As the traditional role of the sales reps takes on a new dimension, pharma companies are re-thinking how they can best deliver information to physicians. One thing is for certain—doctors prefer getting complex clinical information online, through web conferences and digital channels.
According to Healthcare Communication and Marketing Association (HCMA) there is no one unequivocal way to reach physicians these days because every product category, market and brand objective differs. In other words, what works for one brand in a specific specialty may not work for another. The key, according to HCMA, is to not only delivering the message in a format that physicians want, but also to deliver that message through several channels.
Changing rep model
“The model out there right now that's the closest thing to the future is medical liaisons,” says Bill Cooney, president and CEO of MedPoint. Medical liaisons typically are more educated and better trained, and are frequently PharmDs or PhDs.
“Physicians need the latest information from highly trained medical specialists. I think that's the future for what we now call the sales representative,” says Cooney, who believes that in the future, reps will have less frequent face-to-face calls and contacts, and more scheduled visits with doctors.
As doctors of all age groups continue to embrace new technology, the industry is ready to meet the challenges. “For docs who have adopted technology into their everyday lifestyle such as carrying a PDA and using the Internet as their number one go-to place for information or viewing video, we have to be right there and ready for them,” says Dori Stowe, EVP and chief digital strategist for Grey Healthcare Group.
Stowe says that as the digital end takes off, the technology is giving some of the smaller players an opportunity to compete with the big guys. “A smaller company, that does not have a big sales force, can still get their message out to a physician through technology if they are using all the online channels properly and in an integrated way,” says Stowe.
While industry insiders predict that web conferences, e-detailing and tablet PCs will continue their upward surge, others see content becoming increasingly vital as well. Will Reese, chief innovation officer for Cadient believes that 2009 will be the “watershed year for content.” “The one thing that all three of those [e-detailing, web conferences, tablet PCs] have in common is the experience is generally for the physician, poor. With low message retention and awkward usability,” says Reese, adding that as more companies become comfortable with the channel, they would advance their content. “So we will likely see shorter e-details, better presented webcasts, and more interactive tablet PC experiences.”