SOURCE: Phoenix Marketing International

April 12, 2011 11:19 ET

Phoenix Healthcare Finds Physician Practices Are More Apt to Switch Suppliers as the Market Grows and Needs Change

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--(Marketwire - Apr 12, 2011) - New research from Phoenix Healthcare measuring influenza vaccine purchasing dynamics highlights increased competition among suppliers and distributors of the vaccine. As a result, physician practices are welcoming the opportunity to capitalize by improving their financial return on flu vaccine administration. Next season, 11% of physician practices plan to reduce the proportion of doses they purchase from their primary supplier and shift them to another supplier.

A strong relationship with a supplier has traditionally been the primary purchase factor, built from a good reputation and a strong sales force; but a relatively mild, late, and uneventful influenza season has caused physician practices to adjust their thinking. Fluctuating demand, unattractive insurance reimbursement, and concerns about recouping costs for unused doses have led purchasers to sharpen their pencils. Continuing a trend in recent years, they place an even greater emphasis on pricing and discounts. They are putting increased pressure on the suppliers to differentiate offerings and deliver greater value, especially as it relates to price, discounts, and returns.

"Although supplier switching was not pervasive in pre-booking activity for next season, physician practices are showing signs of shopping around," explains Steve Wakefield, SVP of Research at Phoenix Healthcare. "Sales reps are losing accessibility to primary care and pediatrician offices, and websites are making it easier to start purchasing with a new supplier. We expect the switching trend to escalate next year, knowing that the characteristics of the flu season will play a major role. Negative experiences, such as unforeseen supply issues or a severe season, may accelerate purchasers exploring alternative suppliers."

The 2010/2011 flu season has given the suppliers an opportunity to establish their position with current and potential customers. Next season should prove an important one in this competitive market, and suppliers unable to keep up with competitive pricing and discounts could find themselves losing share of physician office doses.

Phoenix Healthcare has conducted this research since 2008 and has almost two decades of experience tracking the vaccine market. Study findings are from an analysis of 473 interviews conducted among physician practices purchasing influenza vaccines. Respondents include physicians, nurses, and office managers.

Phoenix Healthcare, a division of Phoenix Marketing International, is one of the fastest growing research companies in the U.S.

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