Study finds video calls more effective in driving relationships with HCPs

Digital leaders are gaining an advantage using video calls up to three times a week.

Should pharma reps keep wheeling their cases into doctors’ offices? Maybe not. Video meetings are three times more effective than in-person interactions when it comes to driving new prescriptions.

That’s according to a new report from Veeva Systems, which combed through data from 130 million quarterly field interactions across 80% of global biopharmas.

It was an unexpected result: Video meetings, which have grown during the pandemic, work better than in-person meetings at getting new prescriptions filled. And digital leaders in the industry “are gaining an advantage using video calls up to three times a week,” the Veeva report said.

Why is video better? Partly because video meetings last longer. Video calls tend to average 21 minutes, with reps using content in 85% of those meetings compared with 39% in person.

The COVID pandemic shifted almost all reps from the field and into a virtual world in 2020 and in 2021. As lockdowns have largely ended and normality returns, however, there has not been a massive rush back to in-person meetings.

The report found that nearly 30% of HCP interactions remain digital—a massive shift from an estimated 5% digital prior to the pandemic. The report found field sales teams engage with healthcare providers 73% in person, 18% through email, 5% over the phone, and 3% on video.

The report also found that provider preferences are changing: The growing use of chat or text is now statistically significant, reaching 1% as providers embrace newer “pull” models alongside traditional “push” tactics.

With on-demand access to more reps, providers look to engage through their preferred channels when it’s most convenient for them.

The report concludes that the way pharma field teams engage with HCPs “is shifting once again” and argues that success “hinges on empowering field teams with data-driven insights to build the best omnichannel mix that engages HCPs when and where they need it most.”


Achieving medical communication excellence by targeting the right channel at the right time

The Pharmaceutical industry welcomes a new world of learning.

The pandemic has forced all sectors to make tough adjustments, and pharma has faced the biggest challenges due to its more cautious approach to digital transformation. Now, although it has been difficult to gain insights, there is an emerging class of excellence that focuses on a greater understanding of both knowledge gaps and how, when and where that knowledge will be consumed by HCPs.

Change is always a difficult process for most organizations, and many of them are still adjusting. All companies were somewhere on a digital transformation journey, but no one envisaged the amount of change we have experienced over a short period.

The good news is, after the initial panic, there is now a clear understanding that there are opportunities, as well as challenges.

HCP engagement has become more focused and meaningful, showing that HCPs still want contact and information, but the demand is for the content to be consumed according to their preferences and needs, which adds more pressure on medical communications to deliver programs with extra precision.

In this new era of medical communications, excellence is achieved by combining relevant content with the right channel and timing. The extra element added to the mix is the need to target messaging to each HCP or group of HCPs.

Pharma is adapting quickly

The content output of Medical Communications programs has definitely evolved to a new model, one that many companies and agencies have already added to their strategies: podcasts, short movies, and quick webinars that can be downloaded during downtime or off work hours will boost interest and draw in HCPs rather than overwhelming them.

Digital and social media are both a significant and lasting influence across the sector. It is technically easier to communicate through those channels, and every pharma company is now racing to focus on a more optimized and targeted delivery, which is where segmentation comes in, so HCPs are targeted through relevance, not by volume, and with a fluid experience.

Expect that campaigns will have to go through regular tweaks in order to secure interest and generate traction. Utilizing digital analytics to measure outputs across impressions, engagement rates, video views, downloads, shares and retweets is paramount to allow content to be finessed to drive action and change in target audiences.

Authenticity is key

The best-performing content is not always shiny or polished. Authentic content often outperforms the over-produced.

Take videos, for example. A few years ago, videos would involve a film crew, a big production with a soundtrack and ultra-rehearsed scripts, but now there is a definite shift to authenticity with unstaged videos that resonate with HCPs on a different level through the use of storytelling.

The more targeted and authentic the industry’s communications are, the more likely it is to fill knowledge gaps and earn the respect of health care professionals.

Snackable experiences

In this scenario, smaller, snackable content will generally perform better. For example, a one-minute video that attracts HCP interest can link through to a five-minute explainer video that might not have worked if it had been the first point of contact. HCPs are also unlikely to read long and complex pieces of copy.

Pharma’s relationship with target audiences has tended to be more conservative than consumer categories, for obvious reasons, but there is now a higher demand for innovation in the industry. Pharma is embracing the benefits of a faster pace, and utilizing the technology that is available and already in use by other industries for many years in order to achieve effective targeting with the right content through the right channels.

hcp engagement medical communications excellence

Pharma Influencers

The pharma industry is increasingly using social media as a tool to influence public opinion. With more people seeking out health-related advice online, health influencers are becoming more popular. Both patients and healthcare professionals are using social media to communicate with each other, raise awareness about issues, and promote tools and therapies. As an example, LinkedIn data shows that there was a 30% increase in healthcare conversations on its platform in 2021 compared to the year before.

Influencers in the pharmaceutical space used to be highly regarded experts that we know as ‘Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). What we see now is a shift to people who are maybe less senior, but are well and broadly connected. They operate like online influencers in any other category, except they are healthcare professionals.

The industry is still trying to work out who these people are, and how to – or whether to – engage with them. So it’s a case of identifying and understanding what content they react to and how they share it, and the challenges and opportunities that this new audience group represents.

