This startup began small when it was founded in 2019 by healthcare and marketing professionals, but ever since March 2020 when Doceree began its India operations slap in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it breathed a lifeline into the personal-contacts-only-driven sales-rep contacts with physicians across the length and breadth of India, which had been taken off the pharma promotions grid. Today, Doceree is not only the World’s Largest Programmatic Physician Engagement Platform, but is also planning two expansion launches internationally.
MediaBrief.com caught up Harshit Jain, Founder & CEO – Doceree about his visionary platform that seamlessly connects pharmaceutical brands and digital platforms, and allows products and services of the former to be marketed to physicians on the latter’s. It already helps pharma and health brands targetmore than 1 million physicians across the US, and 300,000 in India – all in strict compliance with every regulatory framework and rule, sans push marketing.
So how has Doceree been helping pharma Rx drug brands reach doctors during COVID-19 when one-on-one marketing has become difficult? How has it been helping pharma brands break the digital barriers in a marketing environment turned upside down by the pandemic? To know the answers to such and other questions including Programmatic marketing in pharma and the future of HCP marketing, read on.
MEDIABRIEF.COM: Doceree is one of the few global start-ups that has the largest network of physicians-only platforms. What was the core idea behind Doceree?
Harshit Jain: The core idea behind Doceree was to streamline Physician marketing.
Actually, I spent a lot of time in India while I worked as the country head of a renowned healthcare advertising brand. I later had my work stints in the UK and the US during which I extensively crafted award-winning campaigns. I was instrumental in addressing some of the biggest health challenges – Immunization, Vitamin D deficiency, Diabetes by creatively and innovatively using data.
The exposure to varied markets made me realize that physician marketing was lagging much behind consumer marketing when it came to digital. In the Indian market the concept was yet to pick pace, but the story was no different even in the developed markets like Europe and America.
The reason turned out to be merely the mental block because of regulations. The thought of solving the problem through digital became exceedingly important to me after it became evident that the acute problem of rising cost of healthcare could be addressed by bringing in efficiency and effectiveness in physician marketing with methodical use of data and creativity.
How has Doceree solved the problem that existed when there were no engagement platforms for physicians?
Physician engagement platforms were a pre-requisite for us to build an effective digital marketing solution. Over the years, many healthcare startups came into being ranging from telehealth, EHR, online pharmacy and physician networking platforms that were built keeping in mind significant Physician engagement. However, pharma brands marketed on the platforms in isolation which didnot yield effective results.
We then took a cue from consumer marketing to streamline the scattered pharma marketing landscape. Right now, pharmaceutical brands are acting independently with not much in-depth knowledge of digital – for them it is more of a checkbox activity that doesn’t lead to satisfactory business outcomes. On the other hand, digital platforms are also operating as standalone entities in the absence of a unified platform, losing on the monetizing opportunities available through network effect.
To drive an effective behaviour change among Physicians, a critical mass is important which could only happen through a network of doctor-only digital platforms.
This is where Doceree is now transforming the ecosystem. It is
(1) integrating the doctor-only digital platforms not just in India but across the globe and
(2) enablingpharmaceutical brands to target doctors at the right moment with the right message to be able to drive behaviour change and achieve desired business outcomes.
Doceree, with offices in the US and India, aims to address the problem of the rising cost of healthcare by bringing efficiency and effectiveness to physician engagement by using data and creativity in healthcare marketing. Powered by its proprietary AI engineEspyian, Doceree already targets more than 1 million physicians across the US, and 300,000 in India.
What benefits can physicians look forward to when they opt for Doceree’s services?
Like pharma marketers, physicians are also seeing a lot of value in integrated ad-tech platforms, and the reasons are multiple.
Accessibility of information: Integrated ad-tech platforms make it convenient for doctors to access information that are useful to them. They do not have to waste time scouring for information of interest or that which serve value. These platforms guarantee that doctors are able to check out information that are meant precisely for them.
No disturbance to schedule: Platforms like Doceree allow doctors to access information without any disruption in their day-to-day schedule. They could view information on Physician-only sites they already access during a patient visit or while a break or during their an online consultation. They are not required to park off some spare time from their daily schedule to gather information around new products, launches, innovation or any updates around existing products and services.
