Pharmaceuticals and Telemedicine: Coming together scripts a win-win for both

Updated: June 09, 2020 5:26 PM

Telemedicine platforms and pharmaceutical players can go a long way together. All they need is an innovative, cohesive partnership.

Telemedicine , pharmaceutical, covid19, coronavirus, Doceree, Dr Harshit JainTelemedicine platforms have doctors that pharmaceutical brands ultimately try to reach out to in a bid to educate them about their products and services.

By Dr. Harshit Jain

While the COVID pandemic has forced us to adapt to a new normal, lives have suddenly fit into the challenging times. Now that masks, sanitizers and social distancing have caught up our regular routine, there is one more trend that has evolved drastically in these times – Online consultations with doctors.

Telemedicine in multiple ways has made users’ lives easy, ensuring convenience, comfort and cost-effectiveness in seeking advice from doctors. Nevertheless, people were hesitant to consult doctors online as touch and feel during a doctor consultation were still considered absolutely essential (physical examination) or, in another reason, there was a complete lack of awareness about telemedicine that marred its potential.

Over the last few years, the scenario changed with people in metro and big cities getting to understand the value telemedicine offered. Post COVID-19 when social distancing norms were in place, people preferred talking to doctors online, and that is when telemedicine gathered a lot of steam, yet with existing challenges.

Telemedicine – A long term sustenance?

It isn’t easy to sustain in a ‘digital’ business-to-customer domain. Players in the telemedicine industry face tremendous pressure because of low profit margins. Taking into account the operating cost, patient acquisition as a user, marketing cost, and the doctor’s fees, the profit margin a telemedicine player is left with is considerably negligible.

Though the COVID outbreak has led to a significant jump in online consultations, it would still be too optimistic to say that the phenomena will not change once things begin to normalize. Undoubtedly, the decline would happen, but the situation for entire telemedicine industry would be better off than earlier, especially for big players. But the question still remains that ‘Will that be enough to make their businesses sustainable?

A battle pharmaceutical companies are fighting

Coronavirus outbreak created a unique challenge for pharmaceutical companies. Their entire workforce of sales representatives were locked indoors as the country went into an unprecedented lockdown. The situation doesn’t look like to be easing up for Rx drug makers even after staggered opening of territories.

Physicians, in all possibility, would also not be comfortable having hordes of people around in hospitals or in their clinics, except for patients and their caretakers. For sales representatives, it will now become particularly difficult to meet doctors in person.

Given the situation, how pharmaceutical brands will manage to share crucial information about their existing and new product and services with doctors. Not just that, how doctors will have access to such critical information when sales representatives’ visits would be very limited ?

Joining hands to open up possibilities

Coming together is a solution that would work in favour of players from both the industries, pharmaceutical as well as telemedicine.

Telemedicine platforms have doctors that pharmaceutical brands ultimately try to reach out to in a bid to educate them about their products and services. The platforms have a unique opportunity to monetize their property by showcasing messaging of Rx drugs targeted to each physician, something pharmaceutical brands would be more than willing to do when their sales representatives would be unable to visit the healthcare professionals regularly. This would also push pharmaceutical brands to make the most of the digital mediums at a time when their target audience – doctors – are going digital.

A telehealth platform can show a banner messaging to the physician while a chat or video consultation is on, or play a brand video messaging while the physician is waiting for the next patient consult to begin. All this can happen in a completely non-intrusive manner by smoothly integrating into the overall interface of the app.

And rather than acting as a standalone entity, telemedicine platforms can partner with integrated physician  engagement platforms like Doceree that can help maximize their monetization effort by opening up their marketing-messaging spaces to multiple pharmaceutical brands, who would bid in a real time for that space for a banner messaging or a video messaging display.

Telemedicine platforms and pharmaceutical players can go a long way together. All they need is an innovative, cohesive partnership.

(The author is Founder and CEO, Doceree. Views expressed are personal.)

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