In a recent article on published on the Pharma Marketing Blog by John Mack the author, also known as @pharmaguy discussed the subject of health-related mobile applications and the mobile optimization of online content. To decide which one is more important to pharma is not the main task at hand. Our first and most important concern should not be whether one or the other could achieve a higher ROI. Simply because even if it turns out that online content optimal for mobile consumption brings higher ROI, pharma cannot deny the increasing popularity of health apps and the potential they provide. The same way mobile optimization cannot be ignored if health applications turn out to be the holy grail of patient engagement.
The article mentioned above refers to the Mobile Health 2012 survey published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project which showed that “half of smartphone owners use their devices to get health information and one-fifth of smartphone owners have health apps.” The study also pointed out that only around 9% of US adults have health applications on their phones. And @pharmaguy is right, this does not mean that these apps are used. How many times do we download an application and later find it impossible or even annoying to use?
Although the data about mobile health apps does not seem too promising, the percentage of smartphone owners who use their devices to access health-related information almost doubled. But does this tell us to focus exclusively on mobile optimization because that is what the current trend tells us? In my opinion this should be more of a wake up call or a warning sign that while online content has to be accessible on mobile devices, there is also a lot more to do to develop truly user-friendly health apps that users don’t just download but actually end up using as well. With only 19% of pharma websites being optimized for mobile platforms it is clear that there is a lot of unfulfilled potential in that area as well, but pharma companies are going to have to divide their efforts and make sure to achieve progress in both developing apps and optimizing online content.
Do you think pharma has the resources to conquer the challenges of the mobile era? Make sure to leave a comment below!
(Source: Pharma Marketing Blog)
Posted by h2online on November 15, 2012
More often than not there is a perception that using digital devices and e-detailing technology to communicate with physicians and provide product information is going to eliminate the need for sales representatives. This belief is only strengthened by the big number of layoffs at pharmaceutical companies due to tight budgets. Thousands of sales representatives lost their jobs everywhere in the last couple of years while digital solutions to deliver product messages successfully took center stage. So how do these two changes correlate? Is pharma trying to replace sales reps with digital technologies or is the connection between these two trends less obvious?
There is no reason to deny the financial difficulties and how these effected the changes in the number of sales representatives. It is also clear that digital devices are more popular than ever. But I feel hesitant to draw a parallel between these trends. I also feel the predictions about the total replacement of sales reps are over-represented and exaggerated.
Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about the connection between e-detailing solutions and the decreasing number of sales reps and in person visits:
When German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH launched the cardiovascular drug Pradaxa in the U.S., it put together a digital-marketing package to target doctors, including organizing webcasts for leading physicians to speak to other physicians about the drug. But the company found that sales calls to doctors’ offices were still the most powerful tool for driving new prescriptions, says Wa’el Hashad, vice president of cardiovascular and metabolic marketing. ‘No doubt digital marketing does have an impact … I don’t believe, however, the shift happens overnight. I think it’s a gradual shift,’ he says.
Other studies also proved that physicians still prefer assistance from sales reps while they are increasingly find digital detailing and e-detailing effective and a comfortable way to receive information. According to the research 68 percent of the physicians who received iPad details before reported being extremely satisfied or very satisfied with the digital technology. It also seems that using digital platforms still needs the sales reps to present the information in an effective way. Based on the findings it is safe to say that pharma representatives have a key role in providing a combination of digital and face-to-face detailing.
Additionally it has been shown that physicians who are interactive during an assisted e-detailing process have a better experience and detailing presentations that engage doctors are more likely to drive prescriptions as well. To ensure that a presentation is interactive, to make physicians involved in the information delivery process a company needs tech savvy sales reps who are comfortable with not working against digital tools, but to work together with those.
Maybe it is hard to see digital tools as helpful and handy while constantly facing more layoffs, but digital solutions are not created to replace human work force. These devices are only tools and not messages, they help sales reps to work effectively, but they have to be used correctly. A new device may catch a physician’s eye, but the emphasis has to be on the information represented with that particular device. and this is where sales reps are not replaceable.
