The future of HCP engagement is a subject of a lot of questions right now, that is for sure. What we’ve seen over the last several years, if you’ve been in this industry for a while, has been a real decline in HCP access. Clearly, there’s a lot of reasons for that. We have fewer and fewer standalone physician practices. We have more and more organizations that are buying up health care provider groups and, in fact, making these individuals not only employees, but enforcing rules and restrictions about their engagement with industry.
That’s created many, many challenges for our commercial model. There is no question. But then along became the pandemic. Interesting times for sure. Beyond rules and preferences, we moved into a period of time where there literally was an impediment to access to our physicians.
Now, granted, the move towards digital engagement, virtual interactions increased quite a bit, but this move to technology in some ways reinforced the behaviors of some providers who just did not necessarily want to interact with industry. This underlines the importance for pharmaceutical, biotech and Medtech manufacturers who are offering brands and solutions to providers, patients and beyond to make sure with all of their interactions, they are delivering immense value and not just when the brand wants to.
It’s delivering this level of value and service when the provider wants and needs it most. As we think about the future of HCP engagement and actually what we can do about it, I want to bring forward another accomplished pharmaceutical veteran, turned startup CEO Sandy Donaldson. Sandy, how are you today?
I’m Dandy. Thank you, Frank. No, I’m very good. Thank you.
This is going to be a great session. So, Sandy, I’m glad we’re starting off with some comedy because I don’t think I’ve had a conversation with you where there isn’t good laughter. But as we turn it to be serious, let’s talk about a serious career that you’ve had. Can you just make sure everyone in the audience is aware of your incredible background in life sciences and then tell them what you’re up to today.
Sure. Thanks, Frank.
So my background is in medical devices, but principally within Pharma. And I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been able to work in various continents and in various areas in terms of business development, licensing, and then being able to launch products within certain countries around the world, most notably within Europe and in the US. And in the last couple of years, I’ve been really focused on trying to, I would say, bring digital marketing in terms of physician engagement to the fort of various organizations.
And now I’m leading Impiricus, which is a new platform and solution which is revolutionizing the way that we can interact with healthcare practitioners in the US in a digital on demand way.
Outstanding. Well, Congratulations on the new venture. It’s very exciting. So, one of the problems it seems that you’ve identified through your life science career, it must have been an underscore around this HCP engagement. I know that we’ve got some information that we can share with everybody. So Sandy, you originally shared these statistics with me, and I was amazed when it comes to this decline in access. So going back to 2012, the number of inaccessible HCPs was 30%. 2019 that I can very much relate to at about half. But the projection of 70% of our HCPs being inaccessible by 2025 is amazing.
Tell us, does this mirror your experiences and tell me what you think about the future?
It does. And with Impiricus, we’ve created this network of physicians. We actually can have some great dialogues with the HCPs on our network today to understand a little bit more about the how and the why. And I think it’s important, Frank, to break this down into maybe two central buckets, which are there’s an access issue, mainly from the institutions, the hospital systems, the IDNs and the practices which now are preventing our sales reps from being able to go in and see the physicians and HCPs. But we also have this bucket where we’ve got a large number of physicians who actually themselves are just opting out from having that type of proactive engagement from reps and from Pharma companies.
They would prefer to basically find the information on their own terms in their own way without that traditional field salesforce connectivity.
Thank you for that, Sandy. As we continue to talk a little about what the needs are, I think that there’s a graphic that you also have that we could share with everybody here around this engagement kind of being low. And let’s identify like if we were to try to solve this problem, let’s fully articulate the problem. And you’ve got a few different bullet points here that are rather interesting. Can you walk us through these five points?
Absolutely, Frank. So when we look at the marketing spend today, the vast majority, over 90% of the marketing spend that Pharma is putting in place is on push channels, sending out our reps, sending out email, sending out other, I would say, proactive communications. So there’s a real distinct lack of on demand channels. And that’s something I’ll come back to a little bit later in our discussion with some hard numbers. So that’s one of the key things we already see is that physicians want to have more on demand channels.
One of the really interesting things we’re getting feedback on as well is that there’s so much fragmentation. So as an HCP today, it’s very hard to try and navigate through all of the various resources that are available to them. They have branded product websites. They have support websites to help them get their patients on therapy. And there literally are hundreds, if not thousands, of sites which are available to them. And most HCPs don’t even know where to start. There’s also something important here, which is the friction.
