Some Important Changes in My Work for 2022

As January becomes February of 2022, I want to advise you of a few important changes that I will be making in my focus for the balance of the year. 

First, you will note that beginning immediately, I will be discontinuing the scheduled production of three blogs a week to which I have been adhering for the past several years. How come? Simple! Conversations with my readers have clearly indicated to me that they want to pay a gratifyingly significant amount of attention to thinking about my work. In 2022, with many of our readers still trying to cope with working virtually, they report that they just don’t have the time to deal with the kinds of background issues, e.g., physician burnout, on which I have been focused. 

Historically, I have sent you to URLs that deal with issues that impact upon our customer bases of physicians and patients. The range of topics, many of which have been suggested by our readers, has been extremely broad. As 2022 progresses, however, I am seeing one theme pop up time and time again in trade publications, webinars, etc. This theme is well represented in a recent quote, where the author opines that:

  • “Amidst an increasingly competitive landscape, biopharma companies, when interacting with oncologists, need to individualize the experience, according to consulting company Accenture.
  • Oncologists tend to want a hybrid of virtual and in-person delivery of services, though oncologists tended to favor group meetings for many services.”

The theme represented here is an extremely important one. Version 1.0 of ThinkGen’s On Doctors’ MindsSM project, conducted over the course of 2021 to understand the impact of the pandemic on office-based physicians, revealed that COVID-19 had accelerated a trend already long in the making. Quite simply, doctors had run out of patience with traditional promotion, i.e., pharmaceutical companies repeatedly telling them things about products that they already know and/or don’t care about. When the pandemic basically closed offices to visits by PSRs and introduced “virtual detailing” to the promotional mix, physicians called into question the allocation of their valuable time to marketing encounters. 

By way of industry response, we now increasingly hear discussions about “omnichannel” marketing.  A mélange of personal contacts with PSRs and virtual visits, group meetings, interactions with medical science liaisons, as well as “push” and “pull” digital media and the realization that “print is not dead.”

BUT. How does all of this get orchestrated and evaluated? Does the pharmaceutical industry adopt the “Customer Experience Management” philosophy and practices which have long been well accepted in most other verticals? Do we resurrect the work I did years ago at Physician Micromarketing, Inc., where I taught the pharmaceutical industry how to use Individual Physician Level Prescribing Data as the basis for promotional “Targeting, Tailoring and Tactical Implementation?” Are there meaningful psychological segments of physicians that can be identified that will help us in the individualization process? And what impact do variables like “customer satisfaction” and “loyalty” have on prescribing behavior? 

As one rheumatologist who participated in our ODM project last year so profoundly commented, “The job of the pharmaceutical representative is to help me to help my patients.” Marketing efforts aimed at achieving that goal look very different from the old “reach X frequency, product features, and benefits” approach that has long been the standard in pharmaceutical marketing.

Bottom Line. It is clear that pharmaceutical marketing, and with it, market research, is starting to go through the most fundamental changes that I have witnessed during my 50 years in this business. Thus, for the balance of 2022, I will be turning my attention exclusively to helping ThinkGen’s clients understand and respond to these changes.  I am beginning this process by launching, over the course of the next couple of weeks, ODM v2.0, a follow-up to the conversations that I had with physicians about the pandemic in 2021. Here, my open-ended “conversations” with physicians will focus on gaining the answers to the questions identified above, with the final goal being an understanding of the psychology of physician promotion in 2022 and beyond, thus leading to meaningful individualization. As I did in V1.0, along the way I will be distributing to our clients curated video clips of my conversations with physicians, as well as “RBV Insight Modules” and Executive Summaries to share our findings. 

I’m looking forward to this new direction. I hope you will join me on the journey. As with ODM v1.0, ThinkGen is conducting this project pro bono, without cost to our clients, because we believe that it is essential that they, and we, gain these insights.

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