March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 10.04

Tools for the Critical 60

When a meeting's length is measured in seconds, the right tools can make each one count.
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By Amila Bewtra




Speed. Like never before, it’s the watchword in the pharmaceutical industry. Speed to market, speed to sale, speed to blockbuster status. Gone are the days of long patent protection and decade-long cycles of dominance; come is the era of two-year patents and the need to achieve product leadership in a compressed period.

Compounding this is the enormous pressure physicians face to complete a growing multitude of tasks. Doctors no longer have the time or luxury to meet pharmaceutical sales representatives multiple times per week to discuss the latest product advances and options. Instead, they need and demand immediate access to current information that can help them make the right choices for their patients. Today, the average meeting between a physician and a pharma rep lasts just over one minute (and costs approximately $175), so it’s essential for both parties that every second count.

Into this environment steps the pharma sales representative, facing new pressures to accomplish his or her tasks at an increasingly competitive and demanding rate. The question is then, what tools can they depend on to meet and master these challenges? For years, the answer has been technology—sales force automation tools that enable the harried rep to perform tasks with greater efficiency from the field. Technology remains the answer today, but with a twist.

For many industries, the notion of mobile technology as a breakthrough advance may seem quaint. After all, haven’t organizations ranging from Federal Express to utilities been leveraging mobile technologies for years to deliver packages and read meters? If they’ve all been at it that long, why is the pharma industry just getting around to it?

Quite simply, the demands the pharma industry puts on mobile devices outstrip many others. While mobile technology may have been able to fulfill the need for speed for a number of industries, devices to-date have lacked a component critical to the pharma industry.

Consider the complexity of the average pharmaceutical sales call: On a typical call, a rep may need to research all of the details of the previous call he conducted with a particular physician, along with the interactions of a co-promoting rep. He may also need to review all of the latest prescription data to best understand the physician’s preferences for treatments. Access to this information, in order to fully understand and be able to speak quickly and coherently about trends and competitor product lines, among other things, is critical to the success of the call. Until now, no combination of mobile hardware and software has been capable of meeting this kind of complex transaction demand while offering the right combination of flexibility and adaptability.

Advances in mobile hardware and software, however, are enabling pharma reps to fully mobilize their workflow. Microsoft’s Tablet XP operating system supports the demands of the busy pharma sales representative. Add new software offerings that fully optimize the tablet OS for the pharma industry and the result is a powerful tool designed to meet the crucial demands of this industry.

Tablets are smaller, lighter and in many ways more adaptable than laptops. Yet it’s not simply the tablet’s flexibility that makes the critical difference but the complete optimization of its OS, which delivers power to the pharma industry that was previously reserved for the likes of cargo companies and utilities. During a minute-long sales call, often standing in a hallway, a rep can’t afford to be struggling with hardware to bring up the physician’s profile or set up a call report; pull up the screen for a sample signature; or fumble with bulky hardware while handing the system to the physician for her signature. A fully optimized tablet solves all of this, leaving more time for the rep to accomplish the task at hand—conveying critical information about life-saving treatments.•

Amila Bewtra is a product manager for Dendrite.
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