5 Ways Innovative Technology Increases Pharma Sales Growth

Digital technology is continuing to emerge in the pharma industry – when implemented well, sales teams can customize their approach to meet the needs of specific providers and quickly adjust to market shifts.

Of course, there’s still a lot of competition, even with digital technology.

According to a ZS Associates Inc. survey, more than 50% of marketing outreach to doctors now occurs mostly through digital communications.

Furthermore…

If you include all digital channels, the average doctor gets the equivalent of one query every hour from pharma sales reps.

In other words, it’s not enough to just digitize – successful pharma sales teams increasingly need to leverage data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and other more comprehensive CRM and online mobile tools to maintain their edge.

Person using laptop and advanced technology for analytics.

Here Are Four Ways in which Next-Generation Technology Can Increase Pharma Sales Growth:

1. Contact HCPs Where They’re Already Spending Their Time: Mobile

HCPs today spend about 84 hours a year reading digital marketing material.

When HCPs visit pharma websites, they’re mostly looking for information about the products they’re already using.

Just as pharma sales reps must stay up-to-date on clinical trial information and market trends, HCPs face enormous pressure to stay up-to-date on a wide variety of available treatments.

In other words, HCPs are looking for information from pharma companies. Content that is easily accessible and trustworthy is still both needed and wanted.

It’s up to the pharma sales reps to proactively reach out and provide answers.

Since more than two-thirds of HCP engagement is already via mobile, pharma sales reps need to look for ways to move at least part of their communications online.

Pharma sales teams also need to look for ways to provide meaningful content and tools that improve patient outcomes as well as a critical reading of the literature available.

This may seem obvious, however…

According to Kapost, 65% of pharma sales reps can’t easily identify the most impactful content to send to physicians.

This can have serious consequences if it interferes with engagement or makes the physician suddenly become a “no-see.”

sales operations and/or CRM platform can fix this problem, and aid sales teams by:

  • Helping to keep track of often complex meetings and conversations between pharma sales reps and physicians over time.
  • Helping sales reps know what material to reach out with.
  • Streamlining digital communications with providers to take advantage of increasing emphasis on mobile channels.
Male physician on his laptop in his office.

2. Tailoring Messages to the Provider: Closing the Loop

Successful pharma sales reps are increasingly able to react to customer feedback and idiosyncrasies.

To achieve this kind of customized messaging, pharma companies need to be able to to see and measure what approaches influence sales.

For example, research indicates that oncologists prefer data delivered within six months of the product launch. Similarly, when a certain disease enters the public eye or becomes more relevant, pharma sales teams need to quickly adjust the data they deliver during sales calls.

Both market trends and individual variations can and should influence the way sales reps to approach providers.

Instead of inundating providers with communications and hoping something sticks (which is likely one of the reasons so many of them are fed up with sales reps), there’s an opportunity here to make better use of the data available to customize messaging to suit the needs of specific providers.

The right content makes a difference. To build successful relationships, pharma sales reps need to create two-way conversations that extend beyond the old sample drop-off or booth interaction.

Once sales reps understand provider needs, they’re better equipped to deliver against them, while retaining compliance.

Keeping track of multiple touch-points over time is complicated to do manually, but automating this process allows sales teams to:

  • Segment the market and understand the needs of their customers at an individual level.
  • Quickly identify relevant information and send specific studies or data to providers when it is needed.
  • Track provider preferences over time and maintains accurate records of previous conversations, both for better decision-making and for compliance.

When implemented well, the right pharma sales operations and data analytics solutions can detect market trends before they even happen, making for more agile and effective sales teams.

Male physician smiling while on his tablet in his office.

3. Leveraging AI and Data Analytics To Improve Productivity

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies automate some of the most time-consuming sales-related tasks, allowing pharma sales teams to do more in less time.

For example, AI-supported sales tools can often suggest communication templates or recommend relevant content based on previous interactions.

AI is particularly helpful for pre-call planning by making recommendations on what information and content will have the most impact on the meeting, minimizing the time sales reps have to search for relevant materials.

Pharma data analytics tools can also automatically keep track of previous calls, reducing data-entry tasks and paper-based record keeping. Pharma sales reps can also place orders on-site rather than after the fact, increasing their speed and efficiency.

AI is also increasingly effective at linking sales and marketing, learning from past data to determine which tactics and tools will be most effective.

In short, AI-supported CRMs help:

  • Identify and deliver the best, most relevant information during live selling situations.
  • Reduce the time sales reps have to spend on manual research and data entry trends.
  • Quickly identify and provide actionable insight on market trends based on customer interactions.
  • Identify the best practices used by top performers, improving the entire team’s outcomes.
  • In some cases, guide sales reps through the entire sales process, providing data-driven decision support and advice in real-time.
Artificial Intelligence robot using laptop.

4. Streamline Internal Communication

Optimizing the collaboration and communication between pharma sales reps both in and out of the field is essential to increasing productivity and efficiency.

TIP: If you want to learn more about enhancing the effectiveness of communication with pharma sales reps and physicians, read this blog we created: 5 Ways To Maximize Pharma Sales Call Effectiveness.

Digital channels are often very helpful to keep track of team members and communicate effectively, especially when pharma sales reps are in the field frequently.

For example, CRM tools can help you with:

  • Roster management, including assigning tasks, budgeting, and allocating time with sales reps.
  • Simplifying internal communications with a single, centralized messaging interface and built-in templates for faster communication with your team.
  • Providing data to help with territory alignment and prioritization.
  • Establishing uniform incentives for pharma sales reps.

