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As movement restrictions continue in the Hubei province where COVID-19 was first confirmed in late December, advisories are now growing to other parts of Asia, and countries including Iran and Italy. Mitigation and risk management plans are now being implemented by US-based companies, including a recent companywide travel and meetings policy designed to reduce potential disruption from coronavirus at Vertex in Cambridge, Mass. In light of pandemic planning, Veeva Systems is extending users of its CRM system free six-month access to its product Engage Meeting, a product designed to enhance HCP-to-sales rep communication.
Paul Shawah, Senior Vice President, Commercial Strategy at Veeva Systems, told Pharmaceutical Executive that Engage Meeting operates as an add-on to Veeva CRM, which offers web-based audio, video and content sharing capabilities aligned with the customer details in the CRM, ie., their affiliation, specialty, to share information in a compliant manner. Shawah said, “Some of our customers already had plans to add Engage Meeting as part of their overall strategies, not as part of this acute situation. But we thought it would be the right thing to do to help our customers.” To that end, parts of Veeva’s business teams have been temporarily re-aligned to get their customers up and running.
Shawah said that a customer in China was able to get more than 2,000 users up and running within eight days. Most of that time is not spent with the actual technology implementation, however, it is a change for sales representatives used to calling on HCPs in a face-to-face setting to use email to schedule a call. According to Shawah, Engage Meeting will help pharma companies during this crisis to continue to educate HCPs about therapies that will help patients. For example, says Shawah, oncology therapies evolve quickly, and getting that information even to physicians who are unable to meet face-to-face with sales reps and receive updated educational materials will be helpful during this time.
After the six-month period, in which Shawah expressed hope that the global situation will have resolved, companies that have taken advantage of Engage Meeting can discontinue usage with no additional charges. However, with 12,000 reps across six major pharma companies that have gone live in the past two weeks, most of which were part of the “already planning to implement” group that Shawah mentioned, it may be that sales reps find the increased time encounters on the platform-on average 15 minutes vs. two minutes in person-a welcome change.