AI as Part of your Life Sciences Customer Engagement Tool

In an earlier article, we described how some life science CRMs have broken from the pack by offering relevant artificial intelligence (AI)-based features for life sciences, such as conversational assistants for field force tasks whilst on the go, bots for simple medical inquiries, and impactful AI-driven channel actions embedded into the interface of the customer engagement tool. These intelligent capabilities are crucial to keeping up with the experiences healthcare professionals (HCPs) and reps now expect to have available to them.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the benefits of AI-enabled chat, customized for the needs of life sciences.

The Era of Instant Information and Communications

As global instant messaging platforms have become pervasive in our day-to-day lives, AI-based chat systems are now the next level of expected customer service. Systems using intelligent assistants or chatbots 24/7 bring about the same ease of engagement as provided by a human-to-human chat but at huge cost savings and have become somewhat common outside of the life sciences where such technologies have been tried and tested for a few years now.

“Chatbot Market size is set to exceed 1.34 billion USD by 2024”

Global Market Insights, Inc.1

As marketing leads often consider med-legal constraints before introducing new channels, the explosion of AI-enabled chat has not taken off as quickly in biopharma, but in actuality, it is the solution to the previous fear of unmoderated chat.

The reality is today’s digitally savvy HCPs demand the same convenience as offered by consumer brands. Understanding the need, some pharma companies have started to explore life sciences-optimized chatbots to deliver greater value to HCPs and to reap the business benefits of rich data from such systems.

Chatbots for Patients Are Already Available

Novo Nordisk offers a chatbot for patients with type 2 diabetes, Sanofi has one for patients with sleep disorders and J&J has one for long-term wearers of contact lenses. Sugarpod from Wellpepper helps patients manage sugar levels and enables feedback from their HCPs.2

Chatbot as a Constant Companion to HCPs

Imagine, an HCP is meeting with a highly informed patient with numerous questions regarding his or her disease state and the HCP does not feel comfortable answering until completing a little more research. Wouldn’t it be convenient for the HCP to be able to chat with a medical bot on the fly to answer questions that only a harder-to-reach medical sciences liaison (MSL) could answer? A typical MSL usually takes a few days to respond to an HCP’s inquiry; hence, a medical chatbot could drastically reduce the time taken to address their medical questions.

The advantages for the life sciences industry are numerous; not only is the information shared with the HCP controlled in a compliant way, but a medical chatbot also provides customers a gateway to continuous engagement. The latter is especially important as biopharma has had a harder and harder time getting face time with HCPs.

With an added channel to the mix that supports the customer requests on-demand, biopharma companies finally have a clear window into the lifecycle of HCP engagement for their more connected and loyal customers. As pharma companies seek to deliver more value beyond their manufactured products, the data captured from such intelligent assistants can lead to more services that could be offered to either HCPs such as a self-service model for such things as sampling or digital reprints.

Assisting in Routine Tasks

Like all busy professional lives, the need for task automation is huge, especially for HCPs. A smart assistant can automate several tasks related to engagement with pharma companies. For example, a chatbot could easily set up appointments by having access to both the HCPs’ and medical reps’ calendars, trigger reminders, suggest reading material, place sample orders and other intuitive inputs such as surface the latest research findings on a disease state of interest. All of these various simple, yet time-saving, use cases have immense value to an HCP who is commonly stuck in a continuous flow of patient visits.

Better Management of Pharma Resources

With chatbots taking over simpler medical questions such as dosage guidelines, MSLs have more time to address the more complex inquiries, leading to lower response times for HCP inquiries. Overall, a more comprehensive and omnichannel-focused customer engagement experience could be delivered.

Integration of Voice

Riding the wave of the other technological marvel today, HCPs could interact with chatbots using smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home for hands-free inquiries. Chatbots could of course also engage HCPs over voice directly using smartphones and tablets.

Creation of Chatbots and Integration With CRM

It goes without saying that all of these benefits can be achieved if the burden of creating AI-based bots is left to the pharma industry. AI-based platforms such as Microsoft Azure enable easy creation of chatbots using Language Understanding Intelligent Services such as the Microsoft Bot Framework that also connects to Dynamics CRM platform. With data being retrieved from the CRM, chatbots can deliver personalized recommendations to HCPs and aid in the creation of intelligent insights for pharma companies to improve their services and products.


  1. Ankita Bhutani, Preeti Wadhwani. Global Chatbot Market worth over $1.34bn by 2024. Global Marketing Insights. August 26, 2019
  2. Adam Chapman. The Chatbots Are Coming! eyeforpharma. May 15, 2019