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The digital age has paved the way for a more advanced healthcare industry. But according to a recent survey, sales reps have yet to take up the use of digital platforms as a means of reaching healthcare professionals before they write prescriptions.

Using information from doctors across 13 countries - including the US, Japan, Brazil, Russia, China and Canada - Cegedim Strategic Data concluded that the majority of doctors preferred some mix of digital and traditional marketing, something Pharma sales consultancies should take into account when devising marketing strategies.

Amid claims that digital media is replacing face-to-face meetings between doctors and sales reps, the survey highlighted that digital interactions may be less prevalent within the sales call than suspected. According to the data, Japan had a digital interactions rate of 34%, with America not far behind with 24%. France, Canada and Spain all scored low, with Germany coming at the bottom with just 5% of digital interaction between doctors and sales reps. ‘Digital contact’ covers anything from webinars to emails.

Christopher Wooden, Cegedim’s Vice President of Global Promotion Audits, told FiercePharma Marketing that a more streamlined, easy-to-use interface for their marketing platform could hold the key in aiding marketers in reaching more doctors before they write out their prescriptions.

“Doctors are just like you and me. They are going to be receptive to digital channels if it’s easy. It has to bring them what they need to know, when they need to know it in a form that they’re comfortable with. They have to be comfortable in the interaction,” reported Wooden.

“The industry is at a moment of trial and error. There is no one standard that is working for everyone perfectly. It will be several years before something like Skype rises to the top of the pack. Doctors are extremely busy and some of them wouldn’t care if they never see a Pharma rep again. But there’s a reasonable proportion of them that don’t want to lose touch entirely with the industry on a personal basis and believe that the interaction is necessary. The personal and the individual relationship is an essential part of the whole, multi-channel environment that the industry is trying to develop and leverage.”

When digital interactions were first used by sales reps instead of the traditional mediums, the use of email was the platform most regularly cited. These days the Pharma industry is turning to new digital technologies to find the best way to reach doctors in a faster means than traditional marketing methods. These new techniques include automated detailing – providing information to doctors without the use of reps - as well as video streaming. Digital marketing is also preferred by sales companies as a means of reducing marketing costs.

By changing their sales call from a more traditional to digital approach, sales reps may still be able to get ahead of the game in an industry that is jumping on the digital bandwagon.

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