A recent report from ZS Associates affirms a decade-long decline in pharmaceutical rep access to physicians. The reasons are well known: doctors have busier schedules, they’re joining large practices or hospitals with “no-see” policies that prevent reps from coming in, and in many cases doctors simply don’t think it’s worth seeing reps.
Although physicians don’t have time for reps, they do need their content. It’s just that now they would rather get it through digital channels.
There has been an evolution in the role of reps from someone who delivers a promotional reminder to someone who is more experienced and savvy and who serves as an account executive helping to provide doctors with the resources and content they need and want.
It’s no longer just an evolution
But what was once a gradual change is now accelerating. According to ZS, in 2008, 23% of doctors put restrictions on reps; now it’s 49%. Basically, half of the doctors in the United States now have moderate to severe restrictions on rep visits.
What we’re beginning to see is a business model evolution. Driven by technology and economics, the role of the traditional manufacturer’s rep is dying.
How fast will this happen?
Diffusion of Innovation
We have a tool that can predict what will likely happen. It’s called the Diffusion of Innovation theory. The theory, first published in 1962, outlines how a new idea, innovation or technology becomes diffused throughout society.
The theory addresses the questions around how innovation spreads. How connected is the social system into which this innovation is being introduced? How tightly knit is the social system of users, and how much do they talk to each other?