Despite ongoing sales force reductions at many large pharmaceutical companies, physicians still get around 20 visits from sales reps each week, according to an SK&A survey.

Of the physicians surveyed, half said they prefer or require an appointment to see a rep (up from 38.5% preferring or requiring an appointment in 2008), while 23% won’t see reps at all, according to the survey data.  Practices owned by hospitals or health systems are tougher to get into than private practices, since appointments have to go through headquarters, the survey found.

“As prescribers become busier and less accessible, understanding physician access preference is critical to successful sales and marketing resource planning, and execution, said Dave Escalante, VP of data and information solutions at SK&A.

Getting face time with a doctor is easier at a smaller practice – 13.3% of offices with just one or two doctors won’t see reps, compared with a no-see rate of 42% at offices with 10 or more docs – and physicians in the South are less likely to decline a detail (19.4% won’t see reps at all). In the West, however, 28.4% of docs won’t see reps, according to the survey.

The most accessible physicians for promotional purposes are allergists/immunologists – only 4.2% won’t see reps at all – followed by orthopedic specialists (5.1%) and diabetes specialists (7.6%). Diagnostic radiologists are the most rigid about allowing details – 92.1% won’t see reps – followed by pathologists and neuroradiologists, at 92.1% and 91.8%, respectively.

Jack Schember, director of marketing at SK&A, said the overall rate of physicians declining to see reps hasn’t changed much since the survey was first conducted in 2008. At that time, 23.6% of physicians said they wouldn’t see reps at all, compared with 23.0% in June of 2010. “Doctor’s reporting that they prefer or require appointments has jumped the most,” more than any other measure, said Schember.

SK&A’s Physician Access survey was conducted via telephone interview with over 237,000 medical sites representing 680,000 physicians, according to a statement on the data.