So in order to access some of these fantastic resources that our industry puts in place, there is a lot of paperwork. Sometimes they need to sign up, they need to register, they need to print off paperwork, they need to hand sign it. They need to fax it back. And the drop off rate from HCPs in actually accessing some of these services is alarming because they also don’t want to or they don’t have the time to contemplate and work through all of that friction. We also see that there are just very few channels which are there when the HCP is actually needed, which is in most cases, when they have a patient in the waiting room or the patient has just left.
That’s one of the key things that we hear that the HCPs just don’t have access to them when it’s actually at that critical point of need. And then we do see that many of the options out there today are expensive. If we are going to work with a Congress, it’s quite an expense to get a booth or to maybe get a virtual booth. And we need to make sure that we can also ensure that there is sufficient utilization of those boosts as well and all of the resources that we put in place.
Thank you, Sandy, for that. Sorry for the technical challenge that we’re having on the slides. The number of resources. When I think about all of the active brands that are in the professional lives of many of our health care providers, they’re just numerous. There’s almost too many to count. And we’ve seen this incredible move over the last several years to have brands come out. They’ve got differentiation, but they want to get closer to the patient. And thus you’ve seen this huge move to specialty pharmacy. I, myself have been very much involved in specialty pharmacy drugs in the last few years.
Well, we got very excited as the brand team setting up a unique portal, we thought about building our own app, our unique treatment form, for these patients to go ahead and fill out going directly to our hub. And the reality is that not every physician was willing for our sales force to engage with them, to drop off those forms, to teach them how to use the portal, to get them the information that they need. The amount of time that physicians spent on our product website was variable.
They may not have learned all of the ways to go ahead, and in fact, use the product. But moreover, what we have is that many of our physicians, in fact, were aware of our products, but there was resistance because when they wanted to make a very quick moving decision to access the therapy that we had with a value proposition of ease and support and white glove service. The reality is they had to dig through the files, they had to go through the web bookmarks to try to find ways to access our information, to be able to help out that patient.
And I’m not really sure, even though the market research wasn’t very favorable to us that there were more and more patients that missed out on our therapy because of that, I have to think that is happening at scale, especially in today’s environment. Tell us a little bit more about the perspective that you’re getting, Sandy from HCPs and how they’re simply just trying to deal with all of this product information. We’ll talk about scientific information in just 1 second.
So it’s a real key challenge, Frank, and we have statistics that we worked out where we identified through our Impiricus network. Plus, there’s a myriad of statistics out there today about the drop off rates in terms of a physician wanting to actually get access to resource, but then they just don’t have the time to be able to, I would say, make the connection and get the resources that they’re looking for. And what we see is that it’s only a very small sliver of HCPs today who really know where to go and are willing to go and spend the time to actually access the resources.
We actually completed an interesting survey of 274 members of our network in the month of September on this topic specifically. And we identified that only 12% of the respondents on a regular basis know where to go or are willing to actually go and do that mile and do the paperwork to get specific resources, such as samples and such as patient assistance. And this is a big problem because there’s a big delta there where there is actually a lot of patients who will not get a co pay card or will not get the right support when they get to the pharmacy and the ultimately just don’t complete the script.
Thank you for that. In any good relationship, Sandy, between customer and let’s say a vendor, manufacturer or what have you is alignment, that’s for sure, for both parties to understand each other’s needs and therefore the communication and hopefully the actions will align in great value is created. Let’s talk about some, I mean, where would we be in this industry without talking about data? Here is a look from the HCP perspective on the different sources of scientific information and how important they are to that provider by source. And we see that we’ve got medical websites here up towards the top.
And if folks can see on the slide here, pharmaceutical medical scientific liaisons and pharmaceutical sales reps is a bit towards the bottom. Again, this is the HCP perspective, and this is some fresh data. We go over here, the Pharma perspective, the other party in the relationship. These are, to say the least, a bit off, if not opposite. Sandy, help us make sense of what we’re looking at here.
Yes Frank. And this is really interesting data, but it’s also not anything which surprises me, which is a little bit sad to say. And what we saw on the first slide in terms of where physicians actually prefer to go. You can see that you have to go pretty far down the list before you actually find any type of non independent source. Most of the sources that physicians want to work with today are the, I would say, the highly objective sources where they can get medical information. And this makes a lot of sense.
