Healthcare Manufacturers Fall Short on Delivering “Must-Have” Engagement Skills to Providers

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New research from HRA shows a disconnect in the type of interaction providers and health systems executives are looking for versus the experience manufacturers are delivering.

The evolving and consolidating provider landscape as well as the emergence of executive stakeholders is putting increasing pressure for change on traditional healthcare manufacturer engagement models, according to new research from HRA – Healthcare Research & Analytics. In the company’s most recent study, The Rep of the Future™: Moving Beyond Traditional Account Management Models, research shows that primary care physicians, health systems, and managed care organizations (MCOs) are looking for a more consultative relationship with pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device representatives, and have an urgent need for tools to deal with the information overload coming from manufacturers.

According to input from 125 physicians – from both private practice and health systems – as well as health systems and MCO executives from across the United States, only 14% of the executives, 18% of system-affiliated physicians and 10% of the non-system affiliated physicians view manufacturer representatives – regardless of role or function – as consultative. Further, less than one third (31%) of executives and 20% of physicians have a positive perception of manufacturers. Whether executive or physician, survey respondents agree overwhelmingly that managing clinical data and information is a problem, with 55% citing “information overload” as the greatest pain point in their daily jobs.

“The buzz word that we've been hearing a lot is partnership, where everything’s not driven by sales,” says a medical director at an integrated delivery network, underscoring the desire for a more consultative relationship with healthcare manufacturers. “They are there from a patient assistance program, to assisting us with giving us resources to evaluate data that pertains to our specific institution; I think it’s very valuable.”

HRA’s report highlights that both physicians and MCO and health systems executives are looking for manufacturers to evolve their sales approach and to provide more value to the interaction. Participants gave the highest overall satisfaction scores to their interactions with manufacturers’ national and regional account managers and corporate executives at 5.8 – 6.0, compared to traditional sales reps, which rated 4.8 – 5.1. Interestingly, the interactions health systems value the most are also those that manufacturers are providing the least, with regional and national account managers seen 21% of the time or less, versus traditional reps who are seen 4 times more often.

Health systems and managed care organizations (MCO) are also looking for manufacturers to offer senior level engagement empowered to negotiate contracts to help move business forward. According to one MCO pharmacy director, “I don’t want them having to go back to the home office every time we come up with a price, or term, or a condition that we would like to see or something we want taken out in the discussions.”

HRA’s newest syndicated study, The Rep of the Future™: Moving Beyond Traditional Account Management Models, seeks to clarify the nice-to-have and the ‘must-have’ skills needed for ‘The Rep of the Future’ to compete and be successful, and delivers to medical device, biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturers key perspectives gained from physicians, administrators, pharmacists, payers and health systems executives on their unmet needs. The study elaborates on how these stakeholders prefer to be engaged and their expectations for value-added services offered in the future, and provides guidance on how to more successfully shape and target sales, marketing, and educational approaches for maximum commercial efficacy of products, portfolios and services.

“The manufacturer who is first to market with these “must-have” skills will have a tremendous competitive advantage,” said Kevin M. Kelly, Executive Vice President & General Manager of HRA. “But getting there will not be easy. Manufacturers must re-think not only their engagement team structure, but training programs and the ways in which they measure field force effectiveness.”

To learn more about HRA and read additional insights into the unmet needs of providers in relation to healthcare manufacturer representatives provided by The Rep of the Future™: Moving Beyond Traditional Account Management Models, visit


About Healthcare Research & Analytics

HRA – Healthcare Research & Analytics is a consultative healthcare market research practice leveraging a flexible spectrum of solutions to support decision-making and strategy development across healthcare channels with expertise in health systems. HRA’s team of highly-experienced market researchers combines deep domain expertise in healthcare, science, business, and statistics with a passion for uncovering insights. HRA’s portfolio of offerings encompasses quantitative and qualitative, custom and syndicated market research services to support the business needs of the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device markets – including stakeholder identification and management as well as field force effectiveness evaluation and sales training optimization. HRA’s people and its products provide the healthcare market with actionable intelligence – facilitating better business decisions. HRA is a subsidiary of Michael J. Hennessy & Associates, an organization that maintains a unique reach into nearly every sector of healthcare professionals. MJH & Associates combines the power of an established network of publications and websites with the customer service focus and customization capabilities of a boutique firm.

Contact: Kevin M. Kelly, Executive Vice President & General Manager, kelly(at)hraresearch(dot)com, 973-240-1200

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