Less promo, more info: Annual physician poll finds docs want fewer pharma ads, more education

Doctor with computer and gadgets
Decision Resources Group's Manhattan Research's annual study of doctors found a digital disconnect with between pharma and physicians.

Enough with the online ads, pharma. That’s one of the key finding from doctors who participated in Manhattan Research's annual "Taking the Pulse" study of physician technology use and attitudes, now in its 15th year.

Some 62% of physicians said that pharma-provided information to third-party websites for HCPs are “always ads.” And only 34% trust the information that pharma companies provide on their websites.

What doctors do want is more educational and patient-care information. Physicians overwhelmingly said they want pharma to provide resources such as continuing medical education on non-pharma websites and disease diagnostic tools.

“How pharma is engaging or not engaging physicians is impacting their credibility. Some of that is bound up in the legacy marketing culture of a broadcast, monologue approach to communication instead of trying to pull in healthcare professionals with engaging content and resources that is of value to them and helps them provide care to their patients,” Matthew Arnold, principal analyst at Manhattan Research's parent company, Decision Resources Group, said in an interview.

How much has pharma's current approach impacted its credibility with physicians? Only 27% of doctors think pharma websites are “a credible source of professional information.”

However, the study finding don’t mean that pharma hasn’t created valuable content, said Kelly Pinola, DRG senior analyst in physician research. It's the way that content is presented or promoted to doctors that's the issue.

Her three-pronged advice for pharma? Make sure the content is what the physician audience being targeted wants, make sure it’s easily accessible for doctors, and make sure to communicate the fact that the resources exist outside of pharma websites.

“We hear patient centricity used a lot and so it’s really about taking a step back and thinking about the user experience of the physician as well,” she said. “Within each physician subset there are different needs and wants, so it’s a matter of understanding what those are and providing solutions.”

Another emerging area the study looked at is physician adoption and use of mobile and video in connecting with pharma. While many doctors use smartphones to access medical information (86%), 41% of those phone users don’t go to pharma websites because it takes too long to find the information they need. When it comes to watching pharma-created videos for information, it was another whiff. Half of physicians said professional online videos do influence their clinical decisions, but 52% said pharma companies aren’t doing a good job providing quality video content.

“Most physicians are used to, and in some contexts OK with, being promoted to by pharma. It kind of goes with the job, and it’s a source of information from them," Arnold added. "But what we took from this study is they’re saying, ‘OK, great, but give me less promotion and more of the support I need to help care for my patients.’ ”