How to best collaborate with HCPs? Eight approaches but no silver bullet.
Most digital health companies collaborate with HCPs to validate and create content for their solutions. Collaboration in clinical studies is therefore also the most common form of collaboration. HCPs are rarely seen as business partners supporting the distribution and integration of the solutions into practice. New results of a global survey by R2G.
Engaging healthcare professionals (HCPs) is essential for the success of digital health applications (DIHA). HCPs play a vital role in validating, endorsing, and integrating these digital solutions into medical practice. However, most digital health companies and solution providers engage with HCPs only to validate and test their solutions and not to promote, prescribe, or integrate it into their routines. In summary only 30% of digital health companies are happy with what they get out of the collaboration. See also article 87% of digital health companies work with HCPs, but how many are satisfied with the collaboration?
These are some of the results of a new global R2G survey-based study asking 564 digital health decision makers how they engage with HCPs and what works and what not.
What is the main objective for DIHA companies to engage with HCPs? 54% of digital health industry stakeholders want to harness the clinical insights and expertise of HCPs. Additionally, 44% of stakeholders seek HCP involvement to validate the medical content and accuracy of their digital solutions. Furthermore, gathering usability feedback, cited by 42% of respondents, helps refine DIHAs to ensure they are user-friendly and effective in real-world clinical settings.
Collaborating with HCPs to support the distribution of the digital health solution is prioritized by a minority of digital health solution providers. 21% are working with HCPS to increase app adoption numbers and only 10% want HCPs to be part of marketing or business development activities.
Companies employ a range of strategic approaches to actively engage HCPs in their DIHA. There are eight most used approaches to how digital health companies work with HCPs.
Engagement of HCPs in Clinical Trials: Companies involve HCPs in clinical trials as key stakeholders. This means integrating them into various phases of the trial, including planning, protocol development, and execution. HCPs can help design study endpoints, select patient populations, and provide valuable clinical expertise. Their participation ensures that the DIHA is rigorously tested and aligned with real-world medical practice standards.
Test Panels: Test panels consist of a group of HCPs who engage in comprehensive evaluation and validation of the DIHA. They assess the application’s user interface, functionality, and clinical relevance in-depth. Test panels may engage in hands-on testing, reporting bugs or usability issues, and suggesting improvements to enhance the DIHA’s usability and clinical utility. Diabeloop, Smart Respiratory, and NeuralDx are some of the many companies that make use of test panels to engage HCPs.
Test Clinics: Establishing specialized clinics or pilot sites for HCPs to use the DIHA in real-world scenarios provides valuable insights into its practical application. HCPs work with real patients, integrating the DIHA into their clinical workflows. This approach helps identify any challenges or workflow disruptions and allows for necessary adjustments to ensure seamless integration. Heart kinetics, Rheo, and Daiichi-Sankyo are examples of companies making use of test clinics to have a successful DIHA.
Use of Company Sales Team/Dedicated Digital Sales Team: The company’s sales team plays a crucial role in promoting and selling the DIHA to healthcare institutions and professionals. They engage HCPs through personalized meetings, presentations, and demonstrations, highlighting the DIHA’s clinical benefits and how it can improve patient outcomes and streamline healthcare processes.
Online Support: Companies provide online support resources tailored for physicians, ensuring they can easily understand, integrate, and use the DIHA in their practice. This includes comprehensive training materials, user guides, FAQs, and a dedicated support team to address any technical or clinical questions. Most of the companies provide online support to HCPs in the form of a support team to take any questions HCPs may have.
Continued Medical Education (CME) Programs: Companies involve HCPs in CME programs that specifically focus on digital therapeutics and the DIHA. These programs offer a structured curriculum, often including webinars, seminars, and online courses that keep HCPs up-to-date with the latest research, clinical guidelines, and practical insights related to the DIHA. Companies such as Kaia Health, PINK! Coach, or HelloBetter offer online 1 to 3 points CME certified trainings, covering subjects such as understanding DiGAs and other health apps, introductions to their specific apps, as well as therapeutic area-specific medical topics.
Communication with Patients: Engaging patients directly aims to stimulate the patients’ interest in the DIHA, prompting them to request the application and leading to a rise in prescription or adoption rates. Communication is mainly done via app promotion channels of the DIHA company, social media, email campaigns, participation in start-up pitches or other industry events.
Joint Publications: Collaborating with HCPs on DIHA-related publications entails conducting research studies, clinical trials, or case studies that demonstrate the DIHA’s clinical efficacy and benefits. These findings are disseminated through medical journals, presentations, and conferences, building credibility and trust within the medical community.
Digital health companies have found their forms of collaboration with doctors to validate and design the solution. They have not yet managed to make doctors their business partners. To achieve this, new approaches to collaboration and business models still need to be developed.