And if we go to the next slide, I think one of the key challenges that we’ve seen and we’ve known for a while, but I don’t think the industry or industry today is doing enough to solve it, is there is an element of trust and legitimacy. And this is just hammered home I think by this discrepancy, you see where the physicians don’t place the same emphasis on sourcing information and data on our sales reps and MSLs as we do, because clearly the Pharma companies today see that still as a very high, if not the highest resource.
Now, the field force teams that we have our reps in the MSLs are exceptionally important. But what we’re hearing is that there needs to be a completely new hybrid model, and I’ll come back to some data about that on some of the next slides, which is going to be critical. It’s also important that we understand better. What is it that HCPs really wants and that we’re more honest about it; because clearly we can see from this absolutely fresh data that that’s not the case. We’re not really having honest, candid conversations about how to support HCPs.
One last takeaway from this is that Pharma companies need to work to create better trust and legitimacy, and that can be done via partnerships. Not everything has to be automatically driven and provided by themselves directly.
Very fair points. So if these slides tee up, how important are the channels for delivering information to HCPs. I found these statistics kind of thematic as well. When it comes to the Pharma field force critical for the discovery of scientific content, 4% of HCPs thought the Pharma field force was the place for that discovery piece and 68% for Pharma. We’ve got high opinions of ourselves for sure. What should we think about these data?
Well, we also have data that backs that up again from the same survey that we conducted in September. What we saw is that there’s also a question here on what’s behind it, and access is one of the key components. So actually, today, 44% of the survey respondents from the Americans Network in September say that they can’t even see a rep today. It’s not even an option for them to do this. I think that’s a very key part of this. I think another part I would come back to is the fragmentation now to justify, I think, and to actually be in the corner of the field sales forces.
There has actually been a lot of turnover these days, and with COVID, it’s actually been hard to make connections. If you’re a new rep and you’ve recently just started, it has been very hard for you to build a network. And what we see as feedback from the Impiricus network is, in many cases they don’t even know who is their rep. They don’t know how can they access their reps. So that’s also one of the key challenges why they’re not automatically rushing out to use the reps for accessing scientific information.
And I think one underlying point is their preference to be able to access information data on their own terms. I think this is something that we all see in our own lives in the digital world where we work in terms of utilizing Itunes and Amazon. We also have to ensure that that’s also opportunity for our HCPs as well. Now, we also asked to the physicians on the Impiricus network, how would they like to move forwards? And it was interesting, of the 250 respondents, only 7% said that they wanted to continue with the traditional face-to-face mechanisms.
57% of respondents said they wanted to move to a hybrid model. So again, let me stress this is very important. There still will be an absolutely essential role for a field teams in the future. We just need to find the right balance of being able to support them with digital tactics and trying to find where they integrate within that push and pull balance.
I think that’s critical. We have to arm our sales forces with the tools so they can create incredible value every time they interact. We all know intentions are good, no question about it, but the actions certainly have to match. And if our CRM system or content delivery platform, the other resources that we have around the digital footprint or brand doesn’t match up to those needs, and we continue to have that Delta, if you will, between what our HCPs want and what we feel is the right thing to deliver.
We can’t be surprised if the research comes back and says the HCPs are dissatisfied. But I think to your point, are we doing the right things that we know are now available and possible to deliver and delight at every juncture with our HCPs? So, Sandy, why don’t we do this? Can you tell us a little bit more about what your company is doing to help brands that really want to deliver and delight around that HCP experience with their brand?
Sure, I actually prepared a couple of fresh quotes that we reached out to our network for, and I can explain a little bit about how we operate and how we solve those particular issues that our physicians have identified. So Impericus was created basically by myself and by a physician here at Emory University in Atlanta. And what it’s trying to do is to ensure that we can get much better connectivity between industry, between Pharma and with HCPs. So what we’ve created is something called Impiricus concierge. Now to take a step back, what are we trying to solve for?
We know today that access is a key challenge, and access is only going to shrink and become more of an acute problem. So we’re not only addressing access, we’re also addressing trust and engagement. So the way that we work is we work with our pharma partners to actually send an occasional message to our network of physicians. But we use something called the Impiricus HCP Council. So all of our messaging actually goes through the Council, and that creates a lot of trust when we’re sending something out to our network because it’s peer reviewed.
