Tablet Detailing

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Tablet Detailing

Tablet detailing is the use of an (interactive) electronic detail aid on a tablet PC (mostly ipad) by sales reps in a face-to-face discussion (or group meeting) with physicians. Tablet detailing has been around for about 10 years, but has only become mainstream since the arrival of the Apple Ipad.

Why is it so important to implement?
For most pharma companies the sales force is one of the most impactful yet also most expensive channels to reach healthcare professionals. For decades the sales force carried paper detail-aids to illustrate their story, showing texts, claims, graphs and references. It did not provide much added value to the conversation. 

With the introduction of iPad detailing, pharma has started to change the game. While only 30% of pharma used tablet detailing very often in 2011, this number more than doubled to 67% in 2013 (source: Across Health Digital Barometer 2013) effectively nullifying the differentiating effect of the technology and turning it into a commodity in just 2 years’ time.

So, to really leverage the platform, the details should be more than a shiny presentation on a new device…

Theoretically, electronic detail-aids are not limited in size. This means a brand manager can add a lot more information. This extra content can be segmented (behavioural or attitudinal segmentation) and delivered in a customized way to the physician rather than the one-size-fits-all approach of the earlier days. A key concern is that marketing is adding too much information – sometimes confusing rather than helping the rep.

Then there are the content types to consider. Where paper was limited to print text and graphs, the ipad is suitable for video, animation and interaction. This does require sound preparations by the brand manager, but it can certainly enhance the immediate impact of the call. The result can be to bring your information in the content format most appealing to the communication style of the healthcare professional, or the opportunity to bring the same message several times to a customer, however every time in a different format. The result can also be that you make using the detail-aid interesting again for your experienced reps, as they can use new content types to immediately increase their message impact.

In addition, under ideal conditions, tablet detailing offers every brand manager real-time visibility of the success of his campaign. Are the right messages being delivered to the right customer segment? Is there a correlation between using the tablet and customer progress in the buying cycle? Are healthcare professionals responding as expected?

Last but not least, tablet detailing is bringing the promise of closed-loop marketing closer to reality (although most programmes to date are far away from the ideal of real-time cross-channel “right message, right channel, right time” delivery). The information gathered during tablet detailing can be put to use for future tablet delivery, but also for feeding email campaigns, meeting invites etc…true CLM.

However, despite all the promise and the huge investments, the current level of satisfaction is quite low. Indeed, it is the first area of focus in our global Digital Barometer 2013, tablets are used in under 50% of F2F presentations, and the impact is not significantly higher than paper detail aids (and actually decreasing, with the commoditization of the technology) (source: Across Health G5 Multichannel Mix Assessment 2012). (How) can this disappointment be overcome?

How does Across Health do the implementation?
Across Health will help you move detailing beyond cutting up your paper detail-aid and digitising it. We will lead your brand teams to create campaigns that are focused around delivering immediate added call impact. We start at the segment level, as defined in the brand plan, and define the behavioural objectives and key messages to achieve that behaviour.

Then we look at your content to match the messages and turn this into focused story lines.  One of the most challenging parts in creating impactful content is to be able to move from printed graphs and text to meaningful animations and interactions. Across Health has the experience and creativity to realise this transition with your brand teams. This aspect probably is the most overlooked in creating tablet detail-aids.

Last but not least, we can lead your change management. As the success of the ipad detail-aid is dependent on the adoption by the sales force, there is a considerable amount of training, skills development and change management communication that needs to be done. In this part we also set the campaign KPIs, expectations and ambitions for all stakeholders, including a dashboard and a campaign evaluation support structure.

What are the results?
The result is providing your sales team with tablet detail-aids that are focused around the following:

  • Adding immediate impact to every call
  • Ensuring conversations are tailored to the customer segmentand even individual HCP
  • Gathering targeted customer information to enable true closed-loop marketing

Some of our recent achievements include:

  • Moving from 1 overall story line to 8 segmented but focused story lines
  • Localising a global template of 176 different content screens to only 24, all selected on their ability to add impact in the call
  • Identified a “forgotten” customer segment in the detail-aid valued at a turnover over 40m € per year.
  • An ipad detail-aid fully endorsed, valued and accepted by the sales force
  • Company-wide agreement on campaign expectations and ambitions.


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