The industry is still trying to work out who these people are, and how to – or whether to – engage with them. So it’s a case of identifying and understanding what content they react to and how they share it, and the challenges and opportunities that this new audience group represents.

Maximizing return on investment

The new era of digital or hybrid communications needs to have greater attention paid to audience segmentation, and deeper measurement and evaluation to unlock its true value.

Ultimately, this is about maximizing return on investment. If high investments are being made, then deeper measurement and evaluation are needed to unlock the true value of digital or hybrid communications.

As the market is increasingly more fragmented regarding what clients want and how they want it, more developments are expected over the coming years.

The grounds will continue to shift, and analyzing target audiences to understand their specific needs for content and making it available when, where and how they want, it will form the foundations of medical communications greatness.


Patients want physicians to have online presence, communication, billing options.

A good online presence and being digitally-savvy physicians can help them attract new patients and get paid when care is complete.

A new survey examined perceptions of physicians and technology among 2,000 patients earlier this year. Among the findings:

– 73% said they keep a “mental scorecard” of the things they like and don’t like in a new physician’s office.
– 60% said they would likely select one doctor over another if they could make appointments online.
– 61% consider it easy to make payments when evaluating whether to continue seeing a physician.

The results were published in “2022 Patient Experience Report: What Patients Really Think.” Primary care physicians were among the most seen, with 27% of patients reporting they had visited a primary care office in the previous 18 months, second only to dermatologists, seen by 30% of patients.

Online options for patients

In the survey, 69% of patients said it is important for physicians’ offices to have modern-looking websites; 33% of patients said they visit physician websites before going to an appointment, but about 66% of patients said they would be more likely to order nonprescription-related products from their doctor’s website over an online store.

Using the latest technology is important to 90% of patients, and 46% said they prefer their physicians to use a tablet to take notes.

Online reviews were important to 74% of patients, and 48% of patients said they consult those reviews before making a selection.

When deciding to see the same physician, 61% of patients said it is important to make online appointments, and the same percentage said it was important to make payments easily.

Timeliness and wait times were important to 79% of patients, who agreed 31 minutes is acceptable for waiting room time and 84 minutes is acceptable for exam room time. Physicians being personable and engaged was important for 67% of patients, and 33% said they had switched doctors due to unfriendly staff. In the waiting room, 75% said staff friendliness is important, and 68% wanted a fast check-in process.

For contacting physicians’ offices, 68% of patients said it is frustrating to leave a telephone message and wait for a callback. Instead of the phone, 47% said they prefer email, text or an online portal for follow-up communications.

Online options are important for billing – 59% of patients were more likely to pay a bill faster if given an online option, the survey said.









Pharmaceutical industry companies are increasingly innovating in machine learning

Pharmaceutical industry companies are increasingly innovating in machine learning

Research and innovation in machine learning in the pharmaceutical sector is on the rise.

The most recent figures show that the number of related patent applications in the industry stood at 77 in the three months ending March – up from 66 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to followed a similar pattern to filings – growing from three in the three months ending March 2021 to eight in the same period in 2022.

Machine learning related innovation in the pharmaceutical industry has increased in the last three months

Number of related patents and grants linked to pharmaceutical companies, by three-month period:

artificial intelligence machine learning pharma

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

Johnson & Johnson was the top innovator in the pharmaceutical sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United States, filed 31 related patents in the three months ending March. That was up from 11 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the Switzerland based F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd with 15 patent applications, Germany based Bayer AG (8 applications), and the United States based Pfizer Inc (5 applications).

Who are the top related innovators in the pharmaceutical industry?

Number of related patent applications linked to key companies in the three months ending March.

artificial intelligence machine learning pharma

Johnson & Johnson has recently ramped up R&D in machine learning. It saw growth of 64.5% in related patent applications in the three months ending March compared to the same period in 2021 – the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the pharmaceutical sector.

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The impact of omnichannel HCP education for Pharma

The impact of omnichannel HCP education for Pharma

4 minutes

Omnichannel communication strategies deliver improved, and tailored experiences for HCP education by providing the right medical content at the right time and place.

The learning environment for Medical Education continues to shift back and forth from face-to-face to online and digital experiences.

However, for the modern HCP, it is not one or the other, but the integrated orchestration of multiple channels, with dynamic content that is offered in flexible and engaging formats.

With time as such a scarce resource for HCPs, it is time for Pharma to realign and shift traditional activities to a holistic and different way of supporting these audiences.

An omnichannel perspective enhances audience engagement by making medical education more accessible, convenient and relevant, all via a fluid, seamless experience. This new model has the potential to rapidly become the standard for medical training and communications, setting new expectations for how these programs are designed and rolled out.

Content Development Omnichannel communication HCP education

Content is still the King

While Medical Affairs teams are increasingly adopting omnichannel strategies, the content creation component has often shown to be harder to execute than other parts of the omnichannel delivery puzzle.

To truly succeed with an omnichannel approach, pharma companies need to make sure all engagements touchpoints and content are aligned with audience interests and preferences, and accessible in the right formats.

  • Aligned with audience interests and preferences
  • Accessible in the right formats and channels
  • Consistent in quality and tone, building trust with audiences
  • Delivered promptly, with the frequency needed for ongoing engagement

Achieving this requires a systematic approach to planning, designing, and delivering medical content efficiently and with impact, as well as leveraging primary analytics and audience insights to fill possible program and knowledge gaps.

