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e-Detailing and Pharmacy Ads and Free EHR Software

Posted on September 2, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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.

Why Aren’t Pharmas, Health Plans Paying for EMRs?

Posted on April 4, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

The following questions have been bothering me, and I don’t have answers. Maybe readers will be able to fill me in.

As far as I know, pharmaceutical companies haven’t been subsidizing or providing EMR software to medical practices, though I can’t imagine a better opportunity to a) form even closer ties with medical practices and b) get their message in front of physicians every day.

Attorneys, if you’re reading these, feel free to chime in and let me know if I’m not up to date; I realize laws governing donations to physicians are a moving target. But assuming it’s  still legal, I can’t see why pharmas haven’t jumped all over this idea.

I don’t know enough about pharma marketing costs to hazard a guess on what this strategy would generate financially, but I can only imagine it would be a winner.

Another stumper: why aren’t health plans investing in EMRs for their physicians on a large scale?

Not only would EMRs potentially improve efficiency and lower costs, they’d also give the plans an opportunity to build in real-time claims processing. That’s a huge win for both doctors and plans. From what I’ve read, health plans could save billions in paper transaction costs alone if they could use EMRs as a platform to connect processing directly.

As I see it, both of these industries have even better reasons to push EMR adoption than hospitals. Sure, hospitals need to connect with doctors, build loyalty and coordinate care, but the financial upside seems much larger — and more measurable — for pharmas and health plans.

So, this one’s on you, readers.  Why aren’t these other stakeholders getting into the game?  Hell, why aren’t employers taking a stand? (PHR efforts like Dossia don’t count in my view.)  Am I missing something here?