Happy New Year! 2007 is already shaping up to be a year of accelerated change in the healthcare industry. This may be the first year on record where there will be fewer pharmaceutical sales reps than the previous year. Wyeth is reported to be eliminating 750 sales positions and Pfizer may cut as many as 2,200 reps. Many of the top pharma companies will likely follow their lead as the arms race settles down a bit. And the medical media companies all want to know if the money saved in downsizing will result in increased media spending or go directly to the bottom line?

The Web will play a bigger role in marketing than ever before. We’re likely to see continued growth in e-detailing to supplement face-to-face sales calls as marketers develop cost effective ways to maintain a share of voice with physicians. 

Online CME already accounts for about 20%
of continuing education credits and is likely to continue to gain in popularity as more Web  sites now offer CME credits.

While most marketers have been using the Internet as a way to market their products, Merck has taken a different approach. Merck Source and Merck Medicus leverage excellent content resources like the Merck Manual to provide Web visitors with valuable content for physicians and patients which helps position them more as a healthcare company instead of a healthcare marketer.
Medical publishers are expected to embrace the Internet this year as well. After years of trying to hold on to their readers and advertisers, medical publishers have come to the conclusion that they may have to take a few steps back before they move forward. Companies like Advanstar seem to be among the medical publishing industry leaders in their use of the Internet. The management team there understands that each publication needs an online component. Best wishes for a terrific 2007!

Dan McKillen is president of the HealthDay news service