Content Development Omnichannel communication HCP education

Gaining insights and building audience personas

Gathering data from previous projects, external consultants or medical communication agencies, and augmenting it with primary analytics to fill insight gaps, is fundamental in the development of personas.

These insights ultimately will ensure that the content plan meets audience needs. By building systems that collect and respond to real-time audience feedback, pharma can also ensure that the audience's understanding is refined as the content is deployed.

As the program evolves, targeted content deployment can also transform every piece of medical content into a source of data, based on how and when the HCP audience interacts with it.

Content Development Omnichannel communication HCP education

Content development strategy for HCP education

A more robust content planning is needed to ensure great medical content production and that it addresses identified HCP needs and preferences in a relevant, engaging and motivating way.

The omnichannel content strategy for each audience segment is defined based on the previously developed insight-led personas. These, alongside medical content topics, will guide the production of content that is aligned with individual preferences and personal learning styles.

Pharma Medical Affairs teams are used to the challenges when delivering high-quality medical communication materials; however, resourcing constraints, limited experience with data-driven content and internal back-and-forth for approvals may restrict the potential implementation of an effective omnichannel strategy.

In this scenario, having an agency partner who understands how to design and implement programs that deliver on your goals, while being an expert on the evolving ways HCPs consume information, becomes essential.

Content Development Omnichannel communication HCP education

Implementing this approach

Omnichannel communication is often based on local factors, such as the market's audience, regulatory environment, and available channels. However, as Pharma programs are becoming increasingly more global in their deployment, it is also critical to include dynamic content that can easily be translated and adapted to omnichannel frameworks of local markets.

To reach, engage and impact HCPs, pharma must re-evaluate the audience's understanding and reassess the medical content development process, ensuring value and relevance are provided in the omnichannel world.

By delivering more value to HCP audiences through an omnichannel approach, every interaction can become an opportunity to move HCPs forward on their educational journey: from awareness, to trust, to loyalty and advocacy.



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Virtual and Augmented Reality: bringing the future for pharma manufacturing

Virtual and augmented reality tools have reached a level of maturity to be utilised across various industries. there is particular potential for the technologies to revolutionize staff training and reduce costs in pharma manufacturing.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have spent a lot of time in the headlines recently. With major companies investing in the concept of the ‘metaverse’, such as Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, both of these technologies will prove crucial to the adoption and potential success of this concept.

VR and AR differ in that the latter can add digital elements to reality while the former is a completely immersive, simulated experience. What this represents in practice is the ability to use a smartphone camera, or another compatible device, to see AR digital augmentation added to the real world, while VR is currently enabled through the wearing of a headset and connected devices.

The interest in such technology for various industries is the ability to train employees and work on the design of objects without the typical expense associated with such activities. As the cost of AR and VR tools have become progressively cheaper and the technology has become increasingly sophisticated, they can now be employed in various environments and industries.

The pharma industry’s overall push into industry 4.0 for manufacturing, with the aim of streamlining and enabling greater automation through the adoption of digital tools, is leading to greater interest in the potential for VR and AR to improve efficiency and reduce costs in production.

The importance of manufacturing

VR is part of a longer chain that ensures that innovative and more complex therapies can be produced effectively.

VR is an important element of Education 4.0, which is critical to Pharma 4.0, the streamlining of pharma manufacturing in the 21st century. It is not just about bringing new technologies to pharmaceutical manufacturing, it’s also about making advanced therapies ready for production. According to QxP, advanced therapeutics are more challenging in terms of production ‘error rates’, wastage and timeliness.

The challenges posed to produce these new therapies falls in line with the complexity of the therapies themselves, with a number of breakthroughs in the next generation of therapies being particularly challenging to produce at scale, such as cell and gene therapies. However, with a number of deals and investments being made in the space, the demand is there to develop more efficient methods of training and manufacturing.

Taking manufacturing to the next level

VR and AR solutions offer a possible solution to reduce the time required to ready a workforce to work in manufacturing, which can reduce overall timelines to produce new therapies. As was demonstrated at the early stages of the pandemic, it takes time for the manufacturing of a new product to get up to speed and for supply to meet demand. With VR and AR, biopharma manufacturing staff can receive training and experience with the process in a wholly or partially digital setting, gaining experience in a controlled environment.

Biopharma staff need training and experience on their instruments to efficiently operate them and support research and production goals. New equipment and new operators are a constant in the market and staying ahead of the training curve is a necessity to achieve business outcomes.

In terms of practical results, the new operator’s time to onboard can be reduced by as much as 50% when using the company’s VR training model. With the training taking place in a virtual environment, there are also no risks of interrupting or impacting production lines, which could occur during the normal training process.

The skill gaps between senior employees and those joining the teams meant that acquiring the deep technical knowledge of the former is becoming increasingly challenging via conventional training methods. However, AR guidance on how to complete complex procedures properly the first time prevents the likelihood of errors leading to contamination, scrap and waste..

The regulated nature of the pharma manufacturing process as being one that made AR training intervention even more valuable. The reasoning is that the “highly visual step-by-step instructions” provided by AR allow employees to more easily follow protocol while also making them more aware of safety instructions to ensure a secure working environment.

