Engage the Physician! - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Engage the Physician!

Pharmaceutical Executive


Active Engagement: The Three A's

Overall, the study provides useful insights into the "Three A's" of patient/provider-centric marketing: awareness, attitudes, and—most important—adoption.

To start, the study found that 80 percent of physicians expect personalized medicine driven by genomics to have significant impact on their practice, with the greatest benefit from accuracy in diagnosis (51 percent agreed) and treatment selection (59 percent). At the same time, awareness of the issues is quite low—only 8 percent of physicians agreed they were up to date. The highest response rate here was among oncologists, with 28 percent stating they were "very familiar" with current issues in genomics-based medicine.

In addition, some physicians contend that personalized medicine is already part of the institutional fabric of medicine, while the majority believe it is at least three years away. Again, specialists are ahead of the curve. More than 97 percent of oncologists noted they had prescribed a targeted drug in the 12 months previously; only 53 percent of primary care practitioners had ordered a diagnostic test to genotype a patient prior to prescribing a key market drug such as Plavix.

Confirmation of an information gap is an opportunity for pharma companies to build competitive advantage by providing expertise and support to clinicians as part of their market development, scientific platforms, or brand promotion strategies. And as the pace of change in personalized medicine accelerates, many physicians may be ill prepared to handle the influx of products and services. Education creates opportunities for leadership and differentiation, for companies willing to make the effort.

Hype … and Hesitation

The study equally depicts a lack of confidence in the capacity of physicians to negotiate issues around molecular diagnostics with their patients. Only 35 percent of primary care physicians and 50 percent of cardiologists affirmed their ability to choose the right test; capacity to interpret the results scores only slightly higher.

And confidence diminishes dramatically, even among oncologists, when it comes to the choice of laboratory and issues with insurance. For example, only 30 percent of primary care physicians, 35 percent of cardiologists, and 56 percent of oncologists stated they knew the right lab to send test results to, while an even smaller percentage of the three specialties expressed confidence in determining the right insurance codes, with only 23 percent of primary care physicians, 25 percent of cardiologists, and 34 percent of oncologists answering "completely" or "somewhat" agree.

Nevertheless, about four in 10 physicians would still use such tests to screen presymptomatic patients—even in the absence of any treatment option. It suggests that physicians see this aspect of personalized medicine as a potential asset in managing the demands of a more empowered patient community—what we might reference as the "pre-patient." These pre-patients have knowledge about their predisposition for a given disease or condition via testing from companies like 23andMe and Navigenics or via physician-ordered diagnostic tests but lack the capabilities to decide what to do with that knowledge.

This dynamic presents yet another opportunity for industry to provide value to its physician customers via highly personalized, CRM intervention programs for these pre-patients. These programs could be provided to physicians for use with their pre-patients or alternatively by direct-to-patient channels and could include information about the latest research on the given disease or condition, opportunities to enroll in clinical trials, and lifestyle and dietary intervention strategies.


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