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Developing strategies for marketing to female doctors by Linda Braddick, Grace Comms

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According to an article by Professor J Meirion Thomas, by 2017 for the first time there will be more female than male doctors in the UK.

For many years until the 60’s fewer than 10% of British doctors were female. However things have changed and for the past 40 years about 60% of students selected for training in UK medical schools have been female and the effect is beginning to be seen.

The UK medical register shows that between 2007 and 2012 the number of female doctors under the age of 30 had increased by 18%, while the number of males decreased by 1%.
And in this age group, 61% of doctors are now women and 39% are men.
In the age group 30 to 50 years, over the same period, the number of female doctors increased by 24% compared with 2% for males. In this age group, men still outnumber women by 54 to 46 % — but that ratio will soon reverse.

Looking at these statistics, shouldn’t brand managers and agencies be increasing their understanding of female doctors and how they might differ from their male counterparts?
Shouldn’t their approach to patients be examined, their prescribing habits, their values and how they like to be communicated with and then the marketing approach be evaluated in the light of this?

According to a University of Montreal research team, the quality of care provided by female doctors is higher than that of their male counterparts while the productivity of males is greater.

“Women doctors had significantly higher scores in terms of compliance with practice guidelines. They were more likely than men to prescribe recommended medications and to plan required examinations,” said lead study author Valérie Martel.

“Female doctors were simply more willing to devote more time to their patients. The men tended to cycle their patients though quickly—as evidenced by fact that the male doctors performed, on average, 1,000 more basic treatment procedures per year than the women. But that seeming efficiency may be self-defeating: the investigators worry that the quicker the turnover in any one doctor’s office, the likelier a patient is to return to have questions answered or treatment details explained that weren’t addressed in the initial appointment.”

EVE looks into the differences between men and women that are cultural and rooted in upbringing and has gathered insights showing men and women differ in the way they communicate and how they prefer to be communicated with.

And if this is true in a general setting then it is equally valid in a clinical setting. If women doctors are an important target group then it is crucial to acknowledge that their approach to patients and their preference with regards to communication differs from their male counterparts.
Pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare communication traditionally adopts a male orientated approach – providing facts and evidence.
Perhaps it is time to move on.

Article by Linda Braddick, Grace Comms www.gracecomms.co.uk