The state of the pharmaceutical union has meant massive marketing effort put toward detailing, but a dramatically less receptive audience.
The state of the pharmaceutical union has meant massive marketing effort put toward detailing, but a dramatically less receptive audience. This is changing as sales forces around the world are being slashed. e-Detailing represents a way to maximize sales force efforts, cut costs and increase both interaction with physicians and bottom line sales and profit. As such, e-detailing forms vary in popularity and usage but are part of the marketing investment of all the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the US.
How important is e-detailing to todays marketing environment? A study by Verispan in 2007 showed 80% of physicians participate in e-detailing initiatives; even more telling, 20% of physicians have completely substituted e-detailing for personal sales calls. More and more, Big Pharma is taking notice. Merck, OrthoMcNeil, and more have signed on for major e-detailing programs with companies like Aptilon. As a result, Merck has slashed promotional spending 9% since 2005, and estimates an additional 15-20% savings by 2010.
What does e-detailing really entail? And how can the ever-crucial concept of ROI be applied? In this article, well take a look at these issues, offering tips for effective planning, methods of demonstrating ROI, and a case study indicative of eDetailings ROI potential.
e-Detailing and Effective Planning for ROI
e-Detailing can be defined in many ways due to its multitude of forms. Simply put, e-Detailing refers to a method of detailing using digital technology and interaction with the physician, whether it's remote live discussion with a sales rep, scripted interactions with a web site, Interactive Voice response phone calls, or a increasing array of other options. Aptilons AxcelRX, as an example utilized by a growing number of pharma companies, offers live video linking physicians with online sales reps, offering live interaction with a dynamic presentation of scientific and sales materials.
Despite the success of e-detailing often being measured by inadequate measures such as intent to prescribe and other intangible methods, it should not be let off a thorough analysis of costs and financial return, like all other sales and marketing. Measuring ROI with e-detailing campaigns is essential to the success of these endeavors. The benefits of using e-detailing need to be judged by overall bottom-line improvement.
To enable a true measurement of ROI, companies must start at the beginning and make the best choices in plotting an e-detailing program. To yield high ROI, companies need to determine if e-detailing is appropriate for specific products, physicians, and countries. These considerations must be made prior to developing or buying an e-detailing system. Some key points:
o Drug lifecycle. e-Detailing will suit some stages in the lifecycle much more than others. Many marketers regard the early and later stages of the life cycle as ideal for e-detailing. This is interesting, as doctors are more rational prescribers in early and late lifecycle, and more emotional prescribers mid lifecycle. Perhaps the fact that e-detailing can support promotion with information-rich detail, including complex facts communicated with graphs, 3D tools, supports doctors when they are in more ration phases of prescribing?
o Physician targeting. Physicians must be chosen carefully for e-detailing programs, as some physicians are clearly better targets than others for the method. Groups of physicians that often yield quick and high ROI are high volume/low brand prescribers, followed by mid volume/low brand prescribers while those in geographically remote areas, specialists in areas not often targeted by reps, and those physicians that are notoriously hard to reach in the hospital, although not a quick ROI win, are often good to target for longer term ROI gains.
o Cross-channel integration. e-Detailing should be integrated with sales rep activities to leverage multi-channel communication. It should also complement field force efforts in terms of relevant messages and consistent design.
Choosing Metrics and Calculating ROI
ROI is crucial for a profitable and effective e-detailing campaign. But what metrics can accurately encapsulate e-detailings return on investment?
The metrics used in calculating ROI will be directly related to the objectives set by planners and marketers. Some of the most common metrics include:
o Length of detail
o Number of details per day
o Effectiveness of each detail
o Cost per detail
o Number of increased prescriptions
o New prescription market share increase
To get from these metrics to ROI, we must consider time. Return on investment is truly capturing the effects of a marketing investment over time. To determine the ROI for e-detailing, two main timeframes are often used:
o Short period (two to three months). This is usually used for a defined product marketing campaign.
o Long-term (12-24 months). This takes into account all investments in technology and infrastructure.
With a timeframe line, as well as baseline figures that could include detail length, detail cost, or prescription levels, the numbers can then be plugged into a formula to determine ROI. An example used by us in the past is detailed below:
pRx = profit from prescriptions written as the result of e-detailing (could also use revenue)
Rx = base line profit
i = initial investment in eDetailing technologies
n = number of eDetails completed
c = cost per eDetail excluding initial investment
(pRx Rx) = a (profit attributed to eDetailing)
(i / n) + c = b (actual cost per eDetail)
b x n = c (cost of campaign)
(a / c) x 100 = %ROI
In this example, by measuring the incremental profits from increases in prescriptions written as a result of eDetailing, and then dividing these by the cost of the eDetails added to the development of the program, an ROI figure can be reached.
Now who should measure ROI? The pharmaceutical company is often responsible for their own calculations. Due to a lack of internal resources and technology expertise, companies commonly outsource the ROI role to independent groups. This process is actually beneficial, lending integrity and impartiality to the data collection and analysis process.
ROI Case Study
A case study of an e-detailing program for a UK company demonstrates the ability to capture ROI, and the highly successful nature of that ROI. This company had a product in the early to mid lifecycle in a crowded market. Sales volume was declining. Despite ongoing marketing and detailing activities, research showed spontaneous awareness of the drug at only 26%, and little awareness of a key treatment window. The company wanted to communicate a new indication, and boost awareness of the drug and its key treatment details. But an increase in sales force was impossible.
To meet the companys objectives in a tightly constricted setting, time was devoted to crafting strategy and planning measurement. An eDetail program was created and implemented in two waves over a two-year period, the first comprised of two weeks, and the second consisting of six months. The company used key metrics to track the program, and calculated various forms of ROI measurement to ensure maximized cost effectiveness while still meeting objectives. Results were striking:
o Costs per e-detail were 75.6% less than the cost of a rep visit.
o Two weeks of e-detail activity was equivalent to 52.6 sales reps FTE during that time.
o Sales grew by 21.9%, 3 months pre and post e-detail (as measured by IMS data).
o The detail was spontaneously recalled by almost two-thirds of the surveyed Non-Target GPs. Additionally, the treatment window was the most spontaneously recalled eDetail item.
o Most current non-users stated they were now 'quite likely' to start prescribing the product, with 69% stating they are 'very' or 'quite likely'.
o Physicians were reached rapidly (In a 2-week period, 2375 took part; 1455 completed the e-detail).
To further demonstrate ROI, doctors were matched on many parameters and organized into four groups:
o No e-detailing or sales reps
o Sales force contact only
o e-Detailing only
o Both sales force contact and e-detailing contact
The group receiving sales reps increased sales, but by 9% above baseline. Those physicians that received contact simply through e-detailing increased sales significantly by 43%. Finally, those that received both types of contact increased sales by 71%.
By carefully implementing and analyzing the e-detail program, the company discovered all their objectives were met, and their investment had yielded a cost-effective channel for raising product awareness, SoV, sales and Rx value.
While e-detailing has the reputation of ROI difficulty, companies must initiate programs to measure return on investment. When calculating ROI it is important to ascertain which products are most suitable, which physicians should be chosen to participate, format of eDetailing and which markets to pilot in first. Other areas to consider are which metrics to use to measure the ROI, how are these metrics are used and who will calculate the ROI. With ROI measurement, eDetailing can be revealed as the important marketing tool and the effective business builder it is.
For more information on measuring e-detailing ROI, please contact the author, Dr Andree K Bates at Eularis.
Dr. Andree K Bates
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