A new study measuring physician engagement levels with reps found that prescribing behavior is influenced significantly by social chemistry.

The study, conducted by PeopleMetrics Rx, categorized physicians at four levels of engagement – “Fully Engaged,” “Engaged,” “On the Fence” and “Disengaged”–during atypical antipsychotic sales details. 

According to the study, the most effective reps formed personal relationships with physicians. Full engagement describes physicians that “enjoy the relationship [with a rep], would go out of their way to continue to meet with their sales rep, actively recommend the rep to others, and, given the choice, would keep their rep assigned to their practice.”

Study data suggests that fully engaged physicians prescribing a given product for 30% of patients, will increase scripts to 37% over six months. Disengaged physicians prescribing a product for 19% of patients will increase scripts to 20% over six months, the study found.

Additionally, fully engaged physicians spend more than twice as long speaking with reps per visit and meet with them twice as frequently as disengaged physicians.

“Measuring the emotional connection sales reps develop with their physicians is not typically monitored in standard sales force effectiveness research…yet we find that this emotional dimension is key in understanding physicians’ perceptions toward their reps and the pharmaceutical company as a whole,” said Gary White, EVP, PeopleMetrics Rx and lead researcher on the study, in a statement.

The study, titled Driving Physician Engagement and Productivity in Pharmaceutical Sales, included sales detailing for the following products: Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify; Pfizer’s Geodon; Invega’s Risperdal; AstraZeneca’s Seroquel; and Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa.