DRG-Physician-pharma rep engagement has declined significantly in the past year

SHORT READ: According to DRG “physician-pharma rep engagement has declined significantly in the past year, with in-person interaction, traditionally pharma’s main commercial lever, accounting for most of the drop. Remote engagement is not yet picking up the slack. Interest in remote use has declined as the novelty has worn off, but remains substantial”.

DRG suggests “pharmas need to open up alternate channels for communication with physicians, who increasingly just don’t have time to meet with reps in person. Phone and email contact with reps seems like low-hanging fruit; many physicians prefer that reps initiate emails”. That’s a great suggestion but pharma needs to go beyond that.

DRG further recommends “value-added content, for patients and HCPs alike, has a positive impact on physician perceptions of pharma, bettering the pharma-physician relationship. Consider therapy area- and specialty-specific needs to maximize impact online”.

My Two-Cents

Pharma needs to first understand the pressures today’s HCP’s are under and take that into consideration. It’s also unwise to take DRG’s findings and apply them to all physician specialities. For example, Oncologists need more information from MSL’s than from sales people as opposed to PCP’s who may need to know information on cost to the patient versus generics for certain medications.

Over the last year I have heard, in research, that physicians are stressed for time. They go online in the morning and usually go to their Medscape page to get updates. While some use iPads a lot take laptops from room to room or have desktops in each room to logon.

The other issue I heard was that pharma reps, and especially MSL’s tend to rotate too quickly. It takes time to establish a relationship with doctors that involve trust, and just when that relationship is beneficial to both sides, the MSL move on to another position within the company.

Finally, too many pharma companies apply the same quantitative metrics to MSLs and sales people. With MSLs it’s about quality of contact, not the number of doctors they see in a certain time period. Pharma needs to measure quality of interaction over quantity in a given month.

DRG is a great resource for data and every pharma company should be a subscriber.