Why Dive Into Developing Mobile Health Apps?

While digital marketing solutions and social media projects became the center of attention in pharmaceutical communication recently, it is also important to notice the growing popularity of everything mobile. Below is a list of reasons why pharma companies should invest considerable time and energy into developing effective, creative health-related mobile applications.

The mobile trend is here to stay: Based on a recent study by Comp TIA, half of all physicians use smartphones for professional purposes and the use of mobile applications is steadily growing as well. According to another study, mobile technologies can be utilized especially in healthcare. There are many factors that influence mobile adoption on different markets. These factors include “consumer adoption, clinical adoption, evidence of efficacy, costs of deployment, and regulatory climate.”

High demand for healthcare and drug-related information online: Patients are looking to find valuable information about different treatment options, drugs and medical conditions online. According to a recent survey looking for health-related info online is the third most common activity of internet users. Maybe the biggest issue when it comes to treatments is medication adherence, which can be managed with easy-to-use, always available mobile devices in a very cost-effective way.

Mobile devices during clinical trials: A recent article emphasized the role mobile apps could play in the entire process of clinical trials. “The recruitment of patients, transmission of clinical trial records, and the reporting of adverse events in a prompt and accurate manner” can be all managed with creatively developed mobile applications.

Mobile apps can help communicate with HCPs more effectively: Tight budgets, digital solutions and the demand for time-efficacy resulted in big number of layoffs in the pharma industry with decreasing number of sales reps conducting in-person visits with physicians. “The significant decline of sales force presence has created an educational void for prescribers.” The need for a more effective educational method and better understanding between pharma and healthcare professionals could be managed with mobile apps created specifically for medical education and delivering prescriber information.

Information to bigger groups and institutions: With mobile applications it is easier to deliver a big amount of data to a wider audience in a manageable way. This is especially important when it comes to communicating with hospitals, healthcare organizations, patient or physician communities. Pharma can utilize this when providing information about products, treatments and different conditions.

(Source: The Digital Health Corner)

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How Do We Spend Our Time Online?

A recent infographic from Go-Gulf presented striking numbers about just how much time people spend online. Social networking is the most popular activity by internet users while Google has the highest number of unique visitors monthly, followed close by Facebook. With 30 percent of the world’s population online the average time spent globally on the internet in one month only adds up to a mind-blowing 3,955,444 years.

According to the infographic below looking for health-related information online is the third most common activity among internet users. Only emailing and using search engines top its popularity. But looking for and finding valuable information can be two very different things. So do we trust online health info? Based on a new survey carried out by Wolters Kluwer Health people do trust the medical content they find on the internet. And this means a huge responsibility for every online publisher who create and distribute health-related information on the web. According the the survey:

65 percent of those seeking medical information online say they trust the information they find and 63 percent say they’ve never misdiagnosed themselves based on something they read online.

A recent post on KevinMD.com points out that Twitter can be a valuable medical resource for patients and their relatives as well. With many doctors, patient groups and health services providing help and information on the micro-blogging site, there is a pool of knowledge that could be tapped into after getting used to the idea of sharing and co-creating a knowledge base with only 140 characters at a time.

To think that only a decade ago we didn’t even have the term social networking, using Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites didn’t play any part in our everyday life. It’s safe to say that these fast paced changes in technology remodeled the way we look at medical information and diagnosing conditions entirely.

 

(Source: Mindjumpers.com, FierceHealthIT, KevinMD.com)

 

The Battle Of The Reps and Digital Devices

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)

Mobile Healthcare – An Infographic

We read a lot about how mobile technology is the future, we see fascinating numbers and statistics about how smartphones and tablets are becoming more popular than desktop computers and laptops. It is hard however to really put a finger on how these trends will change healthcare.

The infographic below – other than piling up evidence about the sheer force with which the mobile market is growing – shows how mobile solutions can influence healthcare in different ways. Here are the key findings in connection with mobile in healthcare:

  • Mobile health has the potential to change healthcare in a revolutionary way with making patients more engaged in their care and transforming the patient-provider relationship.
  • Main features of smartphones that could be used in healthcare: physician finder, applications to view claims, to fill our medical forms, and other apps to follow treatment plan and help adherence.
  • Revenues from remote patient monitoring services that use mobile networks will rise to 1.9 billion globally by 2014.
  • Users with wireless connections are more likely to monitor their health with the help of their cell phones.
  • People owning a smartphone are more likely to be an active content contributor related to healthcare, that means mobile technology boosts participation.
  • According to predictions by Juniper Research the number of downloaded health apps will reach 44 million by the end of the year, and by 2016 there will be 142 million downloaded health applications.

 

(Source: Healthworks Collective)

mHealth in Europe – Where Is The Disconnect?

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.

(Source: ICTconsequences.net)

A Guide For Effective Detailing

When it comes to detailing, there are a lot of different factors pharma pales reps have to take into consideration. There are a lot of different circumstances that influence what type of presentation a sales rep can give, assuming getting the opportunity to present something of course. A lot of times even getting the physicians divided attention takes a lot of effort. So because all the possible difficulties, reps have to be prepared for a number of scenarios and have to be flexible readjusting their detail plan along the way.

