Navigating the Digital Shift

Enhancing Pharma Sales with AI and Personalized Physician Engagement​

Navigating the Digital Shift: Enhancing Pharma Sales with AI and Personalized Physician Engagement​

The integration of digital technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), has sparked a shift in physician engagement with pharma (along with their information source and learning preferences) presenting opportunities for sales representatives to enhance their interactions and deliver greater value. As physicians increasingly embrace digital platforms for professional purposes, the role of the digitally enabled (and AI informed) sales rep is poised to transform, offering a blend of innovation and personalized engagement while embracing the AI-enhanced sales rep experience.

Physicians have embraced digital technology

The pandemic catalyzed change, prompting physicians to adapt their traditional methods of staying informed and engaged with medical advancements. As a result, the shift towards digital sources has become increasingly important in the medical community.

As an example, nearly one-third of physicians’ time spent on mobile devices is allocated to professional purposes. This includes leveraging digital resources such as medical podcasts and mobile apps, which have experienced notable growth.

Likewise, digital alternatives to in-person events or print resources are no longer pandemic-related substitutes; they are key resources. Just over half (52%) of physicians now perceive virtual learning to be as effective as in-person methods, a 29% increase over 2022. Notably, 1 in 5 seek video content rather than reading an article when learning about new topics. Pointing HCPs towards relevant educational materials through the information channels they actively utilize and prefer – for certain types of content – is tailor-made for AI.

On the flip side, doctors’ almost-always-on digital state and omnipresence of digital marketing – in particular the proliferation of email – causes doctors to actively avoid commercial messaging: 21% have separate email accounts for promotional email, the average doctor only reads 14% of the promotional emails they receive, and just 33% find targeted ads on professional website to be beneficial. AI can potentially help break through the clutter, with better personalization of content and messaging, but it’s likely an uphill battle.

Current state of the sales rep

Despite the interest in digital engagement among physicians, pharmaceutical companies are missing out on a sizeable portion of the physician population. 30% of doctors never meet with sales people.  Among the 70% of physicians who engage with sales representatives, nearly half only do so sporadically, meeting with a virtual or in-person representative once a month or less.

Among physicians who do not engage with sales representatives, reasons cited include restrictions imposed by employers (42%), perceived lack of value (20%), or time constraints (15%), emphasizing the need for sales representatives to demonstrate their relevance and offer customized solutions to physicians’ needs and constraints.

For those who engage in both in-person and virtual meetings with sales representatives, 39% believe that the convenience of virtual sales meetings outweighs the benefit of in-person meetings. But nearly the same percentage believe that virtual sales meetings are not customized for their needs.  An overwhelming 70% agree they learn more from in-person sales meetings than virtual.

Digital transformation within healthcare presents opportunities for sales representatives to redefine their role, leveraging digital innovation to deliver enhanced value and personalized engagement to physicians and provide them with the information they seek.

Understanding those preferences – both broadly and at an individual HCP level – can help pharma marketers and sales teams improve communication strategies and engagement with their target audiences.

By delivering the right message at the right time through the right medium sales representatives can better establish themselves as partners in driving improved healthcare outcomes. The utilization of AI and digital technology presents an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to enhance their sales efforts, creating more personalized and impactful interactions with healthcare professionals.


For more information on detailed study results from M3 MI/Kantar Media Healthcare Research, including at the specialty level, contact us at