How Life Sciences Companies Can Level Up Healthcare Education in Post-COVID Era

It’s time for these companies to bridge the knowledge gap and transform how healthcare information is accessed and used.

Parth Khanna 17 February 2021 - 10 min. read

The COVID-19 pandemic is, among other things, an information crisis. Patients can no longer see their doctors as easily as they once did; physicians, too, are increasingly cut off from pharmaceutical and medical device sales representatives. The flow of information from life sciences companies to physicians and patients has been interrupted—and that breakdown of communication affects stakeholders across the care continuum, from field reps to healthcare providers (HCPs) to caregivers and patients.

Life sciences companies are uniquely positioned to play a vital role in solving this information crisis, not only as drug and device manufacturers but also as custodians of reliable clinical insights. In today’s new reality, it’s time for life sciences to become education catalysts by bridging the knowledge gap and transforming how healthcare information is accessed and used.

Drive Education

Understandably, life sciences companies currently focus on facilitating speedy access to their drugs and devices, but this speed-to-market creates serious education and information gaps. In the coronavirus and post-coronavirus era, besides selling products, life sciences companies have a unique opportunity to pivot and understand how best to drive education and engagement outcomes in this challenging environment.

By leveling up their education strategies for various internal and external stakeholders, life sciences companies can move beyond transactional supply-and-demand relationships and cement their position as trusted brands and essential healthcare ecosystem partners.

After all, the pandemic has left us all grappling with uncertainty and struggling to make sense of a deluge of information that is often contradictory. By finding more responsive and robust ways to share knowledge, life sciences companies can position themselves as a single source of truth about their drugs and devices.

Institutionalize Omnichannel Education Strategies

Today’s digital transformation isn’t about simply upgrading your tech stack. It’s about finding ways to use new technologies effectively to break down silos across your whole organization. Your shift to omnichannel education should reflect a broader strategic revamp that consolidates your outreach, and brings everyone on your team together by connecting them with a centralized command center.

What does an omnichannel education strategy mean in practice? Ideally, it means finding opportunities to provide quick access to reliable, targeted information for stakeholders from field teams to physicians to patients. It means life sciences companies using education as a key strategic lever across the care continuum from lab to bedside. How? Through an omnichannel education and engagement platform that consolidates all tools that bring product information to the market. This one platform acts as a central command center to drive educational outcomes, a single source of truth to execute brand strategies and deliver clinical stories. Why? To ensure all stakeholders have access to consistent and compliant information, hence reducing the knowledge gap.

Imagine different matrix teams within life sciences companies collaborating on these omnichannel educational tools to build sticky educational content for field teams, healthcare providers, and patients. Using such tools, life sciences companies can capture valuable customer engagement data, such as customer interactions with content, channel preferences, and more. While one team might leverage these insights to improve training programs, another team could harness them to deliver experiences that align more effectively with customers’ needs and expectations.

Support Field Teams with Hybrid Capabilities

The process of implementing true omnichannel outreach can begin internally by giving company reps the tools they need. Getting face time with HCPs has been a growing challenge for sales reps, and the COVID crisis has further complicated the logistics of in-person sales. That, in turn, has accelerated the need to embrace remote and more creative ways of educating and engaging customers. When reps are able to secure meetings with providers, whether in person or virtually, they need to ensure they have all the relevant information and materials at their fingertips in order to make the most of the opportunity.

With an omnichannel education platform, life sciences companies can upskill reps to operate in a hybrid selling and e-detailing role. By consolidating tools like training, sales enablement, coaching, and more onto one platform, the system enables reps to quickly pull up the information most salient to HCPs, ensuring customer calls go smoothly. And it doesn’t stop there. By providing HCPs with the most relevant information, reps help brands build stronger connections with HCPs.

Rethink Downstream Marketing with HCP Education

According to Life Science Leader, physician use of smartphones and tablets to access information about new drugs has increased 133% over the last five years. Mobile platforms are the preferred point of access. By recognizing this critical preference and offering direct-to-HCP education, life sciences companies can drive deeper physician engagement with their clinical information. Furthermore, robust technologies allow for more interactive, diverse, and custom content formats, from videos to PDFs to voice-activated interfaces, catering to different learning and referencing habits.

During the pandemic, doctors and nurses are transitioning into new roles, using medications and devices in new ways, and trying to keep pace with clinical evidence that’s piling up at breakneck speed. Using an omnichannel education platform, life sciences companies can put necessary information at healthcare workers’ fingertips in split seconds, becoming trusted conduits for reliable information.

There are more use cases as we peek into the not-so-distant future. What if life sciences companies could offer a capability like Alexa or Siri for HCPs to locate clinically-sound information and answers in seconds? Imagine, for instance, that supply chain issues leave an ICU nurse trained on a specific ventilator model needing to rapidly learn to use a different ventilator from a new manufacturer-a common COVID-19 scenario. If the device maker uses omnichannel knowledge-sharing tools, it only takes a few clicks to ramp up the user on the latest evidence-based best practices for device application to treat COVID patients. Bottom line, these digital tools supplement other training tools, product binders and serve as immediate reference aid tools for the HCPs. Solving such challenges can further enhance life sciences companies’ brand equity.

Solve Patient Problems

Most life sciences companies settle for old ways of disseminating information by leaving a few fliers lying around in clinic waiting rooms. That’s no longer enough. How soon life science companies can solve patient and caregiver problems by providing access to information and treatment education will determine the next healthcare era. We all know the role that education can play with preventative measures is enormous, but mobilizing the populace has been challenging. The care continuum has realized the need for a virtual care ecosystem, and an integrated digital health blueprint has surfaced.

Today, as life science companies embark on being education catalysts, their starting point of a patient’s education journey is to make trusted health content accessible to both the patient and the caregiver. Patients today are quick to consult Dr. Google for rapid information access, and it is hard to distinguish trustworthy health information from inaccurate or even dangerous information. Hence, life science companies have the opportunity to educate through patient care and, as an upside, build organic brand influence.

Let’s look at an example of integrated digital healthcare. Imagine picking up a blood pressure medication from the pharmacy and scanning a QR code on the packaging. Your phone loads a mobile application immediately, sponsored by the drug’s manufacturer, with usage instructions and other information about how best to manage your blood pressure. In another scenario, imagine delivering educational content on preventative measures through the same app that patients and caregivers follow treatment protocols.

Patient-facing digital tools can provide clear, factual information about specific medicines or treatments in a way that’s entirely consistent with the messaging being delivered to providers. Additionally, by monitoring how information is accessed remotely and the kinds of help patients seek, life sciences companies can turn digital knowledge-sharing into a powerful intelligence source.

Digitization and modernization of healthcare delivery are the focus of every stakeholder in the care continuum. These realities are just around the corner, and progressive life science companies have started to mobilize in that direction.

Keep Education at Center of the Ecosystem

By leveraging consolidated, omnichannel education and engagement tools, life sciences companies can ensure consistent information-flows across the care continuum from the point of manufacture to the point of use. New technologies are offering seamless and thoughtful experiences for the consumer. A good learning experience not only yields better patient outcomes, but also delivers better commercial outcomes in terms of brand influence and life sciences companies’ sales results.

We’re living through an information crisis, and the onus is on life sciences companies to rise to the challenge by addressing some of the systemic issues in healthcare delivery by being the education catalysts in the ecosystem. By leveling up education strategies and making themselves the connective tissue between technology, treatment and patient experiences, life science companies can build more powerful brands, roll out their products to new markets, and help level up healthcare for everyone.

Published on MedTech Intelligence