Grounded in reality

Though seemingly based in science fiction, the VR and AR tools have advanced to a point where their utilization is seeing an uptake in the pharma industry. This is not to say that the implementation of these tools is simple, as there are additional complexities to implementation that other industries do not necessarily face.

Many times, the challenges reside not in implementing the VR solution itself but in creating the training program, which must accurately reflect correct aseptic behaviour and various processes that are not straightforward by nature.

These barriers are not entirely unique to the pharma industry. However, the tools must reach a specific level of maturity to meet the requirements imposed by manufacturing.

All of these challenges can and must be overcome, as the value of digitized, augmented procedural guidance in the industry has proven to be increasing at unexpected rates even by Pharma itself.



Medical affairs: how it may evolve over the next five years

Medical affairs: how it may evolve over the next five years

Covid changed things for medical affairs teams at pharmaceutical companies, causing was a fundamental shift in the way they worked and functioned. The role of the medical science liaison—a key member of the medical affairs team—has also evolved.

In the early 2000s, pharma companies unleashed legions of sales representatives to promote their products to physicians. Pharma sales teams often had tens of thousands of reps. Medical science liaisons (MSL) teams existed but played a very different role than they do today.

This dynamic started to change the following decade for three major reasons:

First, in 2010, new regulations were passed to promote transparency and unbiased medical decision-making. Companies are now required to publicly report any payments or other transfers of value made to physicians and teaching hospitals.

Secondly, the industry focus shifted from mass promotion of blockbuster drugs to targeted therapy and precision medicine focused on rare diseases and oncology. New therapies and approaches required more of the MSL role, which now needed to accelerate and disseminate critical education and information on more specific disease states.

Finally, the amount of published medical research grew exponentially. Clinicians couldn’t stay on top of an ever-increasing number of new articles, data points and clinical studies, or sift through it all. The rate at which new data and information was produced outstripped the ability of physicians to read, retain and implement new information and practices.

The rise of the MSL

MSLs were now in a key position to engage with key opinion leaders (KOLs) and other stakeholders because they had the expertise and experience to develop peer-to-peer relationships and truly engage with doctors about the latest research.

The number of stakeholders also increased. Now there were care teams, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and patient advocacy groups. Social media also became mainstream, and doctors and patient advocacy groups started using these platforms. MSLs were needed to find and engage digital KOLs as well. In order to be successful, the new MSL needed to be more flexible and adapt to a new era utilizing different and very personalized digital communication and outreach methods to understand HCP preferences. The approach had to be much more personalized.

Covid changed things for medical affairs teams. It was a fundamental shift in the way they worked and functioned. The core of the role changed. Activities like going to congresses and going to HCPs offices aren’t happening anymore and probably won’t come back. Medical affairs and MSLs have to adjust to evolve with the changing times.

As the pandemic suddenly accelerated digital transformation, the landscape of the digital KOL shifted. MSLs had to learn what HCPs were saying in the social sphere and find new and compliant ways to engage with them.

Where we go from here: MSLs over the next five years

MSL insights will drive company strategy and execution. 

The role of the MSL used to be primarily data dissemination—informing and educating physicians and KOLs about research, clinical trial results, the latest therapies and the work that their companies were doing. The paradigm is now shifting from educating and informing to accelerating medical science innovation.

CMOs, CROs and CEOs of life science and medical device companies, for example, don’t simply want data; they want new insights gleaned from data and MSL expertise. They need access and insights quicker driven by sound, reliable and actionable data. 

More technologies will be developed specifically for medical affairs.

Medical affairs are increasingly being supported with larger budgets and new technologies. In fact, the top five global pharma companies are now giving medical affairs more resources, such as commercial analytics, and entering more technology partnerships.

With these new medical analytics and digital platforms, MSLs will understand what the educational gaps are in the community. They will understand the clinical protocols and guidelines of the spaces they work in. They will know the sentiment of the KOLs and stakeholders they’re engaging with. This data will be readily available and easily accessible; it won’t require Googling and spreadsheets.   

New technologies will enable MSLs to understand the impact of their work in a compliant way.

How do you begin to measure the success impact of medical affairs teams? We need to take a step back and look at what metrics we are even using to measure impact.

In addition, with the expansion of MSL teams to calling on PCPs, MSLs can see data on referrals to specialists from the PCPs they’re engaging with. One of the best ways for MSLs to know if their efforts are successful is if there are more referrals to specialists from the PCPs they’re engaging with.

Understanding the historical context and impact of medical affairs requires measurement in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics beyond just reach and frequency. Some of these metrics can be nebulous unless paired with a sound strategy and demonstrating clinical effectiveness resulting in improved clinical outcomes.

Critical factors to consider when measuring impact beyond counting visits or insights reported:

  • Historical context of medical affairs KPIs and metrics
  • HCP behavior as demonstrated through identified diagnoses and procedures
  • Referral patterns and changes
  • Scientific Share of Voice
  • Social media sentiment
  • Clinical outcomes such as less readmissions or disease progression metrics


The future will be founded on flexibility and actionable data as well as acknowledging the digital front door: watching, contributing, and understanding who is talking, who is listening and what they are saying. Physicians are considering more than the newest therapy, they’re considering adapting to value-based care and patient engagement, and MSLs need to align to ensure improved outcomes.

