Design guideline for tablet detailing

Design guideline for tablet detailing

In the last 40-odd years of its existence, doctor detailing – or pharmaceutical detailing as it is commonly known – has not really changed a lot. A paper-based detailer (normally size 17”), got a facelift in the early parts of the 2000s when video detailers came in. Some pharmaceuticals tried those, but the overall experience was not up to the mark. Some also tried pasting jpegs on a ppt and showing it to doctors on a laptop, but that again was cumbersome, especially when you wanted to detail more than 1-2 products. The experience was not that good.

Around 2010-2015, the process of evolution saw tablets starting to make waves in the market; some of the companies (like Veeva and Skura) were quick to latch on to this opportunity to digitize the detailer. This effectively meant that now you could make a detailer the way you wanted, you could build the interactivity you wanted, get it embedded into the detailer itself. Another problem it solved was multiple-brand detailing at once. You did not have to toggle a lot between files and feel like a shuttlecock in a badminton match. This is in some ways revolutionised the concept at least, from a simplification stance.

The verdict is still not out as to what works better, a paper-based detailer with up to 50 products in one go, or digital detailers with their own set of interactivities.

But one thing is clear as daylight.

As we move ahead, e-detailers / digital detailers will become the ask of the day. As a pharma marketer, you won’t be able to ignore it for a very long time. The task of this article is not really to talk about why e-detailers / digital detailers are important – that, we feel, is fairly obvious to everyone and their aunt, especially after COVID times. Rather, the aim here is to help those who are joining the bandwagon or planning to join it soon, get some important guidelines to optimally utilize this new and exciting era. 

Specifications matter
Let us start with something more generic – specifications. Going for a tablet is a big investment; a big portion of your marketing budget goes into it. Moreover, every tab will be utilized for the next 3-5 years by your field force, so it does make sense to invest in these smart devices, well, smartly.

  • Get a good tablet with a nice resolution.
  • Please ensure that the screen size is 10.5” and above. Anything below this will be too small for a doctor to see (MR will stand 6’ away from the doctor in nearly 90% of cases).
  • Ensure that the tablet’s built-in memory is at least 128 GB internal and RAM is above 4 This will ensure that it can easily play animation and videos, and can load detailing files without much lag.
  • If possible, go for a tablet with cellular and wi-fi options.

Design a detailing story

  • The distance between a doctor and a tablet is >6 feet at any given time, hence it is important to keep certain design guidelines in mind.
  • Font size and A simple guideline to remember is – 32 X 24 X 16 X 8.
    • The headline font size should be a minimum of 32.
    • The sub-headline font size should be a minimum of 24.
    • The body copy or the important points should be a minimum of 16.
    • References on the page should be font size 8.
    • Use easy-to-read fonts like Arial and Helvetica family.
  • Content layout. Follow the 5 X 6 X 7 rule.
    • No brand with more than 7 slides of detailing.
    • No slide with more than 6 points.
    • No point with more than 5 words.
  • Content designing. Follow the guideline – Content. Clarity. Impact.
    • Have an arresting headline.
    • Have pointers that substantiate it.
    • Have an image, or animation that gives a gist of what is written, without looking too preachy.


 Start with emotional. Follow through with rational.
Guess what the most interesting aspect of tablet detailing is? No MCQs, sorry.

Well, it’s the tablet itself.

It’s a multi-functional device. Do you know that a tablet has nearly 30 different sensors and functionalities that can capture information and use it to create a more customized experience for the user/viewer? Well, now you do. You’re welcome. Some of the notable ones are – sensors to recognize tilts, touch, and shaking, high-quality audio output, graphic cards to load high-end animation, creating VR experiences, light adaptation screens, retina displays, high-resolution video recording, etc. Just imagine if we are able to utilize even 50% of these features in our detailing story, the impact can be manifold as compared to what we are doing with print or video detailing.

One of the biggest differentiators a brand can create using digital detailing is creating an emotional hook for the doctor, instead of just beating the dead horse of data. OK, maybe not dead yet, but you catch the drift.

Let us look at some examples.

  • Rather than talking about prevalence data of calcium deficiency, can a detailer start with the impact of a fracture on a person’s life, or even better the joy of dancing at your granddaughter’s wedding?
  • Rather than showcasing the ill-effects of poorly controlled glucose levels,can the detailing story open with ‘victory of having a rasogolla’ despite having diabetes, for a foodie?

Then the data serves as the proof of your brand purpose: Making a meaningful difference in someone’s life. There! The horse suddenly comes alive.

There are cases where brands have used tablets to create human stories for doctor detailing, and have come out with engagement which was hitherto unheard of.

If we want different results, we will have to do things differently.


Make the rationale interesting and visible
“We work for people’s lives, and hence it is important to prove things with data and evidence.”

This is one of the most commonly heard sentences in the pharma and healthcare industry. But this has also led to an over-dependence on showing data and evidence, with unmatched repetitiveness to doctors. Boring someone to death can be a crime, too.

So much so that doctors have also started using this weapon against the companies and their representatives. Graphs and charts have become the holy grail of pharma. We have nothing against graphs and science and evidence – we like them, in fact – but today the times have changed and therefore the need to upgrade a graph is more than ever. Graphs on a 10” screen with loads of content are like a blind spot. They are there, but a doctor cannot see them or register them. Or doesn’t want to. Which is worse. Here are some simple guidelines to make them interesting –

  • Is it possible to integrate a graph or the evidence into a larger story? If yes, do it. Every data point is a story waiting to be told.
  • If a graph is absolutely necessary for the whole scheme of things, then animate it (use sound, use visual motion, use both).
  • Create infographics of the scientific study or graph – visuals are easy to view on a tablet and easy to explain as well. (Bonus: Your field guy will love it.)
  • If it is important, dedicate the full screen to just the graph.
  • If you want the doctor to really read it leave a printed copy for him



Lastly, rely on professionals for the best treatment of space  

Agencies have professionals who have a technical understanding of tablet space management. Rely on their judgement. Go with their conviction. They are better qualified. Instructing them continuously leads to marred output.

Some thoughts from those who know better:

  • Build engagement for the doctors as well. They love it when they are also involved in the process, and can learn something new.
  • Complement written content with images, animations, videos, audios,
  • Do not make it too difficult for a representative to find the play button. Chances are, he might not find it. Even in the next call.
  • Do not put a lot of animations and effects on a single slide. Distancing helps – and not just in the social sense.
  • Always send detailing notes to the representatives so that they can learn it and detail itsmoothly.
  • Make it easier for representatives to toggle between different brands and different therapy areas.

Do use these thoughts in your detailing process. Your tablets (and even capsules and syrups) would be the better for it.


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