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Docs Prefer ePromotion, But Does Pharma Tactic Translate to Hospitals?

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, April 29, 2009

The value of hospitals conducting face-to-face visits with referring physicians in order to increase or maintain referrals can't be overstated—showing docs that your organization cares about them and educating them about the benefits of sending patients to your hospital for care is mission-critical.

Meanwhile, it's become increasingly difficult to secure that one-on-one time with physicians, who are busier than ever these days. Add to the stresses on hospitals' physician relations departments the cost of travel, tightening budgets, staff reductions, and competition for docs' time from pharmaceutical reps and competing hospitals.

But hospital physician sales reps or liaisons might take a lesson from a recent study of a tactic that pharma reps use to supplement face-to-face visits with physicians.

Although it's a rare hospital salesperson who would consider pharma reps to be role models, ePromotion might help alleviate some of the stresses on doctors' time and hospital physician relations program resources.

ePromotion includes a variety of technology-powered initiatives, including technology-enabled promotions that do not include live communication, online live promotion or telephone-assisted Internet browsing in which participants can see and/or speak with an activity conductor, and virtual events including seminars, continuing medical education events, opinion leader events, Web conferences, and group discussions.

And physicians love it. According to a study released on April 27 by healthcare analytics firm SDI, more than two-thirds (67%) of US physicians have a positive attitude toward electronic promotion by pharmaceutical companies. And nearly three-fourths (73%) say they think ePromotion is equal or superior to face-to-face communication from drug sales reps.

"Every year we have conducted this survey, we have seen acceptance toward ePromotion among physicians increase," Jason Fox, associate director at SDI, said in a release. "Given how busy most doctors are and how expensive and challenging it has become for pharmaceutical companies to reach them, the results of this survey underscore a growing opportunity for the two groups to interact more regularly."

Other key findings:

  • Sixty-nine percent of surveyed physicians participate in electronic promotional activities after office hours, in the evenings.
  • In 2008, the average time spent by a physician on a single ePromotion activity was 18 minutes.
Does your organization use ePromotion to reach referring physicians? Should it? Share your thoughts by heading over to the HealthLeaders Media MarketShare blog and taking our (very quick) poll on the topic.

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