MSLs are at the forefront of innovation, operations, strategy and execution. Changing regulations, advances in medical science and treatments, an enormous increase in published medical research, and accelerated digital transformation due to Covid-19 have made MSLs indispensable to the industry and improving patient care.


Having the best partner can be valuable when learning how to navigate this often complex landscape. Six Degrees Medical can help identify where valuable HCP engagement occurs and develop a program and content strategy that speaks to your program goals, whether short or long term.

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The importance of diversity in pharma and clinical trials

The importance of diversity in pharma and clinical trials

“Diversity.” It’s a word that is very commonly thrown around right now, not just in pharma and healthcare but across all industries. No matter which sector you work in, diversity and inclusion should not be treated as mere buzzwords designed to help improve the perception of a company, but as must-haves. We live in a diverse world and our teams, clinical trial participants, customers, and key opinion leaders (KOLs) should reflect this.

Diverse teams

There are multiple reasons why companies need to prioritise diversity on their teams. McKinsey’s Diversity Matters report, which examined proprietary data from 366 public companies across various industries in North America, Latin America, and the UK, found that companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity are 25% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians than the bottom quartile. In the UK, every 10% increase in gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponds to an Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) increase of 3.5%. These results on their own should be enough to make Human Resources leaders take a step back and reconsider their hiring practices.

In the new hybrid workplace, geography is becoming less of a barrier. Employees no longer have to live in close proximity to the company headquarters, meaning that companies can also greatly expand their search for the right candidate. Companies embracing a hybrid office post-COVID will have the opportunity to cast a wider net and recruit in smaller or more remote communities. It remains to be seen whether this will also improve gender and ethnic diversity in the long term. However, one potential benefit of this model is that it allows skilled people (usually women) who may be doubling as caregivers for young children or elderly family members to more easily enter the workforce.

Diversity in clinical trials

Racial disparities are still commonplace in most clinical trials. Some companies like Pfizer and Eli Lilly are actively working on initiatives to improve diversity in clinical trials, but we still have a long way to go. It is known that factors such as ethnicity, sex, and age contribute to interindividual differences in treatment responses and risks of adverse events. Inadequate clinical trial representations of all populations can therefore leave minority groups vulnerable due to the lack of subgroup-specific data.

A notable example is the relative lack of Black participants in cardiology trials. Black patients are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites but account for less than 3% of clinical trial participants, truly highlighting the need for improved clinical trial recruitment and revised eligibility criteria.

Are decentralised and virtual trials the answer?

The increasingly popular concepts of virtual and decentralised clinical trials could potentially help reach more participants in rural communities or those who are not able to regularly visit a central study site. While virtual trials come with their own inherent access barriers, including the need for a computer and reliable broadband, the theoretical benefits thereof are numerous.

Decentralised and virtual trials remove the need to travel long distances and take time off work, which is not always feasible for participants with lower socioeconomic status, health issues preventing travelling, or just busy schedules. Further, decentralised trials allow for recruitment in underserved areas that do not traditionally have access to study sites or to information about clinical trial opportunities. Virtual trials can also overcome language barriers and the communication issues that frequently plague traditional clinical trials.

However, ensuring truly diverse clinical trials (virtual or not) starts at the time of protocol development. Gathering feedback on the protocol, recruitment approach, and eligibility criteria from all relevant stakeholders, including clinician-scientists and patient advocates, is therefore crucial. Just like the trial itself, collaborating on this virtually will allow more diverse voices and perspectives to be heard.

Virtual collaboration and insight-gathering

Virtually engaging healthcare stakeholders can help enhance diversity and inclusion in multiple ways. In addition to gathering feedback on or co-creating study protocols, online advisory boards, steering committees, and publication working groups can (both directly and indirectly) result in more diversity, including diversity of thought.

Unlike in-person meetings, virtual engagements allow KOLs with busy schedules, including surgeons and other difficult-to-reach healthcare professionals, to attend advisory board meetings. Virtual and hybrid meetings also allow more diverse voices to be heard. For example, instead of only engaging specialists, general practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, and even patients can be engaged in the same or in a parallel advisory board. Instead of only including established KOLs, the virtual format is ideal for engaging emerging opinion leaders or community providers. If leveraging an asynchronous (“over-time, anytime”) format, additional barriers such as language and time zone differences can also be effectively overcome. Further, introverted or junior advisors now get equal say to their louder, extroverted, or more experienced colleagues.

Asynchronous advisory boards are also ideal for engaging patients, who may be unable to take time off work or are too sick to travel long distances. The virtual format allows patients to remain anonymous, creating an environment where they feel safe to share their honest thoughts.

By including more diverse participants, the insights gathered will, in turn, be more diverse and better reflect the real-world clinical scenario. Advisors can also help Pharma teams identify treatment, resource, and education gaps in specific populations and suggest specific approaches to bridge these gaps.

The reality is that most patients are not treated at university hospitals or by internationally renowned clinicians; they are managed by primary care providers or at local hospitals and centres. Recognising this and actively recruiting diverse advisors is a great first step to ensuring that all perspectives are considered.

