The New Decision Makers are Fueled by Economics

Do you see anything unusual about this statement:

“Doctor, as you can see, our drug is particularly effective in treating this disease.”

You should.

In fact, it should sound…old-school. Passé. Almost quaint.

And here’s why: first, a rep face-to-face with a doctor. It’s not just that rep forces have been steadily shrinking for years. It’s not even that doctors en masse have been barring the doors and windows against reps. The fact is that doctors are no longer the most important decision-maker regarding what gets prescribed to patients.

Second, a rep “selling” using “efficacy” as the hook. Today’s actual decision-makers have other things to prioritize.

The above is a scenario that is rapidly passing away. In a recent survey by Cegedem Relationship Management, 47%—nearly half—of all practicing doctors in the United States are now part of IDNs, or independent delivery networks.

In other words, they’re employees. They aren’t the independent contractors that they used to be.

What does that mean for the drug reps and for the many companies that write and design materials those reps formerly brought to doctors?

It means that they must target and message to the new decision-makers.

Doctors now choose from a preset menu of drugs that are put “on formulary” at hospital networks and large group-practice environments. And the formulary masters are motivated by—you guessed it—price, meaning cost savings.

For years, agencies have been equipping pharma sales forces via brand managers and their teams with detailing materials that hawked how effective a compound might be against a disease. That’s great when you have the interested ear of a physician. But what about someone whose primary training is in economics?

Is your agency producing detail materials for that decision-maker? And are they in a language he or she can not only understand, but be motivated by?

The fact is, if you’ve never considered marketing your brand using regional data before, this scenario should shake you to wake you. In a decision-making environment fueled almost exclusively by quantitative data, understanding the payer dynamics, the population, the regional policy realities, and several other key data sets is not only crucial, it’s the only thing that’ll get you in the door.

IDNs are cobbled together in regionalized ways, and they exist to manage efficiencies. Those efficiencies are defined by—localized data. To use a very general example, an IDN located in Mobile, Alabama, will have a very different take on the best practices for diabetes patient care than an IDN in Seattle, Washington. The data sets are completely different across the board. An efficiency challenge toward meeting ACO goals in Mobile may have to do with drug pricing. Meanwhile, Seattle’s unique goals are going to affect that IDN’s patient messaging efforts.

Knowing this, how would you market to the formulary manager in Seattle for your diabetes treatment as opposed to the same role in Mobile?

Regional marketing holds the answers in this new landscape.

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