e-Detailing. A Shifting Model To a More Human Approach. But What About the Patient?

By October 5, 2009Uncategorized

This week we focus on e-detailing – but in a compare and contrast approach.
e-Detailing seems to have taken on the spirit of marketing innovation.It is fascinating.

e-Detailing will replace the sales force model. Not completely, of
course. But the electronic version of the sales experience is like most
technology advances – it is additive and those doctors who like it, will
embrace it and others – most likely specialists – will perhaps use a
combination of face-to-face and online information gathering.  But let’s be honest: like all true innovations,
this was forced on us. The writing was on the wall.  The steady spigot of detailing and sales
force driven marketing is slowly turning off. Look at how e-detailing is taking
off and why – nearly 20% of doctors have opted out of having sales reps visit
them; a half dozen states all have some form of limiting access or sales data
from pharma sales organizations; new guidelines are taking away all the
tried-and-true tricks of where influence and information-sharing meet – like dinners,
lunch ‘n learns, and all the little branded ‘gifts’ that litter an office. That’s
the negative. On the positive, I recently read many doctors do the e-Detail on
non office hours and that is big, especially when the comparison is some poor sales rep. hovering awkwardly like some nerd at the high school dance. The motivation for innovation is real and it is called ROI.

But an odd thing has happened: Instead of just seeing doctors as deciles
and having some sales rep. know the names of their kids, this evolution of the
sales model  has forced businesses to now
research doctors as people, like they recently learned to do for patients. A
360 degree view: their age, habits, feelings, attitudes, behaviors. All the
basic information we use for patients. Actually, maybe more.

Think about that seminal shift. This is not just finding a new way to market
to a doctor; it is accepting that the doctor is not just a doctor, but a consumer. They have habits, they
shop, they buy, and they ponder brands and have the same intangible relationship
with products they use every day. 

Doctors being sold to as people. Who’dathunk it.  

And what does that mean? What is the challenge? Well, the same challenge
all online marketers face: engagement. Breaking through the noise and finding
new ways to grab more of their attention.   

What shocks me is that the technology for e-Detailing has quickly
surpassed what is being used for consumers. Real-time dynamic content. Personalized micro-sites. Customization. I have seen highly engaging and
smart waves of mail driving to personalized, time-based product information…”Do
you have five minutes? Ten? Fifteen?”  Or, “please help us make this visaid for you…what
would you pick as the key message?”

Or, and here’s a wacky one, let’s build a Second Life island just for
e-Details and assign the doctor and sales rep. a digital persona and deliver
the information in a 3-D environment. 

Personally, I think that the embracing of interactive tools is one of the
great trends in our industry. Oddly enough, it seems that online innovation for
doctors in just a short time is passing that used for patients. Most patient Web
sites are one-size-fits-all. Text-heavy. PDF’s galore. Video that is canned and
over-produced and over-edited. Information is watered-down.

But…why not do these same innovations for consumers/patients? Why are
they so different? Is it because they do not have the science background? Or it
is that most organizations just are so much more driven by HCP marketing (and
the $$$ that go with it) and the world of consumer marketing is just entering
its teenage years?

Try this on: what would happen if the same e-Detail was reinterpreted for
a patient?

Let’s end with a simple truth: the key reason people do not either take
in that first prescription, or get their second, or stay on for long, starts
with a poor communication between the doctor and patient. Second reason? The patient
is not prepared or does not accept the doctors’ diagnosis/advice.

But if the patient knew enough to know what the doctor was saying, if the
patient was able to truly educate themselves beforehand or after in an engaging,
interactive and personalized way, wouldn’t that all-hallowed moment of
truth  between the doctor and patient
have a better outcome?

So, what is an e-Detail for a patient? And what would happen in a company
supplied that to their doctors to offer to patients with the Rx? “Before you
start taking X, I want you to go online and go through this short lesson on why
this diagnosis and why this drug.”

Now, that is innovation.