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Long gone are the days when patients blindly trusted their healthcare providers. Dr. Google and WebMD have diagnosed countless patients over the last decade. And as people continue to advocate for themselves, even more technology and data are being released to help improve their health monitoring and self-diagnoses.

It’s even becoming more common practice for a patient to visit their doctor prepared to discuss a potential diagnosis, a treatment plan, and the medication or devices they’d like to give a try. In fact, a survey from Wolters Kluwer Health found nearly three-in-10 patients have used online information to develop a self-diagnosis.

The self-diagnosing trend is frustrating for both doctors and medical sales reps. Doctors want to offer the best care possible and can only do so if patients are open to their expertise and recommendations. Medical sales reps believe in their products’ abilities to improve the well-being of patients and they have sales goals to hit. Unfortunately, it’s challenging to do both when people walk through the door with their minds already made up about specific products.

However, knowledge is power and a patient’s desire to know more about their own health is understandable. Forty-eight percent say researching information better informs them before a doctor visit. Another 67 percent say it has made them more informed patients, in general.

Patient know-it-alls can wreak havoc for medical sales reps. An increase in research means doctors may not even have the opportunity to discuss the products they recommend with patients. The solution? Medical sales reps must change how they approach the market.

Here’s what you need to do to keep-up with well-informed patients:

You need to watch competitors with an even closer eye

Keeping one eye on the competition is a time-old sales tactic. You watch for their price changes, fancy new product launches, and updated campaigns. In today’s consumer-run world, this isn’t enough.

Competitors aren’t simply undercutting your prices or one-upping your company with intriguing commercials. They have the power to weave into nearly every aspect of patients’ lives. Whether it’s via social media, in-app ads, or even in response to consumer reviews, the opportunities are endless — and you need to stay informed.

Tip: Set up Google Alerts to keep you updated in real-time. By typing in the name of your competitor, their products, and the condition both of your products focus on, you will then receive email updates. You can easily track each time a competitor is mentioned online, they make a change to their website/blog, or when their scientific research is mentioned. You can set the alerts at a frequency you prefer, and with it delivered to your inbox, you’ll immediately be informed and prepared to tackle tough customer and consumer questions.

You need to get out there and be one with the consumers

Every aspect of healthcare has been, and always will be, extremely personal. People’s lives are directly impacted by the information they receive. Whether it comes from a loved one, the internet, their doctor, or information from your company, their decisions for their well-being relies on that information.

Consumers have an endless amount of information at their fingertips. To make matters even more complicated, they can find and take-in this knowledge at an incredibly rapid rate. Their perspectives and opinions about products, in turn, are evolving more frequently than ever.

Medical sales reps are faced with this challenge every single day. Reviews of your products are instantly shared with the world and new patient-focused research about health conditions are frequently released.

As a result, you need to step even more into the patients’ shoes. The definition of a medical sales reps job is quickly evolving into market research and outreach — titles you should embrace.

Tip: Get out there and engage within your community and network. Connect with people on a personal level to understand what intimidates today’s consumers, what makes them feel empowered, and what makes them feel safe.

No, they may not be your customers’ patients. However, this gives you an opportunity to directly observe and relate to the same demographic. The more empathetic you can be to their needs, the easier it will be to help doctors connect more well-informed patients with your products.

You need to get creative with information

You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, of course. But the more creative content is, the easier it is to get pulled in. Even if the information your company provides is the most accurate about your product and the condition it treats, consumers won’t be interested if it isn’t intriguing and relatable.

Consumers are online reading and watching stories of real people. People who have gone through the same thing, have directly experienced a product, and are willing to offer their advice to the next person. A worldwide community of caring individuals has been created and informational pamphlets won’t do the trick anymore.

Tip: Get creative when sharing accurate information about your products and the conditions they treat. Give consumers value by sharing content specifically on the disease your product treats — even if the content isn’t your own. Yes, this means your product does not need mentioning in the article for it to be valuable. Instead, consumers will see a dedicated sales rep who is passionate about the condition at hand, which further increases trust.

Then, share personal stories from current or former patients who were successful with your product. How did it improve their lives? Why did they choose your product over competitors’? Remember, building trust through information won’t happen overnight. Remain consistent with your information to keep patients coming back to your social media or website for more reliable and interesting content.

How do you keep up with well-informed patients? Let us know!

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