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Our M3 blogs cover a range of thought provoking topics from trends and challenges to proposed solutions for the pharmaceutical industry.

The burnout pandemic of healthcare professionals – How to engage with very stretched doctors?

May 2023

The healthcare industry is seeing a dramatic increase in overwhelmed and overburdened healthcare professionals (HCPs), which is harming their well-being and impairing the quality of patient care they are able to provide. In our recent survey of 750 doctors across UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, M3 found that 89% of doctors agreed that clinical staff are more exhausted or burnt out than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As pharma work to connect with medical professionals to provide valuable education and promote their products, it's crucial to acknowledge and address the difficulties faced by burnt-out HCPs. In this article, we will delve into some effective methods for pharma companies to engage with and assist doctors experiencing burnout, in a manner that is both efficient and respectful.

Defining burnout

Burnout is a debilitating state of physical and emotional exhaustion, caused by prolonged exposure to work-related stress. This has become a critical issue in healthcare, with nurses and doctors being pushed to work extended hours, manage large patient volumes, and handle multiple administrative duties. Burnout not only affects the well-being of these professionals, but also jeopardises the quality of care that patients receive, leading to increased risks of medical errors. It's essential for pharma companies to explore innovative ways to support HCPs facing burnout, allowing them to prioritise their own self-care and, in turn, provide exceptional care to their patients. After all, it's only by taking care of our healthcare workers that we can ensure they take care of their patients.

"Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged exposure to stress"

Where is burnout most common?

The current state of engagement

Pharma have long been relying on traditional methods such as in-person meetings, conferences, direct mail and email to engage with medical professionals. But, given the severe time constraints doctors and nurses now face, these conventional methods may no longer be as effective. That's why pharma companies are exploring new ways to engage with their audiences and share useful content, including virtual educational programmes, webinars and social media. Be that as it may, healthcare workers might still feel that interactions with pharma companies take too much time and may have some bias. So, it's crucial to continue to push the boundaries and develop new ways to engage with burnt-out HCPs, while taking into account their unique needs and concerns.

Engaging with the overwhelmed and overworked

Employing a range of strategies that demonstrate a commitment to well-being and offer flexibility and convenience in communication is the key to HCPs feeling understood and valued.

  • Provide support and resources: Providing medical professionals with educational materials and training programmes on mental health and wellness initiatives is an option you might not have explored. For instance, creating a website or an app that provides doctors with access to educational materials and self-help tools, such as stress management and mindfulness techniques, can make a real difference and demonstrates the value pharma places on their well-being. Also, providing training programmes on wellness initiatives such as nutrition, exercise and sleep can help HCPs prioritise their physical health, leading to improved mental well-being and a decreased risk of burnout.

    By providing these resources, pharma can not only support the well-being of HCPs but also build trust and credibility with their audience. This community is more likely to engage with companies that demonstrate a commitment to their well-being and provide value beyond promoting products.
  • Offer flexible communication channels: To effectively communicate with busy HCPs, companies can offer alternative communication methods that suit their preferences. For instance, providing text messaging or chat options on their websites or apps allows medical professionals to quickly connect with representatives or find information. Video conferencing can also be used to provide a more personalised and interactive experience, especially for doctors who work remotely or far away. By offering these flexible communication channels, pharma can help reduce the pressure on healthcare workers while still providing them with the support and resources they need.
  • Offer concise, relevant information: Irrelevant information is every busy doctor’s nightmare. Consider providing short and useful information on different platforms like mobile apps, social media and interactive tools. By giving our doctors and nurses information that is easy to understand and relevant to their specific area of expertise, pharma organisations generate engagement and show that they are committed to helping HCPs in their work.
  • Focus on value over quantity: By prioritising value over promotion, pharma can strengthen their position as a trusted partner in the healthcare ecosystem. Offering educational resources and support alongside promotional efforts, will help pharma to build trust, foster better partnerships and improve patient outcomes.
  • Use technology to streamline communication and reduce administrative burden: Technology is the future for all sectors and could make it easier for HCPs to communicate with pharma and access information. Examples of such technology include automated scheduling tools to help effortlessly schedule meetings, virtual assistants (like chatbots) to save time by answering common questions and mobile apps to give access to information and resources on the go. By using technology to make communication easier and reduce administrative work in healthcare, companies can build stronger relationships and help provide better care for patients.

Additional strategies

In addition to the strategies discussed earlier, there are additional ways that pharma can engage with overworked doctors to support their well-being and productivity.

  • Offer work-life balance support programmes and resources: Burnout can stem from a lack of work-life balance, and offering wellness programmes or childcare assistance can demonstrate a commitment to HCP well-being.
  • Provide opportunities for networking and peer support: Providing opportunities for doctors to connect with peers and share experiences can promote their well-being. Pharma companies can play a role in facilitating these connections by creating online communities where HCPs can share information, exchange ideas and support each other.


Engaging with exhausted and overwhelmed HCPs requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. By providing support and resources, offering flexible communication channels, focusing on value over quantity, and leveraging technology, pharma companies can demonstrate a commitment to their well-being and increase the likelihood of meaningful engagement. Additional strategies, such as offering work-life balance support and networking opportunities, can further promote well-being and alleviate burnout. Ultimately, addressing burnout in medical professionals is essential for promoting quality patient care and improving the overall health of the healthcare industry.

How M3 can help?

M3 is a healthcare services company that aims to deliver value across the healthcare industry to improve outcomes. M3 can help in various ways:

  • Provide trusted information: M3 can offer HCPs information they can trust through their online platform, allowing them to consult with colleagues and access the latest research and best practices.
  • Support best practice: M3's tools and services can drive improved patient outcomes by supporting best practices in clinical care and research-informed innovation. This includes the introduction of new drugs and therapies to the market.
  • Engage customers effectively: M3's services allow industry players to reach key customers in an engaging and effective way. This includes digital marketing, data analytics, and other services that can help companies better understand and connect with their customers.

Overall, M3's commitment to delivering value and improving outcomes makes it a valuable partner for HCPs, patients, and industry players alike.

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