The Art of Detailing to Doctors: Building Strong Pharmaceutical Relationships

Detailing doctors is what every pharma sales team does to ensure the adoption of new drugs, and relies heavily on how convinced prescribers are about a product’s efficacy and willingness to recommend it. That’s why the most important skill medical sales representatives must possess is the art of detailing pharmaceutical products to doctors.  

When doctors and other HCPs are well-informed about a product, they are more likely to choose it over others if it provides more effective treatment choices for their patients. This article delves into pharmaceutical detailing, including effective strategies that help build solid and long-term pharmaceutical relationships. 

Table of Contents:

What is Pharmaceutical Detailing to Doctors?

Pharmaceutical detailing is a marketing activity where medical sales representatives use product brochures or digital presentation tools to deliver relevant information about a pharmaceutical product to convince doctors to prescribe a medicine.

Medical representatives use detailing to educate doctors about their pharmaceutical products’ benefits, uses, and safety profiles. A medical rep during pharmaceutical detailing aims to influence the physician’s prescribing choices so they opt for their products.

Because pharmaceutical detailing involves direct access to doctors, it helps build and maintain relationships with healthcare professionals. These interactions create opportunities for ongoing dialogue, feedback, and business.

How Detailing to Doctors Stands Out from Other Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices

Pharmaceutical firms use different strategies to market their products, but here’s how pharmaceutical detailing stands out from other options.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) Advertising

DTC marketing targets consumers directly using digital channels like TV and social media, while the target audience in pharmaceutical detailing is healthcare professionals.

Influencer Marketing

Influential marketing is one of the leading marketing strategies in today’s world. Many pharma companies partner with healthcare influencers to endorse or advocate their OTC products. Pharmaceutical detailing, however, targets a broader range of healthcare professionals.

Online Marketing

With more people accessing the internet than ever before, pharma companies now incorporate online marketing tools like websites, social media, and email campaigns to widen their reach. Detailing, on the other hand, remains a face-to-face and sometimes remote interaction between medical reps and healthcare professionals.

In summary, pharmaceutical detailing is a marketing approach that involves one-on-one contact with HCPs, making it the preferred choice for building strong, long-term pharmaceutical relationships. 

Objectives of Pharmaceutical Detailing

As a pharmaceutical representative, when visiting healthcare professionals, your primary objectives while detailing should be:

To educate healthcare professionals about the features, benefits, and safety profiles of pharmaceutical products. 

You can provide a concise presentation to the doctors about the product you’re offering, explaining its mode of action, clinical indications, and potential contraindications.

To establish a trusting, professional, and long-term relationship with healthcare professionals.

Aim to provide accurate and reliable information so you can earn the doctors’ trust as a source of credible information.

To encourage healthcare professionals to consider and, if appropriate, prescribe the represented products for their patients.

When you present compelling data on the effectiveness of a particular medication in managing a specific condition, it might lead a doctor to incorporate it into their treatment protocol for suitable patients.

Pharmaceutical detailing can help medical reps improve the adoption of their healthcare products. On the side, detailing will assist healthcare professionals in choosing safe and effective treatment options for patients.

The Role of Pharmaceutical Representatives in Detailing

Pharmaceutical representatives play a crucial role in how doctors select and prescribe medications. This makes it crucial for a medical rep to understand the pharmaceutical products they’re marketing intensely. 

To market effectively, sales representatives must develop excellent communication skills. Being able to convey complex medical information to physicians effectively is crucial to selling a specific drug’s potential. 

Aside from mastering the art of communication, the sales force must also be skilled at developing and maintaining strong relationships with healthcare professionals. To do this, they must visit healthcare practices regularly and provide details about updates to their products. 

Pharmaceutical representatives need to have a solid understanding of the ethical guidelines regarding medical detailing. This is necessary to avoid unethical practices, such as providing inappropriate incentives to healthcare providers.

Overall, pharmaceutical representatives must balance providing valuable information to healthcare professionals and avoiding any conflicts of interest.

Five Strategies for Effective Pharmaceutical Detailing

During a face-to-face or on-call meeting with a physician, every aspect of your presentation counts towards building a long-term relationship, from your pitch to your negotiating method and charisma. Here are five ways to effectively communicate the value of your products to healthcare professionals:

Use Research-based Information

Present clinical evidence and data to support the safety and efficacy of your product. You can also use peer-reviewed studies and real-world outcomes to enhance the brand’s credibility.

Personalize Your Message 

Customize your message to address each healthcare professional’s specific needs and interests. Understand their patient population, practice, and concerns, and use that information to personalize your marketing approach. 

