Keeping Channels Open

Shifting focus to what effective strategies healthcare marketers should be adopting to address these changes, Kingree inquires: “What type of non-personal tactics do you think will be most present on your tactical plan as the effects of COVID start to diminish a bit?”

Van den Heuvel assures that many of the pivotal changes his organization implemented in response to the pandemic will remain in place. 

“All the channels we’ve embraced in the past, and certainly over the past year, will remain in effect,” he explains. “I think there are some new avenues we’re exploring as far as how we better promote or connect to our healthcare professionals through telehealth platforms and other things that have been more embraced over the past year.”

Although there are many questions still unanswered about the future outlook of the healthcare marketing landscape, van den Heuvel is confident that continuing to monitor and adapt to changes in the industry will be the key to a successful strategy.

“How our sales representatives engage with healthcare professionals I think will continue to change,” he explains. “Continuing to use the channels available, but making sure we’re putting the right content in those channels and being aware of other needs that healthcare professionals may have through those channels.” 

Adapting to Change

Kingree ponders the future of HCP marketing and how markets should adapt. 

“Speaking of changes, what changes that have developed during the pandemic do you feel might never fully return to pre-COVID practices?” he asks. “Working in an office full time for example, or live conferences or in-person access for your sales reps to physicians?”

“That is a hot topic at probably all pharma companies now,” explains van den Heuvel. “What is the role of the sales representative? Does it change as we move forward? Does access go back to the way it was? And I don’t think it will.” 

“I expect our office to eventually open back up in a meaningful way, but most likely in a hybrid model,” he continues. “There will certainly be some doctors who still want that field representative in their office, but there may be others that keep their doors closed and prefer virtual engagements.” 

This circumstance provides the opportunity to reach healthcare providers through virtual engagements who may not have been reachable before, he stresses. 

“All those things together, I think, will yield a better overall product, better overall communication, and ideally a more informed audience that delivers better care to the patients who are in their care,” explains van den Heuvel. 

Kingree closes out this incredible series finale by thanking his guest panelist, Wesley van den Heuvel for his participation and insight, as well as host Ashley Rapp and FirstWord for collaborating to make this extraordanary project a reality. 


Future-Proof Your Marketing Strategy With PDQ Communications

While the healthcare marketing industry may never look the same as it had in the past, you can count on effective marketing partner PDQ Communications to achieve and exceed your marketing goals. From providing access to our extensive list of high-quality HCP contacts to producing and curating the right content to foster positive engagement, PDQ can help you reach the right healthcare providers with the right message every time.

Contact PDQ Communications today to begin preparing your organization for whatever the future may hold. 

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