Beyond the Call - Pharmaceutical Executive


Beyond the Call
Integrating call center systems at pharma companies helps ensure FDA compliance and improves workflow across all divisions—not to mention, protects the public

Pharmaceutical Executive

Emerging Technologies and Trends WORKFLOW AUTHORSHIP Automated workflow can be used to enable tremendous efficiency gains in how call centers handle inquiries. The new systems allow administrators to control who has clearance to view and alter response documents. This type of system can further differentiate those who have author control from others who have approval control. The ability to divide multiple groups of people into roles by access allows a new level of quality control in the call center process.

ONLINE CAPABILITIES Already, some of the newest software systems have built-in Internet capability. This gives call center representatives the ability to respond to queries through e-mail or through web chat features. Although many companies are responding to e-mails, very few are currently communicate through web chat features at this time.

GLOBALIZATION Today, the medical affairs staff at most US-based pharmaceutical companies provide support in English and Spanish, while some global companies support a wider variety of languages. In the future, globalization will undoubtedly continue and call centers must be ready for the added challenge of disseminating content on a local level, and in multiple languages.

SELF-SERVICE The combination of increased regulations, an evolving market, and advances in technology point the way toward even greater levels of automated support in the future. With the advent of some powerful new systems, executives should expect to see pilot projects for advanced web self-service initiatives that have business rules which allow the systems to service customers with artificial intelligence. These features will make companies more cost effective and time efficient.

INTERACTIVE SESSIONS With the increasing availability of broadband Internet, expect to see more companies experimenting with interactive online sessions that include multimedia content, such as voice and streaming video.

SMART ANALYTICAL PROGRAMS This technology promises to have the biggest near-term impact on pharma call center operations. These programs will sift through data from millions of incoming inquires and provide real-time insight into questions such as: Where are the calls coming from? How many queries are received? Do the queries diverge from the historical norms for the drug? Are there any early indicators that will allow companies to address problem areas before they get too serious?

All in all, having that information will allow companies to serve—and protect—their customers and themselves more effectively than they are today.

Stan Zehner is director of pharmaceutical and IT services, and Beth Ann Pelegan is division director in RWD Technologies' applied technology solutions group. They can be reached at


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