Virtual events and medical education

The rise of virtual events has resulted in conferences and medical education sessions suddenly becoming accessible to people who would otherwise never have been able to attend. From busy community physicians to healthcare providers from the other side of the world, the virtual format has vastly enhanced the reach of these events. As a result, the audiences are becoming more diverse, and services such as instant translation or real-time expert interpretation enable international attendees to fully participate in the event. As hybrid events are set to become the norm, making sure that those who prefer to attend virtually get an equally engaging experience will be key.

‍Benefits of embracing diversity and inclusion

Ultimately, embracing diversity and inclusion in all aspects of Pharma’s operations, from the top of C-suite executives down to the clinical trial participants and advisory board members, will serve to improve patient outcomes. Clinical trial results are more likely to be representative of the real-world outcomes when the participants come from different backgrounds. Engaging advisors from different regions or specialties allows new angles and perspectives to be considered. Products are more likely to be used by diverse populations if the marketing messages have been tailored to that population or if there is support available that matches their specific needs. The list goes on.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to creating diversity in Pharma, but we all need to start somewhere.

Ask yourself: what steps will you be taking today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter to create a more diverse and inclusive environment?


Having the best partner can be valuable when learning how to navigate this often complex landscape. Six Degrees Medical can help identify where valuable audience engagement occurs and develop a program and content strategy that speaks to your program goals, whether short or long term.

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How the Metaverse Could Change Work

Imagine a world where you could have a beachside conversation with your colleagues, take meeting notes while floating around a space station, or teleport from your office in London to New York, all without stepping outside your front door. Feeling under pressure with too many meetings scheduled today? Then why not send your AI-enabled digital twin instead to take the load off your shoulders?

These examples offer but a glimpse into the future vision of work promised by “the metaverse,” a term originally coined by author Neal Stephenson in 1992 to describe a future world of virtual reality. While defying precise definition, the metaverse is generally regarded as a network of 3-D virtual worlds where people can interact, do business, and forge social connections through their virtual “avatars.” Think about it as a virtual reality version of today’s internet.

While still nascent in many respects, the metaverse has suddenly become big business, with technology titans and gaming giants such as Meta (previously Facebook), Microsoft, Epic Games, Roblox, and others creating their virtual worlds. The metaverse draws on a vast ensemble of different technologies, including virtual reality platforms, gaming, machine learning, blockchain, 3-D graphics, digital currencies, sensors, and (in some cases) VR-enabled headsets.


Interpretation of the Metaverse as imagined by Neal Stephenson

How do you get to the metaverse?

Many current workplace metaverse solutions require no more than a computer, mouse, and keyboard keys, but for the whole 3-D surround experience, you usually have to don a VR-enabled headset. However, rapid progress is also occurring in computer-generated holography that dispenses the need for headsets, either by using virtual viewing windows that create holographic displays from computer images, or by deploying specially designed holographic pods to project people and images into actual spaces). 

Companies such as Meta are also pioneering haptic (touch) gloves that enable users to interact with 3-D virtual objects and experience sensations such as movement, texture, and pressure.

Within the metaverse, you can make friends, rear virtual pets, design virtual fashion items, buy virtual real estate, attend events, create and sell digital art — and earn money to boot.

But, until recently, the implications of the emerging metaverse for the world of work have received little attention.

That is now changing. Recent limitations on physical meetings and travel — are spurring a search by enterprises for more authentic, cohesive, and interactive remote and hybrid work experiences. 

The metaverse seems set to reshape the world of work in at least four significant ways:

  • New immersive forms of team collaboration

  • The emergence of new digital, AI-enabled colleagues

  • The acceleration of learning and skills acquisition through virtualization and gamified technologies

  • The eventual rise of a metaverse economy with completely new enterprises and work roles

Like Being There: Teamwork and Collaboration in the Metaverse

The metaverse promises to bring new levels of social connection, mobility, and collaboration to a world of virtual work. However, keeping employees engaged has become a top challenge for many companies. It is harder to hold 20 people involved in the flat 2-D environment of a video call; some people don’t like appearing on camera, or maybe there is not a real-life scenario triggered by powerful storytelling. That is why companies are turning to metaverse-based platforms.

Organizations need to create immersive workplaces that enhance team cohesion, employee wellness, and collaboration, that is why many of the metaverse companies booming these days emphasize workplace solutions that help counter video meeting fatigue and the social disconnectedness of remote work. The ultimate vision is to be able to connect different virtual workplaces. 

Remote work can be stressful. Research by Nuffield Health in the UK found that almost one-third of UK remote workers were experiencing difficulties separating home and work life, with more than one quarter finding it hard to switch off when the workday finishes. Virtual workplaces can provide a better demarcation between home and work life, creating the sensation of walking into the workplace each day – leaving and saying goodbye to colleagues when your work is done – and making it easier to stay connected to colleagues without feeling chained to the computer or cellphone, a frequent source of stress in traditional remote work situations.

Introducing Your Digital Colleague

Our work colleagues in the metaverse will not be limited to the avatars of our real-world colleagues. Increasingly, we will be joined by many digital colleagues — highly realistic, AI-powered, human-like bots. These AI agents will act as advisors and assistants, doing much of the heavy lifting of work in the metaverse and, in theory, freeing up human workers for more productive, value-added tasks.