In fact, we’ve even had some instances where our network, or HCP Council has been able to give feedback on the message to actually make it more applicable and resonate more with our network. So what we do is we create this trusted communication platform where we can send messages directly into the hands of our network. Now what we offer physicians, which is really very novel, is we’re the first company that has not only the push component, which is getting high engagement, but we also have a pull function as well.
So we offer our network concierge. Concierge literally is a concierge service that can help them access any resource from industry. It’s a system where they can text us, or they can use a web app to ask for a sample, to ask for a patient assistance program or co pay card. What it does is it very succinctly, removes all of the fragmentation because it’s a one stop hub, and it removes all of the friction because our team goes and gets all of that information and support for the patient and for the physician.
So it’s saving them time in their practice. And it’s also helping get other patients on therapy. What that does is that helps drive more connectivity with the Pharma companies because we’re passing on those leads and those requests from our physician network to the Pharma companies. And we’re allowing the Pharma companies to work with us to provide a trusted and highly engaged message back to our network of physicians.
That’s really powerful Sandy. So, from a healthcare provider standpoint, they don’t have to think of 50,000 different pharma apps or websites like they could just get everything that they need with one source?
That’s correct. It’s basically a one stop hop where they can say, Please help me get X, Y or Z, and we go that last mile to ensure that we get it for them. We can basically triage faster. And what we’ve seen, Frank, is the utilization has been fantastic. We have many patient cases now where we’ve actually been able to get patients who have been waiting to try and get on therapy for years, actually to be able to afford their therapy and get on there pretty quickly. As well as being able to just save in some cases 20 minutes per day per physician.
So they love using the Impiricus concierge, and they use it on a regular basis.
That is fascinating to know. Is there a utility here beyond the clinic for an HCP, for example, if they’re trying to get access to information around other activities and events or Congresses, they’re a part of ?
Yes. And in many cases, we’ve actually worked with our pharma partners to inform the HCPs that there is a potential Congress out there. But literally, it’s almost like a kind of Butler concierge. They ask us anything, and we have had requests about when is the next American Association of Dermatology meeting? And can you help me to get some connection passes for that? We even had those types of requests as well. But what’s really interesting is that we literally are taking physicians who wouldn’t normally interact with a pharma’s brands because they’ve always had problems with fragmentation and friction.
We’re making it completely easy for them, and we’re being able to actually create a lot of new business and a lot of new clients and leads for the pharma clients that we work with.
So the provider doesn’t necessarily have to feel that they’ve got a direct relationship with a pharma manufacturer, which I know has been a point of resistance for some physicians using pharma branded apps. They can just say, hey, you know what my relationship with Impiricus Concierge is that between me and my practice, and I can get the things that I need when I need it, I don’t have to have all of these unique relationships. So while we hope they have a relationship with our bio pharma and Medtech peers and partners, it sounds like this is relatively agnostic for the physician on whether or not they’ve got a formal relationship with the drug company.
That’s exactly right. And we also have many cases where we have our HCPs requesting us to connect them with the right representative of the pharma company. I would say today about 35% of the concierge activity is from HCPs, who would like to interact with Pharma companies, but not today. And what they’re asking us to do is to connect them to an MSL, connect them to a rep, connect us to a patient assistance program. So this is a massive opportunity for pharma clients because these are basically untapped opportunities where we’re already being able to triage and to help drive them to the right resources at our Pharma lines.
You know, it’s fascinating. We’ve talked so much over the last year with our meetings around launches, especially in these unique times that we’re in a lot of launches didn’t go so fantastic. We’ve also talked a lot about the change in our footprint. While virtual interactions have allowed us to literally be able to touch every zip code. In reality, there’s still a lot of white space, even digitally, not just with a rep on the ground. And I know with a lot of the launches, the problems that I’ve had in my past that many of our peers have had in our present have been figuring out how to manage the relationship with physicians who weren’t necessarily on the original target list.
Doctors that are discovering the brand, however, they do it, but raising their hand to want to use it. It sounds like, again, we don’t have to have a physical or direct relationship with a provider, but this could help us better identify those who want to get engaged in the beak because they’re asking for our resources. Is that data that you can capture?
