Monday, August 04, 2008

Could direct mail re-emerge as a medium of choice to reach physicians?

I had a fun lunch and compelling conversation with one of our collaborators the other day. As we were musing about the news of pharma promotion guidelines and new CME restrictions, he proposed that ol’ fashioned direct mail might re-emerge as the best way to get in a doctor’s office.

Coincidently, this report from SK&A landed in my in-box the same day.

“Completing its groundbreaking U.S. Physician Access study, SK&A has found a quarter of all office-based physicians require pharmaceutical or medical device sales representatives to make an appointment in order to see a physician to deliver sales and marketing promotion and other healthcare related services.

“The study also reveals the larger the size of the practice, the more likely an appointment is required. These findings are based on a comprehensive telephone survey of 230,000 medical practices representing 640,000 doctors.

“Most notably, the survey found physician access and appointment policies are largely influenced by the ownership, size and location of the physician’s practice. Physicians working in group practices that are owned by health systems or hospitals are less likely to see sales reps and more likely to require appointments than those who are working in independently owned practices. Physicians working in offices with 10 or more practicing physicians are more likely to restrict access than physicians working in smaller office sizes of 1 to 2 doctors.

Among the many insights from the six-month long study:
• 17% of physicians refuse to see sales reps at any time. Specialty physicians such as pathologists are much more likely to restrict access than general practitioners.
• 4% of physicians will visit with reps only on specific days of the week and 3% have restricted their access to specific times of the day.
• On the positive side, 76 % of physicians surveyed will take visits from reps at any time of day or any day of the week.
• 14% of group practices have a general policy to restrict access to physicians at all their office locations.”

Thoughtful stuff in these changing times.

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