Implementation considerations of a remote detailing solution

A couple of weeks ago we detailed the various considerations that a pharma company should have when choosing a remote detailing solution. You can quickly refer to this infographic if needed. Hopefully, you have been able to select a platform and its now time for the implementation of the new tool and processes. On top of the traditional software development lifecycle (SDLC) aspects to consider, there are some specifics to remote detailing that need to be accounted for. Standard principles remain but this blog focuses on the points that are unique to deploying a remote detailing solution.

Starting with the process

In an ideal world, it should be as normal to record a digitally enabled call to report a face to face interaction. The objective and the process should stay the same. Nevertheless, the reality is slightly different. In the case where you are leveraging an add-on to your CRM system, it would usually create an interaction report automatically. The trick is that those interactions reports will have another record type and that therefore they wouldn’t be accounted for in the reporting system. In the current pandemic, your company probably wants to deliver the message stating that the remote interactions are as important as the face to face ones. To achieve that, not only should you implement the remote detailing solution but you also need to update the reporting tools and platforms.

In an environment where you are willing to use another system than your CRM to perform the remote detailing calls, you will be required to think of the process to add the calls in the CRM system. You could think of loading reporting calls in a bulk. That is providing an Excel way for the reps to document, but you are losing a lot of the advantages of CRM as you would lose the real-time collaborative view. A recommended approach is to have the reps logging their calls manually after the remote detailing interaction similar to a face to face calls. They would have to enter the same details, similarly, with a different “channel” or interaction type depending on the fields you have in the CRM. A critical point is to issue guidance early so all the team members are clear from the start.

Checking the compliance box

Alongside the work on the process, there is a need to spend some time on the compliance side of the house. Essentially, the consent to send emails and the material that will be shown needs to be evaluated.

There is no discussion needed to store the email address of an HCP in a CRM, you need to gather his consent. Another aspect of reality is the fact that medical representatives tend to have the email address of their key HCPs in their mailbox. In the current crisis, there is a legitimate need to send an invite to an HCP inbox and this email can thus be used (note that BASE is by no mean a legal advisory firm). But it doesn’t allow you to store the email address on your CRM. There is a need to ensure that you are not logging email addresses without the content just because you sent an approved email to invite an HCP. In BASE nevertheless, we see remote calls and the current situation as an opportunity to capture new consent. HCPs will be far more willing in the current time to engage through other channels as they have no choice. Embedding an opt-in for other channels in your thank you email could be very valuable and provide very good input.

The next potential compliance threat is linked to the content shown. That is a big advantage of CRM add-on solutions. It only allows sharing e-detailing content approved for sharing. Standard web conferencing will not limit the content that you share on your screen. This could potentially create a risk for medical representatives sharing content that is not approved. This may be even more true for medical scientific liaisons than for the commercial team as they may be thrilled by new medical data while not checking whether the last article is approved for sharing. Of course, this risk is balanced by the knowledge of your team. The more knowledgeable on the issues with sharing un-approved content the less likely they are to share it.

Training for success

Once the process and the compliance steps are in place, it’s time to think about the training approach to the field force. The current situation forces you to have remote training as well. This poses some technical challenges especially when trying to use the computer audio on two different teleconferencing solutions. It usually fails.

Companies need to come with a novel approach. Given the innovation is mostly around the technology itself, we strongly advise for role-playing. A training session should essentially consist of a simple demo from the trainer and then having the reps being split into pairs to role-play. They should remain in contact through a chat with the trainer, but the majority of the time should be spent practicing the scheduling of a call. A side module could, of course, be on some hints in front of a web camera as this could be entirely for some team members.

A very important part of the training is to make sure the reps understand the various ways to connect to a meeting. Of course, they are likely to connect from the laptop as they are grounded at home. This may not be the case of the HCPs. They may connect from laptops, hospital computers, tablets or phones. The field force should know the process for the physician to connect in any of those cases. This would limit the need for the support to act, ensuring a smoother adoption.

A smoother onboarding

Practicality is probably one of the key aspects of the deployment of a remote detailing solution. The system is simply existing to keep the reps interacting with HCPs. Therefore, the more practical aspects of the system must be tackled. The deployment should guide the best way to provide the meeting invites in a calendar format (.ics) as most of the field forces still use their mailbox calendar during the lockdown.

Ensuring everybody knows how to invite a colleague in a call or having multiple HCPs participating sounds like a no-brainer but they are key points to be addressed. Those questions are usually not coming first but if you provide guidance and insights, it will have a significant impact.

Adoption monitoring

Once the practical aspects are tackled, the real deployment can happen. As for any solution, the adoption must be monitored. A dashboard should be put together. As soon as one or two reps have successfully logged calls, we recommend sharing the news across the organization. From a pure support standpoint, it’s important to demonstrate availability. Ensuring the support team can jump on a call to support a rep scheduling his first call remotely with an HCP may be a game-changer for the entire adoption.

Finally, it’s the role of the commercial excellence team to reach out to the reps that are slow to adopt the new channel to ensure they have all the resources they need to move to this new way of working.

Want to learn more?

Read our whitepaper: Commercial Technology supports Pharma in increased Competition

Check out our infographic on the various solution to adapt the way Life Science companies can to remote detailing.

About the author — Jesper Grønkjaer, Co-Head of Customer Engagement

Jesper has more than a decade of experience within the life science area including a vast number of projects within pharma sales and marketing and digital/multichannel marketing. He excels within process and technology advisory and project management and has a strong track record of transforming new technology into business solutions.

BASE life science is a fast growing, fast paced consultancy focused on the life science industry.

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