S&R Blog

It’s the relationship that matters

By David Recht, CEO, North State Resources

Following my first writing regarding the need for our pharmaceutical industry to earn back the physician’s trust, I read a couple of articles that I thought gave further credence to the trust issue I first described.

A recent survey published by SK&A Healthcare Information Solutions, the headline was Physicians Continue to Limit Sales Rep Access. The survey found that the percentage of physicians requiring appointments for sales reps increased (31.4% → 38.5%) while at the same time the number of physicians who will not see sales-reps also rose (22.3% → 23.6%). Additionally, the busier the practice, the harder it will be to see a physician.

A new PricewaterhouseCoopers Report indicated that smaller, refocused sales forces will enable pharmaceutical companies to create greater value for patients. The report goes on to state that “pharmaceutical companies will need to package products and health services in a way that adds value, demonstrating that their medicines really work, that they provide value for the money and potentially reduce healthcare costs by being better than alternative forms of intervention.”

Do you think that there is any correlation between the SK&A report and the PricewaterhouseCoopers Report? Isn’t it sort of a no-brainer that life would be simple and grand for our industry if companies provided better value, reduced healthcare costs, and are were better than alternative forms of treatment?

What is left out of the equation is that in order to demonstrate these marvelous benefits to a physician it means that the physician must first understand and believe what the pharmaceutical marketing efforts and sales reps are saying. They must believe that the data, studies and information provided are factual and transparent, and have clinical application. It means that there must be a relationship between the industry and its physician audience and that the relationship is built on the usual things any good relationship is built upon–trust, communication, and respect.

That is the problem as I described in my first writing.  Right now there is not a great deal of trust, respect and good communication between the two “partners”.  So, how does one go about building that good relationship if things are to move forward in a way that is beneficial to all – patient, healthcare provider and pharma industry?

First is trust. Think about any relationship: Be it business or personal, trust is a must if is to be a successful relationship. What are the hallmark features of trust? It always includes the truth – no one earns trust via deception, lies, or misinformation. Once an individual even senses that the truth has been breached it will take a long time to recover on the trust scale.

Second in the relationship equation is good communication. Again think about that good relationship you may have with a businessperson or a family member. It’s not just the frequency and tone of the communication, it is also about clarity and transparency of the communication provided. And it does not matter if that communication is written or spoken. It is essential that we communicate with our potential partners in a way that fosters good understanding, clear objectives and clear direction.  Only in this way can we add to the trust component and reassure the customer, partner, spouse that our intentions are to provide meaningful help that will benefit them.

The last component is respect.  Respect goes hand-in-hand with trust and good communication.  We EARN respect by accomplishing the first two components. Respect means that we provide our views and thoughts as well as take into consideration the views and thoughts of our business partners, family, or friends. If you are well respected by these people then you have likely achieved created a good and productive relationship.

So for all of us in the pharmaceutical industry, it is time to get back to basics – build good, sound relationships with out physician partners.  Build the trust by providing clear facts and information–even if it means that such data demonstrates that a product will not manage every patient with a given indication.

Communicate intelligently, clearly and transparently with each and every physician–be it via sales rep, marketing campaign or education program. Use language, data, and style that are consistent with the audience you are trying to reach–an educated and intelligent customer.

Finally, earn back the respect that this industry once had with its physicians. Let them know that we can be counted on to do what we say we will do, be there in the good times and tough times, and provide them with solutions that will ultimately help their patients reach the therapeutic goals that have been set for them.


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