Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Physicians More Inaccessible Than Ever to Pharma Sales Reps

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Research shows that doctors are now spending less time with patients.  While some patients may take it personally, there is one group getting even less face time: Pharma sales reps.  A recent report shows that almost half of all physicians are now considered inaccessible to pharma sales reps.  The study, from ZS associates, indicates that only 51% percent of prescribers now fall into the category of accessible—Down from 55% last year and 65% in 2012. 

Don’t feel bad for these sales reps just yet, their commission checks are looking perfectly healthy, but the drop in accessibility for some traditionally “rep-friendly” industries is certainly significant.  While the surveyed group showed a drop of 4% as a whole, those in dermatology (17%), gastroenterology (16%) and pediatrics (15%) especially felt the drop-off. 

Geography played a role in accessibility as well with many metropolitan areas proving to be restrictive.  St. Paul was the least accessible of the group with only 29% of physicians falling into this category while two major cities, Boston (40%) and Seattle (38%) also made the list.

The result of this drop?  A series of “infeasible calls.”  This is a major cost passed on to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, which for this past year came around $1.38 billion.  Interestingly enough, the cost has leveled off over the last several years as companies become more sophisticated in the way they target physicians.

For many, the outlook for future access is bleak.  Pratap Khedkar, Managing Principal with ZS Associates, cites provider consolidation and the resulting large-sized physician practices as one of the reasons.  In these situations, prescribers will be forced to default to certain medications instead of having the flexibility to chose prescriptions they favor.  Says Khedkar, “Consolidation will take hold in places where it hasn’t been seen yet…the pace and nature of consolidation will vary by geographic region.”

One way companies can counteract this trend is to better utilize a multi-channel approach.  For many, this means a more efficient use of digital channels.  Doctors aren't spending their time gathering information face-to-face and instead, they're turning to digital resources.

It’s estimated that physicians now spend around 40% of their time in front of computers.  That’s not even taking into account the continued adoption of mobile.  As these numbers continue to climb (and face-to-face meetings continue to fall) the execution of digital will be even more crucial for those in pharma marketing. 

We’ll have more on the latest in modern marketing techniques. Join us at ePharma West, September 22-24 in San Francisco. Download the agenda to see what else is on tap.

SAVE $100. Register here and use code XP1956BLOG.

This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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