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Understanding the Shift From Treatment to Prevention in Pharmaceutical Sales

Commitment to health and wellness is growing. Over the last decade, the pharmaceutical sales industry has seen a shift in consumers becoming more health-focused and taking more preventive health measures. 

People are learning, researching, and asking questions about their health risks. They are also turning to social media. Preventive lifestyles and holistic health care are highly popular topics on social media, making online platforms an important resource for many people.

Now, in light of the 2020 pandemic, social media platforms continue to grow stronger in their influence over the healthcare industry. For example, a recent Journal of Medical Internet Research study found that social media can positively influence and be an effective tool to raise awareness of public health behavioral changes and public protection against COVID-19. This comes as no surprise considering the Journal of Medical Internet Research reported 90% of older adults used social media to find and share health information in 2015.

As preventive health care continues to grow in popularity during the pandemic, the government has now expressed interest in turning the focus from treatment to prevention in medicine. What does that look like for pharmaceutical sales reps?

Here’s what you need to know about preventive care, and the six factors to consider in this industry shift:

Understanding preventive care

There three main types of preventive care/medicine:

  1. Primary prevention is the state in which you attempt to avoid disease or disability in a healthy person. 
  2. Secondary prevention is the focus on early detection and treatment to prevent a more serious diagnosis. 
  3. Tertiary prevention aims to reduce the symptoms and restore functions for someone already diagnosed with a disease to improve their quality of life.

Note: Some preventive medicines include allergy and asthma drugs, blood pressure medication to prevent heart disease, musculoskeletal drugs to prevent osteosclerosis, vitamins/supplements like vitamin D, vaccines, etc.

1. Cost

The cost of medicine has always been a hot topic in healthcare, and it’s no different with preventive medicine. People will pay a lot for a cure, but the expense of preventive medicines is harder to justify for many people — especially in a competitive market where over-the-counter-drugs are available.

As a result, the cost will play a big factor in how pharmaceutical sales reps are impacted. Often, insurance will not cover drugs associated with preventive medicine. That way, healthcare providers are less inclined to prescribe them. Also, out-of-pocket costs for patients are much higher than they should be with too few generic options.

With this in mind, pharmaceutical sales reps must advocate for patients. They must also push for insurance companies to cover more preventive medicine for it to be easily accessible and helpful to patients.

2. Collaboration

Collaboration is key to delivering quality care to patients. The future of the pharmaceutical sales industry relies heavily on working as a team with other parties in healthcare.

A recent PWC report predicts that the supply chains for designing, manufacturing, and distributing pharmaceuticals and medical devices — including those providing healthcare services — will come together. 

The goal is that all partners can see the full picture and help plan for the future more accurately and effectively. 

3. Transparency

As the industry shifts to preventive medicine, pharmaceutical sales reps will need to develop new strategies to evolve with their clients’ changing needs. In turn, pharmaceutical companies will need to increase internal transparency.

Keeping sales teams in the loop when the company knows what they’re planning can drastically shift future strategies in a positive direction for both clients and sales reps.

4. Education

The value of preventive care is to protect, promote, and maintain your health and well-being before you are affected by a medical condition. However, more often than not, patients do not see their doctor until they start to show symptoms that require medical diagnosis and treatment. 

Pharmaceutical sales reps must educate doctors and the public regarding the importance of regular wellness visits and early detection. These actions prove the relevance and worth of preventive medicine.

5. Flexibility

To be successful, flexibility is key. According to a separate PWC marketing report, pharmaceutical sales reps must adopt a more flexible approach to pricing.

Flexibility is specifically important when it comes to meeting clients’ changing needs. Sales reps must be prepared to adapt as the industry continues to evolve. Be prepared for packages, pricing structures, and more to be in flux throughout this massive shift.

6. Specialty

Change can feel overwhelming, especially for pharmaceutical sales reps who feel the pressure to deliver. To stay on track and prepare for what’s to come, the PWS marketing report recommends developing sales functions that are fit for the future. Specifically, focusing on specialist medicines.

Remember: With the shift to preventive medicine/care, pharmaceutical sales reps must emphasize the value of their product in their sales strategy.

How do you think the shift to preventive care will impact the pharmaceutical sales industry?