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e-Detailing: Revolutionizing Professional Healthcare

Posted on: 26 Sep 02


It has been an interesting journey for e-detailing; something that has for a while now been hyped as the ‘killer’ e-business application for today’s pharmaceutical sales & marketing teams with which t

It has been an interesting journey for e-detailing; something that has for a while now been hyped as the ‘killer’ e-business application for today’s pharmaceutical sales & marketing teams with which to interact with their direct customer base – the healthcare profession. After a lot of dipping of toes into the e-detailing water by the industry with somewhat muted success to date, it is only now that models are beginning to emerge that look set to fulfill the initial hope and promise. One such model is, the world’s first pure e-detailing portal providing one; secure location on the web for information on medicines, pharmaceutical products and services. It addresses the growing requirement for healthcare practitioners to receive interactive medical information online. Apart from looking at Detail-Direct in more depth, this article explores exactly why e-detailing has come to such prominence in the pharmaceutical market and some of the learning’s from it to date. What is e-Detailing? Put very simply, e-detailing is the digital equivalent of a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep visit, using Internet-enabled technology in the sales detailing process to supplement and reinforce other offline investments. Solutions vary in interactivity from those that provide relatively static product information online to those that require doctors to go through interactive product materials online to those that involve the physician in a ‘face-to-face’ video detail via the computer. So why has e-detailing come to prominence? Today’s healthcare professional is busier than ever. Not only do they have more patients than ever before, they also have more issues to deal with such as financial management, staffing and empowered patients. Their need for medical information, particularly that around pharmaceutical products and services, is greater than ever yet they have less time available to see sales representatives from pharmaceutical companies who they so often rely on for this information. On the other side of the coin, the pharmaceutical industry is becoming a more and more competitive place, with more companies trying to promote more products to a customer base that has less time to deal with them. Even when they do get in front of their customers, research has shown they are faced with an average session of 3 minutes1, and an attention span that is even shorter. Sales & marketing costs represent the single greatest expenditure for today’s pharmaceutical companies, and this diminishing return on investment is clearly therefore a cause for concern. Information overload Providing healthcare professionals with this information via the Internet is a good idea. The ubiquitous nature of the Internet in theory provides access anytime, anyplace and anywhere. This means that the busy healthcare professional can receive information in the evening or in the morning before work in the comfort of their own homes when naturally they are far more likely to be receptive to it. Indeed, research shows that on average a customer will stay with an online detail for 8 minutes1 – compare this to the previous 3 minutes mentioned for traditional sales calls and the potential of e-detailing starts to become clear. The problem is in the sheer amount of information that is thrown at today’s healthcare professionals from a number of communication channels whether it is the spoken word, print media or the Internet. The Internet is especially problematic in the sense that the information often comes from such a large number of sources, many of which require different user names and passwords to access, it can leave the healthcare professional unsure where to turn next. This has been the problem with e-detailing to date. Healthcare professionals hate having to remember multiple passwords, and for each site they visit they have understandable reservations concerning security, quality and accuracy of information, benefit to them and the motivation behind the site. Enter To address all these issues, has been developed to provide one location on the Internet with one user name and password that gives access to a wealth of e-detailing and additional relevant information with a level of security that is unparalleled in the industry today. Detail-Direct is operated by PharmiWeb, an e-business solutions provider and portal operator with considerable industry expertise and history. As an industry-neutral company, PharmiWeb has been able to approach its client base and develop e-detailing solutions with them that provide quality and accurate information to healthcare professionals in such a way that they actually enjoy and benefit from the experience. The need for security Outside the US and New Zealand, the main reason for security around many medical web sites is that information intended for healthcare professionals only must be kept out of the public domain for legal reasons. A number of systems have come to the fore to help website owners verify their visitors as healthcare professionals, and therefore keep the information contained within it secure. Initially they worked, but unfortunately the ubiquity of the Internet once again prevailed as once private databases such as GMC numbers (reference number for