News, Future Pharma: Pharma Marketing Gets Virtual

Posted by Claudia M. Caruana on Oct 21, 2011

Claudia M. Caruana explores how new technology can help sales reps and marketers reach busy healthcare professionals

The doctor is busy or unable to meet with salespeople to discuss a new pharmaceutical, medical device, or biotech product and how it might benefit her patients.

It's not a stall; it's the new reality of busy practices, over-extended medical personnel, and, in some cases, facilities that do not permit sales calls on the premises.

Healthcare professionals have crowded waiting rooms, mounting paper work, and little time for much else. So what's pharma to do?

This is less of a problem than it could be for pharma and medical device companies, thanks to creative solutions provided by a niche group of marketing companies.

These firms take interactive product demonstrations and education to the max with 3D animation, visualization, stereoscopic imagery, and even virtual reality.

One case in point is Viscira, a San Francisco-based, privately held provider of new interactive medical solutions and digital products.

Beginning its fifth year and still in growth mode, Viscira has 65 employees, including medical and science PhDs, medical illustrators, computer graphics pros, and former Hollywood animators.

Their computer animation, 3D work, and interactive technology has affectionately been referred to as 'biotech meets special effects'.

Biotech Meets Special Effects

Viscira is one of a handful of companies in this burgeoning sector; Eveo in San Francisco, Xvivo in Rocky Hill, Conn., and Random 42 in London are others.

"The use of iPads and tablets has opened up new avenues for pharma to reach their prescribing audience," says Viscira CEO Dave Gulezian.

But it's not a matter of dumping a brochure onto one of these devices, he stresses. It wouldn't work, at least not for an audience as sophisticated as physicians.

What will work, Gulezian and others in the field believe, are interactive presentations using strong graphics, animation, and 3D technology that attract and retain attention. (For more on pharma and tablets, see "Future pharma: Making the most of the tablet takeover" and "Will the iPad kickstart a pharma sales and marketing revolution?")

In the past, animation would show how cells moved about in a medium, but now—through visualization and animation—what is happening inside the cell can be seen simultaneously.

Older as well as younger scientists and practitioners are embracing this new technology; Viscira clients include Genentech, Novartis, Amgen, Pfizer, Johnson&Johnson, Eli Lilly, and Abbott Laboratories.

"Prescribers often need to see something they may not be able to visualize well, even though they understand it," Gulezian says.

He gives the example of ophthalmologists treating patients with age-related macular degeneration.

They know what their patients are experiencing in vision loss, but using special headgear, Viscira pharma clients can experience the symptoms themselves, which is crucial for understanding the patient's perspective.

According to Gulezian, pharmas, medical device manufacturers, and biotech are choosing these new tools to reach their target audiences for new product introductions and to provide additional information about older treatments or products.

These presentations are used for physician and patient education as well as promotional tools for product recognition.

"Sometimes, a client will come to us with definite ideas on the way of providing the information," Gulezian says. "Other times, we will make recommendations to target the presentation for the audience."

What's In It for KOLs

Busy physicians and researchers are not the only professionals benefiting from Viscira's advances in video presentation.

In August, the company released its next generation presentation solutions specifically designed to meet the needs of KOLs.

This new version of the on-demand video program delivers a combination of HD video content, sophisticated 3D imagery, dynamic motion graphics, and other creative elements to maximize visual impact and increase messaging effectiveness for clients.

These features enable KOL presenters to engage and interact with animated graphics in new and unique ways. (For more on KOLS, see Pharma and KOLs: How to create transparent, collaborative relationships, Q&A: How to engage with KOLs, and Q&A: The changing role of KOLs.)

"The format provides viewers with a truly immersive, broadcast-quality experience that is far more sophisticated and compelling than traditional industry offerings," says Rick Barker, vice president of production and technology at Viscira.

For more information, please visit the company's website at or contact Noël Ashekian at (617) 429-0834.

Press Contact:
Noël Ashekian
Marketing Communications Manager - Viscira
Phone: (617) 429-0834
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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