Regardless of industry, a brand’s integrity begins and ends with its reputation—and nowhere is this more important than in the life-saving decisions made by healthcare professionals. Indeed, all around the world, those pros want the peace of mind that they are recommending treatments and prescriptions from companies they respect—and building that respect goes well beyond producing high-quality drug therapies, the latest Brands in Motion global report from comms giant WE Communications finds.
The firm’s new report, Healthy Reputation: More Than Medicine, with survey partner Sapio Research, reveals that, outside of a medication’s functional characteristics, healthcare pros ranked corporate reputation as the foremost influencing factor when it comes to making prescribing decisions—two-thirds of those surveyed said they are reluctant to prescribe medications from companies with a less than stellar reputation.
“The positive sentiment biotech and pharmaceutical brands earned during COVID-19 has waned; the industry is now at an important crossroads to maintain that confidence,” said WE’s EVP Health Innovation & Growth, Gemma Hudson, in a news release. “Our research indicates that healthcare professionals want pharma to go beyond medicine and address the entire healthcare experience, from education and support right through to tackling societal and environmental issues.”
The high standards of HCPs:
This year’s study uncovers three main themes:
Positive corporate reputation impacts the bottom line
The research found that when treatments have similar profiles, the maker’s overall corporate reputation is the No. 1 factor influencing healthcare professionals’ decisions to prescribe or recommend a drug. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most important, corporate reputation ranked at nearly 8 by healthcare professionals. The second biggest influence is the company’s reputation as a leader in a particular disease area.
To address these findings, biotech and pharma companies must prioritize development of corporate reputation programs that include thought leadership, medical education for healthcare professionals and advocacy for patients.
“For years, healthcare communicators have asked to what degree corporate reputation informs prescribing decisions of healthcare professionals. Now we know. It is incredibly important,” said President, WE Global Health, Stephanie Marchesi, in the release. “It impacts the bottom line.”
Delivering more than medicine is healthcare professionals’ expectation
The new data finds that healthcare professionals hold biotech and pharma brands to a particularly high standard, more than companies in other sectors, to go beyond their mission to provide medicines that treat and prevent diseases. In other words, they expect biotech and pharmaceutical companies to deliver “more than medicine.”
Nine out of 10 healthcare professionals surveyed say biotech and pharmaceutical companies should support improving patient health outcomes in ways beyond high-quality drug therapies. Seventy-three percent believe these companies should add value to society beyond providing their goods and services; for instance, offering medical education and patient support, as well as driving sustainability initiatives.
“The pressure on brands to deliver beyond their traditional remit has grown significantly in recent years—and no industry is feeling it more than healthcare,” said Hudson. “Developing new treatments will always be at the heart of the pharma industry, but creating great medicines is only the start. Health brands can and should contribute in ways that enhance the entire health ecosystem in which they operate and then also go beyond it, using their influence to tackle social and environmental challenges.”
Healthcare professionals question if patient centricity is real
Patient centricity is the top characteristic that healthcare professionals want brands to embody, with being innovative and progressive taking the second and third spots, respectively. However, only 45 percent of respondents believe that biotech and pharmaceutical companies are delivering this to a “great” or “large” extent.
When it comes to being patient-centric, healthcare professionals place offering patient support programs, improving understanding of complex health information, and demonstrating understanding of the lived patient experience—both physical and emotional—as the top three things they expect from industry.
“Some might say that these things are table stakes for any pharma or biotech company. But these companies need to ask themselves, and the healthcare professionals they work with, if their efforts to prioritize patients are sufficient or if they should be doing more,” said Marchesi. “In the end, what matters to healthcare professionals is proof that a company is doing the right things versus the promise they will do so.”
“Healthy Reputation: More Than Medicine” is part of WE Communications’ Brands in Motion global research. Now in its seventh year, Brands in Motion has surveyed more than 100,000 consumers and business decision-makers about how perceptions shift over time. Partnering with Sapio Research, WE surveyed more than 1,000 healthcare professionals in Australia, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States to understand their perspectives on the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.