Increased trust:Physicians have information – necessary as well unnecessary – flowing in from multiple outlets. For want of time to sift through the information that is intended for them, they begin distancing from digital advertisements. Integrated ad-tech platforms like Doceree have solved the issue for Physicians by only showcasing them information that relates to their specialty or cross-specialities. This helps build a trust and rapport with Physicians, ultimately resulting in better and continued engagement.
Doceree was founded in 2019, and launched its India operations in March 2020 a lot has changed. How has Doceree worked around the COVID-19 pandemic?
The coronavirus outbreak has accelerated adoption of digital in the healthcare sector. Data suggests that the pharmaceutical sector had been hesitant in embracing digital technologies. However, post (the onset of) COVID-19, a new picture has emerged as traditional marketing methods of touching base with physicians got halted.
Pharmaceutical brands are now realizing the importance of digital mediums and how platforms like Doceree can make their marketing efforts effective and efficient, and even help them cut costs. While COVID-19 wasn’t planned, it couldn’t have worked any better for Doceree.
Doceree launched its India operations in mid-March 2020, and in May 202, raised a seed funding round of $1 million. What are your expansion plans?
We are planning to launch in two more international markets in 2021.
The nation-wide lockdown in the wake of the pandemic led to a digital boom in India. How has this affected pharma brands overall?
The impact has been very positive. The digital space had remained largely unexplored by Pharma brands, owing to confining beliefs around regulations. The regulatory framework scared Pharma brands off from trying the medium that had huge potential. The nation-wide lockdownspared no options for them, but to try out digital means. Doing so made them see that there were platforms that were regulatory-compliant and were apt to partner with for reaching out to physicians effectively and efficiently.
With medicines being a necessity rather than a desire, how does one effectively market pharmaceuticals’ products and services?
On the consumer side, it definitely can’t be push marketing. Also, regulations are very stringent when it comes to promoting products and services. The focus must be on education and awareness around health conditions and diseases and their cures. While sticking to regulatory guidelines, pharma brands can subtly introduce their offerings in the awareness and educative content.
On the Physician side, important for Rx drug brands is to build trust and gain absolute attention around their products and services, whichis not possible without creating a marketing strategy involving digital mediums. Physicians are today really active on digital mediums, especially amid rising popularity of telehealth and EHR platforms. Hence, Pharma brands must tap Physicians digitally too along with reaching them through sales representatives. In their quest to make Physicians marketing effective and efficient, the strategy must be cohesive.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the pharma marketing landscape in India?
It has changed drastically. Post Covid-19, Pharma brands have finally woken up to the reality that digital is the future of healthcare marketing and while they might have had been a laggard in exploiting the potential of digital marketingso far, they are now getting ready to embrace the medium to the fullest.
What role do digital, social platforms play in the marketing of pharmaceuticals?
Marketing does not happen anymore in just the traditional way of doing meetings in person. The boundaries have expanded to digital which has grown at a skyrocketing pace. Digital platforms add value to B2B businesses and sharpen their marketing plans. Also, social networks help a great deal by pushing the right message to the right people.
What is the adoption rate of brands when it comes programmatic marketing in the pharma industry, and what are brands missing out on? Is the use of Programmatic marketing more for health and wellness than pharma brands?
The adoption of programmatic marketing in the pharma industry has been phenomenal over the period of time, and the pandemic definitely gave a fillip to it. Today, we have signed with top 7 out of 10 pharma brands and over 30 digital platforms in India have partnered with us. We are working with the most specialist agency networks in the US.
Talking about use of Programmatic marketing by wellness brands, then certainly consumer marketers have been using the strategy extensively as against health and Pharma brands. However, that scenario is now changing with Pharma brands realizing how immensely they can they benefit from it.
What are some trends that we should look out for in the health care marketing segment?
There will be increased adoption of digital and we could see a lot of changes around regulations pertaining to marketing in digital mediums. The government’s thrust upon digital technologies, evident after the announcement of National Digital Health Mission, would further boost confidence of telehealth, EHR and online pharmacy startups, opening up marketing opportunities for health and pharma brands in the digital space.