Our industry is making significant progress in many therapeutic areas, especially with the promise of immuno-therapies and personalized medicine. However, even with these advances, prescribing inertia or as one client calls it ‘muscle memory prescribing’ continues to be a significant competitive threat to new product launches. I believe the reason for this inertia is “decision fatigue.”
Most marketers lack a sincere appreciation for the number of prescribing or prescribing-like decisions that the average physician has to make in a single day. The processes that Clients traditionally engage in to develop or examine positioning and marketing strategy often look at prescribing without this important context, even with the ubiquitous multiple page buying process in hand.
You’re zeroing in on the decision for the specific indication or line of therapy for the category and brand you represent often without taking a step back to understand how this decision fits in as part of the prescriber’s day.
So yes, you have that robust chart audit and that detailed buying process, but it still doesn’t give you the insights you need to understand a “day in the life”.
To put a “typical” day into context, I took a look at the literature to get an idea of the volume of daily decisions the average physician makes. The most often cited article showed the following activities in a single day:
- 24 telephone calls handled
- 17 emails written/read
- 20 laboratory tests reports reviewed
- 11 imaging reports assessed
- 14 consultation notes read
- 12 prescription refills processed
This was in addition to seeing the average 10 – 12 patients a day! And, with each consult comes a number of additional decisions regarding testing, treatment, follow-up, etc. Even the decision to do nothing for a patient at that particular time is a decision.
Now that we do have a bit more insight into the number of decisions the average physician is making everyday, is it any wonder that they default to what they already know?
Your job as a marketer is to identify, through your positioning efforts, a sound heuristic that simplifies decision making for your target physicians within the context of the decision fatigue that likely guides their day-to-day actions.