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Arm’s length education brings thought leadership status

Pharma companies still face a degree of scepticism from doctors, so listening to, and acting on, feedback is essential

Evidence suggests that while many doctors would like to access the wealth of information and scientific data that pharma companies hold, it is often difficult for them to do so. This is because pharma tends to simply promote its products to doctors rather than share its expertise.

As a result, pharma company resources are viewed with scepticism by many doctors who need independent, unbiased materials and therefore favour sources such as peer reviewed journals, independent online networks and government websites.

Arm's length education is one tactic within the medical education armoury that can be used to help pharma develop a more trusting and transparent relationship with doctors by providing them with valuable information in a totally unbiased way.

Since a pharma company does not have any influence over the content of an arm's length education piece and its funding of the resources is only fleeting acknowledged, this type of education carries the most weight with doctors.

The payback for the pharma company is that it begins to position itself as a thought leader in a particular disease or therapy area. This can enable it to develop a different kind of relationship with doctors; one in which it is seen as an innovator and purveyor of useful and credible resources, rather than simply a promoter of products.

A 'push and pull' approach, which sees pharma offer arm's length education resources in tandem with, but not connected to, other types of educational material, also makes doctors more receptive to viewing promotional material from a company since they are giving them what they need in return.

One of the great advantages of developing arm's length educational resources in partnership with an independent online network is that it can help pharma identify the most appropriate arm's length education tactics for their target audience based on its knowledge of how its members are using the network.

For example  we know that on average, oncologists interact with three e-details per month and 59% of them also view online conferences, or conference highlights on a regular basis. UK rheumatologists on the other hand are heavy users of online CME with around 46% per cent of them using this frequently.

In conclusion, by integrating arm's length educational resources into a sustained programme of promotional and educational activity, pharma can develop a deeper relationship with doctors; one that helps them improve their knowledge and understanding of disease and therapy areas, whilst building equity for pharma company brands.

For more information on Doctors.net.uk, please call Simon Grime on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Simon.Grime@mess.doctors.org.uk

15th August 2013

From: Marketing, Healthcare

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