SK&A Continues Physician Access Survey
February 10, 2009
More than 38 percent of doctors require appointments, according to survey of U.S. medical practices
Irvine, CA — SK&A, a leading provider of healthcare information solutions and research, today announced the latest results of its ongoing survey of U.S. medical practices to determine their policies for allowing healthcare industry sales representatives access to physicians and other prescribers. In another setback to field sales groups, SK&A identified a clear trend that more physicians are requiring appointments from reps or limiting their access altogether.
Between June and December 2008, the percentage of physicians who require appointments advanced from 31.4 percent to 38.5 percent. Also, the percentage of physicians who forbid sales-rep access altogether rose from 22.3 percent to 23.6 percent. These findings are based on telephone interviews with 227,000 medical practices representing 640,400 doctors. SK&A surveys its Office-Based Physician database every six months from its Research Center in Irvine, Calif.
“It’s getting more and more challenging to get face time with a physician,” said Dave Escalante, President and CEO of SK&A. “When we repeated the survey during the second half of 2008 we found 22 percent more physicians require appointments. Today’s field sales forces are facing increased limitations, as their influence on prescribers is being highly scrutinized. There is an opportunity for marketing and sales to understand these trends and the advantages of the many more touch points available to reach and educate physicians beyond the traditional office call.”
Physicians across every type of practice are moving towards placing restrictions on sales- rep access. For example, about 40 percent of general practitioners said they require appointments versus 33 percent who said so six months earlier. The same is true for specialty physicians – 36.6 percent now require appointments compared to 28.31 percent last June.
Moreover, the survey found physician access and appointment policies are largely influenced by the ownership, size and location of the physician’s practice. Physicians working in group practices that are owned by health systems or hospitals are less likely to see sales reps and more likely to require appointments than those who are working in independently owned practices. Physicians working in offices with 10 or more practicing physicians are more likely to restrict access than physicians working in smaller offices of one to two doctors. Also, access to physicians varies by region, with physicians practicing in the Southern U.S. being the most accessible and the Western U.S. being the least.
Among the many insights from the ongoing Physician Access study of 88 primary specialties:
- 23.6 percent of physicians refuse to see sales reps at any time. Specialty physicians such as pathologists are much more likely to restrict access than general practitioners.
- On the positive side, 76.4 percent of physicians surveyed will take visits from reps, but may require appointments.
- 14 percent of group practices have a general policy to restrict access to physicians at all their office locations.
- When a medical practice is owned by a hospital, sales reps can expect more obstacles trying to reach physicians. The survey found 31.2 percent of practices owned by hospitals have “no-see” policies and 44.6 percent require appointments.
- Medical practices owned by health systems are slightly more restrictive. The survey found 34.7 percent of these practices have “no-see” policies and 52 percent require appointments.
- The busier the practice, the harder it will be to see a physician. Physicians in busier practices, as measured by daily patient volume, are less accessible than those with smaller patient populations to manage.
- Finally, the survey found major Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) may not follow the regional trend. In the San Francisco MSA, for example, physician access is over 56% more restrictive than the regional average.
SK&A’s Physician Access metrics are updated and released every six months. The data is available for sale to assist healthcare marketers in appointment setting and connecting face-to-face with physicians. Custom reports based on geography, specialty, practice ownership or sizes are also available, upon request.
About the SK&A Research Center
Based in Irvine, Calif., SK&A’s Research Center is responsible for the acquisition, compilation, verification and maintenance of over two million healthcare contact records. SK&A’s team of 50 experienced Research Associates complete more than 6,000 interviews per business day, verifying names, specialties, titles, phone and fax numbers, patient volume, and physician affiliation with medical groups, health systems, and hospitals. SK&A associates also perform custom research projects for clients.
About SK&A Information Services, Inc.
Celebrating its 27th anniversary, SK&A researches and maintains contact and profiling information for over two million healthcare practitioners, including 800,000-plus prescribers. SK&A also offers the largest database of practitioner email addresses. The company delivered more than 50 million healthcare records in the 3rd quarter of 2008. SK&A’s customers include many of America’s most recognized healthcare and pharmaceutical institutions. Please visit www.skainfo.com for more information or www.skalivecounts.com for counts and ordering.