Dinesh Chindarkar, Co-founder of our GLOBALHealthPR partner in India, MediaMedic Communications, elucidates about eDetailing – where technology and graphics, married with rich content, come to the rescue of mundane communication
Detailing has always been the backbone of doctors’ communication with the pharma industry for over the last three to four decades. This print tool, though has undergone quality improvements in terms of its content, visual appeal, some added gimmicks etc; all these have been value-adds within the box. Nothing has challenged it–until now.With healthcare providers (HCPs) getting increasingly busy, the print communication gets poor attention with hardly five to 10 per cent of the total message delivered at times. Many a times, the doctor says that he has seen the detailer over and over again and asks the sales representative to just name the brand and/or leave samples and move on. All the cumulative hard work of the brand manager, marketing manager and the sales representative goes for a toss when the doctor does that. This also affects the sales person’s psyche and morale because of which his work gets adversely affected. A major complaint of the field people, including managers, is that they cannot talk beyond the brand name and one or two points; just because they had a bad experience with the doctor not being receptive or not allowing them to speak more.
Within the current scenario, isn’t the doctor justified to refuse him? Isn’t the medical representative justified in insisting on finishing his detailing after waiting for so long? Is the communication tool incomplete or lacking something interesting to convey its message?
Welcome to the era of eDetailing – where technology and graphics, married with rich content, come to the rescue of the mundane communication!
With the advent of technology, video content, graphics, motion and interactivity, and newer digital tools are challenging this visual aid and redefining communication. This version of detailing adds an ‘e’ of electronic to it, making it completely different from the current mode of communication. A different form of eDetailing is one where communication is sent to doctors on the PC without a personal interaction. But we are talking of eDetailing in the context where the electronic detailing aid is used by the sales rep in person-to-person call.
The objective of having a rich, content – driven conversation with the doctor, so as to discuss about newer medical advances, sharing updated information and help him make the right decision for prescription can be achieved using eDetailing. All this can be done weaving the brand within the conversation rather than the brand dominating the communication.
With a range of devices available from the high end i-Pads to lower end tablets, one can choose the right one based on the needs and budgets. However, the biggest two challenges in eDetailing are:
1.Approach and understanding of technology
- Changing mindsets and training people
eDetailing is not just digitising communication. A lot of pharma companies today have moved to converting their existing content of the visual aid into a presentation format and this they feel is using digital technology. No it is not! Digital medium is a medium by itself and each media has its own nuances, advantages and disadvantages, their own strengths and weaknesses. One has to build up on the strength and minimise weaknesses, just like with people. If the MR makes a powerpoint presentation to a doctor using the visual aid, how is it different from using a print media? This is just like repackaging the radio and listening to it on a TV. Will that really be utilising the key advantages that a television offers?
The approach to the content has to be radically different. What does digital media really offer? It gives an incredible video streaming experience, rich graphics, interactive animations, the technology of touch, audio effects, navigational framework etc. All of these have now to be utilised keeping in mind the key messaging that we need to convey to our TG.
Instructional design forms the basis of any eDetailing project and forms the core of building communication. There are various approaches to eDetailing based on the category in which one is operating, the nature of the brand, the amount of science available in it and the level of HCPs‘ understanding around it. Considering today’s limitations of time, a MR should be able to set up the story easily before he meets the doctor and deliver the key message within the anticipated time. If the MR is able to deal with this efficiently, the whole communication can be effective. If he can break the same story in different parts and present to the doctor during different visits he can create one strong message going to the doctor. Another critical advantage of eDetailing is in equipping the MR to answer variety of queries through handy information capsules.
In eDetailing there is also a possibility of creating an analytics back-end, wherein key things can be recorded, like which doctor has seen the story, spent how much time on which part, where the interaction was maximum etc. This data can be collated real time and based on that feedback can be given. Taking eDetailing to a new level, the MR can connect the doctor to the medical team in his office through his device and get any queries sorted out. Also, he can encourage and involve the doctor in the interactive presentation through guided questions and lead him into conversation. Another advantage of eDetailing is compiling all data in an interactive form, where the MR can open up a product manual to showcase references or showcase a latest CME video to get across an important point. Patient-centric case-studies, interactive CMEs, lead-in medical cases etc can make a doctor completely involved in the communication process. Any interesting data can be shared with the doctor there and then or could be requested for with a follow-up.
Though all this sounds like a dream after four decades of mundane detailing, there are certain hurdles that one needs to overcome. The hurdles with using the right technology which works all the time is critical. The connectivity, band-width, actual model of detailing, the software used and the interface of promotion are all critical in making the technology stronger. Even if the technology is good it is critical to train your people, especially unlearning old things, which is difficult. People are resistant to change. With a long history of regular detailing, it is really difficult to change the typical ‘senior management mindset’. To bring them out of their comfort zone is a challenge for the industry. Companies need to do a thorough training – both on the mental front to encourage them for usage and on the usability front to make them tech-savvy. It is critical to take rational decisions knowing the internal limitations, rather than copying someone. If there is a clear understanding of technology with a simple vision, one can have a convinced internal buy-in. It should be understood by all stakeholders that the idea is more important and bigger than the technology!
Note: This blog post also appears in Express Pharma.