e-Detailing and Pharmacy Ads and Free EHR Software

Posted on September 2, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I must admit that I’d never heard the term e-Detailing before until I read this article by Bruce Friedman on Lab Soft News about e-Detailing and how it works with Pharma advertising. It’s a very interesting trend of informing doctors about pharmaceuticals using online promotions.

In the post, he talks about the growth of online professional promotion of an ad company like Pfizer versus the previous pharma sales rep model. The article quotes from this article that Pfizer increased its online promotion by more than 90% last year to $27 million (for the first 11 months). Of course, that’s just one company. Imagine what the total online marketing pharmaceutical spend is.

What’s even more interesting was the points made that ePromotion of pharmaceutical information is better than a pharma sales rep, because the company can control the exact message that’s being put out. Something they can’t do with pharma sales reps. In fact, the same article says that Pfizer paid “$2.3 billion to settle government charges that it improperly marketed certain products for off-label uses, among them Zyvox.” No wonder they want to control the message. Of course, those savings will likely mean that the company will spend more on ePromotion of their drugs.

Bruce also makes the following interesting point about online pharmaceutical ads versus a pharmacy sales rep:

I personally view e-detailing in a more positive light than sales calls regardless of the motivation of the pharmaceutical companies in pursuing this sales channel. Although the pharmaceutical companies can control the front-end of the conversation (i. e., the information transmitted), they cannot control the back-end (i. e., the information received by physicians). This is because the physician being e-detailed about a particular drug can search the web simultaneously for the results of scientific articles about the same product. In so doing, he or she may be able to acquire a less-slanted view of its therapeutic effectiveness and complications of the product.

This is all interesting, but many of you might be wondering what this has to do with EMR and EHR. Well, much of the Free EHR business model is built on the backs of this advertising. Many still find pharmaceutical ads in the EHR very controversial, but some of the above points are interesting in that regard. Since they’re seeing the ads on the computer, will more doctors search the web to get a more well rounded view of the drug that’s being advertised in their EHR? That sounds better than the drug reps stopping by and saying something completely unauditable.

Plus, many of the above numbers should put those worried about the Free EHR business model at ease. At least when I see the above numbers, I see pharmaceutical companies with a lot of money to spend and not enough targeted outlets to do their online professional promotion. No doubt targeted EHR ads are on the pharmaceutical company radar.