These tools can be essential to simplify the sales process to improve sales numbers, maximize ROI in selling assets, and shrinking the sales lifecycle.

Female team member leading team meeting smiling.

5. Keeping Track Of Everything In The Same Place

Traditional management, minus digital technology, typically involves a lo of physical files, documents, and a lot of paper shuffling and printing before each call.

Sales operations solutions allow everything to be easily stored and located within one dashboard and shared via the cloud. This does away with version control issues and makes the right information immediately accessible to every team member, regardless of where they are.

Centralizing your operations and sales solutions is key. People are most likely to take advantage of both mobile apps and new technology when it fits naturally into how they already work and provides immediately obvious benefits.

Sales management solutions designed for the pharma industry mimic the process of call preparation, and immediately make it faster, reducing the amount of time it takes users to get up to speed and see benefits.

For example, before a call, pharma sales reps might use the system to look up previous call notes to keep their conversation continuous. They might want to know what materials have been used previously and access new information that might be relevant.

Using the software, they could do this either on the go or in the office, and everything’s accessible in one location!

Female physician using tablet.

Digitizing Pharma Sales Is Both A Looming Necessity And An Opportunity

Pharma sales teams today need a technological edge to meet quotas while remaining compliant and following the market trends. Sales optimization software can, and should:

  • Allow all sales reps to see and use everything needed, and access it from the same place.
  • Have the tools and support needed to identify relevant content for providers.
  • Automatically adjust to market changes and provider needs.
  • Customize their approach to specific sales scenarios.
  • Easily and quickly communicate between sales teams in the field and in-house.
  • Conduct the analytics that simply isn’t possible to do manually.

Allowing technology to do more of the manual work that pharma sales reps used to do offers significant opportunities to increase sales team preparedness, offer HCPs real value, and boost efficiencies.

Ultimately, increasing sales numbers and the time pharma sales reps have with HCPs.

How has technology changed your sales approaches? Let us know in the comments below!

Of course, there is a lot of tools out there that can help you, however, few provide everything in just one tool…ours does!

To learn more about our Pharma Sales Operations solution contact us below for free today! We would love to talk with you and explain in even more detail about how our solution can increase your sales growth!

Infographic: How AI Elevates The Pharma Industry

In the past, Artificial Intelligence (AI) may have been a fancy buzzword that was constantly heard around various industries. Now, however, the term carries much more meaning, especially in the pharma industry.

According to Accenture, 74% of pharma executives believe AI will result in significant improvement within the next three years.

While you may have heard how beneficial AI has proven to be when assisting with drug discovery, there are many other benefits to implementing this technology into your pharma company.

Whether it’s increased productivity or automated communication, the need for AI in pharma is becoming increasingly more clear as we move forward in this technology-driven era.

Below, we have created an infographic that highlights statistics displaying the need for AI in pharma as well as how AI is elevating the pharma industry.

Pharma AI Infographic

Also, if you’d like to learn more about our Artificial Intelligence technology, contact us below for free and we would love to talk with you about how we can implement the technology to enhance your pharma company!

8 Ways Cloud Computing Supports Pharma Marketing Operations

Everyone in the pharmaceutical industry wants to enhance and personalize patient engagement while also lowering costs and reducing the risk of the unknown when it comes to breaking into a new market.

But, where do you even start?

By properly supporting your marketing operations from the ground up. That’s where the magic with cloud computing comes in.

According to a report by HIMSS analytics survey, over 83 percent of pharmaceutical companies are already using cloud technology. On top of that, MarketsandMarkets reported that in 2015, healthcare companies spent about $3.75 billion on cloud technology. That number is expected to grow to about $9.5 billion by 2020.

Until recently, cloud computing had held a negative stigma within the healthcare community as being easy to hack. So, why are all of these companies not only eager to use cloud technology but also investing a ton of money into it?

The answer is that cloud computing has made leaps and bounds over the last few years and offers a huge opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to boost their marketing prowess.

What is Cloud Computing and Why Does It Matter?

Before diving into how cloud computing can support your marketing operations, we first need to understand what Cloud Computing is.

Cloud computing helps businesses be more efficient and save on software and hardware costs that are essential for basic marketing operations. Specifically, in pharma, it helps companies meet HIPAA Compliance Requirements.

Cloud computing has various definitions that depend on how it’s being used. Companies can use cloud computing to enhance their marketing technology capacity without adding costly software, personnel, investing in training, or setting up new infrastructure.

There are different types of cloud computing as well as…

Examples of proven cloud platforms that can help your company are Synoptek and Microsoft Azure

So, How Can Cloud Computing Support Pharma Marketing Operations?

As a marketer in the pharmaceutical industry, having direct access to your marketing and audience data anytime, anywhere is critical to maintaining a strong marketing strategy and supporting each campaign from the ground up.

Cloud computing makes this easy in 8 simple ways:

1. Access to Multi-Device Support 

There’s an overabundance of data available in the pharma industry. In fact, the pharma industry generates petabytes of data every second via multiple data streams, like R&D and CRM systems. When it comes to leveraging this data, the biggest problem is not knowing where to store all this data and how to access it after the fact.

Cloud computing allows marketers to store important data in a global network that can be accessed from anywhere in the world and from any device.

This, in turn, allows marketers in the pharmaceutical industry to function more efficiently where they are, instead of having to be in the office to access specific data. Multi-Device support allows for the simple exchange of information and also helps promote clinical trial recruitment.

Physician filling out a form.

