Building Trust With Doctors
Reports by Deloitte, GLG and The BMJ have all highlighted that the Doctors’ trust on Pharma companies is declining rapidly. The first warning signal about this phenomenon was given in 2004 by Dr. Marcia Agnell who highlighted a then US $200 billion industry is losing its credibility amongst the Doctors due to some of Pharma’s practices. The second warning shot was fired in 2009, when the study in The BMJ evaluated the trust between the Pharma companies and their stakeholders. Finally in 2015, Deloitte and GLG both noted that the trust between Pharma and Doctors is at all times low. It is as low that 75% doctors do not trust Pharma companies for any information they provide to them directly.
The Indian scenario can be even worse. But, what has caused loss of trust between Doctors and Pharma?
Times have changed when doctors use to see Pharma companies in high regards as their partners in building healthcare. In the past, doctors needed Pharma companies to know about new products and therapies. However, with the boom in the internet, this much-needed information is already available to many doctors.
On our platform, we tried to analyze comments made by various doctors with respect to their relationship with Pharma companies. While researching, we found some of the key points that Indian Pharma companies are ignoring.
So why Pharma is Losing Trust of Doctors?
Though there are many reasons, some of the crucial ones stick out like a sore thumb. They are as following.
- Monetary incentives: Pharma has ignored a simple life principle. The simple rule states that you cannot buy someone and expect them to trust you. As one cannot have a relationship with his/her partner based on the gifts given to them, pharma must not expect that the doctors too would trust them. Building a relationship, may it be in personal life or business requires sound communication and frequent interaction. As you know the time with pharma’s field force is already in decline, pharma is making it difficult for themselves by giving the payouts to doctors. This practice just makes doctors think that your product is not worth it. Where Pharma should have focused on building the relationship, it still focuses on an unethical practice of paying doctors. Time has come that Pharma needs to take a stand for its own good.
- Same Old Sales Pitch: Pharma industry has lost the knack of storytelling. It means that, the message you want to deliver to your audience not reaching to them so that they can easily relate to you. Pharma’s sales pitch gets boring for doctors, as every MR they meet talks the same sales language of “My Molecule”. When there are tens of others in the market with the same molecule, can Pharma continue with “My molecule” pitch? One cannot simply connect to someone that bores them.
- Failing to Communicate: Anything pharma does is a big news these days. Doctors have various channels to get information about your company and your product as they are not completely relied on your field force. Any bad-practice by pharma raises a lot of questions in doctors’ mind. These days, doctors too are aware of an FDA warning letter and subsequent collapse of your shares. Agree or not, doctors take note of these factors when they are headlines. Unfortunately, the Pharma companies rarely issue a statement to their customers, the doctors. This simple failure to communicate to right audience at the right time has lost the trust of many doctors. Pharma needs to communicate with doctors much more and much higher frequency.
How can Pharma Build Back the Trust?
First of all, let’s all be clear about one thing. Both Pharma, Doctors and Patients need each other more than ever. Now is the time that Pharma needs to take initiatives from their side to win back the trust of the doctors. Doctors are learning the value of trust with their patients in a hard way. Increasing attacks on the doctors, stricter code of conducts for doctors have already made a large portion of the doctors realize that they need to go back to building a trusted relationship with their patients. This is the time for Pharma to join their hands and make doctors comfortable in their profession.
What pharma needs to do right now is to start adding value to doctors’ practice. This means that Pharma needs to focus back on ethical ways to win back the doctors. At this time, anything that would help doctors to make their relationship with patients smoother is highly appreciated. Doctors in India, need Pharma’s support in a very unconventional way. They need all-round knowledge for treating patients, freedom of choice and mutual respect from Pharma. How can Pharma deliver them effectively?
- Make your brand Synonym of Knowledge: It is the time to change conventional sales approach and reenergize your brand with better knowledge. Content marketing does it very well. Associating your brand with knowledge goes miles away. For example, when your content highlights your competence for any disease treatment, for example ‘diabetes’, doctors are more likely to choose your brand over others, because they start to believe in the valuable knowledge you are providing them. Hence, a right, well structured, value-oriented content highlights your commitment, sincerity, reliability i.e. three integral pillars of Trust.
- Tell Your Story the Correct Way: To build a relationship, exchange of ideas is needed between Pharma and doctors. The doctors are quick to notice when you present something in a different way. This is because the Doctors in India have been fed with the same pitch for decades. That is why if you present something new or different to the doctors, it stands out. Pharma needs to start the storytelling approach with better frequency and for a longer duration, so that the doctors connect and do not lose their interest. With storytelling approach the doctors stay engaged with Pharma as they really find the value as a knowledge and not just the sales pitch. In medical field, this storytelling needs to be oriented around the therapy area, disease or the treatment for which you work rather than the molecule. This makes Pharma companies more relevant to doctors as they consistently look for you for the knowledge.
- Be proactive in understanding Doctors: Pharma companies need to be more proactive in this digital age. Platforms like Docplexus offer great insights about doctors’ current issues, their needs and most importantly their opinions. But, Pharma too needs to be vigilant and proactively engage with doctors. Pharma should start taking feedback from the doctors and most importantly work on that feedback. Similarly, Pharma must address the issues doctors face in treating patients in their day to day practice. Doctors will only trust Pharma when they know that Pharma is there to help them give better treatment to their patients. If and only if Pharma companies do that, they will have relevance to their audience.
At Docplexus, we consistently work on developing a trusted relationship with the doctors. We constantly take our doctors’ feedback, respond to their queries and most importantly frequently respond with the right message. That is why, they trust us and have high expectations from us. This relation is so valued by doctors which is reflected whenever they share their opinions, problems and appreciation. We value this relationship and that is why we find innovative ways to communicate with them.
Pharma has lot of opportunities to build the trust with the doctors the same way. We are ready to share our insights which we measure with the tools we have built on our community. Pharma has a lot to gain when they trust these insights and want to build a trusted relationship with doctors.