As the digitalization wave sweeps across industries, the pharmaceutical industry is no longer behind the curve. Despite being one of the slowest adopters of digital technologies, pharmaceutical companies go to great lengths to experiment with a wide range of digital tools and products. New era technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), etc. have become well known and are believed to transform healthcare and other industries. With the use of these technologies, pharmaceutical companies are abandoning conventional marketing strategies to stay ahead of the market.
The technology is known to have disruptive potential in transforming the real world. Amid the digital revolution, India’s pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.4% from 2015 to 2020 to reach $ 55 billion. As a result, pharmaceutical marketers focus on integrating technology into product marketing practices. This is proving to be a smart solution to align with the anticipated growth of the sector and the demand of the outside world.
The challenges of pharmaceutical marketing
Today’s rapidly changing world has changed the way pharmaceutical marketers do their jobs. Before the start of the pandemic, pharmaceutical industry representatives spent the majority of their time traveling and waiting outside doctor’s offices, which also affected their efficiency at work and resulted in infrequent visits. Doctors only spend an average of 40 to 45 seconds with a pharmacy representative, according to a research report, reducing interaction with the doctor. As a result, with lower efficiency, higher operational costs and difficulties in accessing healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical marketers are realizing a strong need to rethink their marketing plans, thus integrating digital tools from the new era.
Establish a digital communication link
In the wake of COVID-19, healthcare professionals have restricted physical meetings and switched to teleconsultation for remote patient screening. Pharmaceutical marketers are constantly looking for ways to establish a clear communication link with physicians. According to a recent report, Indian doctors prefer communication through WhatsApp, which has a click-through rate of more than 3.5 times that of emails and 24 times that of SMS. Given the opportunities offered by digital communication tools, pharmaceutical marketers are also focusing on sharing engaging content with physicians that offers a better conversion rate than branded promotional content. For example, pharmaceutical marketers share short video content through WhatsApp that has a better response rate than articles and infographics.
Better understand product performance
The dissemination of product information has always operated in a controlled and centralized manner. The advent of digital media has broken this chain and opened up a wide range of communication channels for pharmaceutical companies. For example, sharing product information in online communities and social media allows pharmaceutical companies to disseminate product information. On the other hand, the monitoring of user experience and data of smart fitness devices provides information to pharmaceutical representatives. Additionally, the integration of AI and data analytics in the medical industry helps sales reps analyze datasets and understand product performance.
Advanced technologies enable pharmaceutical companies to deliver efficient, fast and quality products. In addition, the deployment of futuristic technologies provides real-time transparency in clinical trials and streamlines business processes for better product development.
Better understand customer requirements
The onset of the pandemic has accelerated many transformative trends in the healthcare ecosystem. One of the major trends that have emerged from augmented digital adoption is the change in customer behavior. With the widespread availability of information online, customers are ready to use technology to monitor their health and find the treatment options that are best for them. Additionally, the use of digital platforms results in greater patient engagement as they find it easier to share real-time feedback on the product being used. This pushes pharmaceutical marketers to be active on social networks and other online platforms to better understand customer needs.
Leveraging digital innovation can improve market strategy for sales and marketers in pharmaceutical companies. It can open up a whole new world of unconventional marketing practices, ranging from digital interaction with physicians to providing an enhanced and personalized customer experience. Although the pharmaceutical industry is still in an early stage of digital transformation, accelerating the adoption of online practices can benefit the industry along the value chain, customers, distributors, and more.
Gaurav Gupta is co-founder of Navia Life Care – a healthcare technology startup.
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