Physician Views: Pharma sales reps may struggle to engage with doctors due to COVID-19 pandemic, poll suggests

Already burdened by the limitations imposed by not being able to meet physicians face-to-face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical sales representatives could also find it challenging to engage medical practitioners through other means.

Of 245 physicians we snap-polled across the US, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK, 55% said that they planned to make interacting with industry representatives through other means of communication either a low priority or not prioritise it at all.

Just 18% of physicians said engaging with sales representatives would be a high priority for them at this time.

In the absence of face-to-face meetings, most physicians would like to be contacted by industry representatives through email (68%), with telephone calls (18%) the second most preferred option. Video calls are preferred by less than one in 10 respondents. Physicians in Germany are more likely to use alternative communication channels other than email versus their counterparts in other countries.

Just over half of all respondents said they prefer face-to-face meetings with pharmaceutical industry representatives over virtual meetings. A quarter of physicians believe that both approaches are equally effective and 23% said they prefer not to meet face-to-face.

Six in every 10 physicians we polled believe that the reduction in face-to-face meetings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will have some impact in temporarily reducing their use of therapeutic treatments they are less familiar with.

Of those respondents predicting a decline in drug use, half anticipate a moderate impact and 16% expect a significant impact.

Results suggest that US physicians are less likely to reduce their use of certain treatments as a result of reduced face-to-face interaction with industry representatives, with their counterparts in the UK and France more likely to restrict use of drugs they are less familiar with.

Approximately eight in every 10 physicians believes that the number of virtual or remote meetings between medical practitioners and pharma industry representatives will permanently increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most anticipate a moderate-to-small increase in the number of remote meetings, with this view more prevalent among European-based respondents.

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Note: FirstWord Polls are powered by MedePolls, a fast-turnaround service to conduct instant polls of up to five questions with guaranteed samples that include physicians from dozens of specialities and over 100 markets (for further information click here).

Disclaimer: FirstWord follows market research best practices in conducting its Physician Views polls. However, Physician Views results should be considered directional and clients should use their market research resources for statistical analysis and conclusions required with very high confidence levels.

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