COVID-19 pandemic accelerates digital technology adoption in pharma industry: Sharad Tyagi

Nandita Vijay, BengaluruFriday, May 22, 2020, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pharma industry’s adoption of digital technologies. The industry not just in India but globally too is rapidly recognizing the potential of mobile apps and social media platforms to connect with healthcare practitioners (HCPs), said Sharad Tyagi, managing director, Boehringer Ingelheim, India.

Through digital engagement channels, the industry has adopted multiple interventions to engage HCPs through virtual ad-boards, podcasts and webcasts to deliberate on scientific aspects of medicine. This has also led to more informed decisions, improved insights on patient awareness and the relay of real-time information on developments in COVID-19 related treatment.

Pharmaceutical companies’ field force, medical science liaisons and patient service teams view the digital medium as promising avenues for information sharing. The current scenario could perhaps be viewed as the ‘digital reboot’, Tyagi told Pharmabiz in an email.

In fact, pharma companies across the globe have been taking up initiatives in the digital revolution of healthcare even prior to COVID-19. It has picked up momentum during this pandemic. Patients, doctors, employees and families are now increasingly connected on digital platforms. The range of services and transactions are also undergoing a rapid change. These few weeks of the lockdown have shown how life can still continue under remarkably altered circumstances, if change is accepted in optimistically, he said.

Quoting the recent study by IPSOS, Tyagi said that India, along with China, the US and Germany feature in the list of top 10 countries in the use of telemedicine by doctors for remote consultations. Now companies which are able to see opportunity to change during the pandemic and adopt new ways of working will emerge successful even on the research front. This will lead to collaboration among various companies through open platforms, to contribute together in the hunt for new drugs.  As the world may eventually move to a new normal, the pharma sector will emerge more agile, with a renewed focus on a flexible ways of working which will be a mix of the traditional face-to-face and via the digital model, noted Tyagi.

Boehringer Ingelheim, India has also adopted a range of platforms to interact  with various stakeholders including doctors, employees, vendors and others. Over the course of the last month, it  has  been able to connect with over 30,000 HCPs across the country via digital channels. Some of the digital tools, utilised include websites for every single product, a remote calling platform to connect with HCPs, webinar platforms, a digital asset management platform with a repository or library to access a wide range of digital assets across the globe. There has been considerable attention to build digital capabilities in the sales-force through workshops, trainings and assessments. These channels have helped to stay connected in a seamless manner.