Appointment Necessary

April 1, 2010
Reid Paul

Pharmaceutical Representative

What do doctors want? We ask that question a lot at Pharmaceutical Representative, and sometimes we even provide answers-though it could be more accurate to describe them as guesses. Doctors are an incredibly diverse group and it is risky to attribute a single motive or opinion to such a broad population, but that doesn't stop us from trying to figure out just what they want (or don't want) from reps.

What do doctors want? We ask that question a lot at Pharmaceutical Representative, and sometimes we even provide answers—though it could be more accurate to describe them as guesses. Doctors are an incredibly diverse group and it is risky to attribute a single motive or opinion to such a broad population, but that doesn't stop us from trying to figure out just what they want (or don't want) from reps.

Reid Paul

Perhaps that's why I was so excited to see the latest data released by SK&A (See By the Numbers, p.12). We've been watching the trends for physician access for years, but it's possible that we've been focusing our attention in the wrong direction. While we were looking at "access" vs. "no access" metrics, that may have been less significant than the growing trend towards preferring/requiring appointments. In the latest survey, covering 200,000 physicians in the U.S., half of the physicians that will see reps now want them to have an appointment.

The numbers cut across nearly all the demographic breakdowns. It is equally interesting that the data suggests that the number of no access practices has plateaued at the same time those requiring appointments rose. Perhaps we can take this as a recognition of the value reps bring to most doctors.

In retrospect, maybe the numbers shouldn't be a surprise; with an average of 20 rep visits per week, it is a simple matter of courtesy to schedule an appointment, allowing the doctor (or her staff) to set the schedule and determine the amount of time devoted to reps.

To be sure, limiting yourself only to appointments for visits to office may require changes is both style and tactics. And the data bears more watching. It remains to be seen whether this is a permanent trend or a passing fad. As the number of reps continues to shrink across the industry, doctors' preferences may change, especially as many take advantage of e-detailing and other sources of drug information.

Still, reps ignore appointments at their own peril. When half of doctors move in concert in any direction, it seems as good an indication as any which way to go.

Reid Paul

Editor-in-Chief

rpaul@advanstar.com

Related Content:

News