How can pharma reps respect physicians’ time? We asked 20 doctors

December 8, 2017 Matthew Arnold, Principal Analyst

With healthcare consolidation in the news again (and really, when is it not?), we're reminded that rep access to U.S. physicians can only get tougher, as ever-bigger provider organizations impose ever-tighter restrictions on rep visits.

According to DRG Digital’s Manhattan Research survey data, physicians now average 6.4 rep visits per month, at an average 11 minutes per visit (Source: ePharma Physician® 2017). As such, physician facetime is a rare and precious commodity for pharmas, and sales organizations should be looking to wring more value out of each one of those minutes.

Unfortunately, sales reps often fall short. For example, physicians say that half the time, reps show them information they have already seen in previous visits or found through their own research. We interviewed 20 physicians about their experiences with reps for a new report, Optimizing the Rep-Physician Relationship, now available to Manhattan Research subscribers. (contact us to inquire about access.)

Here are a few take-aways:

  • Physicians want to see fewer product refreshers, more patient-centric content. One primary care physician said: “There’s not really value in a rep refreshing on resources like trial information. If I need I reminder about a drug, I would look it up myself.”
  • Visits should showcase pharma digital resources. “Showing me information that I can provide to the patient on pharma websites would be helpful,” one PCP told us, citing info about administering an injection as an example. Half of physicians are more likely to search for a specific resource on a pharma site after being shown it during an in-person rep meeting (Source: ePharma Physician® 2017). 
  • Docs who use remote communication with reps do so to ask non-urgent follow-up questions. While only a modest number of physicians communicate with reps through email, text and live video, those that do are usually looking for answers to non-urgent questions, and a 24-hour response window was deemed acceptable by most of the physicians we interviewed. “I use remote detailing if I have a question about the drug,” said one neurologist, “usually about availability or the copay program.” 

“Remote detailing could become more important as in-person rep access gets scarcer,” said Cullen Kain, a DRG Digital Research Associate and lead author of the report. “For now, though, doctors told us they are using it to get answers pertaining to a specific patient, and they don’t need to hear back right away. That means expensive on-call reps probably aren’t necessary for most brands – text or email will do just fine.”

For more information about this report, or about our syndicated and custom research into physician info-seeking behaviors, both online and off, shoot us an email at digital@teamdrg.com

 

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