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How pharma companies can use AI to adapt to new markets


min read

Pharma companies can use AI automation for decentralised trials, e-pharmacies, and health care provider outreach – but it’s important to tailor these solutions for local markets. Below are some advantages of each approach, and how Proto can help.

As the middle class grows in emerging markets such as India, so too does the need for new pharmaceuticals for illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. The shifting demand from from medication for infectious diseases to non-communicable and chronic diseases in emerging markets is just one of many recent changes in the pharma industry.

Increasing competition, supply chain issues, scientific advances disrupting markets, and pressure to drop prices are a few other challenges making it necessary for pharma companies to balance innovation and cost savings. As PwC notes, adopting new technologies is one of the key ways pharma companies can achieve this goal, with tech that enables personalisation, data collection, and intelligent automation at scale.

One important piece of this puzzle is automating outreach to patients and health care providers. Natural language processing makes it possible to deliver quality service at scale – and forward-thinking pharma companies are increasingly turning to digital channels to interact with trial participants, patients, and health care providers to make service more convenient, accessible, and cost-efficient.

Below are three important ways pharma companies can leverage AI for personalized communication at scale:

CX Automation for pharma: 3 adaptive strategies

Decentralised trials 

A significant portion of clinical trials moved online over the course of the pandemic, as restrictions on in-person gathering disrupted trial workflows. Instead of meeting trial participants in person to gather data, pharma companies began to use virtual meetings and remote messaging to communicate with trial participants.

Although many made this change out of necessity, there are additional benefits to decentralised trials:

  • Decentralised trials can reach underrepresented populations who may not live close enough to a trial site to participate in person. This helps give patients access to cutting-edge medication and diversifies the range of study participants as well, making clinical studies more inclusive.
  • Pharma companies can use chatbots to automate eligibility screening, appointment scheduling, and data collection, making trials much less resource-intensive. With the ability to send multimedia such as images, voice recording, and text, patients can send a snapshot of their experience which is instantly added to their file.
  • Decentralised trials can also improve the patient experience by making the process more convenient. Instead of waiting for in-person appointments, patients can access FAQs and service instantly via automated messaging, which can help build trust and ensure patient safety.

In short, chatbots that incorporate natural language processing can help pharma companies conduct decentralised trials that improve the quality of patient care and lower trial costs at the same time.


The boom in the Indian e-pharmacy market isn’t just about delivering medication; services such as consultations have also contributed to the popularity of online pharmacies for individual patients and retailers alike.

A few of the advantages e-pharmacies offer include:

  • More accessible medication, particularly for populations who have difficulty travelling to retail locations due to age or illness. They can also reach rural populations who may not otherwise have access to medication due to the distance from retail outlets, democratising access to care.
  • Additional services such as online FAQs about medications can help people make informed decisions about their health. For example, quick access to info about drug interactions can prevent patients from endangering their health, and information about side effects can help patients decide when to seek in-person care.
  • Lower overhead costs allow e-pharmacies to offer a wider range of medication at lower prices than brick-and-mortar pharmacies, making them more economically competitive than traditional stores. Lower costs also contribute to making medication more accessible for bottom-of-the-pyramid customers.

In spite of these advantages, e-pharmacies need to ensure that they’re providing quality customer care alongside convenient purchasing options to ensure patient safety. Although there is a current lack of regulatory frameworks for e-pharmacies in places like India, pharma companies should organize these businesses with an eye towards a future that will likely include increased regulation as e-pharmacies grow in popularity.

Health care providers

Pharma reps are an important touchpoint between new innovations in care and the doctors who can prescribe these new treatments to patients. When the pandemic hit, health care providers were less available to interact with pharma reps, weakening this important link and reducing the effectiveness of common cold email/cold call strategies.

Using automated CX solutions to augment communications between pharma reps and doctors has many advantages:

  • Doctors can have 24/7 access to important information and FAQs about new medications that can help their patients. They can interact with chatbots to access info at the point of care, rather than searching through records to find important information they need in order to make decisions about prescribing.
  • Pharma reps can use omnichannel CX solutions to provide information over popular channels such as Facebook Messenger and LINE. Reps can tailor the channels to the geographic location they serve, and customise messaging to different HCP segments based on data collected and stored automatically.
  • CX automation can also facilitate in-person consultations by automating appointment booking and redirecting queries to live reps when necessary. Instead of focusing on broad outreach, pharma reps can spend more time preparing presentations for doctors who have already expressed interest.

Reps can use the above strategies to more carefully craft customer journeys for health care providers instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach to outreach – and use the data they gather to inform larger go-to-market strategies for pharma companies.

Navigating a changing landscape

With the rise of e-pharmacies and telemedicine in Southeast Asia, companies that serve these emerging markets must continue to innovate and tailor their solutions to fit the needs of their client base.

Multilingual solutions like Proto help pharma companies scale trials, e-pharmacies, and outreach in local languages, making these services even more accessible to underserved markets. The right to health should come with as few barriers as possible – and eliminating language barriers is a step towards scaling to create a more inclusive and sustainable healthcare ecosystem that benefits everyone.

To learn more about Proto's solutions for pharma companies, talk to our experts today.

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