Do male and female doctors prefer different communications? New study has some ideas

Male and female healthcare providers have different preferences when it comes to receiving and using pharma product information, study finds. (AnonMoos/Wikimedia Commons)

Susan Dorfman is not looking to ignite a gender war among doctors. The CMI/Compas chief commercial officer is interested, however, in the differences between male and female healthcare providers, especially when it comes to how they consume and prefer to receive pharma and medical information.

Her interest was initially piqued by a Harvard study that found older patients who had female doctors had better outcomes than those with male doctors. That got Dorfman thinking about what, if anything, that might mean for CMI/Compas clients who want to contact, converse with and educate physicians about their products.

The upshot: Should pharma companies temper their approach to HCPs to depend on whether they're male or female?

The short answer is yes.

Beyond that, Dorfman and her team dug into CMI/Compas Media Vitals data to determine the specific places and ways where gender—and generational—differences occur with HCPs.

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Older male doctors, for instance, rank pharma sales reps much higher as the most important source of new product information at 59%. Older female doctors came in 11 points lower at 48%, and younger female and male doctors even lower (46%).

Older men were also most likely to see sales reps without any restrictions, with 47% removing all barriers. Less than 40% of the other three groups saw reps without placing any hurdles to their visits.

What did the groups have in common? When it comes to staying current with medical developments and treatment options, medical journals and conventions ranked as the two most important methods among all HCPs regardless of gender or age. Female physicians of all generations, however, were more likely to rank medical websites and online drug reference guides as more important tools than their male counterparts.

RELATED: Want to reach smartphone-happy doctors? Hint: Typical mobile marketing won't work

Female physicians' digital affinity also came through in patient pass-alongs: CMI/Compas’ data showed they are more likely to encourage patients to use websites, electronic medical records and patient support programs more frequently than their male counterparts.

Looking specifically at what doctors do with pharma information after receiving it, younger doctors, especially women, are more likely to change a patient’s treatment (20%), try a new product (22%) or conduct more research using other sources (40%).

“This isn’t to say all male and female HCPs. This data doesn’t show 0 versus 100—it’s certainly a mix—however there are slight, but important, differentiations between male and female that is interesting to observe and important to note,” Dorfman said.

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