A low-code rapid mobile application development platform (RMAD) can help business heads in pharma companies to quickly build small mobile apps and improve productivity of medical representatives. Jinen Dedhia, Co-Founder & MD, DronaHQ gives an insight about these fast solutions
A medical representative (MR) plays a unique role. Unlike field executives in other industries, an MR’s target audience is not drug buyers but the doctors who prescribe these. His job covers a gamut of activities including maintaining relationships with doctors and hospitals, identifying new business opportunities, collecting relevant ground-level facts (research), and representing the company at trade shows—besides maintaining an accurate record of visits, meetings, and discussion points. A medical rep, in short, is the pivot around which the entire pharma business revolves.
Automation for MRs: The story so far
Given the critical importance of MRs, their productivity is the primary concern of all pharma companies. The automation efforts in this sector traditionally involved installation of large sales automation applications—branded or custom-made. On top of these, pharma companies invested in business intelligence and dashboards for pattern analysis and reporting.
These enterprise applications, while improved productivity to a great extent, required MRs to ‘return-to-base’ for feedback, call-logs, and documentation after every few days. In short, it consumed one extra half-day (or full day) of an MR just for data entry and office meetings.
Enterprise mobility: A few ground realities
Pharma companies have been looking at building mobile apps to further improve the MR function. The development and deployment of apps, however, are seldom free of difficulties. The common challenges encountered include lacklustre user adoption, long development times, rollout delays, and steep costs involved in the internal marketing of apps—besides the app development expenses.
The companies also have to find specialised app development resources—internal or external—to do this job. Untimely exits of team members augment the problems faced by pharma CIOs in this scenario.
A fresh, new perspective
Over the past eighteen months, a new breed of enterprise mobility tools has emerged in the market. Gartner terms these as low-code rapid application development platforms (RMAD). Combined with a mobile container app approach, these tools can comprehensively address all the issues that pharmaceutical organisations face with respect to MR productivity.
Typically, a low-code rapid mobile application development platform (RMAD) facilitates building small apps that automate individual tasks. Its low-code nature ensures that organisations can use their existing resources with basic HTML knowledge to build these apps (or micro-apps). The RMAD tools with a MicroService architecture for backend as well as front-end can help build mobile apps at speed with minimal DevOps hassles.
Low-code RMAD: A productivity panacea
There are several MR team management and productivity challenges that a pharmaceutical organisation faces. A low-code RMAD tool can resolve these issues satisfactorily. Let’s explore these advantages one by one.
- MR team engagement: As medical representatives spend their time mostly on the field, their supervisors and senior managers rarely get adequate time to engage with them on a regular basis. A small app developed using low-code RMAD platform can help managers to stay in touch and communicate with their MR teams without asking them to visit the office.
- Motivation: Considering the tough job that the MR road warriors perform, keeping them motivated is the biggest responsibility of area managers, territory managers, and the likes. Using a low-code RMAD platform, pharma business teams can quickly develop a small app to incorporate and conduct quizzes, contests, assign targets, allocate KRAs, and provide incentives—thus, keeping their MR teams motivated.
These apps can leverage the native features of smartphones and tablets. For example, the best performing MR can quickly take his own photo and publish it through the app for the entire organisation to view. Similarly, the achieved targets can be captured, highlighted and incentives delivered on-the-fly.
- Intelligence gathering: A medical rep spends a great deal of time waiting at doctors’ clinics and hospitals. He is required to collect information such as potential and available spots to place display advertisements at these locations. Usually, medical reps feed-in all such information only upon returning to their office-locations.
A small app can help an MR to use these wait-times to click photos of potential display slots (for educational material) and share it with the back-office teams instantaneously. The app can use the native features such as geo-tagging/ maps to identify the exact location of the clinic (or hospital) at which the photo is clicked. Moreover, if a medical practitioner permits, he can record and instantly share with his supervisor a few minutes of audio capturing the specific queries raised by the practitioner. This way, the organisation can save precious time of the MR while collecting deep market insights, simultaneously.
- Daily call logs: A mobile app can streamline the maintenance of call logs for MRs. With the help of an app, MRs can simply take a photo of the clinic’s name-plate and/ or doctor’s business card to log a call. The app can interpret the image and also identify the location automatically, freeing up the MR from the mundane task of keying in the details after every meeting.
- Meeting schedules: Field supervisors can take a bird’s eye view of the clinics visited (and not visited) and assign appointment-targets to their juniors in near real time. The area or zonal managers can even develop a customised micro-app to automate such tasks using a low-code RMAD platform on their own. When viewed on a region-wide or nation-wide scale, the same app can display the breadth and depth of the company’s market coverage at a glance.
- Education and training: A mobile app can streamline the training activity by making specific modules available for medical representatives for any-time, any-place learning. This includes information about new drugs, effects of drugs, precautions for patients, info on diseases, common doubts raised by doctors, and so on.
For that extra mile
Lastly, while a low-code platform can help in quickly building micro-apps, it can work wonders when deployed along with a container app tool. A container app can help a pharmaceutical company to comprehensively address the user adoption challenge that organisations face.
A container app is the only app that a medical representative has to download and install. It houses all the apps inside the container and every new app introduced gets automatically added to an MR’s container. Thus, an MR does not have to find, download, or install every app that the organisation introduces.
By combining these cutting-edge technologies, pharma CIOs can speed-boost their enterprise mobility programmes and accomplish tremendous productivity gains for medical representatives in a very short time.