Can New Tech Get
Pharma Reps to Stop Hating their CRM?

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What CX Tech Innovations Options Are Ripe for Consideration?

Innovation is often driven by frustration. Scaling and adopting innovation works best if it gets rid of something people hate. So rather than trying to figure out what to use new technology for, it is better to focus on helping people get rid of problems or tasks. Which Sales representative or Medical Science Liaison likes taking call notes? Who likes creating expense reports? Who likes to record time off territory? 

So let’s start with the first one. The question is if technology can help with automating the creation of call notes. I think yes, using natural language processing (NLP) technology. The technology is pretty mature now. Like on your phone it can listen to what's being said and convert that to text on the screen. That text can then be scanned and analyzed for keywords. Based on that call notes can be created automatically, and only needs to be double-checked or slightly edited by the rep to approve.

A common question asked is whether this raises privacy concerns, as recording a call may not be appreciated, isn’t legal and may not be considered appropriate. Sales reps and med-legal will use this argument initially to resist change, like any other change. A way to make this compliant is to ensure the voice is not actually recorded but analysed and the full text purged real-time, leaving only the summarized call notes. This way there should not be a privacy issue. I would expect that reps will love this kind of feature because they would get their notes done automatically and HCPs really wouldn’t care if it meant they’ll be better supported. Imagine what else you could do with this technology; prompt messages if something is forgotten, or assess the sentiment of the HCP during the call to what’s being discussed instead of simply relying on the rep to capture this from an interpretation of HCP’s reaction to the slide. The potential is enormous.  

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When it comes to innovation and predicting what tech will be adopted and what technologies are sticky, I often look at the way my own children deals with innovation. When they were young, they were driven by curiosity and now they are teenagers it seems they are often driven by laziness (companies call that efficiency!). My daughter very quickly figured out that her smartwatch only required her to wave her arm a lot to get to the daily 5,000 steps requested by school during a lockdown. In any case, they do quickly pick-up certain things that they will continue to do themselves, but will also be picked up by slow-followers. Instagram, collaborative document sharing, screen casting, bots. Not rep email and SMS. And when they grow up they may explore an innovative new solution like Omnipresence. 

Pharma companies and their sales reps need to adapt to their customers behaviours to stay relevant. HCPs are an interesting bunch when it comes to technology. Most are slow-followers; their focus is more on people, science, safety and ethics. And I am happy with that because I don’t want to imagine a world where healthcare were to be run by a bunch of engineers like myself, their focus should remain specialized.  On the other hand, I have many friends with a medical background, who are very excited by the potential of digital to improve the lives of patients and avidly follow each advance and development in the world of consumer and med tech.

 

So predicting what technologies companies will adopt and reps will accept may not be that complicated. Just look at your children now and you can picture what pharma and healthcare will be using in 5 years from now. ‘’Instagram for healthcare’’, collaborative health records, bits to do pre-screening of patients. That said, they will still allow the pharma representative to cast their presentation on the flatscreen on the wall of their office because, well, some things will never change.   

By: Edwin Erckens 

Edwin has created his opinions based on 10 years of past experience in pharma and consumer healthcare in P&G, Teva and Sanofi, in local, regional and global commercial IT/digital roles and chose Omnipresence by Exeevo for use in multiple markets during his time at Sanofi.