That is and that’s actually how the system is working today. So a large number of the HCPs on our network, they actually don’t have access to a rep. The Pharma clients don’t have an opportunity to interact with them. In fact, in many of the cases because of our unique value proposition and the way that we work Impiricus actually is the only way that many of our pharma clients can, in fact, access many of their targets. And what we see, Frank, is that on that white space component, there’s a multitude of reasons why an HCP might be in white space, but we see them utilizing Impiricus basically as a conduit so they can get resources.
We’ve had quite a few examples from our clients where they’ve actually been redeployed and developed their target list based on the data coming from us because we’ve been able to unearth hundreds, if not thousands, of physicians who actually would like to prescribe, but they just don’t have the ability to understand which are the right drugs or how to access the right support.
Well, there are a lot of brand data around physicians and patients not realizing the incredible resources our brands have available to them because we haven’t been able to get them to take our call, open our email or view our website. So I think that’s a huge opportunity. If I’m in a brand right now, I’m looking at the research. What’s the recall of our providers when it comes to knowing the cadre of resources that we’ve got available, and in this particular case, it sounds like an HCP. All they have to do is just ask the general question and we’ll get them the specific answer.
That’s pretty cool, Sandy.
Yes. No, that’s right, Frank.
And it works very well because having been on the pharma’s side myself, we’ve spent a large amount of money building actually fantastic resources. We do make great websites, we do make good portals. But the challenge is one of that fragmentation, and we actually with Impiricus have been able to demonstrate up to 20 to 1 ROIs just by being able to channel the request that we get to the right resources, which is increasing their utilization.
That’s great. Well, that sounds like a really great experience for the HCP, and it’s so gratifying because it’s so quick. Let’s face it, the amount of time that physicians spend in the exam room with a patient prior to COIVID was going down quite a bit. But even in current times, we know that patients when they do show up for their appointment, aren’t necessarily looking to drag it out either. So physicians can get the resources they want, right then, right there be able to service that patient and go ahead and move on to the next patient.
That sounds pretty powerful. So maybe let’s transition here a little bit, Sandy, and talk about the voice of the physician. I know we’ve got a couple of quotes, let’s take a look at them. If you could just kind of bring some color here, let’s talk about Doctor is it Sahruddin?
Yes. Doctor Sahruddin is a dermatologist on our network, and she’s blessed us to use this quote that we spoke to her about last week. And Dr. Sahruddin is one of the key users of the system. And we asked her a very specific question, Frank, which was what are some of the challenges that she faces today in engagement? And one of the problems for her is the time it really is a burden for her to be able to go and reach out and to schedule a call or to try and find the right resource.
And also the fragmentation is a challenge for her as well. In many cases, she doesn’t know where to start. And Dr. Sahruddin actually gave us one example where she actually needed to find a biologic sample. But it took her 45 minutes just trying to Google and find her way to the right page within that company’s resource before even starting to get the paperwork and starting to fill this out. Now, Dr. Sahruddin isn’t in a large hospital practice, so she has to do all of this work herself.
She would love to have that 45 minutes back by just asking Impiricus to say, please tell me and please, can you go and just get me a sample of drug X?
That is fascinating. Very cool. Well, we can relate to a lot of those physicians. How about Doctor Poole?
So Dr. Poole is an oncologist in Massachusetts. One of the problems that Dr. Poole faces is that they just don’t have access to the reps at all in Massachusetts. I think all of us in the industry are aware of some of those acute access challenges. And what Impiricus does for him is it allows him to basically filter through all of the different options that he has, all of what he calls the noise. And then he and his team because he’s working with his back office staff as well, they have access to the concierge, too.
And Concierge allows them to basically get these key insights because concierge doesn’t just act as that pool channel for requests. It’s also the mechanism by which we distribute our clients information. So he loves it because it’s an opportunity to get really consolidated, peer reviewed and trusted highlights on a monthly basis.
That is fantastic. So, Sandy, we’ve got a really good opportunity in our hands with what you’re doing now. Is there anything about the future of Impiricus that will further help us take advantage of opportunities to really deliver and delight for our HCPs in this increasingly difficult access marketplace.
