Sital Kotecha, Medical Strategy Director – Europe at Veeva Systems
Interviewed by Louise Rogers | @EMG_GOLD
Disclaimer: This is a non-commercial feature.
As Medical Strategy Director for Europe, Sital Kotecha is responsible for evolving the overall market strategy for Veeva Medical Cloud and delivering Veeva’s medical vision. We spoke to Kotecha at this year’s eyeforpharma, Barcelona about the adoption of cloud technology into the pharma space and what delivering an effective value proposition really means.
Q: You started your career in the life-sciences industry over 10 years ago. What was it about the industry at that time that excited you and made you want to pursue a career in pharma?
A: I began my career as a pharmacist and then moved into software. Then, around 10 years ago, I had a moment in life where I could relate to healthcare. This moment for me was the passing of my mother-in-law, who died from Stage IV ovarian cancer. The pivotal moment, and when it really hit home for me, was that, on the day she passed, my wife, ironically, was in hospital with pneumonia, and so never got the chance to say goodbye to her mother. I thought: “what can I do to have an impact on this situation?” Another irony was that there was a drug released a year later that could have prolonged her life by 9–12 months, and it was out there, just not on the market. Realising that I could help patients and make a personal impact on people’s lives is what led me to pursue a career in pharma.
Q: Part of your current job at Veeva Systems is to understand and communicate the evolving value proposition to senior stakeholders in the industry. What would you say are the key elements to developing a strong value proposition?
A: First and foremost, have a compelling story to tell, one that resonates with the audience and creates an emotional connection. With pharma, it really is about the patient, so when communicating the value proposition from a personal perspective, it’s about making that correlation back to the impact pharma can have on a life. From our perspective, it’s about showing that patient level to our stakeholders and enabling them to understand the art of the possible in the way they do business in an everchanging environment. Our stakeholders run business processes that are underpinned by technology and that is where we come in. None should be looked at in isolation, however, and it’s about connecting the people processes to the technology conundrum to bring all aspects together and demonstrate the value proposition.
Q: Pharma companies hold vast amounts of sensitive data, including intellectual property and patient information. As a result, the need to protect this information is crucial to business survival. What solutions exist to ensure the integrity of your client’s data, while demonstrating compliance with industry regulations?
A: Data inevitably brings value to the industry, and the guidelines surrounding data are becoming even stricter than they have been regarding privacy. From a solutions perspective, we look at three facets: firstly, our customers need an enterprise-wide, accessible view of the personal data within their ecosystem. This is to figure out the appropriate controls at various stages of the data’s lifecycle and retention periods, and overall segregation. Secondly, they need to create accountability within their organisation for identity and access management of who see what and how. Finally, it’s about de-identification, the pseudonymisation and anonymisation of data, to minimise exposure and harm.
Q: Could you describe to me how cloud technologies allow pharma companies to more effectively engage with stakeholders, thereby creating more personalised medicines that better patient outcome?
A: Let’s start with the capabilities and customs. Cloud technologies enables the customer-facing resources to really focus on the customer relationship — their needs at certain times and responding with evidence and data to support the decisions made. From a technology perspective, cloud technologies create seamless integration between applications. Experience with technology is simpler and the information is accessible in a single place. Having access to data online and offline enables information to be at a physician’s fingertips, thereby allowing the focus to be on the interaction and conversation had with the patient. I would like to highlight the importance of multichannel capabilities: the face-to-face interaction and dialogue between physician and patient is crucial to developing a relationship and being able to supplement this exchange with follow-up compliant email correspondence enables the physician to continue to augment that relationship with their patients.
Q: Your panel at eyeforpharma spoke about the industry needing to move past the metrics. How is it the industry can best change the current culture around metrics?
A: The culture change has started. Companies have begun to sit Medical Affairs (MA) and Commercial at the same table, with the focus on quantitative value and driving scientific exchange. It’s about finding the best method of incorporating insight — thinking about the treatment choices made by the physician, how this manifests overall, and how we can measure the results to show that MA have an impact on the treatment regime. That’s not to say metrics aren’t important, and they should form the foundation of data points. The industry should also focus on MA bottom-up; the biggest investment MA have is field-based medicine, their medical science liaisons. As the scientific body, autonomy is crucial for their interactions and planning to share science of relevance to physicians. They need to understand the customer well enough to actively listen to the commentary they are getting, be it an affinity for the medicines or challenges in the study design.
Q: What is the biggest challenge Medical Affairs currently face?
A: The alignment and integration of MA and Commercial for the benefit of the patient and the end-to-end commercialisation of the medicine. In comparison to their counterparts, MA are relatively small, but they are more critical now than they have ever been, so it’s crucial that pharma understand the value of the collaboration from interactions in the field. This will only be achieved by changing the industry’s mindset and knowing how to adapt to drive value to the physician, and ultimately drive value to the patient.