Over the years, healthcare providers (HCPs) have changed and expanded the ways in which they communicate. How the pharma industry practices HCP segmentation should now reflect a more value-based approach. This means segmentation should be based not only on how valuable HCPs are to the pharma company (a traditional approach), but also by how the pharma company can provide value to HCPs.
This should go beyond the product and include services, solutions, and information that can meet the needs of today’s HCPs.
Current HCP segmentation and targeting strategies rely on how well you understand the HCPs in your network. This requires a level of engagement that should involve a look at the digital behaviors and professional interactions of physicians online. Partnering with a specialized medical communications agency can help you implement best practices for HCP segmentation and targeting.
Traditional Segmentation Strategies
The traditional method of segmentation identifies how valuable an HCP is to the brand and often looks at prescribing habits and the size and needs of an HCP’s patient population. Resources are then divided according to the prioritized segments, in which those with bigger patient pools and greater prescribing potential are typically given the largest resource allocation.
But this is a rather simplistic approach to segmentation; today it’s important to have a bigger picture of an HCP’s practice in order to understand their perceived value. You must understand all the services an HCP provides as well as what services they require. Are they actively contributing to online forums? Do they participate in continuing education opportunities? Are they involved in different clinical trials?
While it used to be that segmentation determined the allocation of specific resources, the newest trends in HCP segmentation look beyond the value proposition of the product and include the different needs and requirements of targeted HCPs. This creates a more focused basis for segmentation, and groups HCPs according to what is most important to their practice and their ability to care for patients, including providing relevant information to aid in decision-making.
Shifting to a Value-Based Model for Segmentation
Successful HCP segmentation should be multidimensional and demonstrate a better understanding of the individual HCP’s needs, perceptions, and expectations. Using digitally collected data can help in assigning HCPs to the most appropriate segment by analyzing certain online behaviors and preferences. If pharma can better meet the needs of individual HCPs, and in doing so understand the best marketing content and resources that resonate with certain segments, then this can offer a significant advantage in the development of an effective marketing strategy.
Each HCP should be treated differently with regard to both resource targeting and messaging—consider how each HCP offers a unique value proposition for their segment. Regardless of changing HCP needs, it is important for pharma companies to offer a relevant and seamless experience for busy physicians. For multichannel marketing strategies, this is the key to establishing value and promoting brand integrity. While there may be HCPs who are still reluctant to engage with pharma, this can also justify a separate segment, because the needs and desires of this group can still be identified and met by targeted pharma marketing campaigns.
Best Practices for Next-Generation Segmentation
Marketing tactics should align with the HCP segmentation strategy. But not all segments are relevant to a specific marketing message, and the targeted segments should be clearly defined in the marketing strategy. The first challenge is to effectively segment for different HCPs’ needs. Being able to track and analyze the online activity and behavior of HCPs, and react to their needs in real time across all channels, allows pharma companies to shift the allocation of resources to derive the most value. This type of data collection further ensures that the physicians are assigned to the most appropriate segment.
That said, it’s important to identify specific segments that, when using certain marketing tactics, you may not engage with. Understanding and engaging with highly targeted segments benefits an overarching marketing strategy and helps with resource allocation, eliminating marketing waste and communication inefficiencies. Aligning a segment of physicians with the most appropriate marketing strategy ultimately demonstrates your company’s understanding of each unique HCP, and builds their trust in your company.