Recent years have seen tremendous progress in conversational AI systems — algorithms that can understand text and voice conversations and converse in natural language. Such algorithms are now morphing into digital humans that can sense and interpret context, show emotions, make human-like gestures, and make decisions. 

Emotions are the next frontier in the metaverse. Start-ups are bringing together advances in AI and autonomous animation to create lifelike, emotionally-responsive digital humans. Its digital humans are taking on roles as diverse as skincare consultants, covid health advisers, real-estate agents, and educational coaches for college applicants.

Digital human technology opens up a vast realm of possibilities for workers and organizations as they are highly scalable and can be deployed in multiple locations at once. Human workers will increasingly have the option to design and create their digital colleagues, personalized and tailored to work alongside them. 


New Roles in the Metaverse Economy

The internet didn’t just bring new ways of working: it brought a whole new digital economy — new enterprises, new jobs, and new roles. So will the metaverse, as the immersive 3-D economy gathers momentum over the decade ahead.

Looking further ahead, just as we talk about digital-native companies today, we are likely to see the emergence of metaverse-native enterprises, companies entirely conceived and developed within the virtual, 3-D world. And just as the internet has brought new roles that barely existed 20 years ago — such as digital marketing managers, social media advisors, and cyber-security professionals — so, too, will the metaverse likely bring a vast swathe of new roles that we can only imagine today: avatar conversation designers, “holoporting” travel agents to ease mobility across different virtual worlds, metaverse digital wealth management and asset managers, etc.

Faster Learning in the Metaverse

The metaverse could revolutionize training and skills development, drastically compressing the time needed to develop and acquire new skills. AI-enabled digital coaches could be on-hand to assist in employee training and with career advice. In the metaverse, every object — a training manual, machine, or product, for example — could be made to be interactive, providing 3-D displays and step-by-step “how-to” guides. 

Virtual reality role-play exercises and simulations will become common, enabling worker avatars to learn in highly realistic, “gameplay” scenarios, such as “the high-pressure sales presentation,” “the difficult client,” or “a challenging employee conversation.”

Research has established that virtual-world training can offer important advantages over traditional instructor or classroom-based training, as it provides greater scope for visually demonstrating concepts (e.g., an engineering design) and work practices, a greater opportunity for learning by doing, and overall higher engagement through immersion in games and problem-solving through “quest-based” methods. 

Virtual-world learning can also use virtual agents, AI-powered bots to assist learners when they get stuck, provide nudges, and set scaled challenges. The visual and interactive nature of metaverse-based learning is also likely to appeal particularly to those who respond better to visual as opposed to verbal cues. People can also use virtual reality tools to combat social anxiety in work situations by creating realistic but safe spaces to practice public presentations and meeting interactions.


Challenges & Imperatives

Despite its vast future promise, the metaverse is still in its infancy in many respects. Significant obstacles could stymie its future progress: the computing infrastructure and power requirements for a full-fledged working metaverse are formidable. Today’s metaverse consists of different virtual worlds that are not unified in the way the original internet was. The metaverse also brings a thicket of regulatory and HR compliance issues, for example around potential risks of addiction, or unacceptable behaviors such as bullying or harassment in the virtual world, of which there has been some concern of late. While many issues remain, business leaders, policy makers, and HR leaders can start with the following imperatives for successful collaboration in the metaverse:

  • Make portability of skills a priority: For workers, there will be concerns around portability of skills and qualifications: “Will experience or credentials gained in one virtual world or enterprise be relevant in another, or in my real-world life?” Employers, educators, and training institutions can create more liquid skills by agreeing upon properly certified standards for skills acquired in the metaverse, with appropriate accreditation of training providers. This will help to avoid quality dilution and provide the necessary assurance to metaverse-based workers and future employers.

  • Be truly hybrid: As the rush to remote work during the pandemic showed, many enterprises had been laggards when it came to the adoption of truly digital ways of working, with outdated policies, lack of infrastructure, and a strict demarcation between consumer and business technologies. Enterprises must avoid these mistakes in the metaverse, creating integrated working models from the start that allow employees to move seamlessly between physical, online, and 3-D virtual working styles, using the consumer technologies native to the metaverse: avatars, gaming consoles, VR headsets, hand-track controllers with haptics and motion control that map the user’s position in the real world into the virtual world (although some versions use only cameras). Yet this is only the start. Some companies are developing virtual locomotion technologies such as leg attachments and treadmills to create realistic walking experiences. Nextmind uses ECG electrodes to decode neural signals so that users can control objects with their minds.

  • Talk to your kids: The metaverse will force companies to completely reinvent how they think about training, with a focus on highly stimulative, immersive, challenge-based content. In designing their workplace metaverses, companies should look particularly to the younger generation, many of whom have grown up in a gaming, 3-D, socially-connected environment. Reverse intergenerational learning — where members of the younger generation coach and train their older colleagues — could greatly assist the spread of metaverse-based working among the overall workforce.

  • Keep it open: The metaverse of today has largely emerged in an open, decentralized manner, spurred on by the efforts of millions of developers, gamers, and designers. To fully harness the power of this democratized movement for their workers, enterprises must not only guard against efforts to control or dominate the metaverse, but must actively seek to extend and open it up even further, for example by pursuing open-source standards and software where possible, and by pushing for “interoperability” — seamless connections — between different virtual worlds. Otherwise, as we have seen in the social media sphere, the metaverse could become quickly dominated by major technology companies, reducing choice and lessening the potential for grass-roots innovation.

