Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Value of Medical Content Channels According to HCPs vs Pharma Professionals

A study conducted from July – August 2015 by EPG Health Media, publisher of epgonline.org (a website for healthcare professionals) found some "significant gaps and imbalances" between how healthcare professionals (HCPs) and pharma industry professionals (Pharma) view the value of medical content delivery channels.

Keep in mind that the results are based on a very limited number of survey participants, which include 216 HCPs and 137 pharmaceutical industry professionals (66 pharmaceutical professionals and 71 service providers).

I selected a few channels to look at (mostly digital) and replotted the data in the following chart, which shows the percent of respondents (HCPs v. Pharma) who consider that the channels have moderate or significant value for HCPs.

Click on image for an enlarged view.
What are the key takeaways from this study?

No surprise that professional social networks are top of the list of valuable sources of content according to HCPs and pharma professionals. It's also no surprise that pharma professionals think rep visits are much more valuable sources of medical information than do HCPs. HCPs believe medical apps may be important content sources, but not as valuable as pharma professionals think they are.

The are some devils in the details, which may be gleaned in the following chart that includes all the data.

Click on image for an enlarged view.
Whereas 81% of pharma respondents believe general social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook have some value for physicians, only 52% of HCPs think so.

33% of HCPs believe that professional social networks have no or limited value, but only 15% of pharma professionals agree.

For what it's worth, according to EPG Health Media, ‘Digital’ currently accounts for approximately only 15% of "pharma marketing activity." I assume "activity" means "budget." I'm not sure what's included under 'Digital,' but I am sure EPG hopes pharma will spend more on advertising on its professional network (epgonline.com). The pharma industry, however, may be more interested in following the lead of Merck - owning HCP professional networks outright. For more on that, read "Physicians Interactive Gobbles Up Univadis - Both Owned by Merck/MSD".


  1. Anonymous9:17 AM

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your interest in our latest study and for sharing your interpretation of one of the questions with your readers. There are a few inaccuracies in your post that I think it’s important to address.

    In selecting just 6 of the 16 channel options we included for that particular question, I think the data is somewhat misrepresented in both of the graphs that you have created and therefore misinterpreted. In fact 'general social media' was the least valued of the 16 content channels listed and 'professional networks', while significantly more valued, were cited by HCPs as of less value than a number of other 'on' and 'off' line channels. Also, you have made a mistake with the stats you presented for pharma educational websites. In fact, 56% of HCPs found them of moderate or significant value, while 67% of pharma thought HCPs would (i.e. pharma overestimated rather than underestimated the value of their own educational sites).

    EPG Health Media has no agenda in discussing social media - epgonline.org is not a professional social network as you suggest, and no longer accepts advertising. The website is however an independent educational platform and does contain medical content funded by pharma. Independent channels were in fact reported as most frequently used by HCPs, and so that would be our plug ;) !

    With regards to your closing comments encouraging pharma to create their own professional networks, our research highlights some trust and credibility issues for pharma-owned sites and so these findings may also be of interest to your readers.

    The reference to 15% of current pharma marketing activity being digital came from another study and was cited in the introduction to our study for context. Its possible that the figure may be conservative but it is greater than earlier studies suggest, such as you one you referenced last year - http://pharmamkting.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/globally-pharmas-digital-spend-is-still.html

    With regards to sample size, there are obviously reports produced based on much larger sample sizes and with a price tag to match. EPG Health Media is not a market research company, but does conduct smaller scale studies to understand our audiences' needs (HCP & pharma). We realise that we are in a privileged position to be able to do this and so are happy to make these studies available for free as a service to the industry.

    Your 'key takeaways' from the report may not be the same as ours or perhaps other peoples, and they are really only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the full study findings (based on 50 questions). I hope that you are happy to provide a link to it so that readers can find out more if they wish - http://www.epghealthmedia.com/industry-reports/pharmaceutical-industry-hcp-engagement/

    Kind regards,

    Michelle Kelly
    Division Head Marketing & Market Research
    EPG Health Media

    1. Michelle, Thanks for your comments. I have corrected the chart.

      I know there are channels more valued than social media, but in this post I am not interested in those other channels. I don't think leaving these data out makes this a misrepresentation. I would just call it an non-representation.

      BTW, I did provide a link.



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