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Influence of iPad and mobile in pharma


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Two years since the launch of Apple's iPad, the use of tablets and smartphones by business is growing at nearly 12 per cent a year, while the traditional PC business is shrinking two per cent, …

Two years since the launch of Apple's iPad, the use of tablets and smartphones by business is growing at nearly 12 per cent a year, while the traditional PC business is shrinking two per cent, according to the UK's National Computing Centre.

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  • 1. Influence of iPad and mobile in pharmaTwo years since the launch of Apples iPad, the use of tablets and smartphones by business is growingat nearly 12 per cent a year, while the traditional PC business is shrinking two per cent, according tothe UKs National Computing Centre.The ease of use of the devices, with features such as rapid start-up, lightweight form factor and tactileinterface, seem to be driving uptake, with four out of 10 UK firms across all industries already usingtablets.Many businesses seem to be opting for iPads, thanks to the availability of apps and a number of tweaksin 2011 to increase their usefulness for business applications, such as presentations andvideoconferencing, although in terms of UK market share, Apples iOS operating system actually ranksthird after Googles Android and Reality in Motions Blackberry.The pharmaceutical industry is not generally considered an early adopter of new technologies, but thereare signs that it, too, is embracing the mobile revolution, driven in part by the burgeoning rise ofsmartphone and tablet use among healthcare practitioners.Recent data from ABI Research suggests that the market for mobile health apps – albeit dominatedlargely by sports, fitness and wellness products – will almost quadruple from $120m in 2010 to $400mby 2016. Meanwhile, almost 80 per cent of US doctors are already using smartphones and tablets for awide array of medical technical and administrative tasks, according to healthcare recruitment firmJackson & Coker.Some pharma companies are already reacting to this changing environment, and the sales andmarketing function seems to be driving the march towards mobile.For example, Daiichi Sankyo recently revamped its UK corporate structure and culture and at the core ofall that process is a new emphasis on the harnessing of mobile technologies, said Simon Clough,managing director of the drugmakers UK operations, at Eyeforpharmas recent Mobile Pharma Strategyconference in London, UK.The underlying aim is to reinvent relationships with customers, shifting away from a transactional,product-orientated selling role to one of partnerships and key account management (KAM) founded onan exploration of the underlying value of products to patients and healthcare systems.
  • 2. "Its a question of changing systems, processes and patient outcomes for the better [and] getting betterresults from any resources that are being consumed," Clough said.One element of this has been the creation of a smaller field salesforce that is highly targeted towardsthe needs of the local healthcare environment, and an accompanying investment in mobile technologyto facilitate that process by speeding up communications internally and with customers and makingworking processes more efficient.Daiichi Sankyo took an early decision to invest in iPhones and iPads for every single one of its UKemployees to provide technological tools to help its restructuring and, while the process is still in itsearly stages, Clough said the iPad "has already become embedded in the way we work".For example, the company has introduced a new customer-relations manager (CRM) platform for itssalesforce that was specifically designed for the iPad, which automates many processes that wereformerly manual."Our iPads have now become our mobile business hubs," he added, noting that they are used not onlyfor email and videoconferencing, but also as repositories for information, policies and in-house productapps to engage customers.Even dry information, such as standard operating procedures (SOPs), has been brought to life by the useof the mobile platform, with employees interacting with them in a more meaningful way. Meanwhile,Daiichi Sankyo recently launched its own iPad-optimised internal discovery channel to encourage staffto upload videos, interviews and other materials and has also started its own internal social mediaplatform – Chatter – to get workers to interact with each other at a much higher level."Our teams are now working together and collaborating in ways they have never done before," saidClough.While Daiichi Sankyo may be embracing the mobile revolution, other companies in the industry are notmoving ahead so quickly. A survey of pharma companies carried out by Creation Healthcare inSeptember-October 2011 found that over 70 per cent of respondents believed that the mobile Internetoffered great potential opportunities for pharmaceutical companies, and a further 24 per cent believedit had some potential.However, only half of the respondents were already using the mobile Internet in a health or healthcareenvironment, and 70 per cent of respondents indicated that regulatory compliance was a significant or
