Practice formulary follow-through

Pharmaceutical Representative

Your product is finally on the hospital formulary. You worked hard to secure its approval or you inherited a product that was already on formulary. In either case, you're in an enviable situation.

Your product is finally on the hospital formulary. You worked hard to secure its approval or you inherited a product that was already on formulary. In either case, you're in an enviable situation.

But don't get too comfortable. Just because your product is on the formulary today doesn't mean that it will be there indefinitely. All health care organizations are under great pressure to reduce drug costs, and one way they do that is by putting fewer drugs on their formulary.

So congratulations! Your product is on formulary. Now your real work can begin.

Plan your plan

Talk to your manager about developing a strategic plan for your products. Answer these questions: Where do I want to be in sales with these products? What growth expectations does my company have for my products? How am I going to meet these expectations and achieve my goals?

The actual plan needs to be very well thought out and in-line with the objectives of the company. You need to analyze the situation and the market.

Think of the overall market as segmented. Within the hospital, there are segmented markets such as clinics, wards, pharmacies, labs and purchasing agents. Look at all the segments as separate business entities and opportunities operating under the same roof. If you don't think this way already, train yourself to think this way.

Places and people

The ward is one of the most important areas for your product. Do you know who all the key players are on the ward? Who is the director of the unit? Who is the chief resident? Who are the other residents? How are the products ordered on the ward? Do you know the nursing staff?

Nurses may recommend a product to the doctor if a patient is having pain at night and needs an analgesic. Or, if a patient awakens with a fever, the nurse will call the doctor and ask for his or her permission to give a specific product, such as an antibiotic. Do you know if that product is yours? Spend time with the nursing staff and brief them on your product. Secure their support.

Get back in the ward and keep in contact with the director if and when possible. The chief resident and his or her staff are also key players. Keep them posted on all new information and maintain constant contact.

The microbiology laboratory is very important if you are selling antibiotics. Do they have the right disks, and are they in ample supply? What information about prescribing doctors can they provide?

And what about our friend and ally, the pharmacist? When was the last time you saw him or her to service his or her account? By service, I mean handling a problem, providing information and checking on stock.

Finally, the purchasing agent is an increasingly important person in our selling efforts. These are cost-conscious business professionals who can be very strong supporters. Don't forget them and don't forget that they are very interested in price.

Partner with peers

Partnering with territory reps who call on attending physicians at your hospital is another part of your plan. Many times you can get their doctors to influence your hospital-based doctors.

Let your peers know which of your products are on formulary and at what hospitals. Team up with the reps in your territory at least once a month. Meet for lunch and trade information.

Most importantly, never forget that your service and problem-solving follow-through will be what influences the movement of your products and the security of your product on formulary. PR