Every year it becomes harder for sales reps to reach physicians, but other avenues of communication are opening up within most medical practices. As healthcare professionals search for ways to improve the quality of care without increasing costs, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are taking on greater responsibilities – and gaining greater influence.
These mid-level prescribers represent a valuable segment for pharma marketers. There are more of them than ever before; they spend considerable time educating patients. They also have ongoing access to physicians and, perhaps most importantly, are open to receiving information from pharma sales reps.
Fewer Physicians Meet with Sales Reps
Today only 44% of physicians will meet with sales reps. This is a slight decline from last year and a huge drop from 2008 when 80% of physicians were accessible to reps. Hospital systems and integrated delivery networks continue to employ more and more physicians. And, both are concerned about pharma’s influence on prescribing behavior, as well as the high cost of drugs.
At an institutional level, physicians are often prohibited from meeting with reps. On a personal level, many doctors are simply tired of dealing with frequent requests from reps. As a result, nonpersonal promotion, including email, direct mail, mobile alerts, and speaking events, now makes up 53% of pharma marketing to physicians.
NPs and PAs Are Becoming More Accessible
The good news is that even as pharma companies are losing access to physicians, it’s becoming easier to reach nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). These mid-level prescribers play an increasing role in patient care, many times replacing physician interactions completely. Yet, more than 50% of them are still willing to meet with sales reps.
A sophisticated NP/PA database provides both the reach and the segmentation criteria you need to effectively target this valuable audience. With the right database, you should be able to target by professional designation, preferred mailing address, practice setting, physician affiliation, hospital affiliation, prescription and decile data, diagnosis and treatment data, specialty, and payor information. You should also expect to be able to reach 75% of practicing NPs and PAs.
Increase Your Influence Across the Entire Practice
With this level of information, you can promote a variety of content to a specific segment of NPs and PAs through targeted email campaigns, or to individual NPs and PAs through a rep-triggered email program. If you track individual website data for the physicians and mid-level prescribers who visit your pharma website, you can link that data to the NP/PA database to ensure that your email messages are relevant to each website visitor’s current interests. Better yet, you can share recent browsing behavior of NPs and PAs with your sales reps, so they can be prepared to make the most of their in-person meetings.
Recent research indicates that millennial physicians are especially interested in receiving educational materials from pharma companies. Most also prefer to learn about new treatment options through conversations with peers. This suggests that reaching out to NPs and PAs with high-value content – particularly the unbranded disease information, discussion guides, and adherence support that millennial doctors value most – is an excellent way to not only extend your reach within a given practice, but also to increase your influence with the physicians in that practice.