As is often the case, it’s not a single driver that shapes a trend but rather a confluence of many. This month we examine the best way to identify high-value physicians in order to grow a brand’s share and uncover how to best communicate with them.

Targeting the right physicians with the right message at the right time has been studied over many years. Yet most brands continue to struggle with optimizing this process—to refine strategies and tactics to appropriately influence physicians in a dramatically changing environment. To address this incessant issue, we turn to a recent analysis conducted by Impact Rx, a Symphony Health Solutions company that specializes in measuring the impact of promotion on physicians’ attitudes and prescribing behavior. ImpactRx addresses the question by integrating and leveraging insight from several perspectives.

THREE-PRONGED APPROACH

In order to understand value and message in an integrated fashion, we approach the problem in three phases:
1. Segmenting prescribers based upon underlying attitudes and perceptions about the products in the therapy class of interest;
2. Understanding prescribers’ historical message recall and the impact it has on the choice of brands; and
3. Designing the best message bundles for each physician segment to aid optimal communication with physician targets.

PHYSICIAN SEGMENTS

The ImpactRx Consulting Analytics team looked at a specific class of drugs where physicians were evaluated relative to their attitudes and perceptions around four categories of influence:
• Patient
• Payer
• Product
• Promotion

 
Using a cluster analysis, physicians were then grouped into three distinct attitudinal segments: Convenience Driven/Promotion Sensitive, Data & Safety-Focused/Price Sensitive and Price Driven/Message Agnostic (see Figure 1).

 

The analysis uncovered the fact that while 71% of prescribers were driven by a fairly narrow set of messaging, 29% of them (the Message Agnostics) were generally responsive to a wider range of factors. This suggests that communications to two-thirds of the physicians generally needs to be narrowly tailored to their core needs, while approximately one-third were amenable to a wider range of communication.

An analysis of promotional efforts currently underway for each segment was then conducted to evaluate the recall and relative influence of each message. This analysis showed that a drug’s efficacy to be the dominant message recalled for all three segments. Message recall for the Data & Safety-Focused group was highest for dosing convenience—a message that, although memorable for this group, is less likely to influence them. Understanding how the promotional efforts have been deployed and recalled established a baseline that was important in order to plan for and measure improvement over time. This baseline also allowed for an evaluation of message impact on written prescriptions.

The team then examined the link between the message received and an increased writing of prescriptions for the brand of interest. Across all prescriber segments, the message regarding reduced use—where the patient was not required to take a second medication with the drug—of a particular type of concomitant medication (which we are required to blind for this article) had the single greatest association to increased new prescriptions. Conversely, the message regarding reduced use of another type of concomitant medication had no impact. Once-daily dosing messages generated the second highest link to increased new prescriptions.

Based on the insights from the message recall and impact study, the Symphony Health team conducted a market research study to assess existing and new messages in order to develop optimal bundles for each physician segment. One message category that was of most interest to HCPs was the different clinical outcomes of a drug. Each drug can have several different clinical outcomes, but an example of one could be the drug’s ability to help patients reach target high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels aka “good” cholesterol. The message testing results (see Figure 2) indicated common themes across all three segments with three messages playing an important role in communication with different groups of physicians:
• Clinical Outcome 1
• Formulary Coverage
• Clinical Outcome 2


The difference—and the action items taken away from this analysis—was the contribution of each of those messages to the increase of written prescriptions.
No one message alone would suffice, but for each segment of physicians, a group—or bundle—of messages work together to help improve the effectiveness of the message on brand prescribing.
help improve the effectiveness of the message on brand prescribing.

CONCLUSION

In this column over the past year we have discussed the growing influence of patient and payer on brand choice and brand dispensing. Yet prescribers remain a significant influencer in the process of determining what brand gets into the hands of patients. Ensuring that the right promotional message is delivered to the right prescriber at the right time will continue to be an important factor in a brand marketer’s arsenal. A superior strategy for enhancing brand performance needs to create tailored strategies and tactics for each stakeholder group and do so in a way to maximize the influence on each.

  • Paula Fullman

    Paula Fullman is a Practice Lead with Source Healthcare Analytics, part of Symphony Health Solutions, where she is focused on patient, payer and provider analytics.

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