Patients, physicians, and caregivers are being informed and influenced by pharma sales reps in person, via mobile devices, internet, apps, and social media. Virtual care from any device and platform is what is becoming more common. 

Patients are already using portals to access their medical records and to contact their physicians. Apps are also being used to fill scripts and start conversations between patients with the same disease online. 

2. Direct Access to Tons of Patient-Data Instantly 

According to a 2013 survey by Accenture, 45% of Chief Marketing Officers want their marketing employees to control data and content without any intervention. 

This begins with the ability to access data on their own terms, wherever they are! 

With cloud technology, marketers can easily access and share relevant files from anywhere, which improves collaboration and communication between the team and clients. 

As mentioned above, patient data is pouring in from everywhere, including social media, apps, fitness wearables, and the internet. Cloud computing ensures that pharma companies will never have to worry about accessing that data because it will all be there for the taking. 

With patients being much less dependent on doctors and more self-reliant with controlling their health, the way data is gathered has changed over the years. 

“In a survey, more than 85 percent of patients said they were confident in their ability to take responsibility for their health and knew how to access online resources to help them do so.” 

The more that patients access devices to control their health, the more data that can be accessed by your company using cloud computing. 

Patient injured at table looking at laptop for treatment options.

3. Maximize Cost Efficiency 

Implementing cloud computing into your pharma marketing operations is much more affordable than traditional methods. This is because you won’t have to spend excessive amounts of money and time on infrastructure, software, and hardware. The cloud is already out there, ready and waiting for your data.

All you need to do to get started is to pay the initial sign up fee for the subscription services of your choice. (We recommend Azure Cloud Software)

While costs are reduced through cloud computing, process efficiencies are also increased. Cloud computing creates an open channel of communication which will result in faster decision-making and more streamlined patient engagement and market access processes.

Having this type of awareness in real-time makes your marketing operations much more efficient and gives decision-makers a clear perspective to make informed decisions.

4. Increased Security 

In the past, security was a major problem with cloud technology and was a primary reason why pharma companies would stay far from it. However, with time and recent technological advancements, security has become what may be the biggest benefit of transitioning to the cloud.

Now, multiple layers of security are added to critical business data such as patient data and the information necessary for your marketing operations. Some would think that cyber hackers might have the same access, but the cloud shuts that idea down quickly.

Image showing security.

The cloud is secure by encrypting data to be transmitted over networks and placed in specific databases. This encryption not only keeps potential outside threats like cyber hackers out but also prohibits access by internal team members who do not have authorized access to the data.

Data such as contacts, sales tracking, patient information, content, and strategies are all heavily protected by the cloud, ensuring that your marketing operations remain safe and secure.

5. Increased Mobility 

Let’s all be honest, we are living in a mobile world, and our phones are often used for much more than just making phone calls or texting.

No matter how your business operates in the industry, the field never sleeps. Through cloud computing, your marketing operations team can access relevant information anywhere.

Especially, when your team may:

  • Travel frequently
  • Work remotely
  • Be aiming for a better work-life balance

Maybe your team has had a crazy busy day at the office and hasn’t been able to address existing deadlines or work through new problems. With the cloud, anybody on your team can continue working while accessing all of the same files and data at home, as if they were still at the office.

Thus, remaining productive.

Woman on her laptop and taking notes at a table.

A vital part of a successful marketing strategy is making sure that it’s streamlined and your team is never behind. The robust benefits of cloud computing ensure that your pharma marketing operations are keeping up with the continuously changing and heavily competitive pharma market.

6. Improved Analytics 

As a marketer in the pharma industry, are you familiar with the patient journey? If not, then fully understanding it should be at the top of your priorities!

Learning how patients can be guided through the patient journey and how to successfully do so is a major key to streamlining your marketing operations.

Advanced cloud analytics can help track and better guide patients through their journey.

More importantly, analytics can also help marketers gain a clear understanding of what matters most to your audience.

That way, pharma marketers can put together helpful content that not only catches the eye of the patient but also helps them address any issues or questions they may be having.

Now, the question becomes, how do you know what visitors to your website are looking for without asking? The answer is with analytics.

Below is a simple visualization of an example of how analytics can better prepare you with decision making.

This example is very simple but very accurate.

Let’s say two visitors go on to Microsoft’s website. One is looking for an Xbox video game console, and the other is looking for the Surface Pro laptop.

Analytics through the cloud can track where these visitors have clicked, and it will be able to be seen which visitors is which, based on what they have done during their experience on the website. Thus, specific content can be created and served up to those patients to guide them further in the patient journey.

7. Improved Communication 

The pharmaceutical industry is extremely complex and requires a ton of pre-communication before any decision can be made.

Before patients, healthcare providers, hospitals, or third-party companies in pharma spend any amount of money for anything; they are going to need to know for sure that their problems will be solved with what they are buying.

This is done by having an effective customer service system. Through the cloud, BPaaS (Business Process as a Service_ customer service system makes sure communication is continuously flowing.

This can be done by:

  • Collecting customer/patient data
  • Flagging common problems
  • Categorizing client service histories
  • Quickly sharing, filtering, and pushing solutions across various channels

Having an effective BPaaS service system can be a major game-changer for your pharma marketing operations, and how efficiently it’s run when issues come up or customers just need to be more informed.

Physician meeting with sales rep discussing over a tablet.

8. Optimizing Digital Media Spend 

Besides being incredibly common as a daily activity in people’s everyday lives, social media is a key contributor for business to reach a larger audience.

The primary mover in the digital marketing world tends to be through sponsored posts and paid media. However, this also brings up more questions than it answers.

