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Engaging e-details

Online GP survey identifies the most effective and preferred layout for online presentations

Internet Over the years companies have adopted various tactics to get doctors to engage with their online product presentations, or e-details. Initiatives include obtaining permission from doctors to email them an e-detail, placing the e-detail on a pharmaceutical website, placing a banner on a website linking to an e-detail, and placing the e-detail on a doctor community website. The results have been varied.

Trial and error
Email permission has become a hot topic of late, with the ABPI receiving a number of cases where doctors complained they had not given permission to be sent e-details. Apparently there is a discrepancy in how "permission" is defined and in just how long it lasts.

Pharma websites have been proved rarely to attract doctors (only 2 per cent of the 2,762 doctors questioned in a survey stated pharmaceutical-owned websites as a source).

Banners on websites, although considered cheap, do not drive engagement and, dependent on banner location, may not allow you to know the profile of the individual clicking on your banner.

E-detail on a doctor community website, however, offers the advantage that doctors are already utilising the site on a daily basis, and campaigns can be promoted to specific specialities.

Understanding the audience recently conducted a survey to investigate the best way to engage doctors with an e-detail. A total of 94 members of the community were surveyed, 32 of whom were GPs and 62 were in specialist care (across a number of different specialities). Of the 62 from specialist care, 43 were consultant/specialist registrar level. The study combined facilitated face-to-face research and non-facilitated online methodology to determine the optimal design structure for an e-detail based on doctor feedback and the speed with which doctors find information.

In the online study, 84 doctors were shown wireframe templates of potential e-detail layouts (template 1 contained three key messages; template 2 offered menu navigation and prioritised key messages; template 3 provided menu navigation, and template 4 was a linear "click through"). Participants were asked for their preferred layout based on certain criteria such as ease of use, design, and simplicity. The content was presented as data only and did not involve webcasts (or other rich media). The doctors were invited to indicate their favourite and their second-favourite template based on how they would most like to receive information online. Responses were submitted through an online form and results were collated.

Of the 84 doctors, 62 chose template 3: menu option as their most, or second most, preferred layout, making this the clear winner. With two points awarded for a first choice and one point for a second choice, the final rating was template 3: menu navigation in first place with 90 points, followed by template 2: menu navigation and prioritised key messages with 69 points, template 1: three key messages with 47 points and finally template 4: linear "click through" with 45 points.

Doctors stated that they felt template 3 was clearly laid out and that the left hand navigation showed exactly where to go to get the required information. It was also seen to demonstrate good use of space and the top buttons were popular. In addition they felt that the headings were obvious and the fact that they could choose where to go, among other things, was appreciated.

The offline facilitated study involved setting 10 doctors a task to test the success of each e-detail template. Each user was shown one of the four templates on screen and asked to find three pieces of information. The templates were fully clickable and contained genuine information about Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).

Participants were asked three questions related to content available in the e-detail. Each e-detail contained the same information and the three questions asked were the same for each e-detail. The same templates were used as in the online study. It took 24 seconds to complete the task using template 1; 42 seconds using template 2, 17 seconds using template 3 and 40 seconds using template 4.

Best way forward
Not only did template 3: menu navigation prove to be the most popular choice in the online study, it also proved to be the most efficient format for finding information quickly, with the tasks being performed more than twice as quickly as with templates 2 and 4. Based on their speed, they also got to the information they wanted the quickest using template 3. Template 4: the linear "click through" model was the least popular with doctors in both studies.

Based on these findings our recommendation to companies wishing to engage with their target doctors using email in 2009 would be to use the menu navigation approach.

The Author
Carwyn Jones is head of pharma at
To comment on this article, email

13th May 2009


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