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COVID-19 crisis has spawned new avenues of doing business for pharma 

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As traditional marketing takes a hit due to the COVID-19 crisis, pharma brands are devising and adopting digital strategies to reach out and communicate with KoLs and prescribers. Harshit Jain, Founder & CEO, Doceree talks about interesting alliances in the changing pharma marketing landscape, the emergence of newer marketing models and how his venture can help pharma brands improve efficiency and effectiveness of their marketing efforts on digital platforms with methodical use of data, in an interview with Lakshmipriya Nair

How is pharma and healthcare marketing transforming as a result of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 crisis has spawned new avenues of doing business for pharma and digital healthcare platforms. Until now, pharma had a dismal show in digital; it almost had been dormant owing to a mental block of regulations. 

The pandemic brought a paradigm shift as pharma became the most active in the digital space with innovative alliances and partnerships. Although the trend is guided by the sentiment of traditional marketing suddenly coming to a screeching halt, it made pharma brands test the ‘digital’ waters during the new normal. Only by diving in they could have understood what value the realm of digital holds for them.   

What is the role that Doceree can play in this transforming landscape?

Doceree is disrupting the physician marketing landscape much in the same way digital ad networks transformed the consumer marketing space. The entire ecosystem for physician marketing is scattered where pharma brands are acting independently with not much in-depth knowledge of digital – for them, it is merely a checkbox activity. For pharma players, to drive an effective behaviour change among doctors, a critical mass is important. At the same time, digital platforms are also operating as standalone entities in the absence of a unified platform, losing on monetisation opportunities available via network effect.   

This is where Doceree is transforming the landscape. It is (1) integrating the doctor-only digital platforms not just in India but across the globe and (2) enabling pharma brands to target doctors at the right moment with the right message to drive behaviour change and achieve desired business outcomes. 

Only the aggregation of digital platforms brought a revolutionary change in consumer marketing. Doceree on the same lines is building a similar unified ecosystem in physician marketing. 

Are we seeing a growing alliance between pharma companies and telemedicine platforms? 

Certainly, the alliance is growing, especially post COVID-19. What was happening in a face-to-face environment is being replicated at the moment in the virtual environment. The digital push is creating business opportunities for both, pharma brands and doctor-only digital platforms. Doceree is further fuelling it by facilitating meaningful interaction between both and supporting their businesses. 

If yes, what are the drivers of this growing collaborations? 

It is solely the ‘need’ which is driving the collaborations. Although forced by the epidemic, it is definitely growing and evolving with time. 

Is it likely to be a lasting trend? Why?

The trend is going to last because the inhibition of pharma players towards the adoption of digital is gradually dissipating after the outbreak of coronavirus. With no choice in the face of lockdowns and the norms of social distancing, digital was the only and viable medium to reach out to doctors.   

The pandemic provided the kickstart for the adoption of digital and partnerships with digital platforms. After having witnessed better business outcomes and return on investments, the wheel is likely to keep rolling.

How does this open up new growth opportunities for integrated physician engagement platforms like Doceree? 

Given the keenness and accelerating digital adoption among pharma brands, the opportunity is immense. Also, it is not feasible, economical and result-oriented experience for a brand or an agency to work with multiple digital platforms – for instance, there are multiple reports to be complied and coordinated which is too much to dig into to gain performance insights. 

Going forward, platforms like Doceree will be the only option for pharma brands to do business with digital platforms in the most efficient and measurable manner. 

Have you tied up with any pharma companies in India? If yes, please share the details. 

Currently, we are working with the top 7 out of 10 pharma companies in India, and most of the large advertising agency networks globally.

How has your platform performed since the outbreak of the coronavirus? Tell us about the impact created by your platform? 

The benefits of contextual advertising/marketing are huge just for the reason that targeted platforms always provide better results. We are witnessing 3x Click-Through Rates, 5x increase in the number of impressions and fruitful conversions for the pharma brands on professional physician networks. 

What are your future plans? How do you plan to expand your reach? 

We have noticed that Indian physicians are spending a lot of time on international digital platforms, including Medscape and Pubmed. In the short term, owing to our global network we want to bring those platforms into the fold of Indian pharma brands so that they have ample opportunity to reach their target audience where they potentially are.

In the long term, we want to make physician marketing measurable. We aim to establish a linkage between digital performance metrics with business outcomes. Simply put, how many conversions pharma brands have been able to have through digital campaigns. To power pharma players with this kind of measurability is our ultimate goal.

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