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Publicis/Sermo Survey: Physicians Want Biopharma Companies to Use Multiple Channels to Deliver Value to Their Practices


Physicians increasingly want biopharma companies to use a combination of communication channels to deliver the best value for their practices, including higher-quality field sales representatives and a variety of nontraditional representatives. The message delivery mix should also include expanded use of digital solutions such as professionals-only websites and eSampling, reports a new study conducted by Publicis Touchpoint Solutions and Sermo—an online community exclusively for physicians.

The survey updates a previous one performed by Publicis and Sermo in 2008 to determine how well the biopharma industry is fulfilling its value proposition to physicians. The survey also examines physicians’ attitudes toward emerging digital and social media.

Field Representatives
Physicians recognize the recent reduction in the numbers of sales representatives calling on them. In the current survey, only 52% of physicians prefer fewer sales representatives calling on their practices—a dramatic decrease from the 90% of physicians who asked for fewer sales calls in the last survey. However, more than 8 of 10 physicians want higher-quality representatives—those who are trained beyond their own products and prepared to discuss clinical studies and evidence-based medicine. Consistent with this finding, physicians’ preference for specialty sales representatives is also trending upward. More than 7 of 10 want more frequent visits from specialty representatives, an increase from 6 out of 10 in the previous survey.

Nontraditional Representatives
Physicians also have a distinct interest in being communicated with by more nontraditional representatives such as clinical health educators, customer service representatives, and live video detailers. Three-quarters of physicians want to see more clinical health educators calling on their practices. Clinical health educators are credentialed healthcare professionals (RNs, diabetes educators, etc) who work with physicians, other healthcare professionals, and patients to increase adherence and retention (patient compliance) to positively impact health outcomes. Additionally, 75% of physicians want to see more customer service representatives in their offices. Customer service representatives do not “sell,” but instead provide service such as patient literature and samples. And 58% of physicians wanted more access to virtual representatives such as live video detailers—who conduct on-demand person-to-person details via web and phone—and other virtual representatives such as teleDetailers, teleSamplers, etc.

Digital Channels
Physicians also want biopharma companies to expand their use of digital media. A majority of physicians expressed interest in more disease- and product-specific websites designed specifically for healthcare professionals. In addition, 8 of 10 physicians would like greater availability of eSampling, in which physicians order samples via the Internet and receive them by mail.

“While physicians may have become more selective regarding sales representative access, they still want and need information,” said Rick Keefer, President and CEO of Publicis Touchpoint Solutions. “The doors will start to open again as biopharma sales representatives bring the experience, education, and clinical ’comfort level’ that physicians are asking for,” added Keefer.

“The biopharma industry continues its evolution away from sales models featuring just a ‘one size fits all’ traditional sales force. Going forward, the industry will increasingly employ a highly customized, multichannel message delivery mix to deliver the value physicians want. There is no single, ’right’ combination. However, more experienced and consultative field representatives, highly trained nontraditional representatives, and expanded digital solutions are what physicians told us they are seeking today,” noted Keefer.

The 2010-2011 What Physicians Want! survey was completed by 250 Sermo physicians in all medical specialties. A white paper containing the complete survey results in available at

For business inquiries, please contact Gaurav Saxena, Business Development, at 866-616-4777 or email

About Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, Inc.
Publicis Touchpoint Solutions provides a comprehensive array of multichannel message delivery solutions to the life sciences industry. From field-based to virtual and from promotional to clinical, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions centers-of-excellence include field sales and service, live video detailing, inside sales and service, clinical health educators, medical science liaisons, inside healthcare-credentialed representatives, as well as virtual and on-site promotional speaker event management. A wide range of vital support solutions—each of which serves all of the company’s message delivery channels—includes recruiting, training, performance management, operations, data/analytics, fulfillment, sample management, and compliance. Publicis Touchpoint Solutions provides the human touch to precision multichannel messaging delivered at the right time and through the right channels to achieve maximum impact. Publicis Touchpoint Solutions is a member of the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. Website:

About Publicis Healthcare Communications Group
Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG) is the largest health-oriented agency network in the world. A division of Publicis Groupe S.A., PHCG manages top-tier agencies specializing in promoting innovative solutions in advertising, medical education, sales and marketing, digital, market access, and medical and scientific affairs. PHCG is dedicated to delivering ideas of purpose that compel action, change lives, and amplify business outcomes. With more than 3,000 employees, PHCG manages nearly 20 agency brands through 41 offices located in 10 countries. For more information, visit:


 Biopharma marketing
 Multichannel marketing
 Physician preferences
 Touchpoint Solutions

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