Subtle Changes in the Ongoing Medical Information DX, After Corona?

Survey on DX in Medical Information Provision, About 700 Physicians Responded

In a survey conducted by Nikkei Research in March 2023, it was found that the "shift from MRs to digital" in the provision of medical information in the field of medicine and pharmaceuticals has advanced rapidly due to the Corona disaster.

Subsequently, in May of the same year, coronas were moved to the same 'category 5' classification as seasonal influenza in the Infectious Diseases Act, making it easier for MRs to visit healthcare facilities, has this had an impact on medical information DX? The survey was conducted in November 2023, and responses were received from 772 physicians.

Note*: Due to the bias in the departments to which the responding physicians belonged in the November survey, the responses to the March survey were narrowed down by department and recounted to make them comparable.

"Mainly digital" at 65%, down 6 points from the previous survey

First, let us review the results of the previous surveys. When asked in last March's survey how they obtain information from pharmaceutical companies, only 29% said "mainly from MRs," while 71% said "mainly from digital tools".In a survey conducted in August 2021, the percentage of "from MRs"(40%)was still higher than that of "from digital tools" (28%). In the year and a half since the Corona disaster, when visits to medical institutions were no longer possible, it has become clear that the way information is provided between the physicians and pharmaceutical industries has changed significantly.

How the physicians obtain information from pharmaceutical companies

In a survey conducted last November, six months after the "transition to Class 5," 65% of respondents answered "from digital", a drop of 6 points from the previous survey. The percentage of "from MRs" remained at 35%, indicating that physicians who obtain information via digital tools are still the mainstream. However, the fact that MRs are now more likely to visit medical institutions again seems to be bringing about subtle changes in the medical field.

By age group of physicians, it was interesting to note that younger physicians in their 20s and 30s, who have been familiar with digital technology since childhood, increased their response "from MRs" by more than 6 points.

Pharmaceutical Industry's DX Not Gaining Physicians' Appreciation

The survey also asked physicians which companies they would most appreciate for their DX efforts in providing medical information. 29 companies were named, and physicians were asked to choose only one company. However, the most common response was "don't know/not one of these companies" at 42%. The number of respondents who said, "No company is making progress" also reached 12%.

Although this was down from 44% and 14%, respectively, in the March survey, more than half of the physicians were still unable to understand or evaluate the efforts of the companies. Physicians who responded to the first question that they obtain medical information "from digital tools" were more likely to respond "don't know/not one of these companies" or "no company is making progress to the second question.

Which companies the physicians would most appreciate for their DX efforts in providing medical information

This comparison of survey data may be within the "margin of error". However, I believe that this "margin of error" should be viewed as a "sign" of a subtle change in the way the medical field perceives DX in the after-corona.

If we take a step further and hypothesize, it is possible that "disappointment" in the medical information DX efforts of pharmaceutical companies is quietly spreading.

In addition to Corona's "Class 5 transition" in the spring of 2023, there were other major changes. Due to work style reforms, moves to correct the long working hours of physicians are in full swing. It is not hard to imagine that the medical field is in turmoil amidst a serious shortage of medical personnel, and with "expectations" for DX rising even higher than before the Corona disaster, it is not surprising that an increasing number of doctors are frustrated by the lack of progress in the pharmaceutical industry's efforts to address this issue.

According to the "White Paper on MRs," the number of MRs in the pharmaceutical industry has declined for five consecutive years, falling to a level of 50,000 for the first time in about 20 years as of the end of FY 2022. The trend toward DX in the provision of information by the pharmaceutical industry remains unchanged, but if an increasing number of physicians feel that this is not for the "improvement of the quality of medical care," but for the "improvement of profits," for example, there is a danger that the "disappointment" in the medical field will spread further. Although this is only a "hypothesis" of mine, I feel that it is necessary to further listen to the "true feelings" of the medical community through the survey.

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