‘We provide six strings of solutions’
Sanjay Bettadpura, Manager, Life Sciences Practice, Edutech, shares information about the software and training that the company provides to the lifesciences industry, with Arshiya Khan.
What is the use of RFID in learning?
There are two divisions for the information that is provided, known as library solutions and learning solutions. RFID is one of the solutions under the library solutions. Edutech has RFID because the major requirement of the library is to have an inventory and a security system that needs to be complemented by a check in and a check out system. This RFID helps to register all the books that were checked out by various people and also maintains the security by an alarm beep in case if a person has not checked properly. For example in large universities and corporate libraries, there are so many people who borrow books wherein managing becomes difficult. So RFID which an automated system has chips embedded into these books which will read and update the database. So also there are readers and sensors near the doors known as RFID gates for security.
What activities have been undertaken by Edutech in India?
We have been active in India for the last seven years. The company has been successful in both library and learning solutions. Some of the large academic customers that we have are IIT Chennai, Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and the Indian Institute of Management in Indore.
On the learning solutions side, the company offers learning management systems and assessment engines. Questionmark is our partner for providing these tools. Edutech has also done some huge implementation of solutions in Infosys and Wipro. Edutech provides library solutions for the pharmaceutical industry too. These include electronic databases and electronic journals. In the last couple of years, Edutech lifesciences has been garnering major revenues by offering online databases to pharma companies. Some of our major clients are Torrent Pharma, Glenmark, Nicholas Piramal, Advinus Therapeutics, Strides Arcolab and Alkem who has recently signed up with us. Essentially these companies provide information like R&D information and patent information, chemistry related information, biology related information, clinical research related information etc. These are online databases that are automatically updated. Companies have to subscribe for the database and then they can surf through all the relevant information that they want.
What is the importance of e-learning in today’s age?
E-learning is just a medium of learning. People either learn in the classroom when the instructor teaches them or they learn through experience at job. These are the traditional methods of learning and e-learning is complimentary. For example, if I join any pharma company and I am placed in some other city for my training which ends in 30 days. At the training, I have been provided with ample of information. How am I supposed to retain all this information? What e -learning helps to do is that it saves all the information and you can have the information as and when required. So initially an instructor can teach the main things but things that are repetitive and which you need to recall at instant can always be recalled through e-learning. E-learning helps you assimilate more information very quickly.
Where do the traditional learning programmes lack? And how can the gaps be filled?
Traditional learning programmes by themselves do not lack in anything. It’s just that they need to be supplemented by something else. Traditional learning programmes must be restricted to the most core value addition. For example, you invite a senior expert in the field of data management to talk about data management to your people, and if he comes and finds out that all your 20 people and researchers present there have to be taught from basics then his time is wasted. So to cope up with that the trainees can be provided with basics by e-learning and also give them the post-learning idea. But the core can continue to be from traditional learning so e-learning can supplement traditional learning to ensure that people have the right resources. This can ensure that they are well prepared before the actual class and there is enough material for them to update themselves after the traditional class is over. As many of these workshops are one-day workshop where they teach you everything, by the end of the day you have information overload and you don’t remember anything the next day. Whereas, if there is e-learning to support after that, things can be captured as electronic content. So the next day all the data is available for you to revise and keep you updated.
What kind of training do you provide to Medical Representatives (MRs)?
Providing training to MRs is a part of our learning solutions. We provide six strings of solutions to the lifesciences industry. These services include strategic and business development for pharma, biotech and CROs, solutions for R&D and intellectual property rights, regulatory affairs and clinical trials and so also we offer solutions for sales and marketing. So Edutech offers the right kind of information and learning solutions to make them globally competitive.
If you take the case of marketing MRs, Edutech provides them with databases, which helps them understand the market dynamics— which drug is selling more, which drug is selling less, how to pitch their drugs etc. But apart from that, when it comes to e-learning or learning solutions we provide various solutions, e-learning content about companies, about their drugs and their competitor products.
The main challenge that pharma companies and MRs face is that they are distributed around the country, so it becomes very difficult to train such huge manpower and so also training is not very regular. It is very tough and cost-intensive. So using electronic learning the main content of the training can be captured and it can be converted in to animations, engaging e-learning content. And this can be distributed either by CD’s or posted online and these people can access it.
What are the unique needs of pharma and biotech companies with respect to training?
Their unique needs are that they have to train a large workforce and they are dispersed across various locations. The training material itself needs to be constantly updated of product changes, regulatory changes and changes in SOP’s. There is an increasing compliance requirement in the areas of clinical research and regulatory affairs etc. Similarly if it is a medical representative training there are always new things coming in.
What value does Edutech offer to the Indian lifesciences industry?
Across the pharma value chain we look after the companies’ business strategies and new business opportunities for them for their biological or chemical R&D, intellectual property rights, the regulatory phase, clinical trials sales and marketing. So across all these areas we provide them with all the relevant information and the training that they require so that they can compete globally and be the best. We have worked with international clients as well, but as of now our focus is on the Indian market.
How are automated assessments better than anything else?
It’s the ease of creating them, the ease of delivering them, the ease of taking them. To sum it up it’s fun. It’s always better and easier to work on the computer rather than writing it down. And especially when so many people are taken into consideration it’s really difficult to analyse and assess the papers. Automated assessments are time saving and the accuracy level is also high. For example if I am conducting a test of 500 people at the end of it I want to know how many passed and how many failed. And so also I also want to know how many of them faired well in aptitude, how many of them fared well in English, how many of them fared well in chemistry etc. And if everybody has faired well in a particular question then I know that it is easy and for the next assignment I may retire that question.
The other advantage is that once the data is created it can be used end number of times. It only needs to be updated on a timely basis. So also with automated assessment on the computer it is easy to score them. With the availability of cyber cafes at most of the places it becomes much easily accessible. It is easy to analyse the results. The best thing is that the reports that it generates, you are able to identify the gap in your training. You are able to identify if your assessments are good, you are able to assess performance and it is all much easier and simpler than conducting it on papers. It saves time, money and logistics.
Inspite of the fact that the company was started in the Middle East, why are you focussing on the Indian market?
One of the main reasons is that the Indian pharma market is matured. Middle East does not have a very strong pharma market. And we recently opened up an office in the US. India is a major market. Also the pharma market in India is growing rapidly. It is facing a lot of challenges and also has many requirements. It is aiming high and when anybody aims high there are a lot of challenges to be met. So we are here to address those challenges.
What are your plans for the Indian lifesciences industry?
The two major areas of challenges in the pharma industry are the MR training and clinical research training. It is because there are so many people that need to be trained. To add to this expectations from the customers are high, increasing compliance-related requirements and attrition rates. So at Edutech we want to provide a combination of products, solutions and services which will make training fun and effective either in the clinical research or the MR scenario. We want to provide them with combination of technologies like assessment technologies and learning management system. We are giving them e-learning content from the therapeutic areas, GCP areas and clinical research areas.
We have also partnered with two companies, Gene-Ed and Zenosis for generating these contents. So also we have tied up with the academy of clinical research in Mumbai and we are also helping them convert their weekend diploma programme in clinical research into e-learning, which will be launched in April this year. Once that is available people can just take that and they don’t have to attend the course that is conducted at the Bombay College of pharmacy in Kalina, Bombay.