Re-imagining India’s pharma commercial workforce model in the Never Normal
The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions have undoubtedly caused a major upheaval in how pharma companies engage with Healthcare Providers (HCPs) and HCPs, in turn, engage with their patients. The massive acceleration towards remote visits and digital medicine during the pandemic means that the conventional engagement models are moving toward a "new normal." The two distinct vectors we believe that will drive this change are:
The shift toward virtual healthcare
While the virtualization of healthcare was long expected, the COVID-19 pandemic has finally proven to be the tipping point. The recent HCP-Patient survey1 conducted by Accenture confirms the imminent transition in the HCP-patient dynamics. Here are some notable findings of the survey.
Patients embrace digital
Lockdown restrictions and the fear of getting infected has prompted patients to learn the usage of new technologies to address their healthcare issues. Even doctors are now encouraging patients to use various apps to manage their health conditions. At the same time, 62 percent of the patients surveyed felt that the extensive usage of technology had reduced their direct access to their healthcare providers, thereby affecting the quality of care.
Persisting challenges in digital diagnosis
As shown in the statistics below, the doctor community has embraced virtual tools to manage health outcomes for their patients. Online chat, telephone and video conferencing are the most popular options. At the same time, concerns such as lack of empathy in virtual discussions, delayed diagnosis and patient privacy issues still persist.
Doctors need "right," not more information
Post-COVID-19, there is a 54 percent increase in the volume of information sent by pharma companies through digital channels. However, despite the digital engagement, doctors feel that the pharma companies have not fully understood their changing needs and expectations for patient treatment.
Being a "fit-for-purpose" commercial organization
As with other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has also tremendously impacted the Indian Pharma Market (IPM). Though there was a gradual recovery visible in June and July, the trend was reversed in August. Overall, the growth expectations remain muted due to fewer OPDs, delays in elective surgeries and supply-side constraints.
In this protracted period of muted growth, pharma companies need to take a closer look at boosting efficiencies across the business. Hence, initiatives such as effective spend management, optimization of geographical coverage and focus on high productivity HCP conversions with a stress on the phygital (physical and digital) model are some of the imperatives to protect margins eventually.
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