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What does e-detailing entail? How digital marketing is shaping the pharmaceutical industry

E-detailing came at a time of great change in the pharmaceutical industry. At the time of its arrival, the effects of the 2008 economic turmoil were still being felt, with pharmaceutical firms under pressure to restrict spending across the board.

One consequence was a widespread reduction in sales force numbers. Today, e-detailing remains a welcome solution for pharmaceutical sales directors looking to connect with physicians in a more efficient manner, and market access managers looking to enhance the impact of their value communication strategies.

E-detailing in the pharmaceutical industry is defined as a broad and continually evolving term describing the use of electronic, interactive media to facilitate sales presentations to physicians (Rutgers Business School).

The term includes everything from targeted emailing to sample ordering, even live online product presentations. Pharma firms have realized that if they invest time and resources building strong e-detailing strategies, they can ensure that their products are getting in front of physicians. In the past, a sales rep might have waited hours in a reception room before being offered a brief window to present a product to a physician. Now, with e-detailing, pharma firms can establish brand awareness, increase familiarity, and facilitate sales, using remote marketing that does not always even require a face-to-face meeting.

Studies have shown a positive reaction from doctors and healthcare professionals. A pilot conducted by Marianne Anderson, marketing manager for Pfizer, showed that 97% of physicians felt the e-detail was superior to paper-based details for explaining complex issues. E-detailing means that information is available 24/7 through web-based tools, so physicians can now find clear and interesting product information whenever they have time during their busy schedules. They can also choose to select to read only the content that is most pertinent and interesting to them.

The work that sales reps and marketing teams do to increase the effectiveness of prescriber marketing is one part of the spectrum. Another aspect of e-detailing is the impact that it can have on market access effectiveness. BaseCase produces value communication apps which allow key account managers to present complex value stories based on health economic evidence to payers. There is a particular demand for this kind of higher level e-detailing as pharma companies move towards a key account management strategy.

A report by IBM outlines the key success factors for e-detailing, the first being trust. Pharma firms should give out data when and where doctors need it, and help them provide better care with access to drug information they value and trust.

The report finds that healthcare providers appreciate when information has a solid factual basis. With BaseCase, features like integrated referencing enable key account managers to demonstrate the credibility of the argument that they make to payers. The value story is based around a health economic model integrated into the app, meaning that scientific findings are at the heart of the presentation.