Like…

  • How much do you spend on these posts?
  • Where do you focus these posts geographically?
  • How do you know how much to divide your posts among all the platforms?

These are all questions that a cloud-based BPaaS can answer.

BPaaS can assist CMOs by managing their marketing strategy on social media to make better decisions for spending effectiveness and ROI based on campaigning on certain platforms.

When deciding which platforms to campaign on, the pharma industry does better on the following channels:

The pharmaceutical industry is incredibly complex and competitive. Cloud computing is something that can give your company the edge over your competition. It can especially be beneficial for your marketing operations.

Here are the 8 ways cloud computing supports your pharma marketing operations as we have covered in this article:

  • Access to Multi-Device Support
  • Direct Access to Tons of Patient-Data Instantly
  • Reduced Cost Efficiency
  • Increased Security
  • Increased Mobility
  • Improved Analytics
  • Improved Communication
  • Optimize Social Media Spend

These are key ways that cloud computing can benefit your company. As more parts of the business in the pharma industry become digital, cloud computing will only increase in value.

As a pharma marketer, here’s what cloud computing can do for you:

  • Feel less stress
  • Have more time for other tasks that need your attention
  • See actual results from the work you’ve done
  • Feel more confident going forward with streamlined marketing operations

If you have any other input or comments that wasn’t stated above, please feel free to let us know in the comments! Or, if you’d like to learn more about how cloud computing can help you grow your marketing and your company, please contact us today for a complimentary consultation below.

How to Use Azure IoT Hub, Azure function, and Azure Cosmos DB — Walk-through

IoT is very well-known throughout the corporate world. For starters, this isn’t another IoT article where we’re going to do home automation. This is a simple walk-through about adding a server-less back-end to your existing IoT system.

We’ll touch on how Azure IoT Hub will be used as an event hub or a messaging system for “Things.” Also, we’ll cover how these incoming messages can be routed to the related database using Azure functions.

No devices will be used. We’ll be simulating our PC as a device and use node.js to connect to IoT hub and stream data. Then, we’ll see how the streamed data to the IoT hub can be routed to the DB after some logic. Doing so, by using Azure functions and C#.

Finally, we’ll see how the integration happens where we connect every component to everything.

Architecture

Architecture basic

Fig 1: Architecture basic

The above figure shows the basic architecture or flow of the system. It also should be noted that we’ll be using cosmos DB’s mongo DB API to access the database. This displays the flow of data from a device to the database using an architecture without a server.

Azure IoT hub

Azure IoT hub is essentially an IoT platform. Using this, we are going to send messages from our simulated device.

Technically, the device section of any IoT system is referred to as an edge device. From our simulated edge device, we are going to send data to the azure IoT hub using MQTT protocol.

First, let’s go over how to set the Azure IoT Hub. Head on to https://portal.azure.com and create a new IoT hub.

Azure IoT Hub - Screenshot

Fig 2: Azure IoT Hub — Screenshot

Once created, we will add a new device and name it something relevant. In this case, the name of the IoT hub is “spektro” and the name of the device is “simulatedDevice”.

To create a device, click on the IoT hub you just created and head on to the “IoT devices”, under the tab “Explorers”.

Screenshot - IoT Devices

Fig 4: Screenshot — IoT Devices

After creating the device, the next step is to write a code that will simulate the device and send some exciting raw data. For the code, we will stick to node.js. Use the npm package manager for installing the module.

npm install azure-iot-device-mqtt

After a successful installation, we can use the above dependency. Another important parameter we need to note is the connection string. This will act as a key for our simulated device.

For this, click on the device ID you just created. In this case, it was “simulatedDevice”. Once you click that, you will end up in device details.

Screenshot - Device details

Fig 5: Screenshot — Device details

From this page, you need to copy the “Connection string — primary key”. This will allow the device to communicate. Then it can be copied and pasted.

Simulated Device — Node.js

As mentioned earlier, the dependency needs to be installed. Here we’ll see how the dependency is used to stream data. Our data, in this case, will be a JSON string containing the following parameters.

DeviceID and Data

“Device id” is the one that’s created and “Data” just values varying between 1 to 100.

'use strict';

var clientFromConnectionString = require('azure-iot-device-mqtt').clientFromConnectionString;
var Message = require('azure-iot-device').Message;

function azcall()
{
	var connectionString = 'YOUR CONNECTION STRING'; 

	var client = clientFromConnectionString(connectionString);
	function printResultFor(op) 
	{
		return function printResult(err, res) 
		{
			if (err) console.log(op + ' error: ' + err.toString());
			if (res) console.log(op + ' status: ' + res.constructor.name);
		};
	}

	var connectCallback = function (err) 
	{
		if (err) 
		{
			console.log('Could not connect: ' + err);
		} 
		else 
		{
			console.log('Client connected');
			pubData();
			function pubData()
			{  
				var rand= Math.floor((Math.random() * 100) + 1);
				var data = JSON.stringify({ "device_id": "Simulated Device", "Data":rand});
				var message = new Message(data);
				console.log("Sending message: " + message.getData());
				client.sendEvent(message, printResultFor('send'));
			}
		}
	};
	client.open(connectCallback);
}
setInterval(azcall, 1500);

In the code above, we have used the function azcall() for streaming the messages after every 1.5 seconds. It’s a simple implementation of the azure IoT hub SDK which uses MQTT protocol internally. In the function pubData(), we’re publishing the data to the Azure IoT hub which is a JSON string.

The code is based on the sample provided by the Microsoft team.

https://github.com/Azure-Samples/azure-iot-samples-node

Before executing the code, we have one small step involved. We must check out the incoming messages to the Azure IoT Hub.

There’s a utility by Microsoft known as Device explorer twin. That allows us to monitor the messages. It’s a Windows C# app and can be downloaded from the below Github link.

https://github.com/Azure/azure-iot-sdk-csharp/releases/download/2018-3-13/SetupDeviceExplorer.msi

In order to use this, we need the connection string of the IoT Hub, not the Device. So head back to the Azure portal, and click on Shared access policies.

Shared access policies

Fig 6: Shared access policies.

Click on shared access policies to open the policies panel. Here we are interested in “iothubowner”. Click on it to open the policy details.

IoT Hub - Connection String primary key

Fig 7: IoT Hub — Connection String primary key

Copy the “Connection string — primary key”.

Now, fire up your device explorer tool and paste the connection string in the IoT Hub Connection string input panel.

IoT Hub device utility

Fig 8: IoT Hub device utility

Then, click on update. After the update is successfully finished, click on Data.

Monitoring messages

Fig 9: Monitoring messages

In this section, the device that you created from the portal before should appear on the Device ID drop-down. Select your device and click on the monitor.

Now, head back to the folder, where your node.js code was written and execute the code using any IDE. Or in this case, we used Windows Powershell.

Powershell window

Fig 10: Powershell window

At the same time, maximize the device explorer tool and then we’ll see the incoming messages as shown. Fig 11.

Incoming message stream to the IoT Hub

Fig 11: Incoming message stream to the IoT Hub

If everything is done correctly, the messages should appear here, which means that messages are being received by the IoT Hub. Now that we can send messages to the IoT Hub, we can write a server-less API for routing these messages to the Cosmos DB using Mongo DB API. Initially, we’ll set up the cosmos DB such that we know where exactly we need to route the data.

Azure Cosmos DB

Click below for a detailed description of Cosmos DB. Understood correctly, it’s a very informative write-up!

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cosmos-db/introduction

Create a Cosmos DB from the Azure portal as a new resource and select MongoDB under API drop-down.

Cosmos DB

Fig 12: Cosmos DB

After your deployment is completed, head on to the DB you created. In our case for reference, the name of the DB is “spektrodb”. This Cosmos DB is based on documents and it’s unstructured DB. Therefore, we can create new documents on the run-time. We just need to create a database for now under the name of “database_spektro”.

MongoDB database create

Fig 13: MongoDB database create.

For now, we’ll leave it in this way and just copy the connection string as it will be required in our Azure function. Head on to the DB you just created and click on quickstart.

Cosmos DB

Fig 14: Cosmos DB

Keep the above data primarily to the connection string under .NET section somewhere saved locally. You may also want to have a look at the code as it’s going to be used in the Azure functions.

Azure functions

It’s like a micro-service that gets going whenever there is any triggers or requests. Here, we are interested to trigger an azure function whenever there is an incoming message in the Azure IoT Hub.

Before that, let’s create an azure function first. Head towards the Azure portal and search for azure function. In this case, the name of the function is “spektrofunc”.

Azure function

Fig 15: Azure function

Click on a new function.

Azure function -1

Fig 16: Azure function -1

Next, click on the custom function and navigate to “IoT Hub (Event Hub)”.

Azure function -2

Fig 17: Azure function -2

After that, a configuration window will open where we will configure our IoT Hub named “spektro”. You can name your function anything. We named it as “spectroIotTrigger”. Under the event hub connection, click on new.

Azure function -3

Fig 18: Azure function -3

Here, click on IoT hub and the name of the IoT hub should appear.

Azure function -4

Fig 19: Azure function -4

Click on select and finally on create.

Now, your function is ready for you to write code in C#.

Azure function -5

Fig 20: Azure function -5

Before writing the code, let’s find out how the already provided sample will work. In order to test the sample code provided, we need to click on test and logs, which is a place where the messages or errors are displayed.

Click on run and the test message should be displayed.

Azure function -6

Fig 21: Azure function -6

We can also test with our device simulator in node.js. Just execute the code in the back-end, and the messages will be shown in the log window.

Azure function -7

Fig 22: Azure function -7

Now, we can see the incoming messages in the azure function. The next task is to handle these incoming messages which will be used to publish data to cosmos DB.

Cosmos DB integration in Azure function

Before jumping off to integrate cosmos, we must include the dependencies. Adding dependencies in azure functions is a bit tricky. Click on “View files” just above the “Test” button. Then, we need to add one file named “Project.json”.

In the file, we need to manually declare the dependencies. For cosmos DB with MongoDB API, we need MongoDB driver. For handling JSON, we need Newtonsoft.json. You can also declare the .net version.

Let’s declare them using the following JSON.

{
  "frameworks": {
    "net46":{
      "dependencies": {
        "Newtonsoft.Json": "10.0.3",
        "System.ServiceModel.Primitives":"4.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Bson": "2.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Driver": "2.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Driver.Core": "2.4.0"
      }
    }
   }
}

Now, click on save and then browse to run.csx file.

Include all the necessary “using statements”.

using System;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.ServiceModel.Description;
using MongoDB.Bson.IO;
using MongoDB.Bson;
using MongoDB;
using MongoDB.Driver;
using System.Security.Authentication;
using System.Text;
using Newtonsoft.Json;

Now, save it and run the file. If there isn’t any compilation error, then dependencies have been successfully installed.

Let’s write the code for decoding and pushing data. Our target is to create a new document named after the device ID. Then the document will contain the required parameter ID and parameter values.

In this case, it will be displayed as shown: {“Data”:”12″}

using System;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.ServiceModel.Description;
using MongoDB.Bson.IO;
using MongoDB.Bson;
using MongoDB;
using MongoDB.Driver;
using System.Security.Authentication;
using System.Text;
using Newtonsoft.Json;
using Newtonsoft.Json.Linq;

public static void Run(string myIoTHubMessage, TraceWriter log)
{
    log.Info($"C# IoT Hub trigger function processed a message: {myIoTHubMessage}");
    string deviceId="",data="";
    var raw_obj=JObject.Parse(myIoTHubMessage);
    deviceId=(string)raw_obj["device_id"];
    data=(string)raw_obj["Data"];
    Cosmos cosmos= new Cosmos(deviceId,data);
    cosmos.pushData();
}

//CosmosDB class
public class Cosmos
{
    string deviceId="",data="";
    public BsonDocument document = new BsonDocument();
    public Cosmos(string deviceId, string data)
    {
        this.deviceId=deviceId;
        this.data=data;
    }
    public void pushData()
    {
        MainAsync().Wait();
    }
    public async Task MainAsync()
    {
        string connectionString = 
    @"";
    MongoClientSettings settings = MongoClientSettings.FromUrl(new MongoUrl(connectionString));
        settings.SslSettings = new SslSettings() { EnabledSslProtocols = SslProtocols.Tls12};
        var mongoClient = new MongoClient(settings);
        IMongoDatabase db = mongoClient.GetDatabase("database_spektro");
        var icollection = db.GetCollection(deviceId);
        document.Add("Data",data);
        await icollection.InsertOneAsync(document);
    }

}

The code above is the azure function written in C#. It decodes the JSON received in the string message from the azure IoT hub. A class was created to handle the MongoDB message push.

We pass the parameters through a parameter constructor and by an async call. Then, we push the data to the CosmosDB using MongoDB API. There are two options for testing the code. You can create any name for the DB.

Recall the “Test” area where there was some sample message.

Azure function screenshot for testing

Fig 23: Azure function screenshot for testing

In the test area, you can replace it with a JSON and click on run. This should execute the code with the sample input. Run a test for any errors.

Now, let’s check this with the simulated device code we have written earlier in node.js. Head on to the local folder and start the node.js code. Once it starts executing, go to your CosmosDB and click on “Data Explorer”.

Cosmos DB - Data explorer

Fig 24: Cosmos DB — Data explorer

Click on the database that was created and then on the table name which is basically the device ID. Our device ID was a simulated device as in the node.js code. After we click on documents, the JSON files appear. Click on anyone and you can check out the data.

Conclusion

We have seen how we can simulate an IoT device using node.js and send messages to the IoT hub. Finally, we route the messages into respective tables in CosmosDB based on the device ID and stream data. This has a lot of use case(s).

Let’s take an example of telematics data from a car or any machine to be sent to the DB after a certain time interval. From some kind of remote weather station or any IoT use cases where data is involved.

Now that you know the flow of data, why not comment some use case(s) which perfectly fits in this flow? The part that we didn’t cover is the use of rule engines which can be programmed in the azure function. Another topic for another article!

Curious about how Azure can impact your business? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation below on how the various Azure platforms can help you grow your business.

6 Important Pharma Data Collection Sources To Keep An Eye On

In this digital age, the term “data” can often be much like a loaded question; many industries have an overabundance of raw data available but a distinct lack of understanding of how to deal with that data. The pharma and biotech industries are no exception.

The growing level of accessible, quality, real-world healthcare data is causing quite a stir throughout the pharmaceutical industry.

Recent findings indicate that applying specific data strategies to innovation optimization, improved efficiency of research and clinical trials, and transitioning doctors, insurers, and regulators to the rapidly shifting individualized, patient-centric approach to healthcare is consistently identified as a top priority among pharma leadership teams.

Colleagues standing in a data center in front of drawings of charts

Pharma data collection and analytics are so essential to the future of pharma that nearly 40% of pharma professionals identified it as the most significant trend in the industry for the coming year. 

Relevant data collection and uses identified by respondents include…

  • Determining potential drug candidates.
  • Monitoring of clinical trials.
  • Analyzing trends in electronic health records.
  • Improving tracking of patient statistics.
  • Predicting healthcare outcomes.
  • Designing treatment protocols.

Much like any other industry, there is an enormous amount of raw data available to pharma companies, but harvesting and harnessing that data can require a bit of work.

In order to remain competitive in the rapidly evolving field of pharma data, organizations must understand the following:

  • Which data sources available are relevant to the pharma industry.
  • The unique differences between these data sources.
  • The importance of the information provided by these data sources.
  • How to harness this information to benefit your company.
Physician on laptop on a desk while holding a pen.

Primary vs. Secondary Data Sources

All data is not equal, which is especially true in the pharma industry. To simplify things, pharma data typically fall into one of two categories: primary or secondary data sources.

Primary Data Sources

A primary data source gathers information through direct interaction with the end-user and through purchased data. This type of information is obtained when…

  • Physicians are attended by a sales rep.
  • Prescription history.
  • Patient participates in a clinical trial.
  • The patient is involved in treatment where a medical claim is generated.

Primary source data is essential as it provides vital information gathered through study, trial, testimonial, or other forms of direct interaction between a patient or provider and a pharma product.

Secondary Data Sources

Secondary data sources gather information through market research and often use data gathered in databases and registries. Examples of pharma secondary data sources include…

  • Various forms of social media.
  • Websites
  • Sunshine Act Database
  • FDA database

Something to keep in mind is that secondary data source information is typically public information available for free and provides valuable information that can help you reduce costs, advance sales, and adjust the focus of your company.

Proficient young male employee with eyeglasses and checkered shirt, explaining a business analysis displayed on the monitor of a desktop PC to his female colleague, in the interior of a modern office

Regardless of the source, both primary and secondary data provide timely, relevant, and important information essential for evaluating and identifying strategic opportunities in the overall global pharma market.

Examples of Primary Data Sources In Pharma

1. Clinical Trials 

Clinical trials are advanced research programs designed to test whether a new medication, treatment option, or medical device is as effective or more effective than current devices or treatments currently used or prescribed to patients.

Recent reports estimate the average cost associated with developing a new medication to be more than $2.5 billion, with nearly 60% of costs coming directly from the associated clinical trials. 

These clinical trials are essential in providing detailed information about the safety and efficacy of pharma products, indicate who is able to use and benefit from the drug and highlights important side effects, interactions, and potential dangers associated with it.

Without the data provided through the clinical trial phase, the breakthroughs realized through new pharma developments have no value and their benefits will go unnoticed.

Hand typing on modern laptop notebook computer with future graph icons and symbols

2. Patient Testimonials 

It’s no secret that patients are the ultimate beneficiaries of the advances in medical science that help them overcome diseases and life-threatening challenges.

However, due to the nature of the pharma sales process, more often than not, pharma companies aren’t able to make a direct connection with the patient and rely heavily on the prescribers to educate the patients.

Over the last decade, companies have built great patient assistance programs and patient testimonials are increasingly important.

“There is no greater partner we can look for in healthcare than the patient,” says Cheryl Lubbert, President, and CEO, Health Perspectives Group. “By incorporating the patient’s voice early and often, we can expect better health literacy, better adherence, and better health outcomes. 

In fact, patient testimonials are so effective, research conducted by Remedy Health demonstrated that…

9 out of 10 patients who have heard an inspirational story about another patient reported becoming more hopeful, which inspired them to take action. 

This action includes trying a new treatment or medication, going to the doctor, exercising, or eating healthier.

Writing on clipboard with patient in background in hospital

3. Adverse Events

While adverse events are an uncommon occurrence, managing and tracking adverse events is a crucial data component for a pharma company to stay legally compliant with the FDA as well as to improve the conditions of future trials.

In this regard, the FDA has made guidance documentation very clear and readily available to help pharma companies ensure compliance.

4. Sales Operations and CRM Software 

Strong, efficient data collection and analytics are an essential component to effectual sales operations for any pharma or biotech company.

This is often achieved through…

  • Building strong customer relationships.
  • Enhancing sales team performance.
  • Monitoring the customer’s decision-making process.
  • Efficiently monitoring and managing operational costs.

Sales operations and analytics software platforms within a pharma company analyze a large amount of data to develop a comprehensive promotion strategy and target universe.

Examples Of Secondary Data Sources 

5. Social Media

Social media continues to transform the way the pharma and healthcare industries do business, especially in the evolving age of patient self-information.

Studies show that 80% of social media users are actively using the platform to search for health-related information. Also, over 90% of 18-24 year-olds report that they considered the health information provided on social media to be reliable. 

Shocked young business woman using laptop looking at computer screen blown away in stupor sitting outside corporate office. Human face expression, emotion, feeling, perception, body language, reaction

Social media users also report sharing their first-hand experiences on a wide variety of health and medical topics over social media, including…

  • Coping with chronic conditions.
  • Treating acute illnesses.
  • Choosing a healthcare provider.

In addition, an increasing number of social media users are looking to their doctors to actively share information about new drugs, benefits of new medications and treatments, and updates on specific illnesses.

60% of social media users report that they trust what doctors post on social media. 

By engaging in social media about health-related topics, people are able to share their stories and experiences, as well as find treatment recommendations and options that have worked for others in similar medical circumstances. Social media provides a massive, active network for pharma data collection.

Companies are using these developing patient portals to glean information from end-users of pharma products and services.

Data gathered through social media channels can also help drive marketing campaigns by providing a rich well of potential marketing material such as patient testimonials and stories that when integrated into marketing materials are instantly relatable and give people the opportunity to make an emotional connection.

6. Sunshine Act Database 

Each year, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act published data that discloses to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) payments made to teaching hospitals and physicians, as well as manufactures holding interests in those companies.

Businessman drawing business statistics on glass wall-2

The Sunshine Act Database provides current data on over 28 million records related to nearly $17 billion in clinical trial-related payments to doctors, hospitals, and healthcare organizations. 

Most of these payments are provided in the form of travel, research, gifts, meals, and speaking fees.

The database also details information pertaining to the ownership interests that physicians and their family members have to clinical trial organizations.

This data provides valuable information that has significant implications for the impacts of the efficiency of your organization.

2009 survey discovered that 84% of physicians interacted financially with drug, device, and medical supply manufacturers.

These relationships often resulted in swayed decision making that directly correlated with inflated healthcare costs.

Having access to the type of pharma data provided through the Sunshine Act Database is critical to understanding the value attached to drugs.

Especially in a time when…

One in four prescriptions drug users reports difficulty affording their medication costs. 

Background image with financial charts and graphs on media backdrop

Are You Ready To Access Actionable Pharma Data and Analytics For Superior Outcomes?

In the current era of open healthcare information, a wide variety of valuable pharma data is available and accessible to prescribers and patients alike.

Pharma organizations that demonstrate the ability to collect, analyze, and respond to relevant pharma data also demonstrate the ability to better meet the needs of their customers/patients, accelerate innovation, and increase revenue and overall value.

We at Prescriber360 provide powerful, streamlined access to the most relevant primary and secondary pharma data sources available including:

  • Clinical Trials
  • Patient Testimonials
  • Adverse Events
  • Sales Operations
  • Social Media
  • Sunshine Act Database

We proudly serve as a premium pharma data solutions provider, allowing you to focus on your resources and efforts on implementing this knowledge, adapting to customer needs, and achieving better results and increased earnings for your business.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below in the comment section!

Want to learn how our advanced pharma analytics and data management platform can provide you with the information you need to enhance your company’s performance? Request a free platform demo today below!

7 Top Technology Trends Shaping the Future of the Pharma Industry

Every industry is changing at a more rapid pace. Products and services are becoming increasingly commercialized. Technology is playing a progressively bigger role in research and development, marketing and advertising, and sales and distribution.

The pharmaceutical sector is one that has felt this transformation in research and development over the past few years and will start to feel it in the other divisions over the next decade.

Here are a few of the trends that will shape the pharmaceutical industry over the next ten years:

Artificial Intelligence

It’s very likely that within the next decade, humans will no longer be pharmaceutical test subjects. Instead, cognitive computers will be used in biotechnology and genomic research.

Rather than it taking months to see the effect of a particular drug on thousands of people, it will take seconds to see the effect of thousands of drugs on billions of simulations of the human body’s physiology.

Artificial Intelligence

In fact, there’s already one supercomputer program, Atomwise. This program has been used for similar purposes. It has the ability to search through existing medicines that could be re-purposed to more effectively treat diseases.

This type of molecular structure search and analysis would normally take months, if not years. In 2015, Atomwise identified two drugs in less than 24 hours, that could reduce Ebola’s infectiousness.

Digitization of Medicine

Every company, in every industry, is coming to the realization that a product or service isn’t enough. A complete package must be offered and this package should be digitally friendly.

In the pharmaceutical industry, this trend is growing so quickly that there’s a name for it, ‘Around the pill’ digital offerings. These offerings include everything from digital health apps to services and devices that can be bundled with the prescription.

As this grows in popularity, it will prove to be a game-changer when it comes to pharmaceutical marketing and advertising, as well as distribution.

Body Sensors

Body sensors are a new technology that’s currently still in clinical trials. These sensors can either be placed on the body or inside of it. They measure various critical vital signs.

body-sensors

One sensor that’s already being used is a digestible sensor. These are sensors that are inside of the pill and track both the drug being digested and how well the drug is being absorbed into the body.

It has been seen to be especially effective in overseeing prescription adherence with schizophrenia, major depressive disorders, and bipolar I disorder.

3D-Printing

In 2015, the very first pharmaceutical was 3D-printed. As this manufacturing method gains popularity, it will likely completely transform how the pharmaceutical industry operates, in terms of its supply chain.

Hospitals and pharmacies could potentially print the pills that they need in-house in ten years’ time.

Additionally, the University College of London is testing ways to print pills in fun shapes for kids. Thus, making it easier for them to take and can make it a potential commercial goldmine.

For those B2B companies that are involved in the sales, sales operations, and marketing of pharmaceuticals, these new trends could open many doors in terms of new forms of revenue and profits.

Personalization and Precision of Medicine

Whole new fields of pharmaceuticals are opening up and over the next decade, will only continue to widen and gain significant depth. It’s becoming less expensive and more commercially available for patients with various illnesses to get precision medical treatment.

Therefore, more money is flowing into pharmaceutical research that aims to discover how to target medication more efficiently (e.g. how certain drugs could attack cancer cells and avoid attacking the other cells).

DNA Molecule

It’s also becoming more commercially viable for patients to work with companies like myDNA. This organization, and others like it, analyzes a patient’s DNA to identify which medications will be most effective for a specific treatment plan.

It’s likely that over the coming years, rather than medications being manufactured for millions of people with an “average” or “median” DNA and molecular makeup in mind, medicines and their dosages will become unique to every patient.

AR and VR

Augmented reality is slowly creeping into every aspect of our lives, and that includes pharmaceuticals. Some pharmaceutical companies are looking at allowing patients to better connect with their prescriptions by translating the descriptions on the bottle into 3D.

Instead of having to read along, and a nearly indecipherable pamphlet on how the drug works, patients could be much more engaged with a visual AR demonstration.

Virtual Reality Device

When it comes to VR, it’s been believed that if the pharmaceutical industry pursues and invests in the technology, more new streams of revenue from pharmacies that provide virtual reality treatments could be opened up.

The treatments won’t be applicable to many diseases, like cancer or pneumonia, but rather as a treatment for pain and stress.

Patient Involvement

With new technology and innovation, patients are gaining more power. They now have the ability to have more of a say when it comes to their body and their health.

Thus, pharmaceutical companies will need to start taking patient needs, thoughts, and desires into consideration. Products will be more successful if patients are involved in their creation and distribution.

It’s likely that over the coming years, many companies in the pharmaceutical industry will create patient advisory boards. This has already become an integral part of several healthcare conferences where patients either help to organize the event or speak at it.

The pharmaceutical industry is changing at each level.

In order to survive and thrive in this environment, it’s more essential than ever for companies in the industry to explore and invest in the latest technology and innovations.

Are you interested in harnessing some of these top-notch technologies to move your business forward? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation on the top technologies that can impact your business the most.