For over the last two decades, the entire healthcare sector, including patients, doctors, healthcare, and the pharmaceutical industry have been shifting to digital forms of communication and information sources. Patients explore diseases and check their symptoms on websites of WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, the CDC, and many others. Physicians attend virtual meetings and conferences, expand their professional knowledge via online continuing medical education tools, and use digital calculators, drug references, and clinical decision tools from websites and apps such as Medscape, QXMD, academic institutions (e.g. the Mayo Clinic), government agencies (e.g. CDC), and professional medical societies. The pharmaceutical industry progressively relies more on electronic health records; the reps increasingly use emails, apps, and other digital forms of communications to interact with doctors. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought person-to-person interaction to a halt and accelerated the shift to digital. As the world grapples with what may be the new “post-COVID” normal, some traditional in-person visits and live meetings and exchanges are expected to come back. However, many emerging trends are here to stay.
In this report, we present perspectives of industry front-runners and key opinion leaders who recognize the importance and necessity of digital transformation. We share insights from a Medscape survey of global physicians’ attitudes on the effect of the pandemic in terms of their preferred ways of communicating and in obtaining medical information. We present the clear winners in the shift to digital. The pharmaceutical and the healthcare industries are reviewing digital strategies for the post-pandemic era allowing them to efficiently utilize digital channels of communication, concentrate on the health and safety of their patients, and help to turn the crisis into the opportunity.
Kaushal Patel, MBA Stanislav Zakharkin, PhD, PStat
Group Vice President, Marketing Sciences, WebMD Director, Marketing Sciences, WebMD