Modern forms of marketing as a way of handling legal restrictions on the pharmaceutical market in Poland
Traditional communication still the key form of contact between doctors and pharma companies
In the study conducted by PMR among doctors in Poland we asked our respondents questions about their knowledge of the specific forms of communication between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. It appears that the most typical place where doctors meet representatives of pharmaceutical companies remains the doctor's surgery - during working hours (99%) or off-working hours (97%), as well as meetings at scientific conferences (100%) - almost all doctors have heard of this possibility.
Phone contact (mostly involving the arrangement of subsequent appointments) and contacts during post-marketing surveillance are also among the generally popular ways of liaising with pharmaceutical companies (each garnering over 90% of responses).
It should be also noted that the respondents are widely familiar with the modern forms of marketing: a vast majority of doctors, i.e. 9 in 10, have are familiar with group multimedia product presentations at workplace where a medical representative gathers a group of doctors in a single hospital or any other facility and presents the advantages of a new medicinal product in a multimedia presentation. Roughly three-quarters of doctors have also heard of similar presentations shown on laptops or portable devices (tablets, PDAs). Such presentations can be dedicated to doctors active in a specific segment or they can be in fact personalised to meet specific needs of the person based on the feedback obtained during past visits or on the basis of the capabilities for interactive modification of the presented materials in real time. However, recipients of communications are not always aware of the analytical mechanism behind the interactive presentation, so when asking about their knowledge of and contact with specific marketing tools we are unable to determine what type of technology they actually had contact with.
The next group is comprised of all types of communication channels based on the internet: 84% of doctors have heard of receiving unwanted marketing information (spam), while 80% of respondents are aware of the possibility of receiving marketing e-mails with the addressee's consent. 84% of respondents are aware of the existence of online trainings available to doctors; 74% of them know of multimedia presentations of products that can be watched on the internet, which also includes presentations based on interactive e-detailing, while 72% of respondents have heard of video-conferences with the participation of opinion-leaders.
Phone-related tools are the least known by doctors as a means of contacting representatives of medicine manufacturers.
Legal changes and technology development as driving forces behind changes in pharma marketing
In the recent years, the pharmaceutical industry in Poland has witnessed numerous legal and technology changes, which require companies to redefine their marketing strategies. The following events and developments should be mentioned here:
a) introduction in October 2008 of the regulation limiting contacts between the representatives of pharmaceutical companies and doctors: in accordance with the new regulation pharmaceutical representatives may not arrange meetings with doctors during the latter's working hours, which used to be a common practice in the past and have to seek consent of a medical facility manager for such a visit
b) a higher proportion of doctors using computers and the internet for professional purposes - in accordance with out study, nearly 70% of doctors use the internet for professional purposes at least several times a week
c) the development of customer relations management and IT tools supporting the individual customer approach
d) increased role of the patient in making treatment-related decisions.
Development of tools based on modern technologies
In view of the imposed restrictions, the pharmaceutical industry has been, more than in the past, interested in applying tools based on state-of-the-art technologies to boost the intensity and effectiveness of contacts between drug manufacturers and doctors. Many of these solutions have been, for years, successfully used in the western countries; in Poland however, due to a relatively poor access to the broadband internet - a problem which also affects doctors, they still have remained at the fringes of marketing communication. These tools have recently attracted increased interest. The tools and developments in question primarily include:
a) Electronic data carriers and computerisation of the health care system - digitalisation of information and a wider use of IT tools provide a basis for many changes in the information distribution. These tools are instrumental in speeding up the data transfer while reducing costs, provided that the IT infrastructure and access to the internet are sufficiently developed.
b) Internet - unlocking the potential of the global network:
- the use of electronic mail to maintain personal relationship between the representative and the doctor - sending marketing materials in electronic format, links, current news in the form of newsletters, etc.
- online portals and web services dedicated to doctors, which help obtain and exchange information on medicines, treatment, work, etc.
- online presentations of products (e-detailing), which often feature an interactive element or evaluation of the presented material with a view to obtaining feedback to be used to modify subsequent communication (see: "Modern Marketing Strategies: Closed Loop Marketing" below
- virtual trainings (e-learning) in which doctors can participate from remote sites without spending time on travel
- online presentations and lectures (webinars)
- online broadcast of events, e.g. conferences, symposia, lectures
- web sites of drug manufactures, which also contain sections addressed to doctors, on which detailed information on medicines, scientific publications, multimedia presentations of products, etc. can be found.
c) Multimedia - the use of transmission forms that are supplementary to printed materials, such as image, sound, motion pictures and the interaction with the presented transmission. These forms are used not only to enhance the transmission's appeal but also to boost the recipient's involvement and, consequently, improve the retention of transmitted information.
d) Modern Marketing Strategies: Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) - these strategies rely on the combined strength of electronic data carriers, multimedia, the internet and advanced database systems. The systems involve the monitoring of marketing materials transmitted to a specific recipient and the recipient's reaction. On the basis of feedback thus obtained the marketing and sales activities can be swiftly adjusted to match the customer's (i.e. the doctor's) expectations. Storing the relevant information on this type of interaction can be helpful in arriving at a complete view of the customer - who they are, what type of information and transmission is preferred, what the customer's background is. Using this information, product managers can segment the market on a day-to-day basis and create personalised communications which are adjusted to match the needs of narrow groups of customers.
e) Mobile phone - the individualisation of phone communication fuelled by the development of mobile telephony; the possibility of using texting as a simple, affordable and non-invasive technique for informing doctors of novelties and providing tips on how to obtain additional information is indicated sources.
Information presented in this article is based on the quantitative results of the market survey performed by PMR Research, which are presented in full in the report entitled "Modern and traditional forms of effective pharmaceutical marketing" published by PMR in November 2010. The survey was performed in the period from June to August 2010 using the CATI (computer-aided telephone interviewing) method. 350 full-length interviews were completed.
Selected specialisations included in the survey:
- primary care doctors (including family doctors, internists, paediatricians)
- psychiatrists and neurologists (together considered as a single group)
At least 50 interviews were conducted for each group of doctors.
PMR (www.pmrcorporate.com) is a British-American company providing market information, advice and services to international businesses interested in Central and Eastern European countries as well as other emerging markets. PMR's key areas of operation include business publications (through PMR Publications), consultancy (through PMR Consulting) and market research (through PMR Research). Being present on the market since 1995, employing highly skilled staff, offering high international standards in projects and publications, providing one of most frequently visited and top-ranked websites, PMR is one of the largest companies of its type in the region."
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