Recent health care regulations have made it difficult for sales reps and marketing personnel to meet with doctors on an individual basis. “No-see” and “hard to see” have become industry buzzwords in regards to medical practitioners since securing face time with them has become a challenge. As physicians – and fluid regulations – continue to restrict access to outside reps, the industry has had to shift to accommodate doctors who are spending more time with patients and less time being solicited.
According to a study by Doctors.net.uk, 52 percent of the more than 1,0001 general practitioners surveyed did not see any pharmaceutical sales representatives in a typical week, while just 26 percent only saw one rep in the same time period. No-see doctors are impacting the medical field in a way that is negative for big pharmaceutical companies, but as physicians spend less time in front of sales reps, they can focus more on patient health. A general lack of time was cited as the No. 1 reason why doctors don’t see sales reps anymore, with 38 percent of respondents saying they were too busy to meet with sales executives. Another 15 percent said that seeing reps was against practice policy.
No-see doctors mean industry wide changes
This shift is affecting all aspects of the health care industry, not just sales and marketing reps. Patients are beneficiaries of no-see doctors because they see more individual attention, but on the other hand, practices aren’t able to take in as many patients as they used to, hence limiting business to a certain extent. On the back end of operations, doctors now have to manually enter patient information into electronic health record databases and submit prescriptions themselves, so a higher level of accountability has been placed on physicians as a result, according to Clark Ridge, vice president of client health care services at Alorica.
“The level of accuracy, receiving greater scrutiny, I think you’re just saying spend a little more time with each patient asking questions and getting information right,” Ridge said. “To a doctor, though, it’s had a negative impact on their ability to generate revenue because it’s reduced the number of people they’re able to see.”
Ridge added that as insurance companies adopt new policies, such as reimbursement rates determined by patient satisfaction scoring, the trickle-down effect of no-see and hard-to-see doctors may be more wide-sweeping than first thought. No longer are general physician practices overstaffing themselves to the point where people are in the waiting room for long periods of time before they see a doctor.
Outsourced assistance could prove useful
Now that doctors are spending more time with each patient, chances of retention are higher due to a more personalized experience. On the front end of doctor’s office visits, practices have been implementing streamlined services for patients to check in and schedule appointments. For example, individuals can now go online and book a time to visit their physician, and when they show up for their consultations, they can check-in using an automated kiosk. Although the adoption of the electronic sign-in has been slow, Ridge said it could greatly benefit the practices that implement such systems.
“To really take advantage of efficiency, outsourcing some of that interaction to a group of individuals that don’t have to be on-site and can capture the information is a much less costly alternative,” he said. “Where completeness and accuracy are key, outsourcing is a great option.”