  • 3. moderate challenge to their use of mobile solutions, according to Daniel Ghinn, Creations CEO anddirector of digital engagement."We are in an era when the pharmaceutical industry has an optimistic view of the potential value ofmobile, but has yet to step out boldly into this medium," he said.Regulatory issuesOne emerging issue is the fact that regulatory authorities consider some apps to be medical devices, forexample those that are intended for use alongside a medical device or treatment. In some cases, this iscut-and-dried. For instance, SHL Telemediciness SmartHeart app operates as a self-service ECG andallows patients to send readings to their physicians. Few would disagree that this type of app needssome form of regulation.For many apps, the situation is not so clear, particularly on the interface between wellness and healthapps and, anecdotally, it appears that a number of pharma-developed apps have been withdrawn due tothat regulatory uncertainty. The US Food and Drug Administration proposed draft guidance on this issuein August 2011.The next big thing(s)?With mobiles becoming firmly established in consumers minds, companies are becoming increasinglycreative in the way they interact with them and pharma is also following this trend.A buzzword at the moment is location-based services (LBS), tipped by Juniper Research to become a$12.7bn market in its own right by 2014. Put simply, these allow brand owners to use the on-board GPScapabilities of many mobile devices to link customers to local services.To give pharma examples: in Germany, Abbott has launched a diabetes app which uses LBS to identify apatients nearest diabetologists, podiatrists, self-help groups and so on, while Pfizer has an app in Israelwhich locates nearby public toilets targeted at people with incontinence. The latter is also integratedinto social media, allowing users to rate the facilities.Creations survey found that 16 per cent of respondents were already using LBS features, with nearlyhalf saying they intended to make use of it in the coming 12 months.Meanwhile, another hot trend is augmented reality, which couples the use of the mobile devices built-in camera with additional superimposed information. This is already starting to appear, albeit rarely atthe moment, in some pharma-related apps. For instance, companies have started to experiment withinformation aids which overlay a representation of an organ system, such as the heart orgastrointestinal tract, over the torso of an individual, allowing them to look at a representation of adisease process and/or drugs mechanism of action.
  • 4. App-happy!So, to engage with doctors, pharma companies need to develop some brilliant apps to explain the meritsof their products? Well, almost certainly not, according to Sam Walmsley of consultancy firm BlueLightPartners.While 30 per cent of healthcare professionals use a smartphone to run apps, a third of these are onlyused once and (like everyone else) doctors are still using only five per cent of them a month afterdownload.Pharma is not really getting the multichannel experience right at the moment, Walmsley believes. Abasic, and all too common, error is failing to ensure that existing content – corporate and productwebsites, for example – are optimised for mobile browsing, leading to sluggish downloads, poor searchoptimisation and clunky presentation on a mobile device."Were so focused on developing apps that weve missed a fundamental step in engaging our audience,which is to make sure our current websites are accessible to everybody who is looking for them."Search capability on mobile devices is growing rapidly, accounting for an additional 20 per cent of trafficon top of traditional PC searching. That means optimising websites for mobile and making apps search-friendly, for example by having a dedicated app website, is a must, she said. Paid search also exists formobile and, for the moment at least, is much cheaper and less competitive than the desktop or laptopalternative.Pharma is at an exploratory phase with mobile at the moment and while some of the mobile apps beingdeveloped clearly have a wow factor, it is likely that most will have limited longevity and end up beingan expensive exercise in developing shiny objects without any attempt to understand the underlyingbehavioural trends driving the mobile revolution, according to Duncan Arbour of Blue Latitude."This is tick-box marketing with a bit of magpie mentality," he said during a panel session at the MobilePharma Strategy meeting, pointing out that pharma made similar mistakes in its handling of socialmedia.One interesting strategy that needs to be explored more fully is helping doctors communicate withpatients, rather than focusing on communicating with healthcare professionals. One good example ofthis is pharma-sponsored anatomical atlases which can be shown to the patient and annotated in orderto explain a condition or treatment.
  • 5. Usefulness and an understanding of patient needs are the keys. For example, Merck Sharpe & Dohmeachieved 72,000 downloads in two weeks for an app which provided pollen count information tohayfever sufferers, providing great marketing for its over-the-counter Clarityn antihistamine brand –thanks in part to an editorial in the Daily Mail newspaper.The last word to Clough: "Technology alone isnt enough – we need to keep trying to understand whatcan meaningfully make a difference to patient health."The AuthorPhil Taylor is a freelance journalist specialising in the pharmaceutical industry-------------Source: team behind Orra Health feels that this article classically reflects the changing trends and thelopsided adoption. “Chatter would replace a lot of the internal intranet portals and communicationchannels “, remarks Shriram Parthasarathy – part of the Orra Health team.