The future of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare industry in the country and worldwide lies in going digital and adopting social. The same found consensus in the recently concluded digital marketing conference – DigiSights 2013, India’s first digital marketing conference in Pharma and Healthcare by MediaMedic, a communications firm in the healthcare communications.
The company that operates from Mumbai was founded in 2005 by Priti Mohile and Dinesh Chindarkar. Both the co-founders who have a rich experience of multiple years in the healthcare and communications industry realized the need for innovative communications in the pharma and healthcare sector too, eventually leading to the formation of MediaMedic. The objective was to offer integrated communication services including branding, medical communications, health PR and newer digital mediums, which would bring in freshness and innovation within healthcare communication.
Listening to both the experienced co-founders at the DigiSights 2013 event (first half and second half) it was imperative for me to get in touch with them to understand more about how digital is enriching the pharma industry and the support from MediaMedic on the same.
Listed below are the edited excerpts of the email interview with the co-founders.
Prasant Naidu (PN): Is digital the way forward for the healthcare industry?
Dinesh Chindarkar (DC): Digital alone will not suffice, but digital as a part of the strategy mix will augment the marketing mix and give an edge to healthcare communications. The shift towards digital cannot be ignored – most of the doctors have smartphones, are on social channels and access the web for information.
So is the case with patients, who scan the web for health – and in fact is the 2nd largest searched subject. So there is an immense change in the ecosystem which throws up an opportunity. But it is critical to have the right idea in place before thinking digital. Further with no well defined regulation in place, we need to do responsible communication keeping the pharma regulations in view.
PN: How are startups supporting this to happen?
DC: Startups are radical and unconventional especially in healthcare – and it is important as that attitude is lacking in conventional pharma. Hence, though there is a cultural clash – things are changing. Indian health start-ups like Diabeto and uCheck are clear examples of things that are going to happen. Diabeto is a Bluetooth powered hardware device which attaches to the glucometer and transfers readings to the mobile phones and creates patterns over a period of time.
uCheck from Biosense is a smartphone based platform technology for urine and blood testing. Internationally pharma & healthcare organizations are making an attempt to either take-over or fund such startups. We shall soon see such radical crossovers happening in India.
PN: What are the initiatives that MediaMedic has taken so far to support the digital growth in the industry?
Priti Mohile (PM): MediaMedic has been offering integrated marketing and communication solutions to the pharma & healthcare. We have done some innovative projects in India & globally on eDetailing with Doctors, insighting & research for various health conditions, developed mobile applications, patient-centric modules, etc.
Our digital team regularly scans various health conditions, manages social media accounts, digital PR and CLM. We give strategic support to companies to adapt digital internally and also conduct digital training & workshops.
Our Global HealthPR partnership has been doing a number of digital projects with well-known pharma companies in different countries. Interestingly as a part of the Global HealthPR group, we have worked with Progeria Research Foundation, USA who set up a mission to find missing 150 Progeria kids across the globe. We used all channels and 60 more children were found in the last 3 years out of which 4 were from India.
We have set-up various online properties to educate pharma & healthcare in adapting to digital and newer tools.
PN: Is Mobile leading the growth and what are the challenges you see right now in it?
DC: Currently in the industry there are more digital migrants & fewer digital natives and this gap will reduce soon. In adopting mobile centric health strategies, an excellent example is of the Gujarat government who communicated with pregnant woman to successfully curb the infant mortality rate. So in a country of 850 million mobile phones, there are enough opportunities in healthcare for bringing in awareness and education – which is currently amiss.
Within mobile health, the possibilities are immense, right from personalized application for doctors, connecting and helping real time with patients, developing user friendly applications for education, using gamification as a means of leading healthy lifestyle, etc. It is important to build a solution that addresses a problem simply, rather than just build technology because everyone is doing it.
PN: What are the changes you see that might impact the digital revolution in 2014 for the pharma industry in the country?
PM: A strategic outlook with the right agencies handling it, especially those who understand pharmaceutical marketing and regulations, the involvement and understanding by the senior management of the industry, digital literacy, educational workshops for the same, changing mindsets and readiness to integrate into traditional media are critical from the company point of view.
Companies who understand how doctors and patients are both changing with this digital revolution, as well as understand consumer/patient psyche towards health and disease will be able to make meaningful impact.
A major change in terms of outlook and an internal buy-in cross departments, will be crucial to take advantage of the revolution.
There is no doubt that the future of pharma is digital along with mobile but that would also mean having clear guidelines in place, educating people and also considering the pharma industry’s guidelines.