“Necessity is the mother of invention,” or as Satya Nadella the CEO of Microsoft recently said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” As we move beyond video screens into virtual worlds and extended reality, many are asking if the metaverse has the potential to provide real value in the coming years or if it is simply another shiny technology that will fade. There is no doubt that engaging in virtual worlds is a level above simple video interactions, but if these enhanced interactions cannot translate to value for both businesses and customers adoption may lag.
The metaverse presents an enormous opportunity for early adoption built on a clear understanding of value.
Increased engagement & immersive interactions
Virtual worlds offer a range of interactive features that can help increase engagement with customers. According to a study by the M2 Research, gamification can increase engagement by up to 100%1 . Pharma companies have the opportunity to use gamification techniques to make learning about new drugs and treatments more engaging and enjoyable. One example of this could be creating virtual quizzes or challenges that test customers' knowledge of a particular drug or condition. Life science organizations could also use virtual reality to simulate real-world scenarios and provide customers with a better understanding of how certain drugs and treatments work.
Reduce costs & improved ROI
Organizations can achieve faster times to market when they deploy agile ways of working and leverage technology best-practices, including virtual training. In addition to these benefits, virtual worlds can also provide cost savings for pharma companies planning events. According to a report by Eventsforce2 , the average cost of organizing a physical event is approximately $1,500 per attendee. In contrast, the cost of organizing a virtual event is approximately $100 per attendee. This means that virtual events can be a cost-effective way for pharma companies to reach a large audience without incurring significant expenses.
Even if we can identify potential value using the metaverse, adopting and activating metaverse technology, requires that we create an actionable metaverse roadmap where virtual worlds are actively tied to business outcomes, domain expertise, and regulatory knowledge.
Using virtual worlds for rep training
Developing a quality rep training program is foundational for activating a dynamic, effective field force. The Gartner Group has found that retention and learning outcomes improve by 75% when an educational program uses experiential learning3 . While current rep training is rooted in helping reps learn how to effectively interact with healthcare professionals (HCPs), there are limitations in deploying the traditional training model. By utilizing virtual worlds and extended reality, rep training can be transformed into a highly immersive experience, where reps can model and practice their interactions with HCPs in a number of realistic scenarios. Just like pilots train with simulators so that they can learn how to better anticipate what it will be like to fly in a real plane, providing high-quality simulations for rep training can lead to more rep success in the field and increased revenue.
Creating immersive patient education experiences
With healthcare costs rising, the need for greater patient education has increased. Patients who have a better understanding about their disease are more likely to better manage their own care and avoid hospitalizations. Patient education is also linked to helping patients feel empowered and more able to cope with the demands of managing their disease. This can reduce mental health concerns and improve patient satisfaction4 .
While patient education can happen in the doctor’s office, the hospital, at home, or through reading materials and videos, these options for education are limited in their ability to engage patients in their education. Virtual worlds open the opportunity for patients to actively participate in their education in an immersive and highly engaging environment. Allowing patients to create digital twins, practice skills, repeat lessons, or join patient communities that offer support all contribute to quality patient education experiences.
Building interactive engagement capability for HCPs
Metaverse offers a range of opportunities for physicians to access information, training, and professional development opportunities in a virtual environment. One simple use case is the possibility to host virtual conferences and events, which can be attended by physicians from around the world. The real benefit of virtual, however, is when a platform can offer a more immersive experience where HCPs can experience virtual simulations of medical procedures and scenarios. One example of this immersive potential is the traditional mechanism of action (MOA) video. Thanks to metaverse, these topics can be presented in engaging 3D formats. Using metaverse technology, traditional patient battle cards can have an interactive replica, and eDetailing by sales rep has the potential to be done in a virtual world with virtual sales reps or by using a chat bot powered by conversational artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
As a digital-first life sciences solutions provider for more than 20 years, Indegene has been a champion of technology and the role that it plays in driving future ready healthcare. We are increasingly seeing ways that the metaverse will be able to drive growth. We also realize that domain and compliance expertise is key to effectively manage the complex web of global regulatory regime. That is why we have joined the Metaverse Standards Forum, to represent the interests of the healthcare industry in broader conversations about deploying the metaverse in business applications.
Since there are several regulatory challenges that must be overcome for virtual worlds to be a successful revenue driver in the pharma industry, companies must ensure that they comply with all relevant regulations when using virtual worlds to promote their products. But embracing metaverse now as a viable channel for business will allow us to optimize its development and experiment with ways to steward the technology so that it can most effectively drive change in the life sciences industry for business, HCPs, and patients.