A hybrid model that combines reps with digital solutions is a win-win for pharmaceutical companies and GPs.

With face-to-face rep engagement returning to pre-COVID levels, pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity to use digital lessons learned during the pandemic to significantly increase the reach and frequency of their GP interactions without increasing their budget.

The solution is a hybrid go-to-market (GTM) model that gives pharma companies and GPs the best of both worlds.

For pharma sales and marketing teams, a hybrid model stretches their budget to increase the number of GPs they can engage with and the frequency of that engagement. It’s also a win for GPs. Those who have time to see pharmaceutical company representatives during usual business hours can still do so. And those who want to engage digitally where or when it suits them can do that too. There’s also an opportunity for a middle ground. Engaging face to face some of the time and complementing these engagements with digital solutions.

Even if every GP had time to see reps several times a week, the fact is that not every pharma company’s budget can accommodate the optimum number of face-to-face interactions with GPs. Another challenge is that not every brand gets airplay during their company’s rep visits, which is something that can be solved with cost-effective digital engagement.

Stretching the existing pharma sales rep budget to increase GP coverage

says Liam Butler, the CEO of RxTro. ADG has partnered with RxTro to establish Rep.CONNECT, to better connect GPs with pharma reps. Through the partnership, doctors can proactively search, connect and communicate with the right industry expert when they want, something that is virtually impossible in the physical world.

“We know the rep channel is effective. It’s worked well for a number of years. However, even the biggest companies are servicing less than half of the market in primary care.”

Butler estimates that cost constraints mean actively marketed pharma brands typically reach 15 to 30 per cent of GPs through a face-to-face sales force. Moreover, they are not seeing them at the optimum frequency.

“Coverage plus frequency equals more sales. But most companies can’t afford to get the coverage that they need with a purely face-to-face model,” he says.

“For me, a combination channel approach that uses face-to-face and digital in a strategically designed hybrid model will give companies the coverage they need.”

One example would be to combine Access.PLUS with face-to-face visits as part of a GTM model. Access. PLUS has shown that it is possible to engage GPs at $50 per successful call to action. This is about a quarter of the cost of a rep visit. As a result, Butler believes:
without increasing their overall cost per sale.

“Like-for-like GP engagement via Access.PLUS costs 75% less than a sales rep and gives brands an opportunity to increase both share of voice and script uplift. ”
– ADG Managing Director Bryn McGeever.

Another benefit of a hybrid model is the ability to increase a brand’s share of voice (SOV). This is evidenced by a recent Access.PLUS campaign in which an eDetailing strategy was used to support an existing sales force to increase SOV by 52% in a highly competitive market.

Access more GPs with a hybrid digital and F2F Strategy

ADG’s pulse survey shows that:

Unsurprisingly, the survey shows that GPs still value building trusted personal relationships with sales reps and enjoy the collegiality and food of in-person meetings. However, there is a strong overall appetite for webinars they can view from the comfort of their workplace or home and on-demand content they can access in their own time.

In the words of a GP:
“I love the convenience and safety of virtual meetings.”

A GPs’ time challenge

Those GPs who make time to see reps often do so in a short period between their morning and afternoon consultation sessions when it has the least impact on their billable hours. In addition, the ADG pulse survey of Australian Doctor readers[2] found the vast majority of respondents prefer to read up about new treatments outside of usual working hours. This doesn’t interfere with patient care or eat into billable hours. These survey results support ADG’s real-world experience of GP behaviour.

Real-world statistics

During a recent Access.PLUS campaign, 74% of GPs chose to engage outside of traditional working hours:

In fact, based on current growth trends, it is estimated that 9.4% of all GP engagements will be through digital eDetailing channels within 24 months[3]. As a result, increasingly sophisticated digital communication solutions are being developed to serve this growing need.

It’s not only GPs who receive an efficiency boost from a hybrid model. By utilising digital tools, pharma organisations can free up their reps’ time and enable them to take on high-quality, high-value interactions with HCPs.[4]

Changing demographics & emergence of the digital native doctor

Apart from the economics, a crucial benefit of a hybrid model is the ability to delight GPs by engaging with them in a way that suits their needs. GP demographics are rapidly changing. About one in three Australian GPs are digital natives who don’t typically understand the pre-internet world. They demand access to relevant information in a form that makes sense to them and at a time that suits them.

