How Conversational Agents are Reshaping FAQs for Life Sciences Companies

Dr. Duré Hussain, Medical Director at conversationHEALTH

Introduction of conversational agents in the life sciences industry has been remarkable for a number of reasons; instantly-available information, extensive and credible content, and importantly, judgement free. Giving healthcare providers the liberty to ask any question, while removing the stigma of seeming unintelligent is groundbreaking. HCPs now have the information they are looking for readily accessible and companies gain true insights into how to best serve its HCPs.

So what are HCPs really asking?

Data models which process user queries through NLU (Natural Language Understanding) exhibit very similar trends across a variety of therapeutic areas. This analytic insight has shown the most frequently asked questions by HCPs are:

  1. Cost and Coverage — “What is the cost of this drug and does public insurance cover it?” One of the most common questions asked in clinics and pharmacies is “What’s the price of this medicine?” followed by “Will my insurance cover this?” It’s understandable that a physician may not know the answer off the top of their head, but HCPs recognize the value of this answer and how it may affect a patient’s willingness to start a drug and remain compliant.
  2. Samples — “How can I get samples sent to my clinic?” As most life sciences companies already know, providing samples to their prescribers is of great benefit. Though, how and when prescribers can get samples is logistically very important. Further research shows, it appears getting the answer to this simple question is not as accessible as it should be.
  3. Published data — “Can you send me studies done for this drug?” HCPs can access various clinical trials and studies through a number of databases, however, obtaining such content is often time consuming and not without considerable friction. As conversational agents remove this friction, HCPs turn to this solution for content without any apprehension.
  4. Availability — “Where can this drug be obtained?” It is exceedingly insightful as to how frequently HCPs inquire about acquiring a drug. Often, this could be due to a backorder or a result of the change in healthcare operations in smaller clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, whether it’s to redirect their patients or to restock their pharmacies, HCPs ask this question a remarkably high number of times.
  5. Support and Services — “What support materials do you have for my patients?” It’s common practice for patients to jump online and research more about their prescription drugs, despite the thorough counseling HCPs perform. However, before patients even get on the web, they frequently request educational materials (such as pamphlets and brochures) at clinics and pharmacies. Experiencing this on a daily basis, explains why HCPs so frequently ask conversational agents for educational materials readily available to provide to their patients.

HCPs, primarily physicians, are expected to hold knowledge on everything from diseases and therapies to their patients medical coverage and drug costs. As a result, this professional expectation has perpetuated a stigma, discouraging HCPs from asking their colleagues and others experts simple questions, which they may not readily recall the answers to. Additionally, taking the time to call a life sciences company, or browse through the web involves far more time than a physician has. This means, all the unknowns may never be asked — until now.

As you launch into 2021 planning, book a session with one of our conversational AI experts to learn how you can best leverage digital solutions to engage HCPs, patients & consumers. We believe bringing great ideas together is always the start of something exceptional.