A couple of surveys have been published which suggest that doctors, at least in the USA, are still more than happy with visits from sales reps.

The first, which polled 5,490 specialists and primary care physicians (PCPs), was carried out by online research specialist Knowledge Networks, using the Physicians Consulting Network (PCN). The survey shows that while doctors are relying more and more on smartphones and tablet computers, notably iPads, "they still prefer in-person visits with drug sales reps over electronic pharma marketing by a factor of three to one".

Some 64% of doctors have a smartphone and 27% of PCPs and specialists have tablet computers – about five times the level in the general population. However, when asked their preferred method of interacting with reps, 79%  of PCPs and 74% of specialists prefer in-person dialogue.

The research also shows that 61% of PCPs and 50% of specialists "still maintain an open-door policy when it comes to sales rep visits", compared to those doctors who insist on appointments or who do not see reps at all.

Jim Vielee, senior vice president in charge of PCN, noted that “mobile technology has indeed proven a boon to busy physicians" but "their focus on the practical – and slow adoption of branded pharma apps and mobile e-detailing – is something marketers need to keep in mind to make their efforts balanced and effective".

He added that the findings "also reinforce the important role that sales rep visits still play in doctor interaction; the transition to digital is still just that, and ignoring either side of the equation is likely to backfire".

Eight out of 10 docs find rep info useful

The poll follows a survey from KRC Research, sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which found that nearly eight in 10 US doctors see drugmakers and their reps as useful sources of information on prescription medicines.

The telephone survey of more than 500 American Medical Association members found that more than 80% reported that they take into consideration a patient’s insurance factors, such as formulary and prior authorisation requirements, with just under 70% using information provided by reps.

More than 90% responded that interactions with reps allow them to learn about new indications for approved medicines, potential side effects of medicines, and both emerging benefits and risks. 84% said such chats allow them the opportunity to provide feedback to a pharmaceutical company about their experiences with a specific medicine. Information from reps is up-to-date and timely (94%), useful (92%) and reliable (84%).