dentsu health

Health Care Professional Journey-Based Segmentation and Targeting

By: Olympia Mantsios, VP, Global Data, Dentsu Health, Kent Groves, PhD, Chief Global Strategy Officer, Dentsu Health

In recent years, health-marketers have undergone a dramatic transformation in their healthcare professional (HCP) marketing strategy. This evolution signifies a shift away from the conventional "market aggregation" approach, wherein all individuals are uniformly addressed, towards a more refined and targeted strategy. The traditional segmentation methodology was predominantly rooted in the HCP's value to the company, whereas contemporary strategies now encompass an additional critical dimension, specifically, the brand's value to the HCP.

This approach adopts the tenets of people-based marketing, harnessing insights derived from comprehensive market research in conjunction with behavioral and attitudinal data that genuinely demonstrate “therapeutic” brand value to an HCP, measured against individual levels of disease state prescribing. Ultimately,   this approach also illuminates the dynamic and real-time progression of the HCP's journey through the stages of awareness, trial, adoption, loyalty, and defection, as depicted in the Figure 1.

Each of these pivotal stages in the journey constitutes a distinctive point in the HCP's "segment" migration, characterized by intelligence gathered from the HCP's responses to the brand, dynamic insights associated with their prescribing activity quantified by reported ICD10 codes, and the brand's non-personal promotion (NPP) history. This analysis of the migration, along with its accompanying segmentation framework, can be seamlessly applied to any brand, regardless of its position within the product life cycle.

Figure 1: HCP Activity-Based Migration

The progressive journey through which healthcare professionals (HCPs) interact with a brand may be delineated into distinct phases. The initial stage, denoted as the "awareness phase," encompasses HCPs who have been engaged with our NPP or those newly added to a target list, but have not yet written a prescription for the brand. The second stage, termed the "trial phase," associates with HCPs who have recently started prescribing the brand. Depending on the gap between data capture and evaluation, their prescribing activity would be primarily NBRx (new prescriptions, written to newly diagnosed, or previously diagnosed individuals who aren’t responding to treatment). Within this category, there are both unique responders and multiple responders to NPP, as well as physicians who have not previously responded. These individuals collectively exhibit a prescription volume below the median. The subsequent phases (stages three and four) of, "adoption" and "loyalty," are represented by HCPs with medium and high prescription rates, respectively, for the brand.

Within these stages, HCPs can be further segmented based on their responses to NPP communications, distinguishing between those who did not respond and those who responded to single or multiple NPP initiatives. The final or concluding stage is  termed the "defection phase," pertains to physicians who were previously loyal to the brand but have not written either a new prescription (NBRx, NRx) or refill prescription (TRx) of the brand for a specified length of time such as three months or one year.

In order to optimize sales and marketing spend, it is imperative that a strategic focus on delivering value to HCPs is meticulously integrated. It is paramount to acknowledge that various HCPs exhibit diverse needs, require varying levels of support, and engage with the brand through distinct avenues and most importantly, are influenced by a broad selection of variables ranging from NPP and field force activity through to social media and their peers and clinical support team. This sophisticated approach to segmentation serves as a catalyst for obtaining profound insights into individual engagement throughout the entirety of the HCP journey, ranging from initial awareness to trial to retention to potentially defection.

This method empowers marketers to acquire granular data that offers enhanced predictability concerning the most suitable content, messaging, or desired actions tailored to each segment. By employing the level of engagement as surrogate for performance, we can foresee the potential impact even before a significant increase in prescriptions materializes. This aggregate analysis facilitates the acceleration of optimization cycles, allowing us to make informed decisions regarding investment allocation and resource distribution, while simultaneously mitigating the risk of overwhelming our most valuable clientele through excessive and inappropriate communication.

The genuine value inherent in this approach is the creation of a platform for HCPs to engage in more pertinent and interconnected interactions with the brand. This, in turn, fosters an environment in which HCPs can perceive the pharmaceutical company as a partner, rather than merely a promoter of pharmaceutical products. The focus transcends mere sales performance measurement, and instead, embarks on a broader engagement model. This model holds the potential to yield incremental Rx, establish deeper and more expansive relationships with HCPs, and contribute to an extended continuum of care and support for HCPs, clinical support teams, and patients.

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