To strengthen the tie between pharma and physicians, companies must add new metrics and insights to their sales management and decision-support systems—metrics that look at the company's relationships with prescribers. A key metric is commitment, a measure of the underlying bond between doctors and the brands that they prescribe.
Commitment drives near-term performance gains and ensures long-term stability. Research shows that committed physicians deliver more than double the patient share of their uncommitted colleagues (see chart, right). In addition, committed doctors are more resistant to competitive efforts and less sensitive to drug pricing, which translates to more prescriptions over time.
The effort to manage commitment depends in large part on how well the company understands what physicians need and where the fulfillment of those needs is falling short. This insight is key in developing a physician-centric sales approach.
What Physicians Really Want
What does it take to build commitment? TNS Healthcare recently interviewed nearly 400 doctors (including PCPs, cardiologists, pulmonologists, and oncologists) in the United States and asked them to identify the pharma-related services they value (see chart).
PCPs and specialists alike agreed that industry is not meeting their changing requirements. They cited gaps in several key areas, such as patient-management programs, education and information services, and detail quality. Clearly, physicians are not finding value in the experiences pharma is delivering.
Despite these low average ratings, some companies are doing better than others at meeting physicians' needs. Pfizer comes out at the top of the list, across all sales and service categories. GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis tie for second, with relatively high scores in most areas.
One way to improve these scores is for pharma companies to adopt a physician-centric approach to managing physician relationships. By moving from just selling products to becoming educators, knowledge providers, and business partners, companies can improve relationships with doctors. This approach requires customizing the total sales experience to physicians' expressed preferences—and in the process, ensuring that the required investments will yield positive ROI. Achieving this requires a new set of decision-support metrics, tools, and delivery mechanisms.