Physician Perspectives on Future Pharma Sales Rep Communication
By Molly Simpson
Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Doctor

InCrowd recently conducted a survey to better understand physicians’ preferences in their communications with pharmaceutical sales representatives. The data was collected from 183 physicians through an InCrowd MicroSurvey between August 7th and 9th, 2021. It provided insights into the ways in which the industry can most effectively bring new products to stakeholder healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Communication, business, and medicine have shifted dramatically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, InCrowd research found that, even during this global health crisis 75% of HCPs met with pharmaceutical reps in a six-month period. Of the remaining 25%, more than half responded that COVID restrictions were the reason they had not had such a meeting during that time.

In order to meet the needs of HCPs in an agile fashion during the pandemic, life science companies have moved many sales representative meetings, conferences, and other communications to virtual platforms. InCrowd’s research shows that HCPs have responded positively to these offerings. In a six-month period, the surveys found that HCPs had an average of thirteen meetings with sales representatives, and that these meetings were split 50/50 between in-person and virtual settings. When asked if they would prefer all-virtual, all in-person, or a hybrid model, over half of the HCPs chose the hybrid option.

I enjoy the mix. I actually learned more from some virtual than some in-person visits. Both have benefits and can be utilized effectively.

Neurologist at Community Hospital, AL, 43

Despite this, InCrowd’s research did show some distinct benefits of in-person visits in certain circumstances. For example, 75% of respondents said they had “Better connection/trust in the physician-rep relationship” when they met in person. In all other meeting scenarios research either found a preference for in-person meetings or found no significant preference.

When asked about innovative methods of contact that have stood out for them over the course of the pandemic, almost 70% of clinicians described virtual events and communications. Examples included:

“Collaborating on patient-focused conferences with virtual exhibit halls”

Academic Hospital Neurologist, UT, 37

“Meeting with medical scientist online with slides”

Community Hospital Pulmonologist, MO, 56

“Use virtual dinner, send credit to uber eats/doordash and be able to attend meeting virtually”

Community Hospital Pulmonologist, CA, 39

When asked for other ways life science companies can meet their needs, HCPs suggested: CME offerings, virtual offerings, interactive websites, and apps, as well as direct personal interactions and follow-up.

InCrowd used both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather data from 183 physicians across the US. One hundred eighty-three pulmonologists, PCPs, cardiologists, oncologists, neurologists, and rheumatologists were surveyed, in addition to four physicians—a PCP, a hematology-oncologist, a rheumatologist, and a pulmonologist—who participated in in-depth interviews and provided additional insights into these findings. Screening criteria required that respondents had met with at least one pharmaceutical sales rep within the previous six months. For more detail, please see our report.

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