Insights in health & wellness branding


Understanding physician engagements in a COVID‑19 impacted world

13 April 2020   |   Amanda Hartzmark

Social distancing has interrupted the flow of information among physicians, their patients and their pharmaceutical partners. Sales rep and patient visits both declined by more than 60% in our recent survey of 500 physicians from 9 different specialties. Our survey examined how changes in physicians’ daily patient interactions are influencing the transfer of knowledge, while illuminating how they are connecting with patients now, what their concerns are, and what they want most from pharmaceutical partners. Physicians, patients, and pharmaceutical companies are still important partners in distributing vital information, but how information is transferred has evolved to include more telemedicine, heightened concern over adherence, and an unfulfilled desire for new digital materials and tools that put key information at their fingertips.

Physicians remain concerned about how best to care for and communicate with their patients when they cannot see them in person, as 84% of physicians surveyed reported seeing fewer patients in person per week. Social distancing has interfered with physicians’ ability to discuss treatment regimens and the importance of adherence with their patients face to face. 41% of physicians were concerned about maintaining drug adherence and in our webinar, we discuss which specialists reported increasing their efforts to address adherence through alternative channels.

Given current disruptions to daily life, we asked physicians how they are prescribing and discussing specific classes of medications, such as chemotherapy and biologics. 38% of physicians changed their prescribing behavior in response to COVID-19 and were most likely to give an extended days’ supply or write a prescription without seeing a patient in office. Similarly, 38% of physicians surveyed considered changing treatment regimens for immune-suppressed patients and we will cover in greater detail in our webinar which drug classes specialists were most likely to adjust.

From their pharmaceutical partners, physicians want easily accessible information in digital formats. Fewer than 1 in 5 physicians have received new patient materials in the past week, despite their desire for information that could be easily used to address the altered flow of information between themselves and patients.

AbelsonTaylor’s expertise disseminating information among physicians, their pharmaceutical partners, and patients compelled us to examine, in a quantifiable way, social distancing’s continued impact on healthcare. Join us at an upcoming webinar to hear more from our survey and gain further insights on evolving transfer of information. We’ll provide a snapshot of what physicians want from their pharmaceutical partners now and what this means for the future of knowledge transfer among patients, physicians and the pharmaceutical partners in a post socially-distanced era.

LATE-BREAKING ADDITION: In an effort to validate whether changing physician attitudes were translating to new behavior, AbelsonTaylor shared initial data readouts with Veeva Systems Inc., who conducted their own study analyzing global trend changes between January and March. They, too, reported a drastic decline in sales rep visits and live events. Interestingly, Veeva Systems Inc. also identified marked increases in email communications, email open rate, online meetings, and average meeting duration.

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About the Author

Amanda Hartzmark provides data-driven insights and analyses of healthcare trends as AbelsonTaylor’s Sr. Director of Marketing Intelligence. She joined AbelsonTaylor in 2018 with 14 years of experience in qualitative and quantitative research. Amanda holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.