Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Five Trends Pharma Needs to Know about Connecting with NPs and PAs

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Today's guest post comes from Maureen Malloy, Senior Healthcare Analyst, Manhattan Research.

Marketing to physicians is becoming increasingly difficult for pharma companies for a variety of reasons, including more docs closing their doors to sales reps and the Physician Payment Sunshine Act going into effect in near future.

Some manufacturers are beginning to explore marketing and service opportunities among non-physician HCPs, in particular NPs and PAs. And for good reason – these providers are already a critical part of the healthcare ecosystem and their roles will expand in the coming years.

Why are NPs and PAs pharma important for pharma?

NP and PA populations are growing
NPs and PAs are some of the fastest growing professions in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment of PAs to grow 27 percent between 2006 and 2016, and forecasts the NP population to increase 23 percent during the same time period. As of July 2011, there are an estimated 93,000 PAs and 148,000 NPs in the United States.

NPs and PAs influencing patient treatment
NPs and PAs already play a critical role in the treatment of patients. About 9 in 10 online NPs and PAs surveyed in Taking the Pulse® Nurses v11.0 (2011) say they influence the treatments prescribed to patients. Additionally, about three-quarters say they influence how well patients adhere to their medication. In the United States, where these healthcare providers have prescribing privileges in all 50 states, NPs and PAs write more than 900 million prescriptions per year.

NPs and PAs to fill the physician gap in coming years
The aging population and forthcoming addition of covered lives as a result of the Affordability Care Act (ACA) will increase the demands on our healthcare system. At the same time, the Kaiser Commision reported that the population of PCPs is shrinking in a March 2011 paper. NPs and PAs are poised to help fill this gap and play an ever larger part in delivering healthcare services to patients over the next few years.

What should pharma consider when targeting NPs and PAs?

NPs and PAs are digital savvy groups
NPs and PAs have already integrated the Internet into their workflow to a considerable degree, with the average online NP or PA spending a median of 10 hours per online for professional purposes. These groups are also using digital resources at the point of care, and there’s been a considerable increase in online PAs and NPs referring to digital resources during patient consults between 2009 and 2011.

Taking the Pulse® Nurses v11.0 (2011) also suggests that NPs and PAs value the Internet as an important resource for their clinical decision making and patient interactions. Among those writing prescriptions, 48 percent of online NPs and 44 percent of online PAs frequently change their opinions on prescription medications as a result of digital sources. Additionally, more than 4 in 5 online PAs and NPs recommend that their patients go online to research their condition.

Nurses want resources and service from pharma
The good news for marketers is that NPs and PAs are hungry for online information and services from pharma. About 9 in ten NPs and PAs online for professional purposes already visit pharma product or corporate websites and rely on various types of online content and tools from pharma. Many more are interested in taking advantage of pharma sponsored-support features, such online sampling, patient education and financial assistance resources.

Taking the Pulse® Nurses is Manhattan Research’s annual market research study and syndicated advisory service focused on how U.S. nurses, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs) use the Internet, digital media, mobile devices and other technologies for professional purposes, pharma communication and patient interaction. Taking the Pulse® Nurses v11.0 was fielded online annually in Q2 among 1,018 practicing nurses and PAs. Nurse practitioner (NP) data is available as a subsegment of APRNs.
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