CMI/Compas teases out physician media use trends in Media Vitals survey



HCP media trends during 2016 harmoniously blend around one theme: creating physician engagement, according to the “What Physicians Want” study from CMI/Compas Media Vitals. For healthcare media strategists, this means getting and keeping HCP attention long enough to cause impact. This year’s trends, CMI/Compas analysts say, include access, personalization, precision targeting and delivering relevant timely content in HCPs’ preferred media channels.

“With many new brands launching this year, physicians are doing their best to get ahead of their information needs as best they can,” says Dr. Susan Dorfman, chief commercial officer, CMI/Compas. “Our research this year shows that although the number of no-see offices has stabilized in the last two years, we continue to see a slight increase in the percent of HCPs who have put restrictions on how they will see reps – some by appointment while others on certain days. With that said, physicians still welcome information from pharma – delivered both personally and non-personally and based on their criticality of need. We have found that ‘personalized nonpersonal communication’ can serve as an extension to a brand’s sales force so that critical information gets to its intended audiences even on days when the rep can’t.”

While many factors impact the adoption of newly approved medications, one factor is always critical – the willingness of physicians to adopt. Across specialties, this willingness can be highly variable. According to CMI/Compas’ research, when oncologists learn of FDA approval, they are by far the most likely specialty to try new treatments (57 percent), followed by cardiologists (41 percent) and neurologists (41 percent). Dermatologists are more conservative; only 28 percent state they would try new treatments upon FDA approval.

As to more general prescribing decisions, CMI/Compas’ researchers found that formulary coverage and/or cost to the patient are usually not the most important criteria influencing physician prescribing. While these are certainly part of the equation, only primary care physicians listed cost as one of the top three factors in influencing their treatment decisions, with 47 percent weighting cost as a factor. Strong clinical efficacy data and safety/tolerability profile are ranked by 50 percent of this group as highly important but none of the other specialties report cost to patient in their top three factors driving their treatment decisions.

Oncologists are understandably focused on efficacy, safety, and tolerability, most likely due to the relative aggressiveness of cancer treatments; however, clinical guidelines are also very important to their decision-making process.

Primary care physicians have a wider range of concerns, as reflected in the lower rankings overall of the various factors. Primary care physicians are the most cost-conscious of the specialists analyzed here. Cost to patient is their third most important consideration when making treatment decisions, but, as noted above, does not appear in the top three for any other specialty.

Dermatologists rank both clinical efficacy and safety/tolerability significantly higher than their peers in other specialties. They also list familiarity with treatments in their most important rankings, suggesting that they need support from pharma in the form of detailing and education before they feel comfortable prescribing a product. Samples also increase familiarity by giving them and their patients a chance to try products prior to filling a prescription.

Pulmonologists base treatment decisions primarily on clinical efficacy data and guidelines, but they also include opinions of thought leaders and KOLs as a highly influential factor, suggesting that these influencers are important advocates for pharma with the pulmonary audience.
Neurologists and cardiologists behave similarly to oncologists in terms of prescribing factors: strong clinical efficacy data, safety/tolerability, and clinical guidelines are their main concerns.

Regarding responses to direct to consumer advertising, CMI/Compas’ researchers found that up to 89 percent of physicians are willing to consider prescribing based on patient requests for a specific drug. Primary care physicians take the lead in patient asks, with 56 percent reporting patients asking daily or a few times a week for a specific drug; dermatologists are also being frequently prompted (46 percent) by their patients about products they have seen.

Physicians appear diligent about these requests, with 62 percent of primary care physicians and 52 percent of neurologists using search engines in response to a patient’s question. It’s important for marketers to note that financial information is not a primary draw, with only 32 percent of primary care physicians and 28 percent of dermatologists looking for cost or formulary information when searching online.

