Matthew Dickinson

The Attitudinal Shift Towards Digital Engagement in Healthcare

Execution category icon Execution
Insights category icon Insights

by Matthew | 22 May Read Time3 min

Matthew Dickinson, Managing Director of Dice, is an Economics graduate of Melbourne University, and entered the world of consumer advertising in Australia - working for global agencies DDB and Ogilvy. His experience drives Dice to deliver the best possible work for clients.


So much has already been written about the digital landscape since COVID hit, not least within the healthcare sector. How can we maximise digital engagement and utilise the products that allow us to do so? I don’t want to repeat those messages, but given they’re mainly tech-led, I think it’s important to think about the wider picture and what this could mean in the longer term.

Responding to the Current Climate

For us at Dice, we are often asked ‘can you do {insert the latest platform/tech here!}’, in response to a new technology and/or media option becoming available. For example, Veeva Engage in the current climate has become a very valuable tool for our clients. Indeed, Veeva have seen 10x increase in the use of Engage over the last two weeks in the US and Europe alone (data as at May 20th 2020). The answer is – of course we can – but we always challenge our clients to think about the wider picture, and that is what I’m discussing here.

One positive of this situation (if there can be such a thing), is the attitude shift on digital communications vs. face-to-face meetings. By force, we have all had to adapt our business practices, and this has meant that a lot of people previously averse to communicating virtually have found it to be actually rather pleasant. Clinicians have found that they can indeed do a rep call remotely, saving them time and the need to have visitors to the hospital, and they’ve become comfortable with the technology. Furthermore, customer-facing professionals, especially sales representatives, like having additional tools to use in their work.

The Risks of Saturation

The rush to ‘arm’ reps with material, however, comes with a small risk. Every company is updating their materials to include digital-only interactions, and when you extrapolate this out to every clinician interaction, the volume is large.

Indeed the number of Veeva Approved Emails sent in the last 4 months has gone up nearly 500% (Veeva data, May 2020). You can picture the inboxes now.

To be fair, open rates are holding steady, so that illustrates that clinicians are not rejecting this approach, for now…

So, we need to make sure we add value to clinicians and not send out blanket communications for the sake of ‘being digital’. One major pharma company has set up a ‘warning’ light for representatives, whereby if they are sending approved emails to clinicians, if they’ve sent an excessive amount to that contact, it questions them as to whether another email is the right thing to do. A small thing, but illustrates to me that they’re thinking about the end user, which is so important.

As with all digital transformation, we must not abandon the fundamentals of good content and creativity.

If anything, in this current climate and for the reasons above, it’s never been more important. Ensuring all our work is distinctive and cuts through is paramount in support of our clients, often needing to be deft at sacrificing content for the sake of the message. For instance, it’s probably not a good idea to include a video within your Veeva Engage presentation (even though it’s in the CLM), but instead follow up the call with a link to the video in an email.

Currently we are living this transformation: some of the projects we are working on are below – should you need any help on anything similar, pick up the phone and get in touch.

  • Veeva Engage transformation of CLM content
  • Approved Emails
  • Creating virtual ad boards using our platform partners
  • 3D modelling of exhibition stands that were meant for live exhibitions using our stand-build partner Stephen Green Exhibits
  • Running webinars and ensuring smooth user experience
  • Updating website content for HCP resource sections, also driving Veeva traffic
  • Mapping KOLs for digital engagement

In summary, it’s great that we can move forward at pace, but we still need to remember to deliver communications that chimes with the audience. The real benefit of doing this digitally is that we can measure this and use it to inform the next tranche of work.