Will Technology Innovations Replace Med Representatives In the Future?

Facing new digital tendencies

Nowadays pharmaceutical companies are facing serious changes. Today’s business has chosen to go digital and healthcare companies must catch up with the speed of light. Some of them need to reconsider their marketing strategies. Some of pharma employees also have fears of getting fired in the nearest future because of their digital ignorance.

Investing into the future

In order to stay competitive, pharma managers are taking serious business steps towards digital. According to a new eMarketer report “Health & Pharma Marketers Split Digital Spend Between Search, Display”, US pharmaceutical and healthcare companies spent $1.67 billion to promote their product via digital channels in 2005. This year’s figures are about $1.93 billion and it’s not over yet. Research has shown that the approximate costs on digital advertising will be around of $3.1 billion by the end of this decade. It has been noted though that pharma sector is still the smallest one in terms of spending on digital. Such money facts can tell us more than words. There is still a long way to run.

Remaining the ultimate driving force

Now, many of the leading pharma companies are equipping their sales forces with modern gadgets and apps. All digital solutions like, for instance, CRM/CLM systems are of great use to med reps in their work with physicians. Sales reps are able to demonstrate vivid eDetailing presentations to keen customers, gather KPIs and personalize communication with the doctor. Everything seems to be perfect, but some pharma sales reps are nevertheless afraid they can be totally replaced with digital gadgets. And here they are right to some extent. Clay Wilemon, CEO & Chief Strategy Officer at DevicePharm, has already raised a question about the future decline of sales reps as an occupation in his article “Death of the Medical Device Sales Rep?” Although a little bit of an exaggeration, it does make sense. More and more doctors prefer digital ways to get information. Tracy Staton, Editor-in-Chief of FiercePharma noted in her review “If reps can’t get in doctors’ front doors, try alternate routes” that about a half of physicians are against pharma sales reps’ visits.  Jim Edwards  wrote in the analytic paper aptly named “Death of a Salesman: AstraZeneca Replaced Entire Nexium Salesforce With Telemarketers – and It Worked” that AstraZeneca cut down the number of its sales force personnel by 50%. Some of them had their job title renamed and are now sitting in call centers. Tapan J. Ray in “Would e-Marketing Replace Medical Representatives?” also said that at least in the United States iPad and Android apps together with other digital solutions have already replaced a number of med reps and the process keeps running. However, it is not all over for medical sales reps – as Chris Ross, a writer specializing in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, states in his article “Adapting to the digital age”. Physicians, like any other ordinary people, need to communicate. This gives pharma representatives a great deal of hope. Therefore, the question is still open to discussion and you may add your own viewpoint to it.