The headlines are all about declining physician access—almost half of physicians are now considered “access restricted” or “severely access restricted,” according to the 2014 edition of ZS’s AccessMonitor™ study. The report examined data for teams comprising approximately 35,000 sales reps, and interactions with approximately 325,000 physicians and prescribers.
It’s not a new trend. Access has been falling steadily since 2009, when it peaked at 78%. In 2012, reps had good access to 65% of all physicians, and only 55% last year. And given industry trends, rep access to physicians is unlikely to get better.
However, companies can help ensure the right messages get in front of the right doctors—and in the right format. The AccessMonitor™ executive summary recommends companies consider four steps so that declining rep access doesn’t block your messaging efforts:
- Know the customer. Different doctors prefer different approaches—you need to understand when, how and how often to approach physicians by using their individual affinity for specific channels. ZS’s AffinityMonitor™, which will debut this fall, is designed to measure which channels individual physicians do and don’t engage in across the industry.
- Leverage the channels customers already favor. Instead of trying to find a silver bullet—a single channel that will magically solve access and engagement problems—it’s far better to optimize the channels physicians already use, including emails, Web sites and speaker events.
- Transform the rep into an orchestrator. Companies can help reps “orchestrate” their customer contact, whether through personal or nonpersonal channels. These reps work with their marketing organization to orchestrate engagement, using multiple channels for individual physicians.
- Rethink access and prioritize engagement: Rep calls can become information-gathering events, helping determine the best channels for engaging customers. The idea of “access” thus becomes the channels through which the pharma company can truly engage the physician.
I highly recommend reading the entire AccessMonitor™ executive summary, which contains many additional insights about access issues with geography, specialty and sales force size.