The percentage of physicians who believe that e-promotion — video details, online events, and virtual details — is inferior to face-to-face promotion increased from 33% in 2011 to 38% in 2012, according to Encuity’s 2012 eAnswers Annual Study (here). “Physicians age 45 or older are more likely than their younger peers to feel that e-promotion is inferior to face-to-face promotion (41% vs. 28%).” Meanwhile, only 14% of physicians find e-promotion to be superior to face-to-face promotion, down from 16% in 2011.
Why the colder shoulder despite the fact that the industry has been scaling back on their field forces in recent years while simultaneously increasing investment in e-promotion? Perhaps there has been TOO MUCH e-promotion. According to a cegedim Strategic Data report published in February 2012, e-detailing has “risen steadily since 2009 both in net details and in the proportion of online details to total details. The total number of e-details grew by almost 50 percent in 2011 and by over 80 percent the previous year” (see chart below).
Encuity notes that younger physicians have a “more positive view” of e-promotion and that may suggest that pharma is “ahead of the curve.” Ha! That’s the first time I’ve heard of pharma being ahead of a technology curve! It’s more likely that younger physicians have not reached the saturation point, are not as busy as older physicians, or feel the need to absorb more information from whatever source. In addition, the proportion of “younger” physicians must be increasing as the baby boom physicians retire. If so, I would have expected an uptick in e-promotion approval, not a “downtick.”
Meanwhile, in terms of actually driving prescriptions, e-promotion lags behind events and face-to-face details, according to Encuity. “Forty-four percent of physicians surveyed in 2012 are somewhat or extremely likely to prescribe a product highlighted during an e-promotion activity, compared with 45% in 2011. By comparison, 67% of physicians surveyed in 2012 are somewhat or extremely likely to prescribe a product highlighted at a meeting or event, compared with 61% who would do the same for a product highlighted during a face-to-face detail.” Here’s the chart for that: