Life-sciences CRM vendors direct their attention to the Microsoft platform

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2013

Veeva and Cegedim roll out Windows 8 versions of their products

Cegedim’s Mobile Intelligence 9 product is Windows 8 ready.

Credit: Cegedim

Veeva (Pleasanton, CA), which originated the popular cloud-based CRM and iRep platforms for life sciences field sales forces several years ago, has upped the ante with its rollout of a set of new products and business services, announced at its annual users group meeting (Philadelphia, May 6—8). The move comes in the aftermath of Cegedim Relationship Management’s launch of Mobile Intelligence 9, its flagship CRM product, which has had a Windows 8 version since last year. MI9 was announced the week before the Veeva meeting.

The Veeva Windows 8 version is set for launch in late 2013. Veeva has enjoyed spectacular growth with its cloud-based platforms readily adapted to use on the Apple iPad, but with the introduction of Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface tablet, pharma companies are now looking at Windows platforms as an easier, “single device” method to support both field sales and back-office functions.

For its part, Cegedim says that MI9 is the only life sciences platform that currently supports both Windows and Apple operating systems. While Microsoft is late to the new-generation interactive tablet market, thoroughly dominated by the Apple iPad, there is a potential significant value in using Microsoft’s Surface tablet—ready compatibility with the range of Microsoft Office tools, such as Word and Excel. “Corporate IT managers will want to simplify their operating system support, and individual users will want to be able to switch seamlessly from their presentation tablet to a laptop or desktop PC,” notes Drew Bustos, global communications manager at Cegedim’s Bedminster, NJ, US headquarters.

Master data moves

Other new elements of MI9 include enhanced multimedia closed-loop marketing (CLM) features, enabling marketing and sales teams to design and present multimedia presentations with global control of approved content, and seamless integration with OneKey Digital, Cegedim’s international healthcare professionals (HCPs) master-data management service. The company is also offering a new module, Contact Center, that enables a pharma company (or its outsourced service provider) to automatically link calls or messages from HCPs (such as sample requests, follow-up questions and the like) to the contact database maintained by field reps. OneKey Digital is currently being enhanced with syndicated data on the “social media footprint” of HCPs, matching their social media activity with their master data.

Veeva’s vision for its CRM network. Credit: Veeva

At its users meeting, Veeva also announced Veeva Network, which could be a disruption of existing relationships in pharma marketing services. Network will be a combination of data-management software and database delivery and maintenance for the lists of healthcare provider clients that all pharma companies maintain. Veeva says that it is building software applications, and plans for an acquisition in the master-data services sector, to get this rolling. [ed. note: Veeva subsequently announced the acquisition of AdvantageMS, of Fort Washington, PA.)

But it is also counting on a type of crowd-sourced support: shared contact information from among its pharma clients. “We already have 55 million provider records in our system,” notes Dan Goldsmith, GM at Veeva. “With client permission, we will be able to merge these records and provide the best available master data.” Goldsmith says that preliminary discussions with Veeva clients, rather than signaling caution in this collaboration, have encouraged Veeva to go forward as fast as possible. “The industry wants this,” he says. Databases for the US and China will be the first to appear (an acquisition has already been made in China).

Such an industry-wide master database will be a threat to the business that the American Medical Assn. has for its practitioner databases, which is licensed in turn to a dozen or so private companies, including Advantage Management Solutions (Ft. Washington, PA), J. Knipper (Lakewood, NJ), MMS (Oak Dale, IL) and others. There are additional companies, including SK&A, a Cegedim Company (Irvine, CA), MedPro (Mt. Arlington, NJ), Healthcare Data Solutions (Lake Forest, CA) and others, that produce their own master database or combine their efforts with the AMA database.

Master-data vendors are responding to the heightened needs of their clients for agg-spend reporting: in early May, Health Market Science (King of Prussia, PA) announced the availability of daily updates to its Provider MasterFile—but had additional reasons for doing so. “Clients are preparing to submit state and federal reports for the Physicians Payment Sunshine Act starting March 31, 2014 and getting HCP information correct is key to compliance,” said Matt Reichert, CEO, when the company made the announcement. “Yet, over the last twenty-four months it’s been our retail pharmacy clients that have been the most demanding on our HCP data accuracy,” Reichert continues. “With the CMS cracking down on fraud, waste, and abuse, our accuracy for credentials such as DEA, state license, sanctions and NPI has never been more important.”

The company has also just enhanced its PxDx medical-claims database, which pairs provider information with prescribing practices. The new MarketView database will provide more comprehensive linkage of prescribers with affiliations with integrated delivery networks (hospital systems) and group-purchasing organization (GPO) memberships, to provide better insights on overall account management. A further refinement is that the data are packaged for orphan drug, medical device and oncology markets.

All this work, in turn, feeds into preparations the life sciences industry is making for federal aggregate-spend reporting on expenditures to providers. The first reporting to CMS is due later this year, and some companies are already making selected data public.

Finally, Veeva also announced an Approved Email service, currently in a pre-launch phase, but now with major clients, Giant Healthcare Advertising and DraftFCB, two healthcare advertising agencies that will enable pharma reps to send email directly to healthcare practitioners. Approved Email is set to be launched later this year.

IMS Health buys into CRM

Another option for pharma marketers reviewing their CRM plans is to check into the data provider they depend on most for prescription sales data: IMS Health. That company has been on an acquisitions tear of late, most notably purchasing a CRM vendor, 360 Vantage (Phoenix, AZ), which will be rolled up into a commercial practices platform called IMS One. Other recent acquisitions include Incential Software (Raleigh, NC), a software developer that integrates “incentive compensation, data management and business intelligence applications for more effective, results-driven sales operations,” according to IMS Health; and Semantelli Corp. (Bridgewater, NJ), which analyzes social media activities of physicians and consumers for market insights. Earlier this year, IMS Health also acquired Appature Corp., a software developer whose tools can link CRM and market data.

Besides surrounding the sales and marketing process with resources, the IMS Health acquisitions are notable for all being cloud-based systems (in fact, 360 Vantage uses the platform—the same one employed by Veeva). All this consolidation and new technology offerings are occurring in a period where sales forces are not growing and in fact may be continuing to shrink (at least in the US). The related question is whether pharma clients will be successful, within their own organizations, in integrating sales and marketing activities, which tend to be managed separately, to take advantage of these tools.

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