Jun 14, 2017 05:47 PM IST | Source:

Indian drug cos don't fully equip medical reps with desired digital tools: Study

Indian drug cos are falling woefully short of their global peers in arming medical representatives with desired digital tools, according to a new survey of field representatives by Indegene,

Vikas Dandekar
Picture used for representational purposes only.
Picture used for representational purposes only.

Indian drug makers are falling woefully short of their global peers in arming their medical representatives with desired digital tools for active engagement with doctors, according to a new survey of field representatives by Indegene, a global healthcare solutions provider. The picture is not very different for global drug makers in mature markets like the US, where billions of dollars have been sunk in switching commercial marketing models to a digital and leaner makeover.

The survey covered around 500 healthcare representatives drawn from biopharma and medical devices and diagnostics companies across US, China, India and other parts of the world.

Titled the Digital Savvy Healthcare Sales Rep 2017 Report, the findings of Indegene delve into unique perspectives on healthcare sales in medical establishments, institutional settings and sales strategies for devices.

“The study reveals compelling evidence that suggests that healthcare reps are not fully equipped to meet the changing needs of healthcare practitioners. Perhaps, the low utilization of existing HCP engagement technology is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Manish Gupta, CEO, Indegene in a statement.

While most Indian companies are yet to optimally capitalize on digital technologies, the situation is not very different in most other countries. Multinational companies operating in India are, however, equipping their field staff with digital tools, aimed at engagement with doctors that drive sales and help build a branding strategy.

The Indegene survey noted that half of the respondents indicated that their companies did not provide them with relevant physician engagement technologies. The content was either found to be old or repetitive or was not tailored to the needs of the healthcare practitioners.

Worldwide, healthcare reps constantly face challenges accessing physicians, covering their geographical and digital territories completely and providing relevant content on-demand, the survey found.

Half of the respondents informed Indegene that they did not have access to customer relationship management systems or sales force automation tools, 66 percent respondents had no meeting schedulers, 80 percent had no close loop marketing or trigger mails and over 85 percent had no recommended content or remote engagement.

Besides, a staggering 85 percent of the surveyed personnel remarked strict compliance norms have further accentuated issues for reps with unavailability or delayed provision of approved medical content to be shared with physicians.

The results of the survey, which some executives said are startling, may get the companies back onto the drawing board and rethink use of modern technology and its effective use.

Indigene concurred noting that technology was seen as a panacea to solve industry challenges and provide a smart alternative to the traditional sales rep model. However, proportionate outcomes from large spending on technology by big pharma companies have remained elusive, leaving the sales force disappointed.

“Physicians are now demanding relevant, omnipresent content on multiple channels that they access to gain drug information. This will force pharma companies to alter their spending strategy for better topline and a more empowered sales team,” the report added.

Among the suggested remedial steps at a primary level, Indegene said leaders may need to think on basic issues such as lack of training, skill building, investigate user issues such as ease of interface, offline access or review customer issues such as taping wrong channel-mix or feeding irrelevant content.
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