Doceree, a physician-only platform for programmatic marketing, is working towards building more effective ways for pharma brands to keep the doctors’ community engaged. Dr Harshit Jain, Founder and CEO, Doceree outlines why it is important for pharma brands to redraw their doctor engagement strategies with the help of digital tools to reduce marketing costs, improve outcomes and ensure regulatory compliance, in an interview with Usha Sharma
Give us a brief understanding of Doceree? What is its USP?
Doceree is the global physician-only platforms for programmatic marketing. Our platform is disrupting the physician marketing landscape much in the same way digital ad networks transformed the consumer marketing space. Doceree’s integrated and collaborative ecosystem enables pharmaceutical brands and digital platforms to mutually benefit from the untapped opportunities present in physician marketing in the most ‘regulatory compliant and transparent manner’. Doceree is enabling Rx drug marketers to promote their brands in the digital domain to physicians in a regulated manner. At the same time, Doceree provides an opportunity for digital platforms to make more revenue. With our platform, they can now focus on their core business and the problems they are solving in healthcare than swaying their attention to making more monies. Effectiveness and efficiency are our prime differentiators that come from our razor-sharp focus on doctor-only platforms. Unlike other companies in the US where we have competition in programmatic physician marketing space, Doceree is focussing on doctor-only platforms for pharma brands to market themselves. Besides this, we are the only company in the category that has a global footprint with offices in the US and India. In India, we are the only programmatic platform in Physician marketing. The underlying thought is to ensure effectiveness. Our proprietary identity-resolution tool – Espyian – helps precision target physicians, bringing in efficiency to physician marketing.
In March 2020, the company raised funds of one million dollars? Tell us about the company’s investment and future plans?
We raised $1 million in seed funding from a group of angel investors from India and the US in May 2020. As a business, our focus is on new market expansion and potential acquisition to realise our short term and long-term goals. In the short term, we want to become an ideal source of revenue generation for doctor-only digital platforms. In the long term, our goal is to reduce the cost of healthcare. We believe by introducing effectiveness and efficiency in pharma marketing, Doceree can reduce costs by about 10 per cent, which would eventually reflect upon the pricing of drugs.
How does your platform help pharma companies to reduce the cost of marketing activities without compromising the efficiency and effectiveness for physicians related to engagement activities?
Over the last decade, innovative digital business models emerged in a lot of sectors and helped companies reduce marketing costs significantly. However, pharma, by and large, remained an exception in opening up to digital mediums. The marketing approaches are still confined to traditional ways of doing business and physician marketing is nowhere close to consumer marketing that grew leaps and bounds after companies in the space switched to digital methods and made them an essential tool to reach out to their target audiences. This is where Doceree is making all the difference. It is enabling pharma brands to use digital technologies by addressing issues that have been acting as a roadblock in digital adoption among Rx drug brands.
Doceree is integrating doctor-only digital platforms not just in India but across the globe to create a unified and cohesive digital ecosystem. It is enabling pharma brands to target doctors at the right moment with the right message to be able to drive behaviour change and achieve desired business outcomes. It is also bringing transparency in ‘doctor reach and results’ through AI-enabled dashboard.
By being regulatory-compliant, our platform has reduced a lot of hassles related to regulations that pharma brands faced while partnering with individual digital platforms.
Although the government has not made UCPMP mandatory, there is a strong appeal for its implementation. What is your opinion on the same?
In my capacity as a physician and a healthcare marketer, my personal view is that UCPMP shall be converted into law to bring more transparency and prevent any unethical promotion of pharmaceutical drugs and services. In the current form, it is not as effective as thought of. The profession of medicine is a system of faith and belief, and there must not be any means to sway the doctors’ perceptions and lure them towards prescribing certain medicines, drugs or services. Pharma brands should reach out to doctors, share information about the efficacy of their products and leave it at that. Rather than push marketing, it should be pull marketing. If a doctor believes a drug to be efficient, he/she would take a call about prescribing it. What is important is that complete information should reach doctors and that too consistently so that it stays on top of their minds. Digital can be an amazing source for pharma brands to keep the doctors engaged, and there are digital platforms that are regulatory-compliant like Doceree that can help them achieve that objective. At this point in time, proper implementation of UCPMP will ensure everything remains in ethical ambit around marketing by pharma brands.
How will artificial intelligence and machine learning bring in a transformation in the pharma industry?
If we talk about the current scenario of AI and ML in Pharma, at best we can say that we’re in a very early stage of adopting these technologies and how we’re able to set our foundations will define the future for us. We are swimming in an ocean of data, or a better way to put it would be that we’re drowning in it. Organisations and institutions are generating terabytes of data per day. AI and ML will help move from this data to critical information and insights. Even today, machines have replaced humans in healthcare and pharma sector, be it recognition of cancer cells using MRI/CT scan machines or regression models to predict diabetes in patients, health tech is evolving day by day and will continue to do so to stay one step ahead of the limitations of current systems being hit every day.
The new normal post-COVID-19 will see changes in pharma marketing. How will your platform leverage the opportunity and help the industry to strive for growth?
Our vision is to make pharma marketing effective and efficient. To achieve our mission, we are introducing new product features that aim at providing Rx drug brands with the control and the ability to optimise for better efficiencies. Recently, we launched two features:
(1) Integrated Programmatic Email Ad-serving Solution for Physicians, a product that brings in huge credibility in email marketing and promises to significantly enhance the performance of email campaigns.
(2) An AI-enabled dashboard ensures our clients – pharma brands and media agencies – get reports and updates about their campaigns in real-time. We are on the mission to address the issues that mark the adoption of digital by pharma brands globally and not just in one or two markets and to achieve our goals, we will keep evolving to serve advertisers and publishers in the best possible manner.
How will this change the landscape in pharma marketing, which is continuously evolving?
The pandemic has accelerated adoption of digital among Rx drug brands. I see extensive use of digital technologies going forward for marketing purposes as it is now an essential tool to reach out to the target audiences. The outbreak has certainly given a fair taste to pharma brands about how important digital tools are. Having gained from the experiences from the current situation, pharma brands will now be far more receptive to digital means.