Global healthcare pros prefer live reps, survey finds

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For all the talk of e-detailing and digitizing the sales force, a plurality of international healthcare professionals would rather get info about new treatments from flesh-and-blood reps than through any other channel, a survey found.

While results varied by market, on average, half of the 450 European, Chinese, Indian and Latin American healthcare professionals responding to a Digitas Health/Economist Intelligence Unit survey cited sales reps as their preferred source of new drug information. Reps were almost even with conferences (49%), followed by “Independent sources on the Internet” (36%), email from pharma companies (34%), Colleagues and peers (31%), Pharma companies via the Internet (27%) and snail mail from pharmas (22%).

Even in the pharma-skeptical UK, 42% of professionals said they'd prefer to get info on new drugs from reps (even more UK HCPs – 44% -- said they'd like that information in emails from pharma companies). Chinese HCPs were far and away the least rep-friendly, with just 18% expressing a preference for live details and a mere 6% interested in pharma company emails on new drugs.

That's not to say HCPs outside the US are averse to digital communications. Only a quarter of all HCP respondents said information from pharma companies delivered digitally wasn't valuable.

Pharmas didn't even register among the factors HCPs cited as obstacles to doing their jobs and challenges to their nations' healthcare systems – both of which were dominated by funding worries. But when asked what  the most important roles for pharma companies were in addressing their nations' healthcare challenges, the largest number – 59% -- said “Offering cheaper drugs.” That was followed by drugs for unmet medical needs (33%), public health campaigns (32%), improving existing drugs (31%) and availability of drugs (25%).   

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