Bridging the Specialist Engagement Gap: Private vs. Public


  • Significant gap between private and public specialists in face-to-face rep meetings
  • Yet, both groups express a shared hope for face-to-face interactions in 2023
  • Has this hope materialised?

In the ever-evolving world of healthcare, building meaningful connections between pharmaceutical representatives and specialists is an important part of educating and supporting clinicians towards better patient outcomes. However, a noticeable contrast has emerged between private and public Australian specialists when it comes to meeting pharma reps face-to-face.

Bridging the Engagement Gap

Data from our 2022 So What? Research Survey of Australian Doctors reveals a significant difference in face-to-face interactions between private and public specialists. While an impressive 77% of private specialists report engaging with product reps face-to-face, only 47% of their public counterparts enjoyed the same opportunities. Interestingly, when asked about their future intentions, both public and private specialists express similar optimism, suggesting a shared hope for face-to-face interactions in 2023.

The Missing Connection

59% of public specialists expressed a sense of longing for face-to-face interactions with pharma reps. This highlights their unmet desire for engagement. So, have the expectations of public specialists been met by the pharma industry, or have they held pharma at an arm’s length?

Unlocking the Factors

Workload, Covid-burnout, and access restrictions or closed-door policies within hospitals could be contributing to the divide, and many of these challenges were highlighted in a previous article we wrote about the Pain Points of Australian Specialists. Additionally, public specialists often face institutional and departmental hurdles, hindering direct engagement with pharma reps. Stringent protocols in high-risk departments, like oncology or haematology, caring for immunocompromised patients, might create barriers to face-to-face interactions.

Creating a Bridge to Collaboration

Recognising the unmet needs of public specialists presents a valuable opportunity for the pharma industry to bridge the engagement gap. Where face-to-face ‘access’ challenges continue, pharmaceutical companies may need to leverage alternative engagement channels.

Virtual engagements, webinars, and tailored digital content can serve as substitutes for face-to-face interactions, albeit if not as effective or preferred by doctors. By embracing technology and adapting to the needs and preferences of public specialists, pharma reps can establish strong connections, provide valuable information, and contribute to improved patient care outcomes.

Additionally, making sure product reps are providing value with each visit and not just 'selling’ a product, and ensuring that your company has invested in doctor and patient support initiatives, may encourage doctors to add you to their schedule. You can be innovative and creative in creating value-add engagement.

Looking Ahead

The disparity between public and private Australian specialists in face-to-face interactions with pharma reps calls for reflection and action. By understanding the challenges faced by public specialists and adopting alternative engagement models, the pharma industry can bridge the engagement gap, meet unfulfilled expectations, and foster impactful collaborations that advance patient care.