Research Outline

Virtual Platform Engagement - Healthcare Professionals


To understand the use of online tools by physicians and the healthcare industry by identifying One: how virtual meeting platforms are being used among physicians to interact with sales representatives instead of physical exhibits, Two: how the behavior of physicians online has changed during the past year, and Three: how this behavior is expected to change in the future to inform a proposal for further investment into an online platform.

Early Findings

Use of Virtual Meeting Platforms - Doctors & Sales Representatives

  • As the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of in-person meetings, platforms such as Zoom, Skype for Business, and WebEx have emerged as useful alternatives for meetings between sales representatives and medical doctors.
  • According to Accenture, 65% of meetings between healthcare professionals and sales representatives have been held online during 2020.
  • Furthermore, a ZS poll revealed that approximately 66% of meetings being held by sales representatives took place online even after restrictions eased in the United States.
  • In addition, physicians from different specialties consider interactions with sales representatives to continue to be important as it helps them stay updated on product information.

Changes in Online Behavior - Physicians

  • According to the management consultancy company Bain, 75% of physicians surveyed preferred in-person meetings before the COVID-19 pandemic. At present, 47% of them have changed their preference, leaning now towards virtual meetings.
  • Furthermore, perceptions about virtual meetings with sales representatives have changed. Now, doctors who previously felt in-person meetings were more productive state that virtual meetings are high quality as well.
  • This can be in part due to doctors being more appreciative of brief meetings, going for a "quality instead of quantity" approach.
  • Another change that has taken place has been the use of these platforms to train doctors on the use of certain drugs and treatments, such as the case of Galderma products.
  • Changes in the adoption of virtual meetings between doctors and sales representatives are comparable with the large adoption of telehealth to facilitate the interactions between doctors and patients.

Expected Changes in Virtual Meeting Platforms

  • The change to virtual platforms had been observed since before the onset of the pandemic. Back in 2019, there were already reports of increased use of tools such as Facetime and Skype to facilitate meetings between sales representatives and healthcare practitioners.
  • According to Bain, 60% of surgeons and administrators are convinced this change in the use of virtual platforms to meet with sales representatives will continue after the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Sales representatives also expect this trend to last, which might be in the form of a hybrid model that combines in-person meetings with virtual meetings as well as digital interactions.
  • Furthermore, an Accenture report reveals that approximately 87% of healthcare professionals would prefer this hybrid model once the pandemic has subsided.
  • Something to consider is that, according to an April 2020 survey, 76% of physicians from different specialties anticipate that sales calls will decrease from weekly or monthly engagements to quarterly or annual interactions.

Summary of Findings

  • We used this initial hour of research to assess the availability of the information and provide initial findings regarding the increased use of virtual meetings between healthcare professionals and sales representatives, changes in the use of online platforms by physicians, and expected changes regarding the use of these platforms for meetings with representatives.
  • While we have provided numerous statistics on these specific subjects, additional specific reports are scarce on the topic. However, we could provide additional related information with further hours of research.