On the whole, GPs are not a disruptive lot. Rather they are thoughtful and considered in their judgements. At a time when technology is causing a rapid evolution of most processes in our lives, it is having a relatively small impact on the way GPs select their sources of information. In many respects, GPs are defying the flight to digital media, continuing to embrace print clinical journals typified by Medicine Today, while selectively using digital offerings for other purposes.
GPs base their use of media on the value of specific content rather than technological newness, and have not been seduced by many of the digital platforms now competing for their attention.
Despite prophecies that GPs would abandon print media in favour of digital media, this has not happened. On the contrary, new research shows that GPs’ reliance on quality print medical media is as strong as ever.
DIAD has conducted four Medical Information Channel Analysis (MICA)* surveys since 2006. The latest 2015 survey measured 24 key sources of information, recording GPs’ regularity of use of each channel as well as the tendency of each to influence action. Little has changed in 10 years: GPs consistently rank print clinical journals among their top five sources of information.
1. Conversations with specialists
2. Government therapeutic guidelines
3. Conversations with GP colleagues
4. Online drug references
5. Clinical journals in print format
Clinical journals in print format: the number one channel for product promotion
Of the top five information sources, only one accepts advertising and sponsorships – printed clinical journals – making this channel the premier vehicle for pharmaceutical marketing.
Clinical journals in online format: at the forefront and climbing
Clinical journals in online format have also increased their ranking, outperforming most other digital sources. This result confirms that it is indeed trusted clinical content and not its means of delivery that is of greatest importance to GPs. Importantly, the increase in ranking for online clinical journals has not been at the expense of clinical journals in print.
This upward trajectory enhances the potential for the use of multi-channel campaigns by pharma marketers, leveraging the quality content anchored in the clinical journal print format.
Clinical journals in print format: as relevant to GPs as pharmaceutical representatives
While the overall landscape revealed by the MICA surveys over the past 10 years is critically important for pharmaceutical marketers, it does not provide the complete picture.
Earlier studies have shown that GPs value certain information sources more highly than others that they may nonetheless access. For this reason the 2015 MICA survey also measured each source of information for its specific value and use in relation to clinical practice as follows:
- for keeping up to date and refreshing knowledge of diagnosis, treatment and new therapies
- for providing information about new medications or new indications and information on older drugs.
The results have provided an essential overlay to the main MICA data, enabling a cross-channel analysis for the combination of pharma representative detailing and brand messaging in print format clinical journals.
GPs are as reliant on print format clinical journals as they are on pharmaceutical representatives for information on key developments in drug treatment. Clinical journals such as Medicine Today thus represent a cost-effective method for conveying and reinforcing key brand messages, whether as a sole vehicle or by way of multi-channel campaigns.
When clinical journals in print are used for messaging in combination with pharma representatives the effective reach is substantially enhanced beyond that produced by representatives alone.
Clinical content is the key
Clinical journals provide the up-to-date, consensus-based information that GPs need to guide them in making important clinical decisions. The high ranking for online clinical journals compared with other online sources of communication confirms that it is indeed trusted clinical content, and not its means of delivery, that is of greatest importance to GPs.
Further evidence of this is provided by the preference question included in the 2015 MICA study. When asked whether they preferred reading clinical journals in print or medical newspapers in print the results were:
Clinical journals 61%
Medical newspapers 39%
The consistency of GPs’ media preferences since 2006 suggests that GPs are not looking for alternatives, but feel confident that their current sources of information are providing strong, authoritative support to their clinical practice.
The combination of the print and online expressions of the medical media, particularly the clinical journals but also medical newspapers, has greatly increased the value of the print medium when communicating with GPs.
For more information about the 2015 MICA research, please contact:
Prue Anderson Group Sales & Marketing Manager Ph: 02 9908 8577 Mob: 0410 317 059
*Survey details: National random survey of GPs aged 66 years or less sourced from the AMPCo database, with sample size n= 549, conducted November 13–December 13, 2015 by Competitive Advantage Research on behalf of DIAD.