Kanohi ki te kanohi: relationship building with New Zealand Doctors


Kanohi ki te kanohi

Kanohi ki te kanohi in Māori is literally translated as eye to eye or face to face. The social meaning of the phrase emphasises physical presence and even a sense of commitment, to whānau (family), to a place, to a kaupapa (purpose). From a business perspective it represents relationship building.

Building relationships

Our recent survey of Doctors in New Zealand showed that just over a third of respondents (36%) feel pharma companies are not interacting with them enough face to face, and only 42% think their in-person interactions are about right.

More than half (56%) feel their digital engagement is about right, but 36% feel they either don’t get enough digital engagement (19%) or don’t have any digital interaction at all (17%) with pharma companies.

Two-thirds of respondents (64%) say they are missing out because of the lack of face-to-face engagement.

Importance of Face-to-Face Engagement

61% of doctors surveyed believe that communicating with pharma reps face to face is important and 69% say that their knowledge about drugs can suffer if they don’t engage with reps in that way.

Responses to what they miss by not interacting face to face are wide and include:

  • Relationship building - kanohi ki te kanohi
  • Human interaction and direct contact
  • Ease of asking questions and learning
  • New drug education and in person CME meetings
  • Helpful reminders about new useful drugs
  • Being updated on new information on emerging as established drugs
  • The opportunity to ensure competence to prescribe medications
  • Personalised interactions

When asked ‘what is one thing you wish pharma would ask you but don’t’, a common response was “Whether we would like to recommence face-to-face contact instead of Zoom.” Despite the smaller sample size, it seems there is a clear appetite for more in-person engagement with pharma companies in the New Zealand market.

Indeed, an increased focus on engagement with New Zealand doctors, whether face-to-face or digital, could be a commercial advantage to pharma companies as well as delivering greater value to doctors and ultimately better outcomes for patients.

Access to Medicines

When asked to rate access to medicines in New Zealand compared to similar healthcare systems, 55% of doctors rated access as poor or very poor, with only 3% rating it great, 11% good and 25% OK.

This aligns with the recent release of Medicines New Zealand report New Zealand's Medicines Landscape 2022/23 which reports that New Zealand ranks last for market access to modern medicines in the OECD which includes measurements of the number of modern medicines registered, time it takes to access and how many are publicly funded.