Another huge milestone in digital’s takeover of health care messaging.

Consulting firm ZS Associates stated in their AffinityMonitor™ and AccessMonitor™ reports that, for the first time ever, digital and non-personal contacts between the pharmaceutical industry and
physicians topped in-person salesperson visits.

Pharma companies are shifting to digital and non-personal promotions (which include speaker programs and direct mail) because it is becoming significantly more difficult to reach and engage HCPs through traditional channels. In 2008, ZS found that nearly 80% of physicians were meeting with most sales reps (at least 70% of meetings). In their most recent study, only 44% of physicians reported taking most meetings—a 45% drop. Clearly, the pharmaceutical industry will need to adjust and further refine its messaging strategies to manage this shifting landscape.

Moreover, some specialties—such as oncology—are even more difficult to access via traditional channels. The report found that fewer than one in five oncologists is accessible to sales reps, while the remainder limit or restrict access entirely. For companies seeking to engage these specialties, it’s critical to embrace a multichannel approach using a full range of strategies, and to not rely solely on sales reps. But, warns the ZS report, excessive volume can be detrimental. “With this volume… it’s critical that [pharma companies] tailor their interactions to the physician’s preferred channel and ensure sales reps bring meaningful material to the physician’s attention,” said ZS Managing Principal Pratep Khedkar.

Additional selected insights from the report:

  • Emphasize the novel and the unique. ZS found that when a noteworthy new drug enters the market, HCPs are more likely to take meetings with the company producing it—as well as their competitors.
  • Broaden the pool of targets. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are more accessible to sales reps than physicians, with more than half seeing sales reps regularly, according to the report.
  • More is not always more. ZS reported that physicians may feel overwhelmed by excessive non-personal promotion and ignore more communications. Ensure all outreach, personal and non-personal, offers clear value and respects the physician’s time investment.

To learn more about the AffinityMonitor™ and AccessMonitor™ reports, and read some of the spring 2016 findings, click here.

AffinityMonitor and AccessMonitor are trademarks of ZS Associates, Inc.