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Transforming pharma structure for efficient doctor engagement

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Akansh KhuranaSince many decades, the sales and marketing functions of pharma companies has been divided into regions or zones, then into areas or districts and finally into individual sales territories.

Medical representatives (MRs) have been the greatest assets in Pharma selling.

With the advent of more complex or/and speciality medicines and launch of new companies/molecules/brands, the industry continues to add new layers of MRs. With increasing competition, the industry continues to further add MRs to improve coverage of untapped doctors/regions/locations. The line-up outside the doctor clinics are only getting longer by the day, drastically reducing the time and quality of sales pitches — from being scientific to mere brand name reminders.It’s becoming a vicious cycle, eventually leading to a significant drop in MR productivity.

The industry is ripe for disruption and the front-runners are already experimenting with a series of ideas to (a) grab doctor attention by differentiating vs. others who are still following the old methods, and (b) pin-down high ROI platforms for leaner and smarter doctor outreach.

The original objective of MRs was to keep doctors updated on the latest developments about medical science. It is a known fact that the role of MRs eventually evolved into brand reminders. The front-runners are actively tapping into the real- world evidence – given the availability of terabytes of clinical big datasets – to generate and share localized and personalized scientific evidence with doctors, keeping them updated on the latest developments in medical science. Indeed, life is coming full circle, with one clear outcome – front-runners are grabbing 20 to 30 percent more time with doctors.

Scientific real-world evidence includes insights that could support doctors with smarter practice and efficient treatments – e.g. disease burden, under-diagnosis, patient behaviour, patient outcomes, under-treatment, drug usage and effectiveness, comorbidities and related conditions, etc. The good part – these insights are from real-world practices andare therefore often available across lacs / thousands of patients, and not hundreds (what is available from a typical custom research).

The front-runners are also adopting a range of new-age methods – smarter and leaner – to outreach doctors. Did you know that the timeline to introduce / market new brands can now be cut-down to less than 15 percent – from over 6 months to less than 6 weeks? Did you also know that the doctor reach could expand by more than 200 percent with only 25 percent additional front-line costs? And did you also know that the long tail of defocused brands in any company (the ones that are otherwise seeing declining growth) could grow faster than the market growth?

The newer “Digital MR“platforms do more than one can imagine, leading the evolution of pharma front-line the exact same way the meetings and conferences have evolved around the world –from in-person to phone calls / tele-conferences to passive e-methods of web-meetings/chats/emails etc.And when Digital MR is combined with real-world evidence, the outcome is usually “cherry on the cake”,making communications and meetings extraordinarily responsive and ROI led.

New rules of engagement – Real-world evidence backed Digital-MR have been specifically designed to cut through the noise in today’s busy world with low attention spans. There’s a lot happening in the world today – and it’s that time when one needs to make the choice to re-live the younger path less travelled or die old.

(Disclaimer: The writer is  Akansh Khurana, MD & CEO – THB .Views expressed are personal opinion)

 

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