What Doctors Expect from Medical Representatives
The doctors in India are increasingly showing their disinterest in meeting Medical Representatives. A startling revelation came out of our survey which indicated that 70% of Indian doctors from all major fields DO NOT WANT clinical interactions with Medical Representatives. The main concern for Pharma should be that the 53% of doctors do not think that MRs add any value to their medical practice. But, over 80% doctors still WANT TO INTERACT with Pharma companies through online channels for product information and other proprietary knowledge. Pharma companies must pay attention to this changing behavior of doctors which has a potential to impact their marketing performance.
Medical representatives (MRs) have been an integral part of Pharma field force. Pharma companies around the world have been using this asset for a very long time with varying effectiveness. The main purpose of MRs is to create awareness about the products, engage and build a relationship with doctors and effectively change the prescription behavior of doctors in company’s favor. As doctors are getting busy with greater patient load, MRs are finding it hard to engage with doctors.
While there is a visible trend, which indicates that doctors are spending less time with MRs, no definitive study was ever performed In India. Keeping in mind that healthcare in the country cannot be a ‘silo’ed effort, we conducted a survey about the relationship between doctors and Pharma companies to check whether MRs still have a relevant role to play.
How We Conducted the Survey?
To be frank, doctors in India do not tend to give away their opinions so easily. But, as Docplexus emerged as a platform where doctors in India can securely share their opinions, it was not that hard for us to get their opinions, unlike other marketing firms. We must admit that this trust by doctors on Docplexus has enabled us to reach to these findings.
We conducted a survey of doctors on our platform to delve deeper into this relationship and quantitatively measure the trends that are about to embark.
About 479 of the doctors responded to our survey.
As we all know, MRs are considered as the backbone of the Pharma field force. We asked specific questions pertaining to the relationship between them and Pharma companies through MRs. The questions were designed such a way that personal opinions could easily be quantified. Simple multiple choice questions and feedbacks (if any) allowed us to accurately gauge their responses.
Alarming Situation For Pharma Companies
The first question of the survey asked doctors about their opinion on a relationship with Pharma companies with respect to knowledge sharing regarding new molecules, treatments and advances in the field of healthcare. The majority of the doctors (74 %) said that they considered a relationship with Pharma companies valuable. About 21% doctors said that they personally do not want any relationship with Pharma companies (through MR channel) and 5% did not have a firm opinion.
Going further deeper into the relationship, we asked them
How much time they would spend with each Pharma company representative who knocks on their doors?
Shockingly, a majority (68%) of the respondent doctors said that they do not want to meet representative more than once a month. When we investigated the reasons behind it, their occupancy with the patients during their practice and patients’ perceptions about doctors meeting MRs while patients were waiting, were major areas of concern for them. It won’t be wrong to say that due to increased awareness about medicolegal risks and increased patients demands, doctors too are changing their behaviours at practice.
The change in this behaviour is now also reflected in the allocation of time to MRs. When doctors were asked about how much time they would give to each MR, 88% doctors convincingly said that they cannot spend more than 10 minutes with each MR. Well, 10 minutes may seem a lot of time, but if the doctors can only give your MR maximum 10 minutes a month, can you really expect that doctors will change their prescription in your favour? Perhaps, this is the most important question Pharma companies need to address.
The reasons that doctor preferred not meeting MRs for longer duration varied from the direct sales pitch, marketing terminologies of MRs to inadequate knowledge of MRs.
Unfortunately for Pharma companies, 53% of doctors said that
MRs DO NOT add any value to their practice.
This number itself poses a threat to the entire sales channel management strategy of the Pharma companies. But, there is a silver lining to this grim reality, about 33% of the doctors believe that even though the visiting MRs do not add any medical knowledge, they provide good insights about the market trends. Hence, Pharma companies need to change their approach to training and utilizing MRs. The existing force of MRs can be better utilized by training them as “relationship executives” where they can be a part of the feedback loop.
The current role of MRs that focuses on the pitching the new products and marketing existing line, needs to be moved to the channel where doctors can conveniently consume the information and the knowledge. Our survey highlighted the need for this approach.
When we asked doctors “whether they prefer information delivered to them online”, 79% of the doctors said yes.
They revealed that information of the products and other proprietary knowledge delivered via the internet allows them to go through at their convenience. Additionally, this information remains available for them for much longer duration. Some doctors even said that they have started to compare various molecules online and within their peers through online community channels. They use these discussions to treat patients on the basis of this community advice.
The ones who said ‘no’ to this question, were unsure about whether they will be able to maintain the good working relationship between themselves and Pharma companies. Perhaps, if the Pharma companies decide to accommodate these doctors too by training their MRs as ‘Relationship Executives’, the industry may be able to maximise their profitability by tapping specific needs of the doctor.
How Can Docplexus Assists You In Your Field Force Activities?
At Docplexus, we challenge ourselves every day to find the solution that will help both doctors for better practice and Pharma for maximising the revenues. We know the problem of shortage of time with doctors Pharma companies face and how it affects their targets. We have designed a variety of solutions that help Pharma companies in delivering their product information in a most accessible, tailored and customized way.
On our platform, Pharma can engage with 1,30,000+ doctors by providing them valuable information about their product lines by:
- Articles about their molecules.
- Interesting patient cases
- Video interactions and Interviews
- Panel Discussions and Surveys
The benefits of online content delivery extend to:
- Increased reach of product information to doctors
- Continuous engagement with doctors at their convenience
- Timely reporting of pharmacovigilance insights from doctors
This round-the-clock engagement gives the edge to your company as your MRs don’t have to spend their time waiting in queues at clinics and a once-a-month goodwill visit can be sufficient to drive behaviour in your favour. The “relationship executives” can cover more ground to net you more doctors as your potential customers.
It is the high time that Pharma companies start analysing these insights. The best strategy would be to notice and act on this trend.