It’s time to take a fresh look at a big problem — physician access. In a 2008 Arista survey of pharmaceutical managers, almost 90% reported a decrease in face-to-face physician access over the past five years. What was surprising was the magnitude of the problem; pharmaceutical managers ranked physician access as their No. 1 marketing challenge, saying it was more troublesome than competition, product weaknesses, or salesforce limitations.
As I pondered the data, I noticed an odd kink in the way the access issue was being approached. To be blunt, the wrong questions are being asked. The tendency is to ask marketer-focused questions such as “What do doctors think of my marketing tactics?” and “How can I make our salesforce more appealing?” Instead, marketers should ask physician-focused questions such as “What type of practice-related information do doctors need?” and “When and where do they go to find the information they need?” Helping doctors get the information they need — serving their needs more completely — will help companies gain access to them. So what do doctors need?