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“Most companies have not evolved their marketing strategies to keep pace with the magnitude of evolution we're seeing in how physicians gather information to make clinical decisions. We've seen sizeable shifts in physician behavior in just the past three years alone—and most companies have not yet overhauled their sales and marketing plans to reflect these changes.” That's the conclusion Meredith Abreu Ressi, VP research at Manhattan Research reached after reviewing the results of a recent Manhattan Research study on US Physician Market Trends. 

Ten years ago the Internet became a mainstream tool for physicians in medical school. Now most medical schools actually require that students have hand-held PDAs or smart phones in the classroom. Fast forward 10 years from now, and it's not hard to imagine all physicians using a hand-held device at the point-of-care. Healthcare marketers are having trouble keeping up with the evolving information needs of physicians now and the pace of change is accelerating. It may get worse before it gets better.
Just about every physician in the country claims to use the Internet in their practice and 83% now say the Internet is essential to running their practice. Over 90% of physicians use Google to search for health and pharma information online. Three out of four physicians now participate in online CME programs. More than half of the doctors in the country are participating in social networks like Sermo and Medscape's Physician Connect.  

The challenge ahead for healthcare marketers is to recognize that these changes in physician media use and consumption is not temporary and the pace of change is accelerating. Tweaking last year's marketing plan isn't going to cut it anymore.

Dan McKillen is CEO, president of the HealthDay news service
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