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Perspectives on HCP Facetime Challenges

Posted by Matt Breese on Jan 3, 2017

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Health care professionals (HCPs) and medical practices increasingly block pharmaceutical reps from interacting with clinicians. This change has been a major driver for the pharmaceutical industry’s shift towards non-personal promotion programs in recent years.

Many pharma brand marketers are adopting non-personal promotion strategies, strategic partnerships, and digital tools to engage with HCPs. Instead of struggling to break down barriers to secure face-time with HCPs, pharma reps can utilize digital channels to connect within or outside of the clinician’s workflows. Online marketing programs are typically less invasive in the day-to-day lives of clinicians.

Despite this trend, account managers who are in charge of regional or national territories still need to track access for pharmaceutical reps. It is valuable for reps to know which practices block access, restrict access or welcome reps.

The Challenges of Limited Facetime

Historically, pharma reps visited clinicians in person to share product information and provide samples. However, this is no longer the standard practice. In fact, only “44% of physicians are considered accessible in 2016,” according to ZS Associates.

Limited access puts pressure on pharma reps to be more efficient and creative. In order to maintain strong relationships with clinicians, pharma reps must be flexible in their approaches.

Strategies to Overcome Limited Facetime

One method reps use to address limited facetime is pre-call planning. By planning out a call beforehand, pharma reps can make the most out of a short interval. Before the call, reps should anticipate potential objections and have relevant supporting data and formulary cards on hand. This planning stage can speed up the sales process and improve the rep’s credibility. According to CLD, pre-call planning requires several key steps:

“The essential steps in the pre-call planning process involve utilizing all of the resources at the representative’s disposal such as physician prescribing data, formulary data, and post-call notes (when available) that inform of previous interactions with the physician, and that physician’s prescribing habits and formulary opportunities.”

Another way to overcome this challenge is by encouraging greater collaboration between pharmacists and clinicians. According to Michael Byrnes, EVP, sales, Rx EDGE Pharmacy Networks, “The pharmacist, a highly accessible HCP, can help to close some of the education gaps brought about by reduced direct sales force interactions.”

Digital Channels and Apps

In addition, reps can utilize digital channels and mobile devices to reach clinicians where they’re already spending time. For example, MMIT Network’s Formulary Search app allows pharma companies to promote through a 5-star rated formulary lookup platform. This app is an efficient way to reach HCPs who trust and use this app on a consistent basis.


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Topics: Industry Trends, Market Access