Earlier this week, we shared some initial perspectives on pharmaceutical marketing that focused on the major stakeholders in the industry and their influence on prescribing. Check out the first post here.
Using Intelligence to Re-engineer a Sales Force
It is common knowledge that practices and hospitals more frequently erect barriers to keep sales representatives away from one-on-one meetings with their providers. SK&A, a Cegedim Company, conducted a Physician Access telephone survey of 237,000 medical sites across the country, representing 680,000 physicians.
Nearly all of those surveyed reported being visited by at least 20 industry representatives each week. At the time of the survey, nearly half of the physicians required or preferred that sales representatives schedule appointments, and 23 percent refused sales calls altogether.
The survey also showed that specialists in allergy/immunology, orthopedics and diabetes are typically the most accessible to sales representatives. SK&A also found that large practices, and health-system or hospital-owned practices, especially in the western regions of the United States, are less likely to grant sales representatives access to their individual providers than are smaller practices and individual practitioners.
This type of global intelligence, along with more granular intelligence gathered through communication with various classes of customers, forms the foundation of a strategy to re-engineer a sales force. Rather than focusing just on what the provider prescribes, the focus shifts to what contributed to his or her prescription decision and how a sales force can influence and/or support that decision. Effective intelligence can help determine if the decision was based on long-standing prescribing habits, evidence-based practices, social influences, promotional responses or individual attitudes and understandings.
Another factor that can influence a provider’s prescribing pattern is patient adherence. Healthprize, an adherence gamification company, surveyed physicians about patient adherence and its importance to positive outcomes. Of those responding, 92 percent said they often or always counsel patients at the time of prescription and 94 percent often or always counsel patients during follow-up appointments. Additionally, 98 percent rated the importance of patient adherence to clinical outcomes at eight or higher on a 10-point scale.
Forgetting is not the main reason patients do not adhere to their prescriptions. Instead, the survey results indicate that prescribers primarily blame cost and side effects. Once again, this is intelligence that opens a door for pharmaceutical companies that are willing to offer adherence services, such as co-pay programs, rewards, and patient education and reminder mechanisms.
Re-engineering a sales force does not mean starting over. Rather, it means using the knowledge gained through years of personal physician interactions and enhancing it with today’s technology to:
- Build a sales force with the appropriate skill mix
- Gather intelligence
- Identify key stakeholders and decision-makers
- Better understand prescriber needs and communication preferences
- Target messaging and method of delivery to the class of customer
- Focus on adding value to all relationships
Whether you push messaging to your customers, or enable customers to pull your messages at will — it’s all personal when it comes to building relationships.
Interested in more perspectives on trends affecting the healthcare network? Check the MMIT blog each week for more content that is relevant to you.