For cardiologist Dr. Saeed Darvish, the engagement between physicians and life sciences companies is broken.
And it has been for a while. For years, life sciences organizations would pump money into in-person conferences or dinners, and invite physicians, who would offer their input on an array of treatments and medications for companies.
“Physicians aren’t resonating with these old-school methods of engagement,” Darvish says.
It also doesn’t help that the pandemic has changed how many of us interact. In the realm of healthcare, we’re seeing a digital transformation, which is being sped up by the pandemic.
It’s made virtual, remote interactions the proverbial lingua franca in the healthcare space. And this is having a significant impact on the dynamic between life sciences companies and physicians.
We’re seeing a new generation of physicians who don’t want to drive to an in-person conference after a long day in the clinic, Darvish says. They also don’t want their inboxes filled with spam messages from life sciences organizations, nor do they want a life sciences sales rep showing up to their clinics, Darvish adds.
81% of physicians surveyed are dissatisfied with their interactions with life sciences organizations.
“The modern physician is already trying to create a personal-professional life balance. To schedule time off to go to a conference where they’re essentially just getting old marketing material, you’ll find many physicians feel they’re not gaining anything out of this exchange,” Darvish says.
It speaks to the demographic shift we’re seeing among physicians today, a new generation of doctors who aren’t interested in the hard-sell marketing tactics sold by life sciences companies.
It’s a lose-lose situation for both physicians and the life sciences companies, which seek expert input from physicians on drugs, medical devices and testing products.
Physicians Want Change
KeyOps conducted a survey involving 80 physicians from various specialties. Prior to the pandemic, the survey found that physicians were predominantly conducting in-person meetings with industry representatives, with less than one virtual meeting per month on average. This number is expected to jump to 1.3 virtual meetings with industry reps on average after the pandemic.
Also, nearly 60 per cent of the physicians KeyOps spoke to want to see shorter market research surveys. Typically these can take up to an hour to complete, and are viewed as cumbersome and inconvenient.
More than 50% of physicians surveyed refuse to take on meetings with medical science liaisons. (MSLs)
In addition, the survey found nearly two-thirds of physicians are eager to see advisory boards that are condensed and asynchronous—allowing them to complete these activities on their own time. “My colleagues kept telling me how odd it was that they can instantly order meals, find a ride-share, hire a contractor for their house on their phone, but if they wanted to share an insight with their life science rep, they had to book a one- to three-hour-long meeting.”
A shift is in the air.
Bridging The Engagement Gap
Darvish believes technology can improve engagement between modern-day physicians and life sciences companies.
“We have to think about each party’s needs and how technology can actually bridge that gap between physicians and life sciences companies,” he says.
Traditionally, life sciences companies kept a list of physicians they turn to for gathering expert input. Online platforms like KeyOps, however, are democratizing the engagement process between the two parties.
“Technology provides life sciences companies access to a larger network of physicians. Technology is helping mend what is, right now, a broken relationship of engagement between physicians and life sciences companies,” Darvish says.
In addition to making the lives of physicians easier, platforms like KeyOps also help life sciences companies find valuable expert input seamlessly. Life sciences organizations don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars connecting with third party companies to create feedback loops for physicians.
“It’s laborious for life sciences organizations to do this. It takes so much time. And if they want to get an insight tomorrow, it's difficult,” Darvish says.
The biggest winner, however, in better life sciences-physician engagement is the patient, Darvish says.
“Everyone’s objective at the end of the day is to deliver optimal patient care. It’s to innovate and to create new health discoveries, and to create the maximum benefit for patients,” Darvish adds.
“Who suffers when there's poor physician-life sciences engagement? The life sciences company suffers, the physician suffers, but most importantly, the patient suffers.”
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