Pharma marketers in India are opening up to digital physician marketing

Dr Harshit Jain, Founder & Global CEO, Doceree in an interaction with Kalyani Sharma talks about the physician marketing space and its future growth in India

Walk us through the journey of Doceree so far (including the current revenue & targets)

When we started Doceree in 2019, we ventured into a space that was very niche, especially in the context of the Indian market. Pharma brands across the globe were not much open to using digital mediums for physician engagement as traditional route of in-person interactions by sales reps still remained the most popular way to connect with physicians. However, the pandemic changed the entire scenario — sales reps were locked indoors and the only way for pharma organisations to reach out to physicians was through only digital. Around this time, pharma companies realised that digital needed to be more than a checkbox activity in their marketing plans. Our platform turned out to be exactly what pharma brands looked for, providing them complete transparency in accessing physicians through a regulatory compliant medium. Doceree enabled pharma marketers to target physicians contextually at opportune moments, helping them optimise their business outcomes. That we have been able to expand to three international geographies – the US, India, UK & Europe in a span of two years shows how critical our platform had been for pharma players. We have been expanding to a new international market every six months and launching various products and features to provide further optimisation capabilities to pharma marketers. Presently, we are working with top 7 out of 10 global pharma players and over 50 publishers throughout the world. Our India business became cash positive in the first 15 months and the US business is expected to become cash positive in the next three months. We are on track to clock projected annual revenue of $6 million this year.

Doceree recently expanded in Europe and is already active in US & India. Can you throw some light on the physician marketing space in all these locations? (A comprehensive analysis)

Irrespective of any market, physician marketing lagged much behind consumer marketing when it comes to digital. While the concept was almost new for Indian pharma marketers, the story was no different even in the developed markets like Europe and America. It is the mental block pertaining to regulations and compliance that had limited the adoption of digital in the pharma industry. This hesitation has now been waning among pharma marketers, especially in India where digital penetration is growing fast in the sector. The concept exists elsewhere in the US, Europe, UK and Japan, but because not much innovation has happened in the space the growth has been very slow. Consumer marketing in the last decade changed the way brands reached out to their target consumer. That kind of transformation did not happen in the pharma marketing space so far, be it any market we talk about. The pandemic though has fuelled the adoption of digital in the industry and marketers are now being more serious about digital pharma marketing tools and strategies. We can say it is now becoming an exciting space across markets.

Physician marketing is a comparatively niche area in India. What is the need of the hour as far as its growth in India is concerned?

Pharma marketers in India are opening up to digital physician marketing. The future of pharma marketing post pandemic is definitely ‘hybrid’, which is a combination of both offline and online marketing mediums. Simply following the traditional route of meeting physicians personally to update them about new drug or therapy will not suffice now. The growth of telehealth and EHR platforms as also the government’s thrust on digital health will now require pharma brands to switch to ‘online-offline’ model for optimum results. Thus, important at this stage is the introduction of innovative products and features that can take physician engagement to new levels with healthcare experts getting more active on digital platforms.

How do you see this space in the next five years? Any gaps/challenges/suggestions that you would like to highlight?

Digital pharma marketing is fast evolving and it will soon become an integral part of marketing efforts for the pharma industry. The primary gap right now is physicians not being able to get relevant and trusted content from pharma companies that could optimise treatment outcomes. Delivering hyper relevant messages through multiple channels is the need of the hour. As a company, we are addressing the issue through our product offerings.

What are the future plans of the company? (Any new product in the pipeline or further expansion or collaboration)

The plan is to expand to Japan next year and come up with market-specific products to cater to the needs of pharma marketers. We will continue doing partnerships in this domain to further optimise business goals of pharma brands.

Please describe about your new product launch. 

Doceree initially enabled pharma brands to reach physicians via display and text-based messaging, the scope of which we have broadened by introducing opti-channel marketing that now would empower brands to access physicians digitally via email and SMS as well.

With this, the platform has increased physicians’ touchpoints, enabling marketers to garner better engagement. Also, by using the Doceree platform, pharma brands can now showcase a single message to physicians on multi channels – display email and SMS, pronouncing greatly the impact of digital messaging campaigns. We are developing capabilities that would make digital a crucial marketing component for the pharma industry. It is thus important that we enable pharma brands to gain access to physicians’ touchpoints across effective digital channels. That’s what our product is aiming to establish.

In the US, we have launched Doceree Perform, a measurement solution to pioneer a new era of transparency for life sciences brands to increase the ROI of digital messaging campaigns. As the latest advancement to the company’s platform for healthcare professional communications, Doceree Perform progresses the sector to go beyond vanity marketing metrics to establish business outcomes with a compressive overview on the effectiveness of virtual interactions. The unparalleled measurement proficiency of Doceree Perform equips life sciences organisations with an interactive platform to evaluate business performances and to raise script lift with the utilisation of more precise data-driven messages. With access to total prescriptions (TRx), new prescriptions (NRx), new-to-brand prescriptions (NBRx) and ROI metrics on Doceree Perform, life sciences companies can not only identify the behaviors of healthcare professionals (HCPs) and campaign results precisely across the Doceree network, but also gauge the performance of initiatives on additional channels and networks.

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