Do You Know What Doctors Do Online? - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Do You Know What Doctors Do Online?
If you're a marketer, you should. You can increase the value of your brand Web site if you know what doctors want and when they're logging on.

Pharmaceutical Executive


Any surprising drugs or companies that have a bigger Web presence than they do a market share?

Well, is Gardasil the biggest product? No. It has a big potential market, but it's not a big product per se. Or Byetta: It's a very targeted diabetes biologic—relatively new, innovative medicine. Does that even compare with others on this list? I would say Chantix is not a big product yet, but that's in the smoking-cessation category, which is a big category. And are we talking about big in terms of dollar volume? A lot of these on the list are not the biggest products. They tend to be products with a lot of attention in the very early stage of their product life cycle.

Online marketers talk about the need for bells and whistles. What role do flashy Web sites play in capturing doctors' attention?

I think it's a balance. Physician's want to get in; they want the targeted content. There may be a relevance in the use of flash animation to show mechanism of action or something like that.

But where you tend to see a lot of the big investment in the flash animation tends to be on the consumer-focused sites. If you're going to spend millions of dollars on TV spots and you're driving someone online, you'd better have a really rich, interactive, deep Web experience. You can't get away with five-pages of static text. And I think, typically, the same agency builds both the consumer and healthcare-professional parts of the site. So are you going to make a really flashy consumer site and then a really boring and dull professional site? Probably not.

I know doctors want access to samples for their patients. Have you found any innovative ways to access samples on Web sites?

E-sampling is a very convoluted, complex situation. A lot of the top-10 companies have made a decision not to e-sample their high-value physicians. The theory is, "I don't want to take away that rep relationship." So companies have not been aggressive on rolling out e-sampling programs.

If they do roll them out, our research shows that physicians don't want to go to multiple product sites. If you're a physician, and you have a relationship with Merck, where would you want to go to get access to your e-samples? A Merck corporate site: a one-stop shop.

Well, Merck's one of the only companies that does that. There's a Web site, http://MerckServices.com/, intended for a physician audience. It's everything from medical education updates to product information, and it's got a section focused on e-sampling.

Are there other places where doctors are still looking for improvement?

Yes, and it's a tough area: patient education. Some companies have embraced this, placing patient education on a lot of the sites. Other companies out there, and I can see the argument both ways, say, "It's not going to change their behavior whether or not we offer the patient education. We're going to focus on services that have an impact on their likelihood to trial a product."

Is there anything else you found fascinating about the survey?

One of the big ones, I think, is that the sites change from year to year. And you may say, "Well, of course they would change year to year." But with the big consumer sites, the top-10, lists don't change radically. What you find with physicians is, six out of the top 10 sites changed between 2006 and 2007. And this gets back to the notion we had earlier: It's not about the size or awareness of the product; it has to do with whether doctors need information.


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