The death knell of Pharma HCP websites

For years, the conventional wisdom has been that pharmaceutical brands should maintain dedicated websites to engage healthcare professionals. The idea is that dedicated sites are a viable opportunity for pharmaceutical brands to become valuable partners for physicians. The concept is simple: create online resources for HCPs and KOLs to connect and collaborate. Theoretically, pharmaceutical brands can connect their peers, provide meaningful and insightful content to physicians, and in the process promote their products.

However, HCP portals have proven to be rather inefficient in practice. Many healthcare professionals view branded pharmaceutical content with skepticism and suspicion. To be frank, they often view pharma-branded content as purely promotional and of no noticeable clinical value. Many find the quality of the digital experience mediocre. Most healthcare professionals don’t trust websites dedicated to healthcare professionals because pharmaceutical brands use them for direct advertising. Rather than providing resources to medical professionals, brands are constantly pushing their products. As useful as the portal may seem, in many cases it is just another advertising and promotion platform.

Perhaps by design, HCP portals are outdated and clunky with disappointing user experiences. The information on the portals is not organized intuitively. It takes a long time to find the information. It is often a treasure hunt to find the therapeutic area and click on the desired data. And it’s expensive. It costs more than $100 to get a single doctor on an HCP portal to do a marketing activity. For modern doctors, time is an indispensable and invaluable commodity which they exchange for the value of the content consulted.

Attitudes and expectations are changing

  • More than 40% of physicians surveyed in specialty groups say no pharmaceutical company provides quality digital support for their daily practice.
  • More than 60% of respirologists agree that providing educational resources grounded in science and research is crucial for the pharmaceutical industry to gain their trust, but only 20% say they find pharmaceutical websites credible.
  • The majority of physicians who shared their experiences with HCP portals felt that the way information was provided by pharma on their digital assets was disorganized and confusing.

In addition to these negative perceptions, there is a drastic change in the workflow of HCP. The average doctor spends more than 50% of their time in front of a computer, not in front of a patient. With patient numbers increasing, administrative responsibilities flooding, and a host of emerging technologies to manage every day, physicians are challenged to maintain and improve patient care and have little time or patience. to browse confusing websites.

Needs mismatch: healthcare professionals want more resources, visualizations and information

  1. Over 50% of oncologists say they are more likely to prescribe a product if the company has superior patient support (programs) and beyond pill services, but only 30% of oncologists agree that it is easy to access valuable services beyond pills from pharmaceutical companies.
  2. More than 60% of gastroenterologists agree that professional video influences their clinical decisions – and yet around 50% don’t think a pharmaceutical company is doing a good job of providing video to healthcare professionals.
  3. Over 60% of rheumatologists believe that information provided by pharmaceutical companies on any website is still just advertising for their products – but data shows there is considerable unmet demand for non-promotional resources that can increase brand satisfaction.

With increasing time pressure and mobility in workflows, there is a need for mobile access to information on the go and at the point of care. Pharmaceutical brands with easily accessible, mobile-ready and user-friendly content will lead the race. The conventional HCP portal strategy assumes physicians have the time and interest to go to a single company resource for marketing materials. But they don’t. The average medical portal often receives less than 5 visits per doctor per year.

What content strategy is working now?

It is obvious that the default reliance on HCP portals as a marketing strategy is a vestige of the past. Pharma can help address physician mistrust and frustration with its digital offerings by better understanding their needs and challenges, then providing content and services that go beyond promotion. Brands need to ensure critical content is discoverable in the right channels and is easily accessible for busy physicians.

Content should be easy to discover, navigate and interpret – perfectly mobile-friendly. Convenience for the healthcare professional is essential. And video is one of the most effective methods for presenting information and data quickly and easily. This is no easy task for pharmaceutical marketers. It is imperative to stay abreast of the changing needs, channel behavior and digital preferences of physicians while analyzing and adopting best practices inside and outside the industry. Information and technology options are continually evolving. Staying on top of vendors and investment options with limited branded digital budgets is a tall order.

Social media is ascending

The adoption and growth of social media for healthcare professionals has become a no-brainer. Add a measure of pandemic protocols with a hint of remote telecommuting and widespread telehealth acceptance, and voila! There is a new way of working for everyone involved. It is essential to know, and we really mean TO KNOW your HCP audience.

Here are 5 effective tactics:

  1. Influencing the influencer: know the who’s who of the key HCP digital thought leaders in the space.
  2. Get meta: HCP digital natives expect similar experiences from the pharmaceutical industry that they get elsewhere.
  3. Drill the wall: Healthcare professionals engage in peer-to-peer conversations in gated, gated communities.
  4. Clear data: get them real data in real time, medical professionals will dig that.
  5. Content Masterclass: create and organize digital content – videos, infographics, simulations, interactive.

The bottom line is that the focus of HCPs has shifted from traditional HCP-dedicated websites to social media where mobility, urgency, video, and peer-to-peer conversation are prized. Effective pharma marketers will shift priorities and budgets as they plan for 2023 to improve targeting, improve digital experiences, drive engagement, and drive HCP behavior change and satisfy its customers.

Umar Siddiqui, MDis chief medical officer,


Preferences for Accessing Medical Information in the Digital Age: A Survey of Healthcare Professionals » – Journal of Medicine (ncbi)

How doctors can keep up with the explosion of knowledge in medicine–HBR

8 Crucial Steps to Improve HCP Portal Experiences” – Digital DRG

Portal Combat: Unplug Pharma HCP Sites” – MM+M, medical marketing and media

The gaps between the demand for HCPs and the pharmaceutical supply of medical information– EPG Health

The Across Health Browser” – Browser 3.0

How to Create a Revolutionary HCP Portal (For You and Your Customers) » – NEXT Pharma Summit

Taking the Pulse US, ePharma Physician–Manhattan Research

Physicians’ Information Seeking Behavior: A Review of the Evidence » – Health Information Library

The best care at the lowest cost– America’s Path to Lifelong Healthcare Learning, Institute of Medicine

Engaging with healthcare professionals in the new normal, a roadmap to success– Falcon Partners

About Stuart M. McFarland

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