Indian Healthcare Industry and role of relationship marketing
The Indian healthcare industry is seen to be growing at a rapid pace and is expected to become a US$280 billion industry by 2020. The Indian healthcare market was estimated at US$35 billion in 2007 and is expected to reach over US$70 billion by 2012 and US$145 billion by 2017. According to the Investment Commission of India the healthcare sector has experienced phenomenal growth of 12 percent per annum in the last 4 years. Rising income levels and a growing elderly population are all factors that are driving this growth. In addition, changing demographics, disease profiles and the shift from chronic to lifestyle diseases in the country has led to increased spending on healthcare delivery. The internet has revolutionized the knowledge management of customer who is becoming more aware and is not afraid to challenge the Doctors wisdom when it comes to disease and medicines.
On the other hand as per IMS, the pharmaceutical market is estimated at Rs 46530 Crores (end 2009), growing at a rate of 18.39% MAT(Moving annual Turnover). Almost 90% of this market is private market retail sale (ie drugs sold through pharmacy counters).
India has approximately 600,000 allopathic doctors registered to practice medicine. This number however, is higher than the actual number practicing because it includes doctors who have emigrated to other countries as well as doctors who have died. India licenses 18,000 new doctors a year. As per IMS there are over10,000 pharma companies which cater to the medical needs of the popuation
Role of relationship management in Pharamceutical space
In order to understand the role of relationship management in the pharmaceutical space,it is important to understand the pharma business model and who the stakeholders are
As indicated in figure above, the role of a medical representative is integral to the pharma prescription business.The company’s field force meet the doctors as per precribed frequency norms of the company and promote their products through scientific information, collaterals(product reminders,awareness/brand posters etc),seminars,symposia etc. so that the Doctor is positively influenced towards the company and its product offering. The Doctor on his behalf either consults his peers or uses his own decretion and decides to prescribe the company’s products. Once the doctor prescribes a particular brand of a company, the patient decides to buy the product from his nearest retailer.At times a retailer might play the role of an influencer IF a) the patient seeks his opinion on cheaper alternative to the product prescribed .The decision to buy the produt squarely rests with the patient.
The battle for the brand to occupy the Doctors mind is humongous. The below mentioned algorhtmic model helps to explain this complexity. This example is based on an A class General Practitioner (GP)
Theoritically a GP is exposed to1100 brands in a month!! (5x10x22).
The moot question is how to a) influence him and b) engage him for a particular product over a continuous period of time.
This is where the role of relationship marketing can play a role.
Every good pharmaceutical company has a Doctor master list which normally contain demographic and psychographic details of the Doctor. Based on the data base, one can slice and dice the list and evolve appropriate relationship programs. For instance, there could be a group of Drs who have specific interest (a sport or a hobby or a particular interest). A suitable relationship program revolving around this interest can be a very engaging model and a win win situation for both the doctor and the company. Albeit such programs would have to be conducted within the purview of Medical Council of India(MCI) guidelines.
Rural markets: Many pharmaceutical companies are considering tier II market as their growth drivers. While physical reach by a company rep will remain an issue, with a robust data base (of doctors or retailers) a well knit relationship program can be developed for the target audience which will supplement the efforts of the company field force.
In all the above challenges, prompt updating of database and constant and consistent communication with the stakeholders becomes paramount. Direct marketing can play a lead role in supplementing the company’s effort in keeping the customer engaged with the entity for times to come.
Healthcare industry will continue to see excellent growths in India in the coming years. The pharmaceutical industry is and will be a major contributor to this growth. The business model is not expected to see paradigm shift from the current one. Mergers and acquisition in the pharma space is an integral part of future growths. Complexities arising out of such mergers can be effectively handled through customer centric, direct and relationship marketing. Rural and tier II markets are also seen as growth drivers. With physical reach being an issue,direct/relationship marketing solutions can play a big role in ensuing patronage/loyalty for a company. Pharmaceutical marketing has largely remained relationship based (between field staff ,Doctor and the distributor). With robust growths projected in the healthcare field, more entrants jumping in the fray, the time is ripe for leveraging relationship marketing to new levels.