Express Pharma

The advent of digital technologies has introduced path-breaking developments in healthcare and pharma

Hiren Dhuvad, CEO of Indigital Technologies explains how pharma and healthcare marketing is transforming with the help of digitalisation and his company's contributions in this space, in an interview with Lakshmipriya Nair

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Has the pandemic taught the importance of digitalisation to India Pharma Inc or are we only witnessing a need-based trend?

The pandemic has definitely encouraged the shift from the traditional way of working to digitalisation in all industries. Though the development in the healthcare industry is relatively slow as compared to other industries, the pandemic has helped to accelerate it. Given the burden the sudden resurgence of cases created on our healthcare system, digitalisation of healthcare services is not just the need of the hour, rather a necessity for survival and sustenance of the industry in the long haul. 

Hence, technological developments such as telemedicine, virtual medical care etc. are likely to remain crucial for the healthcare segment in the times to come.  

How are digital technologies being implemented in pharma marketing in ways that were not explored before the pandemic?

The advent of digital technologies has introduced several path-breaking developments in the healthcare and pharma sector. These include: 

      • Online patient consultation 
      • Contactless patient education 
      • OPD camps with a patient screening device
      • Remote product detailing 
      • Online CME Certification Courses 

How is Indigital Technologies bringing in new efficiencies to this space? Can you share a few brief case studies to elaborate on the impact of digital tools/strategies in pharma marketing?

Contactless patient education – We partnered with various pharma companies and converted 25000+ clinics across India to Wi-Fi clinics. Multiple specialities of doctors also host their personalised patient education material for their patients. Our first such initiative was to spread awareness about thyroid by converting 252 endocrinologists’ clinics into Wi-Fi Thyroid Clinics, wherein we reached out to 85,000 patients in six months’ time with 330 views/downloads per clinic with the help of our unique easy-to-use Wi-Fi enabled patient education device Kanopi. In 2020, we also tied up with another MNC to help them create Allergy Free Wi-Fi clinics and to spread awareness on various allergies faced by patients in their day-to-day life.

OPD camps via patient screening device– Risk score calculation is a tedious job. The burden of calculating these scores falls on doctors. We introduced Kribado with an objective to help doctors to screen patients for being at risk of various diseases. Kribado currently is being used by various pharma companies to conduct camps with a variety of doctor specialities like cardiologists, diabetologists, orthopaedics, ophthalmologists and gynaecologists. One of our most successful screen campaigns has been in association with a leading MNC pharma company where we assisted diabetologists with the early identification of high-risk patients, setting a healthy habit of pre-screening of all diabetes patients. Here the screening was done by the doctor’s support staff, to identify the ASCVD risk of patients in the waiting area with the help of Kribado.

AI-based patient adherence software – We launched Kyoiku AI-based personalised video prescription software that helps patients understand how to take their medications and allows healthcare providers to provide better patient care. It provides simple video instructions for more than 130K medications. 

What are the challenges faced by pharma companies in the implementation of digital technologies?

The main concerns are the culture, values and processes that are not upgraded to support the upcoming digital transformation which may lead to rejection of newer digital tools if they are not in sync with the current processes. Fear of exploring newer techniques might also cause failure.

How will digitalisation help pharma companies stay relevant in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) environment?

In order to stay relevant amidst the uncertain, volatile, complex and ambiguous environment, we believe that pharma companies will have to keep in mind a few considerations. They are:

    • Sticking to core values and basics not getting too ambitious
    • Understanding the new market dynamics and their impact on the overall pharma business
    • Caring for existing team members, keeping them together and valuing their contributions
    • Being flexible and adaptable to every new situation by amending existing strategy and adapting new strategy to reach existing goals

How has Indigital Technologies’ role/offerings changed since the outbreak of the coronavirus? Tell us about the impact created by your products?

During the pandemic, we have helped pharma marketers to reach out to doctors and patients through various digital technologies. We also reached out to more than three lakh doctors and 40 lakh patients and helped them during these tough times. Some of our products like Medexel and Leap to the future helped in empowering and upskilling healthcare practitioners. These are unique online continuous professional development programmes specially designed for doctors. Our digital offerings under Pixika range with automation of data collection and cloud-based input rendering also got picked up by various pharma companies for their doctor reach out branding campaigns.

What will be the future of pharma marketing in the post-pandemic era? What will be the long-term changes that we will witness?

The pandemic has encouraged the pharma industry to embrace technological advancements in terms of digital tools and solutions. Many of these changes that have been brought about by COVID-19 might remain for a longer time like telemedicine, e-pharmacy, AI-based healthcare management tools, e-learning, remote detailing, contactless patient education, contactless patient screening, healthcare mobile apps and many more.