The infographic below helps to decide what kind of approach is fit for different situations. You can prepare the most cutting edge e-detailing presentation, if there is no time or place to show it to the physician, you have to do your best verbally. No access to physicians always seems to be an obstacle, in which case maybe it is more effective to send the details electronically so that the doctors can view them on their own schedule.

Here are the main pain points pharma representatives face on a daily basis and the possible solutions to overcome these obstacles:

 

(Source: Healthcarecommunication.com)

eMarketing Europe & Mobile 2012 Conference In Tweets

The 7th annual eMarketing Europe & Mobile 2012 conference organized by eyeforpharma drove a lot of attention to subjects like social media risk management, digital strategy building, regulatory issues and mobile devices in pharma. The discussions were lively and thought-provoking both at the conference and on Twitter under the #e4p hashtag.

Top tweets were published by @LionelREICHARDT, @jamesmusick and @KayWesley. Among the 2400 tweets shared throughout the event @whydotpharma, @gaborgy and @KayWesley were mentioned most frequently. Check out the analytics and the Twitter feed and share your thoughts about the conference.

(Source: Symplur.com)

Embracing The Era Of Mobile

The last couple of days presented several news pieces that prove: we are indeed rapidly approaching the era of mobile. The longest Blackberry outage so far made people religiously using Blackberry Messenger furious. On the other hand, faithful believers of Apple were more than happy to share their numerous versions of “I told you so.” The timing was horrible for Blackberry and never better for Apple: days before the release of the new iPhone 4s.

It is safe to say, that by now mobile technology overtook our day-to-day life. But how much influence does mobile have  when it comes to our habits? And what does that mean for marketers, especially in the field of healthcare? The infographic below helps to understand just how much are mobile devices part of our lifestyle.

Reading these numbers and data it is obvious, that the old model of TV and print focused marketing is outdated, therefore a lot of money spent with minimum reach and success. It is time to consider regrouping marketing expenses and paying close attention to mobile technologies and trends.

(Source: Visibli.com – shared by Gary Monk)

Technology In Healthcare – Addition Not Substitute

These days you can’t read enough about all the new high-tech inventions, breakthrough technologies and how they influence medicine. There are conferences, journals and giant companies built around the effort of introducing more effective it and tech solutions  for treating patients. Some of these efforts are truly groundbreaking and make practicing medicine more accurate and successful. But in the midst of it all, we can’t forget that technology should be an additional and not a substitutional tool.

Doctor visits are already receiving a lot of criticism that point out how little time is spent discussing a treatment plans, new medications and in general the patient’s complaints. In fact recent studies showed that physicians spend an average 49 seconds telling patients what they need to know about starting a new drug treatment. Only 35% of them address the possible adverse effects and 34% tell their patient exactly how long to take the medicine. Studies also point out that around half of the patients leave the doctor’s office not entirely understanding what their physician told them. Research also found that next to physician’s technical skills their ability to communicate effectively with patients is just as important for having a trusting relationship between doctors and patients.

So with these problems already existing in the examination rooms and doctors’ offices the last thing we need is to have a more distant and uncommunicative physician-patient relationship. Technology is not there to take the place of discussing problems and talking through treatment options. It is there to help doctors see and picture what they otherwise wouldn’t be able to see. New technologies are there to improve healthcare not to blindfold physicians and take center position away from patients.

This train of thought was also represented at TED Global Conference by Abraham Verghese MD while emphasizing the role of the human touch and paying closer attention to patients during their visits. You wouldn’t necessarily think of an advice like this at TED, usually a very tech-focused event. But the speech below proves that you can have both: technology and personal relationship between physicians and patients. Because technology in healthcare should be additional and not substitutional.

(Source: CNN.com)

A Day In The Digital Life

These days we wake up and go to sleep surrounded by technology. And the time spent in between is not different in any way. Here are some disturbing and thought provoking stats. If the numbers don’t convince us that we are hooked on devices and are addicted to internet, just think about what you would do in case of a power outage. Read a book without the TV or laptop on? Strange idea, right?

According to the image below 35% of people update their application even before getting out of bed. We read or watch the news while eating, preferably on a screen and not in print. What is more dangerous, 3 of 4 young people can’t tear themselves apart from their cell phones while driving, 64% of them even texting on the road. We use our computers at work and at school, 51% of people doing research while working, and 70% of students taking notes with their laptops.

Using these devices is not always productive. The numbers show that while 2/3 of content opened by students in school is distractive, employees are not a lot better either. 25% of them watch news clips, 15% viral videos, 9 psort clips. 4% of them even have the time to watch full movies at work. We can’t even seperate from our electronic devices while in the bathroom 40% of people using their phonesin the restrooms. After getting home we don’t allow ourselves to be disconnected: 60% of us have the TV and computer on at the same time while a staggering 95% of people use electronic devices right before going to bed. And activity that doctors strongly object.

 

(Source: Social Media Today)