Physicians: Pharma Services Improve; Merck Rated Highest

October 19, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Agency Business | B2B | Pharma & Healthcare

More than 40% of US primary care physicians report that they are seeing positive changes in the services they receive from pharmaceutical companies, with the greatest improvements coming in patient management, education and support programs, according to new research from TNS Healthcare.

Shortcuts to charts in this article:

  1. Areas of improvement in pharma services provided to physicians/patients
  2. Pharma services that physicians value most

Other areas of reported improvement are internet-based information tools, both for physicians and for patients, and physician education and information services:


“Research shows that the vast majority of companies in both the US and Europe are thinking about or implementing physician-centric service models,” says Andrew Brana, senior global consultant for sales performance optimization at TNS Healthcare. “[M]any doctors are seeing the results of these new models, experiencing the benefits of a wider range of services beyond traditional physician/rep interactions.”

“Sales forces are playing a new role – not just selling products but coordinating value-add experiences that meet physicians’ growing need for information and support,” he added.

Merck Wins Top Service Ratings

Physicians were asked to rate the major pharmaceutical sales forces on how well they are delivering service experiences:

  • The highest marks went to Merck, which earned the top score across almost all service categories, including rep conduct, knowledge and expertise; sales visit quality; patient management, education and support programs; physician education services; practice support; physician and patient internet services; and brand experience.
  • Novartis and Pfizer also score well among physicians, tying for second place. Those companies are further distinguished by getting the top score for their corporate reputations.
  • GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis are highly rated, rounding out the top 5 companies.

Services Valued Most

Physicians were asked to rate the services they value most:


  • Doctors still put sales rep attributes at the top of the list:
    • More than three-quarters of responding physicians say that a rep’s personal and professional conduct, knowledge and expertise are the most important factors in their relationship with a pharmaceutical company.
    • In addition, almost 70% count the quality and value of the rep’s visit as among the most important services pharmaceutical companies provide.
  • A range of other services, however, are also becoming increasingly valuable to physicians:
    • More than 60% of doctors put a high value on physician education programs.
    • More than half consider patient management, education and support services among the most important to them.
    • Close to half also say that practice support services and brand experience are valuable to them.

Pharmaceutical companies “must identify and deliver the specific services doctors want and value – and understand the different needs and expectations of their target physicians,” said Brana. “To succeed, companies must be able to fulfill physicians’ preferences – which can vary greatly across segments.”

For example, though just 30% of doctors say they value corporate reputation in their relationship with companies, those who do choose it give it exceptionally high importance. In fact, almost 60% of those who select corporate reputation as a key value consider it the most important attribute in determining their relationship with a pharma company.

“Clearly, these doctors form a unique segment with a specific set of requirements. Companies need tools and research to help them understand and address the needs of all their key physician audiences,” Brana concluded.

About the study: TNS Healthcare‘s survey was conducted online in August 2007. Findings are based on responses from 286 US primary care physicians, recruited from TNS Healthcare’s J Street Physician Internet panel.

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