What does the Coronavirus crisis mean for the Pharmaceutical industry?

With 80% of the pharma sale coming from sales representatives, how would the industry maintain numbers where doctors are sceptical about meeting these reps?

As restrictions are easing out, and with certain measures in place to curb the pandemic, many clinics are reopening slowly across cities. While certain drug-making companies might have been in profit, many companies have taken a serious hit on their sales. A new business challenge has emerged for drug manufacturers.

The Challenge

As companies and governments restrict face-to-face interactions between sales representatives and physicians, the industry's long standing tool for building brand awareness and for gaining attention in competitive drug categories have been rendered completely useless.

Many drug makers are asking employees to work remotely and limit external interactions, and for the pharmaceutical industry that also means limiting interactions with a big customer base – physicians, some of whom are overburdened amid the outbreak and some of whom are also limiting external interactions to prevent exposure to the virus.

To add to this unbalanced equation, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also banned medical representatives from visiting Doctors' offices for the foreseeable future.

According to a McKinsey report, it is estimated that there are around 1 million sales representatives in the country. They constitute about 70-80% of the workforce in many pharma organisations. This workforce knocks at the doors of doctors in clinics and hospitals, to promote products and generate prescriptions.

These field forces are imperative in the USD 40 billion Indian pharmaceutical industry dominated by branded generics, representing more than 80% of total sales.

Going Digital is the key?

A typical day of a sales representative starts with making daily calls with clients and doctors to schedule a meeting and pitch the company's sample or the product. If the doctor agrees to prescribe the medicine, the 'sale' is made. They also have to check with the local chemist if the prescriptions are coming.

With representatives working from home, they are now relying on tools like video conferencing and telephones as per the convenience of doctors.

However, companies are struggling to quantize the effectiveness of a digital call. Furthermore, traceability is something the industry is still working to figure out.

An Effective Alternative

Let's face it, not everything can work out remotely or digitally. Certain industries such as the pharma industry will always require some physical representatives to keep them up and running. How can we ensure Doctors feel comfortable meeting medical representatives once again? How can we ensure the safety of everyone?

If the doctors have a way to be certain that the representative they are going to meet is safe and not infected, they will be at relative ease and comfort. Say, if an app could analyze the location history and real-time hotspot data of a sales representative to predict if he or she might have come in contact with a coronavirus patient, their risk can be quantified and doctors can remain at peace.

We at DigiShield have come up with a similar solution to bridge this gap between sales representatives and Doctors.

Introducing DigiShield healthPASS, an AI-powered solution that can continuously monitor the health status of the user. healthPASS enables sales representatives to seamlessly approach doctor's clinics and ensure both of their wellbeings at the same time.

A healthPASS can be issued to each Medical Representative on their Android or iPhone. The healthPASS validity is maintained by sophisticated Artificial Intelligence algorithms. The AI tracks the Medical Representative’s location as well as continually collects data from the phones accelerometer, gyroscope and multiple other sensors. In addition, the user can also upload a picture of their tongue that can be analyzed by the AI algorithm. The coach maintains engagement with each of your staff and can identify if they need to be seen by a doctor. If a doctor’s consultation is needed, a tele-consultation is quickly conducted. The medical representative can be referred to a healthPASS network clinic for further evaluation and treatment. A platform like healthPASS can shape the post-COVID world to become more safe, reliant, and efficient.

To know more about DigiShield healthPASS, visit

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