And I think, Frank, just the network growth that we’re seeing is really incredible. Impiricus is growing at about 35% a month in terms of the number of HCPs who are accessing the system. We already have deep roots in dermatology and oncology, and we actually have thousands of other HCPs which are already on the system. So as we roll out Pulse, we actually have some other new products that we’re rolling out into 2022 as well. One of them is called Docx. Now we asked our network, what would they like to have?
And we always ask them, what are their challenges? And we’re trying to build tools around that. And one of their requests was to have peer to peer bite sized innovation updates. So we’ve now created under the Dock X umbrella, DermX oncX, and we’re now moving into endocrinology, pulmonology, Cardiology and neurology. And what we’re doing is that on a monthly basis, we’re working with key KOLs, and we’re working for pharma clients to provide a sponsored or supported by, and we’re creating a three to five minute update video, either about Congress highlights or about a disease awareness topic.
And we work with our clients to formulate. And what this is giving is providing our network an excellent opportunity to learn on demand in a very succinct way what are the latest updates that are relevant to them. And the demand for this has been absolutely incredible. We’re seeing the open rates are over 90% and the feedback has been incredible. And we now are working with clients in 2022 for our post communication, which is direct to them as well as our Doc X. So its future is looking bright.
And as the number of physicians that are on the system grows, Frank, we’re also seeing an increased number of leads and requests we’re passing from concierge to our Pharma clients. So I think those are two things I would emphasize is that we’re becoming this opportunity to really tease out doctors who wouldn’t normally interact with Pharma and provide that conduit to the best resources. Plus, we’re developing a whole portfolio of products which will provide not only access and incredible engagement, but really solve some key acute challenges in informing our physicians.
That is fascinating. So as we head towards a close, let’s give some advice to our peers that are out there. You and I have both been longtime employees of life science organizations and inside any Biopharma or Medtech, there can be a natural resistance, especially from a diverse work group working on a specific challenge on acknowledging, accepting, and adopting new tools and technology. Because we have so many solicitations from companies that have products and services that will allegedly help lift our brand, reduce our costs, etc. etc. When it comes to something like this, if you were back in Pharma, sitting in the conference room and like, here you’re hearing about this new technology.
What advice would you give to your old self on how to be able to show up objective and appropriately excited about some new tool like we’re talking about today?
Well, I think, Frank, there’s a couple of things that I would say. I would emphasize the point about partnership. We see this in the data we presented today. HCPs want to have information and engagement from a trusted source as well as from the actual pharma lines direct to themselves. I think we need to focus on that blend and emphasize a little bit more on experimenting more on the partnership side. I think it’s also important to look at how can you start small and test something? So certainly on the Impiricus side, we work with pilots.
And we for our own respect and I would say safety for our network, we start small and then we show that it’s working before we start to scale it. The two things I would recommend to somebody who would be in my position a few years ago would be to encourage and embrace partnerships and to also start to think about how can you pilot with a rapid, I would say focus. Start to try out things and see if they’re working, but be able to scale them quickly.
That’s great advice, that is for sure. What I like about what you’re suggesting here when it comes to partnerships is it’s moving away from the data that we saw earlier in the presentation where we’ve got this very different point of view on what people want as far as how they think they should get information or discover information. So rather than initiatives and thinking about what will we do to the customer? This is about being a partner with the customer in a broader ecosphere of what they’re trying to do to manage their practice and help their patients.
I think that spirit of partnership and belonging is very important and helps us get closer to creating the real value that clearly customers want, because we’ve been a little bit off the mark as an industry in the past as this recent data shows.
So, Sandy, how do we keep in touch with you? Where do we go from here?
So we have a LinkedIn page, which, as you can find out, lots of great information. We are developing a very broad suite of products will quickly grow across various therapeutic areas. So our LinkedIn page, which is if you search for Impericus, you’ll get there pretty quickly. Or you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call we have a hotline of 404-402-8968. If you would like to reach out to the team, schedule a demo and start to see what Impericus can do to support you and your physicians and patients.
Well, it sounds like a great opportunity for our $1.3 trillion industry, that is for sure. So Sandy, thanks for your time and treasures. It’s always a pleasure spending time with you and on behalf of the audience, thanks for all the work you’re doing. It’s very inspiring.
Thanks, Frank. Have a good day, everybody.
Thanks, everyone. We’ll see you in the next session.