Clear Comms Help Pharma and Biotech Deliver More Than Medicine

When prescribing therapies, healthcare professionals (HCPs) examine the benefit-risk trade-off as their primary consideration. But is there more to it than that? WE Communications’ global Brands in Motion health study, “Healthy Reputation: More Than Medicine,” finds that outside a medication’s functional characteristics such as efficacy and safety, corporate reputation is the No. 1 factor that influences an HCP’s decision to prescribe or recommend a therapy. But how do HCPs define corporate reputation?

WE’s global research shows that four key things matter to these HCPs and their perception of a company’s reputation: Evidence-based information, patient education, disease management support and collaboration with patient organizations.

For example, the HCPs surveyed in WE’s study say they do not base a prescription or recommendation of a drug solely on whether the company produces high-quality medications or invests in research and development of new therapies. They also consider how well the company delivers when it comes to their own education and training on the relevant treatment. For the majority (57%) of respondents, the quality of the medical training and education content offered is “very influential” or “extremely influential.” In contrast, only 40% of healthcare professionals say this about the role of the sales force.

When vying for the attention of this busy and much-courted audience, it is understandable that biotech and pharmaceutical companies have traditionally focused the bulk of their attention on communicating about individual products, particularly through sales representatives educating HCPs about specific drugs. However, as our survey shows, HCPs are significantly influenced by the overall company brand in their decision-making process. Therefore, it is important to find the right balance between product and corporate communications.

To achieve this, pharma and biotech companies must understand what HCPs want to know and how they want to learn about it. It's not enough to provide great information on a company's website — healthcare professionals need to see the work in action. This requires the use of the right channels for the right information, tailored to the needs of the clinical audience.

Providing evidence-based information to HCPs – as well as offering patient education, disease management support and collaboration with patient organizations — are all critical to company reputation and, in turn, to prescribing decisions.

Close communication and transparency

Biotech and pharma companies need to establish a close two-way communication with both HCPs and patients. This will help identify their respective needs and ensure that everyone has equal access to information about the medication, and that everyone’s voice is heard.

Our survey shows that HCPs expect a comprehensive portfolio of information. Where and how is the company engaging? What goals have been achieved? Where are there hurdles to overcome? Additionally, HCPs also want tailored educational offerings that facilitate their day-to-day work. For instance, it’s essential to make complex medical content available in a practical format. Support programs for patients can also improve understanding of the disease and adherence to treatment — thus enhancing the work of HCPs. If executed well, such engagement can have a positive impact on HCPs’ perceptions of the company, and on their prescribing habits.

Good science communication tailored to the target audience

Effective communications and education require an ability to share complex information in a clear and comprehensive way. Pharma and biotech companies have an opportunity to educate HCPs about treatments and provide medical information that helps patients deal with their conditions in an empowered manner.
This also includes the ability to prepare research content in a practical way. By succeeding in this, a company can position itself as a trustworthy, capable partner at the side of HCPs, facilitating their daily work.

This is where we find ourselves in the field of science communications. It is not just a matter of communicating research results. Effective science communication is distinguished by the fact that its content and methods are relevant, comprehensible and transparent. The ability to listen and put oneself in the position of the target audience is imperative. This is a prerequisite for understanding their respective perspectives and for entering into an active dialogue with different groups, even those that are far removed from science.

Science and communication competence

Anyone who communicates about science must first be able to understand and reflect on it. Communication competence is composed of media expertise, conceptual technique, source criticism, target audience orientation, attention to detail, readiness for interaction and dialogue, and the ability to communicate even in situations with regulatory constraints.

At WE, we understand science, and we know how to communicate creatively. That's why we developed "WE SCIENTIVITY: Science meets Creativity."

Our agency portfolio combines our qualifications in science, creativity and communication. Combined, we use these three disciplines to prepare medical content in an understandable way. With Scientivity, we promise to always be at the cutting edge of science. We offer creative solutions that not only attract attention, but also tell stories — stories that focus on people and their health. We generate lasting enthusiasm for scientific content that sticks with people and inspires real change.

In everything we do, we put people at the center. We want healthcare professionals to have the opportunity to make prescription decisions independently and confidently. To do that, they need to understand the needs of the audience, the science itself, and the overall mission of pharma and biotech beyond the benefits of individual products. It’s our job to ensure they do.

For questions about effective science communication, write to [email protected].

Read the full WE Communications Brands in Motion health report, "Healthy Reputation: More Than Medicine."

May 11, 2023

Alexander Dospil
Creative Director and Scientific Lead