According to the ADG pulse survey, it’s not only younger GPs who want easy access to on-demand education and marketing solutions. Overall, more than two-thirds of GPs want to believe this should be an offering from the pharmaceutical industry.

Increasing reach and frequency with a hybrid GTM model

The way pharmaceutical companies engage with GPs has changed in recent years, as illustrated by the below graphic that compares the way things were with how they are evolving.

The traditional model: Reps are able to detail only those GPs they can physically reach in a day, either through face-to-face calls or educational engagements such as dinner meetings. A hypothetical budget of $200,000 a year enables 80 to 120 details a month.

The digitally enabled rep: Reps with access to an opted-in database of GPs can significantly expand their coverage by supplementing face-to-face calls with virtual communication channels, including video conferencing, phone calls, email and even live chat.  A hypothetical budget of $200,000 a year stretches to 2,000 to 4,000 details a month.

Hybrid model: Pharmaceutical companies can amplify their reach and frequency by adding eDetailing via Access.PLUS to a GTM strategy. One benefit is to save money. However, the greater benefit for sales is to integrate Access.PLUS into a hybrid model that has the potential to double reach and frequency without increasing the cost per sale.

The $24m productivity improvement available to pharma

Demand from pharma for digital GP engagements continues to grow rapidly, supported by increasing preference by doctors for these more convenient solutions.

The three tables below show that digital doctor engagement is increasing every year across eDetailing executions and the number of pharma companies and brands leveraging the benefits of this digital engagement via Access.PLUS is expanding.

New hybrid GTM solutions that leverage digital can improve marketing productivity across the entire industry. It is estimated that the growth in eDetailing GTM solutions will deliver a $24 million productivity improvement by 2024[6].

This projection is based on the following assumptions:

  • Based on growth projections since 2018, it is forecast that eDetailing engagements will make up 9.4% of GTM spend by 2024.
  • Each one of these eDetailing doctor engagements can be delivered at 75% less than a traditional f2f call.
The above graph shows that growing Digital GTM to 9.4% of all GP engagements by 2024 will drive an 8% cost saving for the pharma industry, amounting to approximately $24 million.

Four simple steps to creating a successful hybrid GTM plan

The daunting challenge of implementing a digital strategy to complement a rep force can be simplified with four basic steps:

  1. Consider an always-on digital strategy to support more traditional GTM plans in extending both reach and frequency of doctor engagement.
  2. Create a directory of information that can easily be found and accessed by doctors at any time. With on average 62% of GP eDetail engagement taking place outside of rep working hours, this will enable your message to be available in these key times.
  3. Provide doctors with an easy on-demand platform where they can search for easily discoverable information.
  4. Provide a tool that enables them to connect and communicate with the right industry expert when they want.

A unique way to achieve this is to combine the power of Access.PLUS and Rep.CONNECT. Access.PLUS provides the ability to target ADG’s large database of APHRA-verified GPs with always-on, discoverable pharma information. Rep.CONNECT is a smart tool that enables doctors on AusDoc to connect directly with over 1,800 reps through its partnership with RxTro. It allows them to set up virtual or face-to-face appointments, request information or ask for samples.

Access.PLUS and Rep.CONNECT combine to answer a real need.

“Doctors have moved to a digital world and expect access to information and education when they need it and in a format that suits their needs,” says McGeever.

By connecting over 82% of GPs using AusDoc and 90% of pharma sales reps using RxTro, Rep.CONNECT will soon become the largest and most powerful digital communications platform for doctors and pharmaceutical sales representatives wishing to communicate with each other.


A hybrid GTM model is a win-win for doctors and the pharmaceutical industry and has the potential to deliver the best of face-to-face combined with digital innovation.

It serves the needs of doctors who value rep visits but also want the ability to engage with promotional and educational material on their own terms. And it serves the needs of pharmaceutical companies by providing a productivity boost that enables them to increase the reach and frequency of doctor interactions without increasing their budget.

[1] Have your say: Information sources for GPs in the new COVID world. (November 2021). Q13. n = 97

[2] Have your say: Information sources for GPs in the new COVID world. (January 2021). n = 105

[3] ADG Access.PLUS eDetailing Growth Projections

[4] The Contradiction Conundrum Report, Graphite (2022)

[5] Have your say: Information sources for GPs in the new COVID world. (January 2021). Q19. n = 223

[6] ADG Access.PLUS eDetailing Growth Projections