- Tech Scene Trends
Innovating the Medical Industry While Reducing the Gender Gap (Part 1)
Entouch is a company that facillitates MRs smooth communication with doctors by connecting them either online or on the phone. We sat down with the President and Representative Director, Marty Roberts, to talk about why he started the business, features of the service, and his vision for the company’s future.
Marty Roberts graduated from Hofstra University with a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Former President of Cegedim Japan, He currently works in the health care industry as a data and software service leader. He founded Entouch in August of 2015.
Why did you decide to start Entouch?
Marty Roberts (A.k.a Marty): I arrived in Japan in 2007 and, before starting Entouch, I managed a company that dealt with market research, specifically relating to the data and software services of the health care industry. During that time, I discovered the inefficiencies that existed in between doctors and MRs (businesses that specialize in pharmaceutical information) – specifically regarding information sharing; so I started to think about ways to make the process more efficient for both parties. The pharmaceutical industry finds itself in the midst of an intensifying global rivalry. The Japanese government is aiming to increase their share of generic medicine by 80% between 2020 and 2022, or as soon as possible. In the midst of this, major pharmaceutical companies find themselves having to reduce their labour costs at the expense of thousands of employed MRs. I expect that the outplacement of these MRs will soon become a critical challenge to solve.
On the other hand, if you take a look at the situation between doctors and MRs, MRs find themselves spending most of their time waiting to get an appointment with doctors due to visiting regulations and their busy schedules, which creates an environment in which information is difficult to share. However, as information on new medicine is continuously released, it is vital that doctors are able to have access to this information. Therefore to put an end to the current situation, I was determined to create an efficient system for MRs and doctors, in which doctors would be able to receive information through multiple channels, and decided to create this business.
Can you give us an overview of the Entouch service, “e-Touch”?
Marty: The service allows doctors to make appointments with MRs when they are available, and lets them access medical information online or over the phone. Doctors are able to select an appointment time from the Entouch scheduling screen that fits their schedule, whether that be before or after a medical examination, or between the hours of 6am and 11pm, etc. Then, an experienced MR in that field will give the doctor a call during the scheduled time and a 15 minute session will ensue. Moreover, the necessary documents can be shared through screen-sharing. The main benefit of Entouch that is different from other doctor oriented portal sites, in that doctors are able to talk 1 on 1 with experienced MRs who are specialized in a particular field, and receive information on medicines as well as ask questions and receive advice. While receiving accurate information regarding prescription medicine is vital for doctors, it is also incredibly important that MRs and doctors are establishing fiduciary relationships. Meeting with an MR and talking for a few minutes may be more efficient when it comes to decisions regarding prescriptions. However, after researching the effectiveness of reaching a decision regarding prescriptions through face to face meetings compared to meetings online or over the phone, our research concluded that the latter had a higher success rate. Essentially, creating a fiduciary relationship was possible online and over the phone. Moreover, we plan to provide quality training to our registered medical partners in order to provide quality information.
Who are your main targets when acquiring medical registrants on Entouch?
Marty: We have 2 main targets. The first are seniors who have had successful careers as MRs and who are facing mandatory retirement. The second are women in their late 20s and 30s, who are having difficulty getting reemployed by pharmaceutical companies following maternity leave. Having a specialized field is a prerequisite for both targets, whether that is being a specialist in the central nervous system, the circulatory system, cancer, or what have you. Among these two groups, many have a specialization and extensive experience, however due to a myriad of reasons such as child care, nursing, and health, they are restricted as to when and where they can work. Moreover, there are many MRs who want to decide when and where they work depending on their future plans and lifestyle choices. We are inviting these kinds of people – people with first class knowledge, to register with our business.
What circumstance caused you to focus on increasing opportunities for women?
Marty: Many of the employees at the marketing research company I managed were women. When looking at these women’s situations, no matter how many nursing or child care laws were put in place, as a company there was insufficient support for these women to be able to work as well as take care of their children. Therefore, one of the missions of Entouch was to create a platform where these women were able to make use of their specializations and skills without having to quit their job, allowing them to focus on child raising by using online tools such as skype or telephone. In the near future I believe, there will be more people who choose to work “as they can” at the early stages of parenthood, regardless of gender. Therefore, creating a platform where talent and knowledge can be put to work regardless of time or place was imperative for our business. At the current stage (May 2016), we have already heard many of our registered medical partners say that they “feel it is an advantage to be able to put their specialization to use while working flexibly when and where they want”.
That is fantastic!
Continues in Part 2.