Why COVID hasn’t killed our need for connection


We can do just about anything virtually these days. Video conferencing and advanced team messaging software mean we can work remotely with ease, conduct successful business meetings online and stay connected with colleagues without leaving our homes. Our makeshift home offices have become permanent shelters and ‘getting dressed’ for a physical meeting can seem an onerous task. There are so many benefits and efficiencies to communicating virtually, why bother doing anything else?


However, our recent survey of 450 GPs and Specialists shows there is really no substitute for face-to-face connection. Over sixty percent of our respondents believe it’s important to see pharma reps face-to-face AND that they miss something by not doing so.


A theme emerged throughout our research in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that we dubbed ‘the coffee factor’. ‘The coffee factor’ represents what physicians miss most about meetings and face-to-face communication with reps and colleagues – those chats and interactions that fit somewhere between formal and facetious, providing a time to have a break and reset, and connecting with a like-minded professional on topics such as a difficult patient case or discussing the implications of a new drug indication.

Our survey last month highlighted that this is still the missing link for doctors. As one Specialist said, “I want more genuine interactions. I’m suffering from remote, video and phone interaction fatigue.” The ‘know, like and trust’ factor may be achievable through digital marketing strategies but nothing can replace a real human connection.


But the need for face-to-face engagement doesn’t stop there.

This finding alone highlights that new drug launches can fail simply because there is not enough human contact between pharma and physicians.


Pharma does seem to largely be on the right track, however, when it comes to face-to-face interaction. Two in three physicians think that face-to-face interaction with pharma is ‘about right’, but about ONE THIRD believe pharma is not engaging often enough face-to-face.


The moral of the story is this: there’s huge advantage to virtual offices and digital engagement channels, but successful relationships – and drug launches - rely on the incidental discussions and human interaction that only come when meeting face-to-face.


For more information on this topic, do reach out to us at