CMI/Compas’ researchers also looked into the underlying reasons behind physicians’ information search behaviors, using both traditional and digital channels. The top reasons that prompt physicians to seek out medical information include keeping up to date, filling knowledge gaps, as well as acquiring treatment-specific information. Pulmonologists, dermatologists, neurologists, and oncologists are the most likely to proactively search for and acquire treatment-specific information. However, 61 percent of primary care physicians and 52 percent of neurologists look for information in direct response to a patient/caregiver question. Meanwhile 52 percent of dermatologists will invest their time seeking information on behalf of their patients. Dermatologists and neurologists are significantly more likely than cardiologists to search for medical information in order to obtain information for patients regarding risk-factors. Cardiologists are significantly less likely than oncologists, neurologists, and primary care physicians to search for medical information in order to keep up to date.

Most physicians are proactive information seekers and gatherers who use a sizable mix of online and offline channels (including sales reps) with top ranking choices usually based on their information needs. For example, when physicians are investing time staying abreast of new medical developments, CMI/Compas researchers found that they most often turn to print and online journals, as well as medical conferences. Interestingly, more than half of primary care physicians, unlike other specialties, also cite pharma reps as a top source.

When physicians’ information needs are immediate and require answers within 10 minutes, they will turn to digital sources such as search and reference tools, as well as peers. When their needs are less immediate, giving them a few days to get the answers they need, print channels like journals become as or more important than the internet, and pharma sources like reps and even websites are also used. Pharma-sponsored sources such as mail, email, info polybagged in a journal, and e-details also rank high when doctors spend time filling knowledge gaps and staying up to date.

According to the CMI/Compas study, 42 percent of neurologists, 38 percent of primary care physicians, 37 percent of dermatologists, 36 percent of oncologists, and 25 percent of pulmonologists rely on sales reps as a source of information. Also, 36 percent of primary care physicians use medical email and e-newsletters for information, and 33 percent will turn to professional online communities. Thirty-eight percent of cardiologists use professional mobile apps, while 33 percent of oncologists use pharma websites and direct mail. Oncologists are significantly more likely than pulmonologists to use online journals when they have non-immediate information needs. However, when looking at utilization of print journals and peers/colleagues for non-immediate information needs there are no differences among the six specialties.

Brand websites attract physicians for both immediate and non-immediate information needs, with up to 50 percent saying they use sites to keep abreast of medical developments and nearly 20 percent using a site for immediate needs. In fact, physicians prefer brand sites almost 2 to 1 compared to a rep for information needed within 10 minutes, and nearly at parity for non-immediate and longer-term needs. When these doctors visit branded pharma sites, the majority are looking for dosing information as well as clinical data. It is also interesting to note that oncologists (42 percent) and primary care physicians (47 percent) additionally come to sites looking for indication information.

When it comes to physicians’ use of multi-channel sources in seeking information to fill gaps in their knowledge, there is significant interest in pharma-sponsored sources such as e-details, email, direct mail, and reps. About 40 percent of physicians across the board rely on direct mail to stay informed. Neurologists, cardiologists, and pulmonologists like e-details as well, while oncologists favor digital videos. Primary care physicians cite email from pharma as their top source to fill gaps, as do dermatologists (who also like third-party emails). Cardiologists and pulmonologists welcome third-party emails. Journals continue to be of value, both in print and online, as does polybagged information.

For the second year in a row, CMI/Compas’ analysts found that rep access may be hindered as a result of certain restrictions (specific times or days where doctors will see reps or requiring appointments), rather than the result of no-see policies. In fact, of all specialties analyzed oncologists appear to have the highest growth of no-see this year (at 21 percent), as well as those who restrict access (59 percent). Pulmonologists are also seeing an increase in No-See offices (now at 21 percent). Only 20 percent of oncologists and 25 percent of pulmonologists see reps without any restrictions. Primary care physicians, dermatologists, neurologists, and cardiologists are significantly less restricted and have the highest percent of physicians who see reps without any restrictions compared to oncologists and pulmonologists (particularly primary care physicians, with 52 percent seeing pharma reps without restrictions).