It’s not the first and it won’t be the last, but two key organizations in their respective fields—electronic health record (EHR) systems used by doctors’ offices, and e-sampling and coupon distribution—are partnering to expand access for sampling and copay or other coupon programs. Practice Fusion (San Francisco, CA), which styles itself as the No. 1 EHR vendor (competing EHR vendors use a variety of measures for this), will now enable the sampling programs managed by OPTIMIZERx (Rochester, MI) through its SampleMD technology to appear on doctors’ screens. Actual numbers of prescribers affected by this are hard to determine (Practice Fusion is used by about 120,000 physicians; OPTIMIZERx is available to more than 200,000 physicians through a variety of e-prescribing and EHR networks). In any case, says OPTIMIZERx CFO Doug Baker, the partnering is “significant.” The company has been developing its sampling network since 2010.
Like EHR use itself (which has been spurred forward by extensive federal funding under the Affordable Care Act), e-sampling is rapidly evolving. Earlier, it was looked on as competition to the face-to-face interactions that sales reps have while dropping off samples at offices; now, as more and more physicians are in the “no see” category (barred by their employers or their own business preferences from seeing reps), e-sampling is becoming a valued pharma marketing tool. Significantly, OPTIMIZERx is also handling coupon programs that are targeted at patients themselves (who would bring the coupon as they visit a doctor’s office). Many prescribers take note of the availability of copay offers—another potential benefit for pharma marketers.
The compliance issues surrounding all types of sampling programs is the subject of an upcoming CBI meeting, “Sample Compliance and Reporting Summit” (Philadelphia, PA; Feb. 25–26); compliance issues are evolving as legislation like the Physician Payments Sunshine Act take hold, notes meeting chair, Steve Gransden, VP of technical marketing at J. Knipper Co., a leading sample-fulfillment provider. Pharmaceutical Commerce is a media sponsor of the event; use reference code BNS439 to register at www.cbinet.com/sample for a $300 discount.