Effective medical representative is the key to success of any pharmaceutical company that really cares about development of the Rx product portfolio. Legal restrictions and product specificity made representatives the most important link between the drug manufacturer and the person directly responsible for sale – the physician. Agent’s role is extremely complex. On one hand, a good representative is an effective salesperson. On the other hand, he must be a valuable partner during discussion, someone who does not only advertise, but provide full and actual information in a modern way.
What is the situation of medical representatives in Poland?
Are REPs a valuable source of information and support in the daily work routine of polish physicians? What are the main features of ideal representative? What are the expectations of the most important target group for pharma industry?
In March 2014, Connectmedica asked 339 doctors for the opinion about representatives and their role in the process of medical education.
Time is most important
The vast majority of physicians meet medical representatives several times a week (42%) or several times a month (31%). In a group of physicians who meet reps several times a week, almost 80% express a positive opinion on the frequency of meetings.
On average, the representative-physician meeting lasts about 15 minutes, which directly correspond to the physicians need.
It is worth mentioning, that according to previous Connectmedica research from November 2014, the desired meeting length grows with favorable opinion on the work of medical representative. Especially significant variables are: “level of knowledge allowing unrestrained, substantive discussion” (53%), “providing latest information about results of clinical trials” (48%) and “unique form of meeting” (45%).
Most expectations for the visit of rep focus on time issues – brevity is the key for almost 30% of respondents. Other important factors are: “knowledge about presented drug” (24%), “providing latest information about new drugs” and “modern, attractive form of presentation” (14%).
High satisfaction … and a gradual decline in the quality of work.
Overall opinion about the work of medical representatives is positive – 2 out of 3 respondents are satisfied with the contacts. However, almost half of physicians believe that in the last three years, work of medical representatives has not changed and 37% reported decline in work quality.
Among those who hasn’t noticed any progress in representatives work, 59% reported loss of quality at every level of cooperation. Every fourth respondent noted deterioration of such variables as “ability to communicate”, “level of provided information” and “substantive knowledge allowing to discuss medical subjects”.
What are main features of ideal medical representative? The study shows that the most desirable competencies are related to medical knowledge (72%) and communication skills (59%). This is followed by such features as personal culture (51%) and brevity (34%). Being not intrusive and pushy is important for 22% of respondents, while every 5th physician require rep to be reliable.
Strong need of education.
Education is an inherent element and a guarantee of professional success for every physician. This is confirmed by our previous research (November 2014), as well as recent study showing almost 100% compliance of answers for the following question – “Do you agree that physicians work is strongly linked to a need of continuous education?”.
Involvement of Key Opinion Leader in the educational process has the greatest impact on the ultimate satisfaction conducted training. Two out of three respondents would like to exchange traditional visit of representative to a professional meeting with trainer or medical expert.
Group meetings for the winner.
The survey results are clear – the vast majority of physicians prefer educational sessions held collectively and outside of workplace (66%). Every fourth respondent vote for both, single and group meetings in workplace.
Most popular form of educational sessions is conference/convention (62%). More than half of physicians believe that training event should be conducted by the expert (59%).
Wide variety of educational subjects.
The vast majority of respondents claim that the medical representative should, but not sufficiently inform about new therapies (62%) and new drugs (59%).
Surprisingly, quite large percentage of physicians say that REP’s should but are not educating well in area of soft skills. One in five report insufficient education on doctor-patient communication and ability to manage your time, coping with stress or communication of unfavorable diagnosis.
About the study
The study was conducted in March 2014 on a sample of 339 physicians, by the CAWI method. Participants were recruited from a database of Openmedica portals. Participation in the study was voluntary.