Sales Rep Access Limits Identified

Jul 29, 2008

Pharma sales reps that want to see a doctor might want to take a less-is-more approach—and by less, we mean fewer doctors. It turns out that the more physicians a practice has on staff, the more likely a rep will get denied access.

SK&A surveyed the 230,000 medical practices in its database, accounting for more than 650,000 physicians. This data is part of a study that breaks down physician access by location, specialty, and size of practice.

More than 41 percent of practices with 10 or more physicians reported to giving "no access" to sales reps, compared with practices of one to two doctors, of which only 15 percent deny all access without an appointment.

"The bigger the practice, the more restrictive they are," said Jack Schember, director of marketing at SK&A Information Service. "The opposite is true to smaller practices—more mom and pop practices. The larger the practice, the more executive decision-making there is. They have people in positions to set policies that are group-wide."

Does it matter who owns the practice? Perhaps. More than 31 percent of health system?owned practices said they would deny access without an appointment. But that was only 10 points higher than non-health system?owned practices, which were the least likely to deny reps at a 20.85 percent no access rate.

Of the physicians interviewed, allergists/immunologists, dermatologists, and gastroenterologists are the most likely to see reps. Healthcare professionals that are least likely to give reps the time of the day are tech specialists and research-based positions, including neuroradiologists and pathologists.

"For the first time we have actual data from the physicians as to when they will see a representative and when they won't," Schember said. "It helps pharma in planning, and helps them not waste time with doctors that won't be seen—or barge in on physicians that require an appointment."