We all know a number of states have recently been moving to restrict pharma/biotech usage of doctor/practice-level data to inform their detailing efforts. And the trend is accelerating — these data legislative handcuffs will only gain momentum.
Yes, this is unquestionably a bad thing for the traditional pharma sales force model. Other trends in this direction include doctors opting-out of pharma sales representative visits completely, as well as a recent study describing an increase of 5% year-over-year of doctors' not wanting detailing sales rep visits. As reported on Pharmalive, the core channel and delivery of marketing/science messaging is on a downward slope. In this same study, 68% of physicians said they consider e-detailing as good as (if not better than) a face-to-face rep visit.
But while any restriction on having the sales data needed to drive a relevant conversation is bad news, there may be a silver lining here. This may be an opportunity to use this change to add another dimension to e-detailing that supports a better doctor/patient dialog.
Under this scenario, the sales model shifts. Or rather, from our perspective, the focus of the conversation and the influence it has on sales switches from the doctor alone, to a more unified marketing approach that focuses on the doctor-patient conversation.
Imagine this: a type of e-detailing that, after the key delivery of clinical data, includes the patient, too. This approach would offer a patient video about their issues and challenges in diagnosis. It would be a combination of science and compassion.
This method redefines e-Detailing as a more well-rounded brand experience. After all, delivering clinical or marketing information handles the issue of recommendation. But that is only half the formula for success. The current approach does nothing to help what is the biggest weakness in the process — patient adoption. This is the crux of poor adherence and ergo the "leaky bucket" problem.
Having run a two-day conference on the reasons behind patient non-adherence (which over 20 different patient and HCP advocacy groups attended, representing over 30 conditions) we did a survey of what these important patient representatives believed were the key barriers to patient adherence. I am not going to reveal the complete list but number one on the list, based on the literature and survey data, was "patient non-acceptance."This, more than the clinical issues, is the real key to better outcomes.
Patient non-acceptance is just a different way of saying patient non-adoption of doctor recommendation. MINTEL states 56% of patients stop taking a medication due to fear of side effects — This is fear — otherwise known as False Evidence Appearing Real! This apprehension is not based in reality. Patients find excuses to stop following doctor's orders for reasons which are not grounded in fact, but in emotion — the raw material of the doctor-patient relationship, and something that's missing from a purely objective conversation. Clearly, the conversation between patient and doctor needs more than the doctor's clinical understanding of the treatment, and equally clearly, this isn't happening.
Non-acceptance could be addressed in e-detailing – the patient video could be scripted in two ways. One would be a straight-on interview with key questions around the new diagnosis experience and doctor dialog. Believe me, this would be eye-opening for doctors who earnestly believe they are saying the right things and being heard. Second, you could offer a patient-focused short list of questions that help better prepare the patient — in other words, asses their level of acceptance of diagnosis and where their barriers to adoption lie.
Is anyone doing this now? I wonder.