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Remote Physician Engagement - What's Happening Out There?

8 Aug 2018

The last decade has seen an upsurge in online medical content. Physicians and patients alike have access to updates on drugs, treatment options, and clinical information, which influence patient - physician interactions and health outcomes. However, the quality of information has remained a concern for drug and medical device manufacturers. The unreliability of content has caused the pharma industry to accelerate the development of channels to quickly disperse product data to their key stakeholders, especially physicians.

According to the World Health Organization, physician density in some of the largest markets for pharma companies ranges from 2.5 to 4.2 doctors per 1000 patients. In 2018, the average time spent by 60% of the physicians in the United States ranges from 13 to 24 minutes. Furthermore, physicians end up spending more time on electronic health records (EHRs) and desk work than with patients during their office hours. Given the combination of patient visits per day and the volume of administrative work, physicians are finding it progressively more difficult to accommodate medical representatives during the course of their office hours.

One would imagine that the most obvious solution for pharmaceutical companies would be to use audio-video technology that helps medical representatives and physicians engage qualitatively. However, that does not seem to be the case. In a recent survey jointly conducted by Indegene and Teva, most medical reps only use e-mails and phone calls when they don't have face-to-face meetings with physicians. Given the nature of e-mail and phone communications, the reduction in engagement quality is exacerbated compared with personal interactions as e-mails and phone calls will be more frustrating for physicians when they are juggling between doctoring and administrative responsibilities.

The survey has also unearthed the fact that the absence of a clear digital strategy for remote engagement prevented pharmaceutical companies from utilizing resource-frugal platforms to deliver credible and highly personalized content based on data gathered from different channels. The other benefits of remote engagement such as remote meetings with medical science liaisons, decreased travel times for medical reps, and other cost savings cannot be realized until scalable platforms are built for the distribution of information.

The short response time to address queries raised by physicians is another key to the implementation of channels that either complement medical reps' in-person meetings or, at the very least, address urgent queries effectively.

Pharmaceutical companies must support the physician community to connect with medical reps and medical science liaisons quickly by leveraging technology to ensure that good medical care becomes better as time is spent on patient engagement.

The survey can be downloaded by clicking here.


1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/250219/us-physicians-opinion-about-their-compensation/

2. https://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2546704/allocation-physician-time-ambulatory-practice-time-motion-study-4-specialties