Companies are offering online tools to help device companies reach more physicians than they can with face-to-face meetings.
Companies like Lathian (Plymouth Meeting, PA) are creating online tools for this purpose and targeting them to those in the device and other regulated industries. The idea, says Joe DeBelle, Lathian's senior director of marketing, is to bring brand awareness to a larger audience, and to do it in a flexible timeframe.
“A major issue is that you don't get the access time you used to with physicians,” he says. “They are too busy to spend much time with reps.”
A way around that, he says, is to make a 5- to 10-minute promotional video that explains what a product is and how to use it. This way, the device company can reach a much broader audience compared with relying on face-to-face meetings. Plus, clinicians can watch the video whenever they have time.
Online video is also becoming a popular medium for symposia concerning a product, he says. (Less than 2% of symposia were done online in 2001, compared with 13% now.) Instead of having clinicians travel to a presentation, a device company can have them watch it from their own homes or offices. This methods saves costs and cuts down on conflict-of-interest potential, though many times honoraria are offered to those who tune in.
“If you have a key opinion leader [as a presenter], that's what can really draw people,” says DeBelle. “It also helps if it is a new product, or if new clinical data are being presented.”
But what may be most important, he says, is having an interesting presentation format. Just as doctors can tune out sales representatives they don't care for, they can also tune out a dull online presentation. Some companies even borrow ideas from the video-game industry to keep audiences engaged.