The workplace of the 2020s already looks vastly different from what we could have imagined just a couple of years ago: the rise of remote and hybrid working has truly changed expectations around why, where and how people work. But the story of workplace transformation doesn’t end there. While still in its early stages, the emergent metaverse provides an opportunity for enterprises to reset the balance in hybrid and remote work, to recapture the spontaneity, interactivity, and fun of team-based working and learning while maintaining the flexibility, productivity, and convenience of working from home. 





speed of adoption

will be critical

With most of their infrastructure already in place, large enterprises will need to act fast to keep up with the new technologies and virtual services, or risk being outflanked in the market for talent by more nimble competitors. 



The metaverse will only be successful if deployed as a common tool for employee engagement and enriching interactive experiences, not for supervision and control.


The major part of the work done in the metaverse needs to match the virtual experiences that workers, particularly the younger ones, have come to expect of the technology already available in their lives.

Guided by these principles, business leaders can start to imagine and create their own workplaces of the future.


Having an expert, knowledgable and experienced partner can be instrumental when learning how to navigate the often complex and regulated landscape of Pharma communications. Six Degrees Medical can help identify where valuable audience engagement occurs and craft a program and content strategies that speak to your goals, whether short or long term.


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The point of using dummy text for your paragraph is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters. making it look like readable English.

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Why drip learning experiences are the future of physician engagement

Why drip learning experiences are the future of physician engagement

Physicians are busy. Convenience is paramount.

A drip learning system gives pharma organizations the ability to supply training and updates to HCPs in small, digestible bits of information.

Instead of inundating HCPs with an entire website’s worth of information to sift through inefficiently, with all the work put on them, drip learning experiences can guide them through a brief but immersive digital experience on their device.

This strategy makes digesting information simple and time-efficient. Then, if HCPs are interested in learning more, they can be directed to a specific area within the website where additional information can be found.

What is a drip digital experience?

Think of it like an elevated Instagram story specifically designed for HCP consumption. It brings educational and promotional content to life using:

  • Personalization
  • Interactivity
  • Efficiency

Create personalized digital experiences

One of the benefits of using digital experiences is that they can deliver personalized messages to healthcare practitioners, something that a brand website fails to do.

Which sounds more engaging: receiving a generic advertisement promoting a brand or receiving a compelling digital story that addresses physicians by name and recommends a brand tailored to their interests? It’s a no-brainer.

Maximizing engagement is key when trying to persuade HCPs to prescribe your brand. A Microsoft study found that human attention span has dropped from 12 to eight seconds in over a decade. If a physician isn’t immediately intrigued, they’ll likely move on.

Make digital experiences interactive


Each digital experience can include animation, video, and more, further increasing HCP engagement. Maybe a bar graph pops up with the brand’s efficacy data or a moving voiceover is paired with a photo of a patient who has had success using a particular brand to elicit empathy in healthcare practitioners. Human connection is a valuable tool that shouldn’t be underestimated.

With digital drip learning, brands have an abundance of options for enhancing user experience. The integration of various design techniques, as well as the bite-sized nature of digital experiences, are especially effective in an age where attention span is decreasing.

What better way is there to pique and hold someone’s interest than offering up a selection of curated pages of relevant images, moving parts, and informative text that gets straight to the point?

Digital drip learning for physicians are fast to create

Plus, digital experiences are not only consumed quickly, they are fast to produce. Think about how long it takes to get a website or website update approved. Digital experiences can be approved and launched in a fraction of that time.

They are time-efficient for brands and for physicians. A win-win design.


Pharma digital experiences provide actionable analytics

One major drawback of solely leading physicians to websites is the lack of data that can be collected from the multitude of random clicks. Have you ever looked at Google Analytics User Flow report? It’s like spaghetti. Every user’s journey through a website is different; this is not the case with digital experiences.

With the streamlined linear messaging of digital experiences, healthcare practitioners all move through the story page-by-page, which means it’s easy for the brand to identify HCP behaviour and be provided with physician-level data. For example, physicians can click through statistics and respond to surveys. They can also use call-to-action buttons to link to pages for booking rep visits, ordering samples, and so on.

Brands can more easily determine what’s working and what’s not.

Drip learning provide new opportunities for pharmaceutical brands

Websites are not dead, but it’s time to unite fronts by implementing the use of snackable digital experiences to engage physicians in a fresh way.

With digital stories, brands can maintain engagement with eye-catching interactive features and appeal to specific physicians through personalization, rather than reaching out to the faceless masses, hoping someone bites. Each experience is brief and can be created quickly. With less time spent updating a website, brands can engage more HCPs.

Minimize clutter and optimize engagement with snackable digital experiences.


Having the best partner can be valuable when learning how to navigate this often complex landscape. Six Degrees Medical can help identify where valuable audience engagement occurs and develop a program and content strategy that speaks to your program goals, whether short or long term.

The point of using dummy text for your paragraph is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters. making it look like readable English.

The point of using dummy text for your paragraph is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters. making it look like readable English.

  • strategy & insights
  • scientific content development
  • medical education & training
  • speaker training programs

Let's chat

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