The novel coronavirus and resulting disease, COVID-19, have disrupted virtually every aspect of day-to-day life. In addition to ensuring the health and safety of themselves and their families, pharmaceutical sales and marketing professionals now face pressing questions about how best to serve healthcare professionals (HCPs):
- What key challenges can we help solve for HCPs?
- How do we reach inaccessible HCPs?
- How do we keep teams and HCPs up to date on changing regulations and government mandates?
- How do we adapt our brand strategy to sustain business value even as the market landscape shifts rapidly?
While there are no easy answers to these questions, there is much to learn from the experiences of commercial teams that first dealt with the impact of COVID-19. In this blog series, Aktana is sharing some of the lessons learned and best practices developed through our experience serving clients in China.
Lesson #1: Doing nothing may be the best course of action.
Priorities shift during a pandemic, and almost no one is following a “normal” routine. Physicians may be required to serve in the Emergency Department, they may have family members with potential symptoms, or they may have symptoms themselves. Now is not the time to flood them with information. Instead, respect that they are likely overwhelmed and stressed. Reach out to let them know that as an organization and as a commercial team, you are here to support them. That gives physicians an opportunity to set the tone and pace of interactions. When they indicate they’re ready, re-engage with them using a medium that makes sense for everyone.
Lesson #2: Make it personal.
In China, physicians can typically write prescriptions for a maximum of 30 days, and then patients must come back for follow-up visits. Because of COVID-19, Chinese regulators extended that policy to allow prescriptions to be written for 60 to 90 days—a significant shift for this market. Yet sometimes physicians were unaware of the changes. One of our customers used Aktana to begin sending suggestions and insights to sales reps, encouraging them to remind prescribers about what had changed in their local region or province.
While prescribing rules are very different in the U.S., other changes could arise. For example, as new information is released around specialty markets, including oncology and infusion services, companies can help prescribers identify which infusion sites are open or which hospitals are offering elective services.
The key takeaway? Think carefully before issuing broad updates. Instead, surface information through suggestions and insights that are relevant and timely based on each target segment.