iPads sway docs, but study shows DM still rules

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Doctors must like iPads. Manhattan Research found that physicians were 35% more likely to ask for drug samples if the pharma rep comes bearing the Apple tablet.

The data suggest that the devices are actually having an impact on the visit, with 29% percent of the polled docs saying they were more likely to prescribe the drug if the iPad played a part in a sales call. The number of iPad details is up, as well. The 2012 ePharma Physician study, which encompassed 1,819 physicians across more than 20 specialties, showed that 65% of doctors were called on by reps with iPads, vs. 30% last year.

Although more reps are toting tablets, recent physician data suggest that this kind of promotion is just one critical part of the sell. An August study by agency CMI/Compas, which assessed more than 200 promotional access vehicles (mostly the non-personal kind), showed that any pitch to the doctor has to read as physician-centric, meaning more “about me” and less about product.

This means the 20 out of every 100 reps who visit physicians' offices and who, CMI says, actually speak to a doctor, have to focus on information that speaks directly to the needs and experiences of the healthcare provider.

Of course, as pharma's army of sales reps continues to dwindle, and access to physicians erodes with it, industry has been compelled to try alternate channels. They shouldn't overlook direct mail in favor of newer channels.

Drawing on market researcher WorldOne Interactive's panel of 1.8 million physicians, as well as its own physician-level data, CMI found that digital is the second-best way to connect with healthcare providers, and that direct mail trounced every other form of promotional outreach when it came to connecting with physicians. This includes digital, mobile, online and print journals, as well as email.

CMI said that direct mail is so important it, "has the potential to be accessed by more than 95% of physicians referenced in the study, while broad-reach journals can access over 80%—including both physicians who are AMA opt-outs and those with set access limitations, such as Kaiser physicians."

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