Why Are Physician Networks Important to a Complete View of an HCP?

In my last column, I underscored the need for two key elements—granularity and completeness—for a successful physician network. While we may agree that networks have an impact on daily decision-making, the question becomes whether it’s possible to extend their value to more strategic physician valuation and targeting. I’m not talking about an esoteric concept, but about a concrete, rubber-meets-the-road application. In short, how can networks help to complete the view of an HCP that matters to a company’s bottom line?

When segmenting and targeting physicians, prescriptions, or medical claims, volumetrics are typically used to gauge product usage and patient-population potential. This has become the mainstay for firms that help pharma and medical device companies to size and structure sales teams, optimize promotional budgets, and develop tightly targeted call plans and non-personal promotion campaigns. While valuable and accessible (given the availability of practitioner-level data), this approach misses an important piece of the overall picture.

Let’s look at an example for a medical device manufacturer. Take Dr. Genu, an orthopedic surgeon and a decile 10 as measured by total knee surgeries. He may appear to be an excellent target—one that warrants significant resources. But the real question is, “How accessible are those patients and the knee replacement surgeries?”

Using physician networks to fill in more of the picture, it’s apparent that Dr. Genu performs all of his surgeries at the tightly controlled Imperium Health System. How much opportunity then does Dr. Genu offer if the manufacturer’s knee is not on Imperium’s preferred list? The company can promote all it wants to Dr. Genu, but the knee prosthesis decision is out of his hands.

How can the use of physician networks turn this impossibility into a market opportunity? If the med device manufacturer looks at Dr. Genu’s patient-centric influence network, the marketers learn that Dr. Genu receives most of his patients from Dr. Referre, a generalist. But once the patient is with Dr. Genu, the opportunity for the company’s knee is diminished.

A further look into Dr. Referre’s network reveals Dr. Optio, an orthopedic surgeon who is affiliated with Amicus Health System, where the company’s knee is the preferred knee. Presto! By looking beyond the obvious decile 10 to a more complete view of the physician and organization networks in this market, the company has identified an entry point for a larger volume of patients.

What was once a seemingly narrow playing field becomes a more complete picture with a physician network. Now you’re able to:

  • Identify the point in the patient flow continuum that is relevant to your success,
  • Understand the “true” value of Dr. Genu, and
  • Establish a roadmap for more productive resource allocation.

Imagine the impact if you were able to duplicate this across the entire U.S.

Email your question to Zach Henderson, our physician markets expert, for the answer.

  • Zach Henderson

    Zach Henderson is vice president, Corporate Strategy, at Health Market Science. Since joining Health Market Science in late 2007 as head of marketing and product development, Zach has led Health Market Science to seven innovative product launches and has created numerous strategic partnerships to continuously further the growth of the company. As VP Corporate Strategy, he currently leads the company


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