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The future of healthcare is Pill-Plus : Kiran Pai, Head, Digital Marketing, Cipla

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The future of healthcare is Pill-Plus : Kiran Pai, Head, Digital Marketing, Cipla

Leading pharmaceutical company Cipla recently launched two digital assets Ciplamed and Breathefree for healthcare professionals and patients respectively. Talking about these platforms and the role they play in taking healthcare to the next level in India, Kiran Pai, Head, Digital Marketing, Cipla, says technology has become an integral component of healthcare today.

Discussing the future of medicine, Pai said, "From a smartphone to smart-medicine, everything is technology driven today and the future of a healthcare will be pill-plus model." Talking about Cipla's recent partnership with OMD Mudramax, Pai shared his insights on how social media has been used to create awareness.

Edited Excerpts:

Cipla recently launched two digital platforms - Ciplamed and Breathefree. What is the core component of your healthcare system when it comes to digital?
Since we represent a pharmaceutical company, I think the responsibility of a medicine maker like us is to provide right information to both users as well as patients on both disease and therapies available to cure those diseases.
In today’s context, even before the patient reaches out to a doctor, he is actually well-prepared with information on what’s probably happening with him. He is actually looking to evaluate symptoms with the help of information available on the internet and then makes up his mind to visit a doctor. Post a doctor-visit, patients today check whether the diagnosis is right or wrong and then eventually go ahead with the treatment, again with the help of the internet.
In this changing healthcare ecosystem, I feel that ‘Digital Powered Patient Or Consumer’ actually wants a credible source of information. So, our Breathefree website is one such initiative that helps people with asthma and respiratory diseases find credible information about their conditions.
We support patient empowerment through various digital assets. Be that a website, application or some kind of doctor-patient interaction that we facilitate.

Where do you see big opportunities for digital in healthcare in near future?
The future of course is 'pill-plus'. The healthcare scenario was largely pill driven in the Indian context. Technology would definitely have a major role in this model. For example, a regular inhaler for an asthma patient is transformed into a smart inhaler. An inhaler that connects with your mobile phone and tells you whether you have taken the right dose or not, how many doses are left and feed this information back to a doctor. This is in the zone of Internet of  Things, where you have hardware and software and the system in between that connects each other.

From curative to very predictive, with the involvement of digital in healthcare, what are the challenges you have faced as a company?
While we talk about the future at one level, I think we need to also look at the cultural context of healthcare in India. Majority of the population would have to make healthcare engagement more digital. Things we may develop may not be at scale but it might be just small incremental initiatives that are giving success in small zones and not necessarily scaled at a national level.
There are regulatory and compliance based barriers that we face when it comes to data. For example, a pharma company cannot hold a patient’s data. Looking at these barriers, we have to find a middle ground and then create innovative models. Healthcare has more barriers when compared to other industries, like e-commerce etc.

Recently OMD Mudramax won the media duties of Cipla across mass/digital media. Please tell us how much does social campaigns help in creating brand name and also what are your expectations from this partnership?
Driving awareness about certain diseases and driving best practices around healthcare is one of the responsibilities of a pharmaceutical organisation. In the earlier days, we used educational camps through doctors and clinics to share these basic values of healthcare.
With our recent campaign we are focusing on how we can use social media channels and the other digital routes to propagate messages strongly to our audience. We definitely feel that, digital mediums will drive change that we need and will improve the outcome.
The partnership with OMD is to drive campaigns on social media. We have worked on campaigns around these Facebook and YouTube specifically. We are evaluating the initial results that are coming in. We are hopeful that we’ll be able to drive more such campaigns in future.

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