New DRG Digital - Manhattan Research study finds that pharma sales tactics haven’t kept pace with the evolving behavior and information needs of today’s physicians
Despite the pharma sales force making great strides towards “digitizing the field” with tablets and other technologies – a new study from DRG Digital’s Manhattan Research finds that the content reps are showing in details is often old news. Physicians who see sales reps say that over half of the time (51%), the reps show them information they have already seen through their own research or in previous meetings.
The ePharma Physician® study of 1,814 U.S. practicing physicians across 25 specialties found several key missed opportunities in the field:
Details are not evolving in step with physicians’ reliance on digital for info:
  • The “stale detail” phenomenon is even more prominent among certain specialties. For example, medical oncologists who see reps say that 68% of the time, their reps show them info they’ve already seen, and dermatologists say the same of 62% of details.
  • Today’s physicians are now adept at finding clinical info online, as they need it – and reps that focus too much time on basic product and promotional info risk boring them with info they already knew. 74% of physicians use search engines weekly or more*, and 52% use pharma digital resources regularly, with product-related info being the most accessed website resource.
  • Reps must evolve their details to stay relevant and provide utility to docs, and showing non-promotional resources on tablets can help. 63% of physicians agreed that in-person meetings with sales reps are more valuable when resources not related to the product are shown.**

Tablets can improve detail experience – yet reps are using them less: 
  • The study revealed a surprising dip in tablet use by reps this year, with 67% of physicians seeing reps reporting they having participated in tablet rep details in 2017 – down from 74% in 2013.
  • However, study data shows that tablets can improve the rep detail experience and drive post-meeting digital engagement -- especially when used to show highly influential content such as patient education and support resources. 35% of physicians were “very satisfied” with their interactions with reps using tablets, where 24% were very satisfied after meeting with reps sans tablets.***
Remote rep communication is underutilized as a way to share info between meetings:
  • Despite industry enthusiasm for rep-triggered email software (e.g., Veeva), only 12% of physicians said they had emailed with their rep in the past six months. More than a third (36%) said they wanted to, indicating a significant gap.
  • Similarly, just 9% of physicians are currently using remote detailing programs, such as a self-detailing app or click to chat, while 35% are interested in doing so.
Despite these trends, the sales force remains a foundational component of the pharma-HCP relationship. 64% of U.S. physicians reported meeting with sales reps face-to-face over the past six months, and 60% of physicians say they want to meet with reps in-person in the future. The challenge for pharmas is, in part, one of aligning their digital marketing and direct sales strategies around common goals in order to maximize HCP engagement and investment in these resources, said DRG Digital Analyst Jeff Wray.
“There’s a disconnect between the sales force, which is very focused on script volumes and meeting their numbers, and digital marketers, who are focused on physician engagement and building long-term relationships with HCPs,” said Wray. “Sales and marketing teams need to get on the same page with regards to digital pull-through, so that they’re providing a deeper level of support to physicians beyond product promotion and maximizing their investment.”
Digital communication with reps via email or remote details can extend engagement by bridging the gap between infrequent in-person meetings, Wray added.
“Physicians have demonstrated an interest in this type of engagement, and following up digitally can really help to connect the dots between digital content and rep contacts,” said Wray.
Plan more effective rep and multichannel engagement
DRG Digital provides you the data and expertise to focus your planning on the most effective channels and tactics for your specialty audience, and execute in line with best practices:
  • Rep meetings (tablet details, effective pull through)
  • Remote detailing (self-detailing, click to chat, remote meetings)
  • Rep-triggered email
  • HCP websites and portals
  • Partnerships and promotion
  • EHRs and point of care opportunities
  • Patient education, support and beyond the pill
  • Much more
Research and expertise spans 25+ specialty areas and 28 countries across North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Middle East/Africa.
Contact to set up time to discuss which emerging physician and technology trends will affect your planning.
Learn more about the ePharma Physician® rep and multichannel engagement study, available for 25+ specialties.
About Decision Resources Group
Decision Resources Group is uniquely positioned to help healthcare businesses improve the lives of patients around the world by creating patient-centric commercial strategies that drive better outcomes and better access. DRG helps clients propel commercial success with evidence-based business decisions by delivering expert consultation, data, and analysis enhanced by machine learning artificial intelligence (AI). With collaborative experts spanning healthcare markets, disease areas, and data science disciplines, DRG clients have unprecedented access to the expertise, data, and AI-technology solutions they need to anticipate customer needs and generate new solutions to healthcare challenges. DRG's market access solutions give life sciences the most comprehensive view of patient access, and payer and health system dynamics at local levels for the global healthcare ecosystem.
To learn more, visit
About DRG Digital
DRG Digital, a part of DRG, is the life science industry's decision support partner for data-driven customer engagement and marketing. DRG Digital's Manhattan Research studies have been the industry's go-to source for physician, patient and payer multichannel behavior and attitudes and digital best practices for more than 15 years. Brands, marketers and digital teams at 40+ leading life sciences companies rely on our experts, research and analytics to understand their customers and engage them with the right channels, content and messaging.
Visit or follow @DRGDigital to keep up to date on our analysts' thinking and access eBooks, infographics, webinars and other resources.
All company, brand, or product names contained in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.
*Source: Taking the Pulse® US 2017 study of practicing physicians
**4-5 pts on a 5pt agreement scale
***5 pts (very satisfied) on a 5pt satisfaction scale
For more information, contact:
Decision Resources Group
Maureen Malloy
(610) 724-2589

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