every qualified UK General Practitioner) appeared on the Internet in the public domain. With many verification systems relying on such databases, it has now become relatively easy to gain access to many so called ‘secure’ sites. For this reason, PharmiWeb decided to partner with PVS (Physician Verification Services) , an international healthcare professional verification service that integrates local, industry-renowned systems to provide a level of verification and security only previously seen in the financial sector. Martin Fagan, CEO of PVS Europe added, “PharmiWeb have chosen PVS to verify their services as PVS offers unrivaled security, ease of use and cost benefit compared to other mechanisms. PVS also is the only system that allows a full reconciliation with a Pharma Company’s CRM system as well as the ability to match against ROI” Reaching the healthcare professional There are many ways in the Internet world of reaching people, but reaching precisely who you want to reach is another matter entirely. Original e-detailing models in Europe concentrated on portals that built up a healthcare professional audience, and promoted an e-detail to that audience. A good theory, but the problem is that it invariably results in messages being sent to an un-targeted, un-segmented audience, many of whom have records that need updating. For Detail-Direct, PharmiWeb again worked with PVS, and partners of theirs such as Synavant in the UK to provide access to the healthcare professional community via routes that were already perceived as ‘industry standard’. What this has given Detail-Direct is the ability to target and segment an accurate customer database to meet specific client needs. Positive feedback all around Detail-Direct has already received positive reviews from healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical industry alike. Dr Tony Marshall, a GP from Barnsley commented, "I am impressed with the level of security, ease of navigability and level of functionality that Detail-Direct provides. There is a real need to provide this kind of information on the Internet that as a busy GP I can access anytime, and if it can be made available from one location to save me having to remember a stream of different passwords, then this is all for the better. NHSNet has proven itself unable to match the Internet in terms of speed and security of access, so I am looking more and more to access secure information online from home and Detail-Direct enables me to do this." The first 3 clients for Detail-Direct, namely Novo Nordisk, Proctor & Gamble and Strakan were keen to be involved with this communication channel and look forward to the benefits of e-detailing: Eileen Davies, Business Services Manager at Strakan commented, “Pharmiweb have been invaluable to Strakan in developing our e-business knowledge. Zindaclin is a new product in a well-established market and our initial aims for the product are to generate market awareness and then adoption. Detail-Direct is an interesting e-detailing concept that provides secure access to valuable product-based information for the healthcare professional in a one-stop visit. This in turn provides us with an opportunity to reach our customer base in a way that supplements and re-enforces our other sales and marketing activity.” While it is still early days for Detail-Direct, it has already become clear that healthcare professionals like this method of communication, they are prepared to spend some time with it and they feel secure. Colin Williams, PharmiWeb’s e-Marketing Manager noted, “We have a number of competitions and feedback forms running throughout Detail-Direct, and while these are usually the sort of things that healthcare professionals are wary of, our users clearly see they are in a secure environment and have been taking up the challenge with enthusiasm, some of them have been on our site for up to an hour!” Call for everyone to get involved With established clients, promising results to date and a unique proposition, it is clear for all to see that Detail-Direct is here to stay. PharmiWeb are now calling for the pharmaceutical industry and other e-detailing service providers to get involved Paul Hartigan, CEO of PharmiWeb commented, “The potential benefits to be gained from e-detailing are significant for all concerned. However, to make it a true success it needs a single shop window for the healthcare profession to trust and visit rather than the confusing array of web sites that are currently available. provides exactly that, and whether it hosts e-details built by PharmiWeb or those built by others shouldn’t matter. We see no reason why they can’t all co-exist happily side-by-side. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to date with e-detailing has been how to attract the right customers, and Detail-Direct now provides the solution.” Everyone Benefits In conclusion, with e-detailing the pharmaceutical industry gains a greater understanding of their customers via an additional channel, providing new sales opportunities and the ability to provide a better service, while healthcare professionals are able to receive the information they want, when they want it and can receive a better service based on their own preferences. For further information on Detail-Direct, please contact Colin Williams our E-Marketing Product Manager at: Colin Williams, or call him on: +44 (0) 1344 667430 1 MedeMonitor, September 2001

Colin Williams

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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