As medical science is taking one giant stride after another and breaking new grounds, the city medical representatives are also learning to take the load off their backs, quite literally, and adapt to modern methods.
Gone are the days when the medical representatives would do the rounds of health care facilities, clinics and drugstores carrying bulging leather bags stuffed with drugs, promising a certified cure for myriad ailments and reams of medical literature to help them pitch it right to prospective clients.
Considered old school, those bags have been replaced by high definition, 360 degree 3D Virtual Reality (VR) content, iPad and innovative digital content as they enable them to be more in tune with the modern methods and meet the needs of a growing clientele.
The video clips along with 3D animation help the medical representatives explain the dosage and efficacy of a particular drug to their customers.
Vipin Kumar, a thirty-five-year-old medical representative who has been working in this field for the last five years, said that the transition from the traditional to digital has been smooth and rewarding.
“Earlier, it was difficult to make doctors understand the quality and efficacy of our products, as they could barely afford us enough time between surgeries and patient visits. Now, with the 3D VR content, they just have to play it on their smartphones and laptops and get all the required information from a one-minute-long video. I even get calls curious calls from doctors asking me to take them through the new technique,” Kumar said.
Medical representatives have always been a critical and integral part of the field, as they are the crucial link between medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies. They said that adapting to the new technology has helped them convey their message more easily and clearly to doctors.
“They no longer carry heavy leather bags stuffed with sample medicines and medical literature, but are equipped with modern gadgets such iPad, Android tabs or virtual reality headsets to communicate. It takes less time and also help us get more clarity on the products,” Puneeta Menon, a dentist, said.
Another dentist, Garima Jain, said, “We welcome the digital leap that the medical representatives have taken, as it serves the purpose of getting all information about their products more easily.”
Echoing the sentiment, officials of the city’s top health care facilities, too, said that the modern gadgets and new technology have gone long way in narrowing the communication gap between doctors and medical representatives.
“In this day and age, time is of the essence for everyone, including doctors, and it is important to adapt to new technology as it helps us in our everyday lives. Over 80 medical representatives have managed to reach out to around 20,000 doctors across the country by using high definition, 3D VR content,” a spokesperson for GSK consumer health care said.
“Our traditional method of carrying big cutouts, diagrams and medicine samples never quite worked with regard to drawing the attention of doctors,” Manik Chadha, who has been a medical representative for the last four-and-a-half years, told HT.
Romi Jacob, another medical representative, said, “The 3D VR technology and iPad applications are easy to source all the information that we need to pitch products to our clients. They make our lives a lot easier.”
However, there still remains a yawning gap between the number of medical representatives that there are currently across the country and the number needed. “While country needs 24 lakh medical representatives, it only has around 6 lakh. This is a big concern,” SK Singh, director, Indian Institute of Medical Representative, Delhi, said.
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“The salary structure has been revamped and there is also a sense of security among professionals in the medicine industry. This explains why more and more people from humanities and commerce backgrounds are choosing to pursue a career in this field. New technology and modern methods have added a dash of glamour to the job of a medical representative. Earlier, the starting salary (for medical representatives) was ₹9,000. Now, it has gone up to ₹18,000,” Singh said.
Sanjay Narula, secretary, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Gurgaon, said that the shift to digital is a welcome development, but more needs to be done for medical representatives to help them feel secure in their jobs. “Only a fraction of people employed as medical representatives are deriving the benefits of the modern methods. A large number of professionals still subscribe to the old-school ways.