How Doctors Rate Pharma


One of the most important insights projects we do for our clients is to evaluate their performance from a doctor's perspective. We understand how they are performing and where specifically they can improve their service to build better engagement with their target customers to improve patient outcomes.

In our 2024 So What? Research Survey of Australian Doctors we evaluated how the local pharmaceutical industry is performing, including:

  • How doctors rate the service they receive from pharma
  • What secures an excellent rating
  • What areas need a serious revamp

The responses below are taken from over 500 doctors nationwide, including GPs and Specialists.  

A Mixed Bag of Reviews

Two in five doctors have rated their experience with pharmaceutical companies as excellent, acknowledging the top-tier service (with ratings of 8-10 out of 10). Interestingly, Specialists and GPs rated their experience with pharma very similarly. This feedback is a strong testament to the positive impact that pharma can have when it gets things right for customers and patients. However, the flip side of the coin reveals that three in five doctors feel less enthused, rating their experiences as merely average or even poor. This dichotomy points to significant variability in how pharma support, services and interactions are perceived across the medical community.

In a competitive field, delivering great customer experiences isn't just beneficial - it's essential.

The Good: Ingredients for Success

Doctors have spoken, and their message is clear: the quality of information they receive from pharma significantly influences their satisfaction. A substantial 42% of doctors mentioned that high ratings are attributed to up-to-date, informative, and relevant content delivered by pharma companies. Closely followed by the calibre of the sales representatives, which was nominated by 36% of doctors. These professionals are praised for their responsiveness, knowledge, and the ability to engage in a supportive, service-oriented manner, and play a pivotal role in the customer experience.

“I have established a very good relationship with my reps which in turn provide excellent support and education to keep me up to date in my practice to serve the very best care to the community. The reps are very sensitive and accommodating to my practice and blend easily with my day-to-day responsibilities so that I receive the best value from their visit"
General Practitioner

Additional elements contributing to satisfaction include the provision of samples, medical education events, compassionate access programs, and patient support services. These components, while less frequently mentioned, are crucial in rounding out the high-quality service that leads to top ratings.

The Bad: Areas to Revamp

Conversely, where dissatisfaction lurks, the culprits are often mirror images of the accolades. 15% of doctors mentioned that poor ratings are due to subpar information that either lacks value, appears biased, or feels overly repetitive. Another 13% of doctors mentioned dissatisfaction stems from interactions with unprofessional sales reps who may come across as pushy, disrespectful of time, or inadequately informed.

“Often they are not highlighting anything new"
Medical Oncologist

“Providing value is important. I don't want to be asked to meet just to 'catch up"

Balancing Act: Consistency and Quality

Insights from the 2024 So What? Research Survey of Australian Doctors underscore a clear message: the quality of information and the skill and professionalism of the sales team are pivotal in both delighting and disappointing doctors. Pharmaceutical companies must, therefore, ensure their teams are not only well-trained but also well-versed in the art of communication, respecting the time and intelligence of their medical counterparts.

When asked how well pharma companies perform on the following metrics: professionalism of product reps, trustworthiness of information provided by product reps and personalised information tailored to my interests, there was a significant difference between the perception of the professionalism of the product representatives and the information they are being given by pharma companies. Almost one quarter (24%) of doctors rate the reps as excellent and a further half (48%) of doctors as good but the trustworthiness of their information and its personalisation is ranked as excellent by only 6% of the same respondents.  

The trustworthiness of information is ranked as poor by 9% of doctors and average by 37% while information tailored to a doctor's interests rates 41% average and 14% poor. So, we need to ask: are your reps being let down by communications that is too general in nature or not backed by significant evidence and research?

Call to Action: Reflect, Assess, and Enhance

As a pharmaceutical marketer, these insights serve as a crucial barometer of performance.

It's time to ask some reflective questions:

  • Do you understand your strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of healthcare professionals? And versus your competitors?
  • How well is your team performing?
  • Are they delivering information and support that is both valuable and trustworthy?
  • And where should you focus your time and budget to improve your standing on the frontline?

Contact us to evaluate your performance and consider how you can elevate your customer experience to meet the high standards exemplified by the best in the business.

Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter on customer excellence benchmarking to see what high performance looks like.

About the Survey

These findings are based on a survey So What Research conducted in December 2023 with respondents on our HCP panel. A total of n=258 Specialists and n=247 GPs completed the short survey. It covered topics such as quality and quantity of in-person and digital engagement with pharma, how pharma can better collaborate with HCPs, social media use, and use of patient support programs.