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Pharma sales to increasingly rely on virtual platforms due to COVID-19, says report

Virtual tools are being increasingly utilised by pharma companies to replace in-person meetings following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual meeting due to COVID-19

According to researchers at GlobalData, virtual platforms will experience an extra boost after already having a transformational impact on the healthcare landscape, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Dr Valentina Gburcik, Senior Director of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, Gender Health and Digital at GlobalData, commented: “The shift from in-person to digital is seen in advertising, medical conferences and sales rep meetings with physicians. Virtual health tools are already there enabling companies to have broader engagement with patients and physicians throughout various phases of the patient journey. Sales forces from pharma companies are now using this technology even more to interact virtually with physicians – particularly during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen cancellations of clinical events and conferences, as well as a surge of virtual meetings while all face-to-face contacts halt, highlight the researchers. 

Gburcik added: “In-person meetings have their own advantages such as people being able to express themselves by using body language and facial expressions that can better convey a message and create a deeper bond with a customer. The lack of a physical component in human interaction may lead to a weaker influence of reps over respective physicians and therefore reduced drug sales. Nevertheless, the ever-increasing internet speed, with 5G on our doorstep and evolving video conferencing software such as WebEx, Zoom and Skype for Business, will somewhat alleviate these problems.”

However, the researchers emphasise that it remains to be seen whether the current conditions will push humanity further into virtual space with no return to the circumstances seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gburcik concluded: “The pharma sales forces and physicians may get used to the new reality and thus the use of the virtual meetings and tools may get boosted far beyond the pandemic.”

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