The digital hybrid age: Deepening HCP relationships in a time of flux

With almost 70% of HCPs now being considered digital natives, it is now more important than ever to understand their attitude towards digital channels and how we can best leverage them in the medical communication space.

Veeva Systems recently published the results of the largest-ever global analysis of digital HCP engagement, including data from 80% of global pharma and biotech companies.2 The outputs show exactly what the increased use of digital platforms means for medical communications and interactions with HCPs. 

The results are clear: HCPs both want and expect digital interactions, but well-planned omnichannel content deployment is most effective – and lends support to the way field forces are evolving. 

Read below to see our key highlights from the report and what this data could mean for future MedComms strategy.


HCPs want and expect digital interactions

With the gradual return of in-person interactions, three quarters of HCPs still express a desire to maintain or further increase the use of virtual communication styles with pharma field forces.3 More importantly, 96% of HCPs agree with the benefits and effectiveness of virtual engagement.1 These interactions may include phone, videos, and text/chat, with emails being the predominant method used.4

MedComms action plan: Consider plans for maintaining HCP communication through email and video calls, preparing content that will support both formats. Additionally, consider developing chat and text channels that give HCPs the option of having and using their preferred methods of communication.


Getting the balance right between digital and face-to-face (F2F)

Companies with communication conduct that aligns with HCP preferences are coming out top. Virtual meetings deliver over two times more engagement than F2F ones.1,2,4 Video calls also maintain longer duration of engagement, making them three times more effective than F2F delivery.1,4

These figures may contribute to better financial performance, with research showing that companies that leverage customer behavioural insights outperform their peers in sales by 85% and more than 25% in gross margin.1

And yet, HCPs still want F2F interaction. Thus, the greatest promotional response is derived from an omnichannel style of outreach.4 F2F is needed to establish strong relationships between HCPs and the field force, which are otherwise difficult to achieve if solely relying on virtual.

MedComms action plan: Consider designing a mix of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ tactics through both in-person and online channels for optimal delivery of content and experience. Supply content across all platforms available in the company’s omnichannel strategy.

Building a successful relationship: three tiers of healthy communication

Digital platforms have allowed companies to start using ‘pull’ outreach methods on top of the traditional ‘push’ outreach methods, creating a two-way communication system. This means reps are in arm’s reach of HCPs, making communication rapid, accessible, and convenient without the reps even stepping out of the office. Thus, three levels of HCP/rep interactions have emerged.4

1. Reps are reaching out and building HCP relationships F2F.   

2. HCPs’ preferred communication channels are used to establish trusted touchpoints.   

3. Omnichannel engagement is established within the relationship for open, flexible, and optimal communication.   

MedComms action plan: Consider creating an omnichannel strategy that acknowledges the content–relationship ecosystem, to let HCPs optimise how they receive information. Develop internal training and communications for field forces, to support them in building trust and connections.   


Support is the bottom line 

Supporting deep connections that lead to meaningful exchange requires feeding emerging insights into platforms, content, and training. It’s an evolution spurred by the revolution in digital communications. But people remain at the centre – with the right consideration for human factors, we can continuously improve support for HCPs and field forces alike.  



1. Veeva Systems. Guide to digital HCP engagement. 2022. Accessed September 2022. 

2. Largest-ever industry report reveals video meetings 3x more effective and companies using them most gain advantage. 2022.
Accessed September 2022. 

3. BCG. Doctors’ changing expectations of pharma are here to stay. 2021. Accessed September 2022. 

4. Veeva Systems. Veeva pulse field trends report. 2022. Accessed September 2022. ​ 

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