US-based Doceree is helping pharma companies break the digital barrier and connect with doctors
For most pharma companies, drug representatives visiting a doctor, and marketing the drugs individually, take up a significant portion of their traditional advertising model. But with changing times, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, digital adoption in the pharma marketing sector is catching up.
And, New Jersey-based Doceree is trying to become a pioneer in this sector.
Founded in 2019 by eminent healthcare marketing professionals Harshit Jain and Daleep Manhas, Doceree aims to address the problem of the rising healthcare costs by bringing efficiency and effectiveness to physician engagement with the use of data and creativity in healthcare marketing.
“Right now, pharmaceutical brands are acting independently with not much in-depth knowledge of digital. For them, it is more of a checkbox activity that doesn’t lead to satisfactory business outcomes. On the other hand, digital platforms are operating as standalone entities in the absence of a unified platform, losing on the monetising opportunities available through network effect,” Harshit Jain, Founder and CEO Doceree tells YourStory.
The startup allows pharma brands to market their products and services to physicians on its proprietary AI-engine platform Espyian.
The platform understands the doctor’s behaviour, enabling pharma companies to approach them in a streamlined manner based on their speciality and demography.
The US-based startup launched its operations in March 2020 and is expanding in both the geographies. Earlier in May, it raised a seed fund of $1 million from a group of angel investors from the US and India.
Harshit says, “Pharmaceutical marketing was nowhere close to the way consumer marketing evolved in the digital realm over years, and that constantly hit me.”
Wanting to do something in the space, he roped in co-founder Daleep, who he met while working for a renowned healthcare advertising company. Harshit declines to name the company.
“It was striking that the picture wasn’t much different as compared to different markets; it was quite the same globally. The only bottleneck turned out to be the regulations that stopped pharmaceutical brands from taking the big digital leap, as opposed to their counterparts in the consumer world,” Harshit adds.
Determined to take on the ‘global pharma marketing gap,’ the co-founders also realised that the rise in healthcare costs could also be addressed by bringing efficiency to physician engagement. For this, he took a cue from consumer marketing to streamline the scattered pharma marketing landscape.
Doceree was thus, started to disrupt the pharma marketing landscape. It works similarly to the digital ad networks in the consumer marketing space.
For Doceree, as a pharma marketing platform, driving an effective behavioural change among the doctors to buy a certain product can only happen through a vast network of doctor-only digital platforms.
Here, the startup helps in integrating the doctor-only digital platforms globally, which enables pharmaceutical brands to target doctors at the right moment, with the right message, driving a behavioural change, as well as achieving the desired business outcomes.
In fact, it also targets the pharmaceutical brands who want to reach out to physicians digitally to showcase them their product and services. Thus, the startup provides an opportunity for digital platforms to make more revenue, while doctors focus on healthcare problems.
“We work with digital platforms. Through tech integration, we can bring the digital platform’s ad inventory on Doceree’s platform, which pharma brands can access to create campaigns and achieve their business outcomes,” says Harshit.
Doceree’s product Espyian categorically is an ad exchange, where users (pharma companies) after getting access to the data available on digital platforms can curate their campaigns to target physicians for their business. These companies spend any amount between $100 and 100 million in such ad campaigns, which goes to the startup.
Without disclosing the actual figures, the startup expects to grow more than 25 percent in revenue month-on-month.
Doceree provides its services in India and the US and is looking at expanding to two new international markets in 2021.
Talking about Doceree’s distinguishing factor, Harshit says, “Unlike other companies in the US where we have competition in programmatic physician marketing space, Doceree is focussing on doctors-only platforms for pharmaceutical brands to market themselves.”
Data suggests that the pharmaceutical sector had been reluctant in using digital media for brand promotions earlier. However, COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. As traditional marketing investments stopped coming, pharmaceutical brands woke up to a new reality of the digital world.
For big pharma companies, platforms like Doceree showed a huge potential to make their marketing efforts effective and efficient, as well as cut costs.
Harshit says, “In a way, coronavirus outbreak accelerated the adoption of digital in the healthcare sector. Before COVID-19, we hadn’t seen conversions happening so fast in the healthcare industry.”
In fact, the startup’s product also acts as a solution to issues pharmaceutical brands are facing on the regulations and compliances front.
“While marketers and business teams were already scrambling for solutions and were quick to convert in the time of emergency, their legal, compliance, and regulatory departments weren’t prepared. For them, Doceree’s regulatory compliant product proposition was a huge breather in these uncertain times,” Harshit adds.
In the past four months, Doceree has onboarded seven out of 10 pharma brands globally, and over 30 digital platforms in India.
Going ahead, the startup’s focus will be on its new market expansion and potential acquisition. In the short term, Doceree wants to become an ideal source of revenue generation for doctors-only digital platforms. It also aims to reduce healthcare costs in the future.
“We believe, by introducing effectiveness and efficiency in pharma marketing, Doceree can reduce costs by about 10 percent, which would eventually reflect upon the pricing of drugs,” Harshit says.
Edited by Suman Singh