Point Out Unique Selling Points

Clearly articulate the unique benefits and differentiating features of your product. Focus on how it is better than other products and how it can address unmet medical needs.

Address Any Questions or Concerns

Be prepared to answer any question and address any concerns the doctor raises. Having well-researched answers is essential to respond confidently and accurately. You can also use visual aids such as charts, graphs, and diagrams to make complex information more understandable and memorable.

Engage in a Two-Way Discussion

One-sided, monotonous talks are boring. Aim to encourage discussions in a two-way dialogue rather than a one-sided presentation. Make your presentation short and straight to the point. HCPs are usually busy, so you must respect their time and preferences. With these strategies, you can improve your detailing techniques and foster productive relationships with healthcare professionals.

Ethical Considerations and Regulations in Pharma Detailing

While detailing is essential in providing information about new medications or medical devices, it has its ethical challenges. Some common ethical challenges pharmaceutical representatives face during detailing include:

Conflict of Interests

Pharmaceutical companies often use financial incentives to motivate their sales representatives to promote their products. This can create a conflict of interest, as the medical representative may prioritize selling their company’s products over patients’ best interests.

Lack of Transparency

Lack of transparency in detailing practices can be an ethical concern as healthcare providers may not always be aware of financial relationships between pharmaceutical companies and representatives who visit them.


Over-promoting certain drugs or medical devices, exaggerating their benefits, or downplaying risks is risky. This can lead to inappropriate prescribing and potential harm to patients. 

Regulations and Guidelines Governing Detailing Practices

FDA Regulations

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a law on prescription drug advertising that requires that promotional materials for drugs and medical devices be accurate and not misleading.

PhRMA Code

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has a code that sets guidelines for interactions between pharmaceutical company representatives and healthcare providers that its member companies must follow.

Sunshine Act

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act in the U.S. requires pharmaceutical companies to report financial relationships with healthcare providers, making these transactions more transparent. These regulations and guidelines ensure transparency of sales representatives and accurate pharmaceutical product marketing.

The Impact of Detailing on Patient Care

The ultimate purpose of detailing is to ensure that patients treated with the product fare better. Doctors with more knowledge about a drug can make better prescription decisions, leading to reduced risk of medication errors.

Aside from selecting the best treatment option for patients, detailing helps healthcare professionals understand the potential side effects of using a medicine to improve patient care.

Data-Driven Medical Detailing

Data and technology play a pivotal role in modern healthcare. With the rise of machine learning, uncovering key insights from big data using analytical methods is now being used to customize patient therapy. 

Data about prescribing behavior and therapy choices can provide valuable insights to help pharmaceutical companies understand individual physicians and their preferred treatment options for patients. 

Using these insights, pharma companies can personalize their messages and materials to match each physician’s specific interests and needs. Such personalization makes interactions more meaningful and engaging.

In summary, the ability to collect, analyze, and leverage data allows companies to tailor their approaches to individual healthcare professionals.

Challenges and the Changing Landscape

Detailing used to be a face-to-face interaction, but with the rise of digital technology, any medical representative can deliver their sales pitch virtually or hop on a call with a doctor. Although detailing is easier now than ever, it still has some challenges, such as:  

Limited Access

Access to many doctors has become increasingly challenging due to tighter regulations and restrictions on in-person visits, which were more common in traditional detailing practices.

Evolving Healthcare Systems

Healthcare systems are evolving towards value-based care and cost-containment, requiring detailed efforts to align with these complex models.

Digital Fatigue

With the proliferation of remote detailing solutions, HCPs may experience digital fatigue, reducing the effectiveness of online detailing efforts.

Future Expectations of Medical Detailing

The future outlook of pharmaceutical detailing will feature more advancement in remote detailing. Companies in the pharma industry will invest in more interactive and engaging digital platforms to reach and educate individual physicians.

Data analytics will play an even more significant role in detailing as companies will use predictive analytics to customize their approaches to individual HCPs. There will also be continued use of chatbots, virtual assistants, and AI-driven content recommendation systems in pharmaceutical detailing.

Companies will adopt a multichannel approach, combining in-person visits (where possible) with remote interactions to cater to doctors’ preferences. Because the goal of detailing will mainly revolve around patient outcomes and experience, the key to success will be adaptability and focus on delivering value to HCPs and patients.

Final Thoughts

For better pharmaceutical sales results, detailing is vital. In addition to building strong, long-term relationships with healthcare professionals, effective detailing allows med reps to provide accurate and unbiased information about products to help HCPs make informed decisions about patient care. 

In truth, detailing has to be automated to collate the right data, engage HCPs, and efficiently help meet their sales objectives. Here’s a tour to help you get started, spend less on lead generation, and get increased engagement with HCPs.