While AI has been present for some time, we are still exploring its capabilities and how it can aid in uncovering new insights and enhancing the effectiveness of product sales. The integration of AI into the pharmaceutical sector holds tremendous promise for shaping a brighter future in healthcare and beyond.
In the post-COVID world, the utilization of digital technology and AI has emerged as the primary driving force behind businesses. It is no longer considered an optional addition but rather a crucial differentiating factor across healthcare. The integration of these technologies has become essential for businesses to stay competitive and relevant in the rapidly evolving landscape.
Current Market Scenario
AI has made significant strides in various aspects of the pharmaceutical and over-the-counter (OTC) industry. With the vast amount of data being generated in healthcare from sources like clinical trials, drug formulations, and feedback from medical devices or patient apps, AI can uncover previously unseen patterns and insights. The ability of AI to analyze this massive volume of data enables researchers and healthcare professionals to make more informed decisions, discover new correlations, and potentially identify novel treatments or approaches that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
"Despite the progress made by AI in various areas, the adoption of AI and machine learning in medical sales and healthcare professionals in India still has room for improvement. According to a survey done by EY, a significant portion of Indian companies (53%) are in the "beginners" stage of AI implementation, while 40% are categorized as "conservatives," and only a small fraction (7%) have advanced to the "explorers" stage. As highlighted by a senior Indian digital leader, the shift from manual to digital processes has occurred, but there is a perceived lack of added value," Aishwarya Patharkar, co-founder, Markytics said.
Empowering Sales Representatives
As the volume of data increases, it is essential for medical sales reps, healthcare professionals, and companies to embrace AI technology and leverage visual analytics. This entails going beyond AI as a mere tool for sales apps and recognizing its potential in driving sales strategies efficiently at the final stage.
Presently, every sales representative carries a handheld device providing access to their daily plans. The true value of AI lies in its capacity to empower Medical Sales Representatives, enabling them to perform their duties more efficiently within shorter timeframes while expanding the market. With the aid of technology, AI can prioritize pre-call planning and provide valuable recommendations on which leads a salesperson should pursue. This allows sales reps to spend more time in the field, fostering longer-lasting relationships with doctors and retailers. Additionally, AI can handle the customization of interactions with healthcare professionals, reducing the burden on sales reps and enhancing overall efficiency.
Innovative Start-ups Leading the Way
"Many start-ups have gauged the opportunity in the pharma sector and have come out with indigenous inventions to help the industry cash in on the opportunity provided by AI. There are several companies and start ups that are trying to explore the vast opportunities in the pharma sector. We have also launched two products – EcomPulse and SmartSampark - that provide insights about pricing, sales performance, reviews, and other key factors," Patharkar said.
E-commerce: The New Frontier
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of e-pharma services as people turned to online platforms for their healthcare needs. In the last few years, the e-pharma space in India has seen significant competition among various platforms, with several startups entering this sector. Some prominent players include PharmEasy, Medlife, Netmeds, 1mg, and more. Similarly, the share of sales for OTC companies from e-commerce platforms has also increased.
As the e-commerce sector continues to expand as a novel source, it becomes crucial to establish and monitor specialized strategies tailored for e-commerce. This approach is essential for maintaining a competitive edge within the market.
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