Pharma is still falling short in what it offers to organized physicians

screenshot_75POST SUMMARY:  Pharma is having a harder time reaching physicians but there are opportunities.  The question is which companies are willing to change their current business models to ensure their marketing messages are heard?


The percentage of “no-see” physicians has jumped from 27% to 32%, an 18% increase over just the past year; the trend is consistent across PCPs and specialists. 42% of physicians within organized provider systems reported never seeing pharma representatives, compared to 25% of independent practitioners; approximately 80% of physicians within organized provider systems who do not see sales reps reported that this was due to organizational policies


Opportunity: The good news is that today, digital media is physicians’ preferred source for accessing pharmaceutical information – with 76% of organized providers identifying digital media as their top choice over other channels such as print media, in-person representatives, and phone links. They cite their reasoning as digital’s ability to deliver convenient, relevant, and personalized information.

Among newer doctors, this preference for digital media jumps to 83%. Digital platforms offer the access—as well as the insights—that pharma needs to tailor their messages to different target segments and keep their brand top-of-mind.

The policies of organized health systems significantly restrict physicians’ decision-making

Over 50% of physicians who work in organized health systems are limited to prescribing medications that are either on formulary or require prior authorization.


Opportunity: For a drug to be prescribed, it must first be on the formulary and available in the EMR system—before the physician even sees the patient. Pharma must therefore alter its strategy with these customers to gain acceptance and formulary access from executive decision makers while facilitating pull- through at the individual physician level.

Despite a building intent, pharma is still falling short in what it offers to organized physicians

  • While physicians named “provider and staff education” as the top area (41%) for improving quality of care and performance, only 16% believe that the pharma industry is currently addressing this area
  • Nearly 40% of physicians say they aren’t partnering with pharma in any of the areas that are most important to performance improvement (see Figure 4)
  • 90% of all physicians believe pharma partnerships have the potential to improve quality of care.


Opportunity: A wide range of approaches can help pharma partners with organized health systems at the physician level. Such approaches may include designing educational programs and resources, deploying nurse care educators, organizing grand rounds presentations, and creating patient adherence programs aimed at improving key performance metrics. Disseminating patient, product, and disease state educational materials helps boost the knowledge of support staff and increases awareness among the patient base.

A shift in strategy that includes resources designed for the executive level can also help organized systems perceive pharma as a partner in reaching their organizational goals. C-suite decision makers want to know how pharma’s products address overall population health management, including cost (to the patient and the payor) and reimbursement.

There’s a lack of communication and alignment between organized physicians and their executives

32% of physicians don’t know their system’s reimbursement model while 42% of physicians do not receive any information about pharmaceutical cost-effectiveness from their organization.

Opportunity: Pharma is well- positioned to help bridge the gap between physicians within organized systems and their executive teams responsible for organizational performance, but it will require a strategic and tactical shift.

The situation calls for a two- pronged approach: partnering with executive decision makers on organizational initiatives (e.g., improved care coordination and formulary decisions) while continuing to engage with and support (with the help of digital media) individual physicians to facilitate pull-through, build ground-level relationships and establish a base for support in the next rounds of formulary protocol.