February 9, 2016

The Next-Gen DSA: Customized, Simplified, Relevant

Intouch Solutions was at the forefront when iPads first hit the field and reps delivered their first digital sales aids in 2010. Since then, we have accumulated reams of quantitative data and gathered feedback from hundreds of reps and physicians on the use of digital sales aids in pharma detailing. Although the iPad is no longer seen as the shiny new toy it once was, it’s clear that digital detailing is here to stay. Our research, coupled with our experience developing award-winning applications, has given us valuable insights into how to make digital sales aids (DSAs) better and more productive tools. With that in mind, this POV will look at:

  • Tablet use in detailing, then and now
  • What physicians want from reps
  • Barriers to reps’ use of digital sales aids in the field
  • What’s new in tablet tech (i.e., Windows Surface and Apple iPad)
  • Recommendations for creating engaging, value-rich DSAs, regardless of tablet type

When the iPhone 6s debuted this past September, Apple’s tagline was, “The only thing that’s changed is everything.” In 2011, we conducted a survey of 100 physicians to learn their perceptions and opinions on digital sales aids. This year, we followed up on that survey to see if and how opinions have shifted. We also interviewed reps on their experiences with iPad use. While we can’t say that everything about digital detailing has changed in the past four years, there have been notable shifts in usage and preferences, as the table below indicates.

charts and graphs for digital landscape

As more and more practices have adopted a no-see policy over the past decade, it has become increasingly challenging to get even five minutes alone with a physician. When reps do get time with doctors, every second must count. Doctors want to feel their needs are being met, that reps are aware of and understand the unique needs of their practice.

physician survey results

Reps we interviewed said they use iPads for tracking calls, checking email and capturing signatures, but they did not use the devices consistently for digital detailing. The reasons they gave included:

  • Lack of training or familiarity with the iPad’s functions
  • Difficulty in locating relevant content
  • Not enough time to access the information, either as a result of loading times or the number of “clicks” required to access relevant material
  • Preference for print assets, which they trust more than digital sales aid content

Tablet devices have evolved dramatically since 2010, with new devices, new options and new features continually emerging. A recent comparison of  two recent tablet releases – the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4 – resulted in the two devices tying in five out of 10 categories. Here’s a quick look at some of the features most relevant for digital detailing.

When Apple unveiled the iPad Pro in September 2015, the Irish medical technology company 3D4Medical wowed the audience with a demo of its beautiful Complete Anatomy app. The app features anatomically correct 3-D models that can be manipulated via real-time animations for patient and medical student education. The demo was a perfect example of the iPad Pro’s potential to play a big role in the field of medicine, including use as a sales tool. Increased screen size and pixel density, more storage space, faster processing capability, plus Apple’s new Pencil, keyboard, and four-speaker audio system position the latest iPad as a powerful tool for digital detailing.

We’ve talked a lot about the iPad over the past few years, but Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to creating apps for DSAs. One of the most significant differences between the iPad Pro (or any iPad) and the Surface Pro 4 is that the former uses a mobile operating system, while the Surface uses a Windows operating system — which means that walking around with a Surface is like walking around with a fully functioning desktop computer in your briefcase.

Regardless of which device is employed, if the DSA is not carefully planned and constructed, it is of no value to anyone. We have talked about how we need to “think bigger than iPad,” but what would that look like?
Despite the fact that DSAs have been built to house everything needed to sell a brand and be the go-to reference for the field, reps don’t use them as much as they could. And when they do use them, doctors aren’t always getting what they want from the interaction.

With this in mind, Intouch has deployed apps that make each interaction unique and valuable. Reps can control the flow and build a call based on what they know interests and influences their audience. Other benefits include:

  • Pre-set calls tailored to a specific physician’s or segment’s attitude and/or behavior
  • Quick updates to address market dynamics
  • Ability to extend the conversation with email and e-details

When well-designed e-detail apps are paired with powerful platforms like Veeva, the opportunity to refine and personalize content based on individual practice needs and interests becomes exponential. Such platforms allow reps to customize sales calls by seamlessly gathering information during an e-detail and using it to create an in-depth profile for each physician and his or her practice. For example, when a physician is shown a screen that compares different drugs, the rep can note the doctor’s attitudinal response as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative” with just the tap of an icon, thereby adding to their knowledge base about that doctor. This, in turn, can inform and direct future sales calls to that particular physician.

Going one step further, platforms that can learn from the profile data they accumulate can employ predictive analytics (think Google’s ability to guess what you’re searching for) to suggest what a rep should show next in a presentation, providing an even more personalized experience for the physician.

physician survey results

Whether the iPad will continue to be the go-to tablet for digital detailing remains to be seen, as Microsoft now offers many of the same capabilities in its recently released tablet, the Surface Pro 4. Regardless, next-gen sales aids are useless without a well-prepared, well-informed rep. In order to make the most of digital capabilities, reps need — and want — to be better trained and have more control over how they access and present content. For reps to be most effective, future DSAs need to contain up-to-date content and be highly responsive, well organized, and easy to customize and navigate.

If your company is ready to take the next step toward creating effective, efficient, content-rich DSAs, we would be happy to help guide the process. Please reach out to brady.walcott@intouchsol.com.