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Pharma and AI: What does it mean for Medical Sales?

Posted on: 20 Jul
It’s no secret that the Pharma industry has been making huge strides in recent years. With ever-newer technologies empowering and enabling researchers and scientists to make breakthrough in everything from gene-editing to nanotechnology, we’re living in a golden age of medicine, and one that is developing and growing all the time. 

One of the newest developments in the market- and one that is set to transform not only medicine, but our society as a whole- is that of AI, or artificial intelligence. Though it’s been around for a few years, we’re still learning just what it can do, and how it can help us discover new insights, make new breakthroughs- and even help people to sell products more effectively. 

With the potential to boost profitability by around 39%, and with annual investment in AI startups rising sixfold since the turn of the century, what does this mean for Medical Sales Representatives? 

What’s happening in the market?

AI has made inroads into several different aspects of the Pharma industry since becoming economically viable to use and by 2021 it's predicted the AI healthcare market will have amassed to $6.8 billion. With the ability to analyse vast amounts of data from clinical trials, or feedback from medical devices or apps used by patients, AI can discover previously-unseen patterns, make diagnoses before doctors or even use smart learning in devices such as contact lenses to warn a patient of an impending spike in glucose levels before they realise it themselves. 

In addition to this, companies are making the most of the accessibility that AI machines can offer, with established companies like Novartis and start-ups like developing apps that can help guide patients through after-care, providing them with a ‘virtual nurse’ which in turn saves clinicians 20% of their day.

Medical sales reps, healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies must respond to this rise in data by embracing the technology and harness AI so as to improve patient health. This means looking beyond AI as a tool to create apps for patient care and realise the potential in visual analytics where the technology can drive drug discovery. It's within this area of AI healthcare that we may find the solution to the world's most pressing problem - Covid-19. Al Vivo have used their AI-driven processes to test the effectiveness of the drug Dexamethasone in just 15 days, over which they've ranked 90,000 compound molecules in terms of efficacy - a huge breakthrough for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

How is it going to affect Sales Representatives?

Healthcare organisations have admitted to seeing a huge spike in the amount of patient data generated - in just four years the annual accumulation has increased by a factor of 10. The industry has been moving closer towards a digital healthcare model, boosting the favourability of AI and machine learning and in turn shifting the healthcare job market. For years, Medical Sales Representatives have been dealing with access challenges, changing economic conditions and more regulations than ever before. Though there have been fears that the rise in ‘smart’ technology could replace the expertise of clinicians and the need for sales reps, the real value in AI lies in enabling Medical Sales Representatives to do their job more efficiently in a shorter period of time, and expanding the market.

Indeed, the explosion of AI-related products for a huge variety of treatments onto the market offers clinicians and GPs the chance to monitor and treat their patients more effectively and cheaply than ever before. This, combined with rapid market expansion, will make for a huge boost to Medical Sales Representatives, as well as allowing them to explore selling different products and diversifying into what is effectively a whole new market niche. 

Streamlining the sales process

It can also help in another way. Today, sales reps are more squeezed for time than ever before, and are struggling to make connections with the right people: in today’s competitive market, only 44% of physicians meet with Sales representatives. 

There are many reasons to love working in medical sales and now with AI technology being a potential goldmine for reps wanting to improve their sales and boost their efficiency in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical markets, that makes one more reason. On a more practical note, the rise of more advanced technology means that reps can also use a whole range of channels to engage their customers and improve public health. To that end, more and more companies are starting to implement AI sales strategies to give their representatives the boost they need. 

Today, technology can help prioritise pre-call planning, make recommendations on what type of leads a salesperson should be pursuing, and automatically do the administrative tasks that often take up so much of a salesperson’s time, letting them stay in the field longer, building up relationships with their clients before sending them an automatic follow-up email.

Work smarter with IQVIA

As AI systems evolves, the role of the Medical Sales Representative will also undoubtedly evolve to keep up with it. Make the most of the changing job market: find your ideal medical sales representative job, or discover more about the industry in our knowledge hub