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Healthcare Cookie HCP

Healthy cookies: Why it’s still so hard to get healthcare professionals to opt in

By Tom Gillan, Media Executive

Space & Time


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May 3, 2024 | 8 min read

Amid all the talk of cookie deprecation, we can’t forget that many digital marketing strategies still rely on getting users to opt-in to data sharing, says Space & Time’s Tom Gillan. In healthcare, that’s not easy.

Green macarons on a pink background. One of them is smashed

Consent isn't easy to secure when marketing to healthcare professionals - but it's not impossible / Eugenia Kozyr via Unsplash

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it accept cookies.

In healthcare professional (HCP) marketing, as elsewhere, achieving high cookie acceptance rates is a common goal. But it’s not easy, amid concerns over privacy, regulatory compliance, and limited time and attention spans.

These challenges underscore the importance of navigating the delicate balance between data acquisition and privacy concerns. The good news is that there are viable strategies to enhance cookie acceptance rates while addressing the unique needs of HCPs. They all start by understanding those three factors that make cookie acceptance rates so low for HCPs (privacy, compliance, and time/attention).

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1. Personalized privacy policies

Navigating the delicate balance between data acquisition and privacy concerns is a constant challenge for HCP-only landing pages. David Reim of healthcare identity company DMD IQVIA sheds light on this issue, noting that “44% of polled HCPs reported encountering a growing number of sign-up barriers.” These hurdles often manifest as content hidden behind paywalls or registration forms, as companies strive to gather valuable HCP data.

Comparative analysis with other industries, as highlighted by Deloitte’s 2020 study on cookie benchmarks, reveals intriguing insights. Opt-in rates for consent management platforms within the life sciences & healthcare sector appear to surpass those in the consumer and public sectors. However, despite these variances, a concerning trend emerges across industries: 55% of websites lack the option for users to tailor cookie consent settings.

But we have to focus on personalizing the user journey, advocating for tailored creative and experiences based on channel and audience segmentation. Extending this sentiment to encompass the entire user journey, from awareness to conversion, necessitates comprehensively addressing privacy concerns. To mitigate these concerns, HCPs should be empowered with personalized privacy preference settings, allowing them to fine-tune consent preferences and ensuring a more transparent and tailored user experience.

2. Regulatory compliance

Ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, such as GDPR in Europe and the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), is paramount for consent management platforms operating in healthcare.

Pharmaceutical product or congress landing pages must adhere to these regulations to safeguard the privacy and data rights of healthcare professionals. While the EU provides a general privacy framework through GDPR, individual countries also have their own specific regulations governing this sector, leading to a complex regulatory landscape.

Concentrix states that, for advertising medical devices, “11 out of 22 countries had EU healthcare regulations that require restricting medical device marketing to healthcare professionals only”. This variation necessitates careful consideration and implementation of compliance measures that extend beyond regional boundaries.

Relying solely on regional websites may not suffice due to these diverse regulatory requirements. Instead, consent management platforms must adopt a comprehensive approach that accounts for the nuances of each country's regulations. By diligently adhering to GDPR and other applicable regulations, consent management platforms can build trust with healthcare professionals and mitigate legal risks.

3. Limited time and attention

HCPs are busy. They have a lot on their plates: caring for patients, professional development, administrative tasks. So, when they're online, they're usually focused on what they need to get done. When they see those cookie consent messages pop up, they often ignore them. They’re more interested in their patients or finding the information they need about a particular therapy.

To make sure HCPs pay attention to cookie consent requests, companies need to make them easy to understand and not too intrusive. This is always a difficult balance to achieve.

Educational resources related to data privacy, can make more likely to engage with the landing page, and build long-term trust with the advertiser. Researcher Sarah E. Carter has said that “re-purposing notices for value-centered privacy decisions could retain the original normative underpinnings of notice – to respect autonomy – while also promoting more meaningful data privacy decisions and an overall better experience”. What this might mean in practice is the provision of more autonomy to target HCPs (alongside educational content, imbuing the user with self-determination).

… And don’t forget about UX

Each of these points is compounded by user experience. We have to make it easy for users to accept or decline cookies with clear options and intuitive design. It’s also all dependent on driving qualified leads to your desired landing page; the cookie opt-in process must be envisioned within the marketing funnel, as a separate step after consideration.

For more analysis of the health and medicine landscapes, head over to our health and pharma in focus hub.

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Healthcare Cookie HCP

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Space & Time is a growth marketing agency, enabling clients to secure optimal value from every part of the customer experience and their marketing investment....

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