(Sources: Pharma Marketing Blog, Wall Street Journal, MedAdNews, STwemM)
Posted by h2online on May 17, 2012
There have been several reports on mobile playing a significant role in healthcare. New health-focused apps seem to appear out of thin air and winning over physicians who would like to prescribe these applications for patients. Virtually everything is possible to squeeze in an app – self-monitoring, calorie-counting, self-diagnosing, educational material for patients, database of drugs with interactions, and the list could go on and on.
A recent study published by GSMA research suggested that mobile health is so popular it is predicted to be worth 23 Billion dollars by 2017. Other staggering surveys showed the fast-paced growth of mobile use: there are 4 Billion mobile phones in use worldwide and 1.08 Billion of those are smartphones. These numbers show clearly the potential of the mobile and app market. Other predictions point out that by 2014 mobile internet use should take over desktop internet usage, which means more and more people are using their mobile phones as the primary tool for web browsing, social networking and getting information.
So given all the data mentioned above I was surprised to find the not-so-promising findings about mHealth apps in Europe. Based on the study Citizens and ICT for Health in 14 EU countries ICT consequences published the following data about internet users in Europe and their use of health, wellness apps:
- 77% stated that they never use it;
- 7% stated that they were not aware of it;
- 6% stated that they use it less than once a month
- 5% stated that they use it at least once a month (but not every week)
- 4% stated that they use it at least once a week (but not every day)
- 1% stated that they use it every day or almost every day
So where is the disconnect? What makes Europeans reluctant to use health-related applications? It is clear that this is not an issue of awareness. Other than the numerous articles published about mobile applications every day and the speedy growth of smartphone purchases the data above points out that only 7% of respondents were not familiar with health apps.
So if it is not awareness than what is causing the disconnect? A possible assumption could be the lack of user-friendly or user-centered applications. According to a study carried out by Consumer Health Information Corporation (CHIC), the top reasons why users quit an application are the release of better versions and lack of user-friendly features. But what does that mean “user-friendly”? According to the findings the key elements are: easy to navigate, informative and interactive. This means that the main goals while developing a mobile app should be to keep it as simple as possible while still being informative and use the advantages of interactive features. The fact that users like an app to be interactive can’t come as a surprise since social networking and playing games on mobile phones are in the top 5 favorite activities on a mobile device.
So we can conclude that just because an area of innovations is considered trendy, doesn’t mean it has reached its full potential of providing important features for users. The speed of growth of a market cannot be an excuse for the lack of user-friendly and useful, creative solutions.
Posted by h2online on April 26, 2012
On both the American and European market the role of smartphones in medical-professional information-seeking is becoming more and more important. According to the result of a study published by MD Marketing Research 64% of American doctors own a smartphone (the rate is 67% among family practitioners, and 61% among specialists). Every fifth physician owns a tablet (27% of both family doctors and specialists have a type of tablet device).
Among physicians who are more open to new technologies findings show even higher rates. According to a Manhattan Research study published in 2011, 81% of American „ePharma doctors” (physicians who use digital channels to keep in touch with pharmaceutical representatives) own a smartphone, 30% of them have an iPad, and 28% of physicians plan to purchase a tablet in the coming 6 months. The 5 biggest countries in Europe are falling a little behind with 69% of doctors using smartphones.
American ePharma physicians clearly prefer mobile devices when it comes to keeping in touch and communicating with pharmaceutical companies:
- 45% of them would rather communicate with pharmaceutical representatives using a smartphone or iPad.
- When it comes to getting the information about certain products they also clearly prefer online channels.
Physicians more frequently rely on the possibilities presented by mobile devices in Hungary as well. When it comes to using the internet desktops (82%) and notebooks (56%) are the most popular, while 15% of doctors use smartphones to go online, while the rate of tablets and PDAs is 5%.
Smartphone owners among physicians – Physicians going online using a mobile device in Hungary
Source: MM&M (August 2011), Szinapszis MedNetTrack 2011 (n=909 physicians)
Age is a significant factor when it comes to mobile devices: younger doctors go online on mobile devices more and more, 19% of them using smartphones and 3-5% using tablets or palmtop computers.
Posted by h2online on January 25, 2012