Doctors Prefer Digital Media to In-Person Sales Reps

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A new joint study from Capgemini Consulting and Quantia indicates that pharmaceutical companies’ shrinking access to physicians through traditional sales representatives is putting their in-office engagement strategy in flux. The study was comprised of nearly 3,000 primary care physicians and specialists from the QuantiaMD U.S. community.

According to the findings, 67 percent of physicians now rate digital media as their preferred source for accessing information, compared to just 20 percent who prefer pharmaceutical representatives. Capgemini Consulting and Quantia executives claim that this shift is motivating pharma companies to place more emphasis on their digital strategies to maintain their role as a trusted information resource. 


Dan Malloy, senior VP, Quantia told Med Ad News Daily, “We conducted the study to understand how physicians want to receive information from the pharma industry and to understand the implications for their current and future business model.”


The study analyzed how physicians currently interact with pharmaceutical companies and what role pharma sales representatives are projected to play in the future. The study’s findings show that many physicians (40 percent) believe digital media offers the more relevant and personalized content they seek. As a result, 52 percent of physicians believe the role of the sales representative needs to evolve into a coordinator or director of multi-channel information sources to stay on their radar.


“We work with the top 10 pharma companies and they are all looking for innovative ways to sustain their relationships with physicians,” Malloy says. “Given physician’s preference for digital content, it is increasingly being used to meet this objective.”


Pharma companies now have more of a chance to increase their impact on physicians’ decision making by bolstering their digital engagement and leveraging their sales force as part of a robust integrated multi-channel strategy than in the past. The study finds that companies can be successful in these efforts if they can incorporate sales representative feedback with cross-channel data analytics to tailor the appropriate mix of channels and content to each individual physician. Physicians are amenable to utilizing the new digital services that pharmaceutical companies can provide to access information. For example, 85 percent said they would consider using a virtual service to access sales representatives, including outside of standard working hours.


In addition, 73percent of physicians said the primary factor for their utilizing a digital channel was due to its ease-of-use and their own limited time and availability. Only 14 percent of physicians are letting more than one pharmaceutical representative come through their office doors every day, making the face-to-face meeting that much more scarce and at the same time, that much more valuable.


“We are seeing a growing trend towards utilizing digital methods of communication,” said Hala Qanadilo, Principal, Life Sciences, Capgemini Consulting.  “Increasing usage of a digital communication strategy can help pharmaceutical representatives increase engagement with the physicians they want to reach. While the more traditional face-to-face, in-office visits might decrease, the role of these representatives is projected to be as important as ever. Moving forward, they will need them to be the directors of multiple information sources, customizing their outreach so it is more personalized and physician-centric.”

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