The rise of digital technologies in healthcare is forever changing the medical system, including the ways physicians connect with pharmaceutical sales representatives. Shrinking access, multi-channel marketing, and policies are redefining pharma rep-to-physician interactions and relationships. More physicians are turning to digital as a preferred source for information, creating challenges for pharmaceutical representatives already struggling with their in-office engagement strategy.
Just because face-to-face interactions are diminishing, this doesn’t mean the end of the sales rep or that pharma should neglect physician engagement – after all, they do the prescribing. Pharma reps and sales departments can engage their customers with mobile apps that provide personalized, branded content targeted at physicians’ needs, combined with real-time metrics that deliver insight into content usage and customer interactions.
- Importance of digital apps: Enterprise pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and more offer digital apps for physicians that go beyond what an online product brochure delivers. These digital apps also facilitate accountability and standardization, support more effective customer relationship management (CRM) and customer-driven marketing, and can position sales reps as leaders and the pharma company as innovators.
- End-user requirements: A digital app being developed for pharma should prioritize the end user’s needs over business needs to make the pharma rep’s job easier and more productive. For example, apps should function on a smartphone or tablet; be flexible, fast, and easy to use; and support the user’s purchasing decisions.
- Analytics pays off: Building real-time analytics into an app improves employee performance, operations management, and future sales interactions by putting data behind sales team performance-improvement initiatives.
The biggest challenge pharma companies face in rolling out digital apps is ensuring they are compliant with regulations. Big factors in compliance are ensuring customer conversations and content distribution follow Good Promotional Practices (GPP); embedding standard operating procedures (SOPs) and governance in daily business communications; capturing digital data with electronic communications history records (eCHRs); and reinforcing good corporate practices.
With compliance issues overcome, however, digital opens tremendous new opportunities for pharma including improving physician engagement, maintaining pharma reps’ role as a trusted information resource, reducing customer response times, improving employee productivity, eliminating print and fulfillment costs, and reducing travel expenses.
As pharma companies look to provide more modern and cost-effective digital strategies across multi-channel marketing, they must remain committed to delivering the right guidance and strategies to improve pharma rep-to-physician interactions. Digital apps play a significant role in achieving this vision.