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Clinical Business Excellence

Mobile Medical Apps: A Great Way of Reaching HCPs?

Damon Lightley featued in Clinical Business ExcellenceDamon Lightley, Marketing Director at Genetic Digital was approached by one of the editors from Clinical Business Excellence to write an article about medical apps.

The article has now been published and appears on page 8 of the August 2012 issue of Clinical Business Excellence. It is titled: “Mobile Medical Applications: A Great Way of Reaching HCPs?” A PDF version is also available.

Mobile Medical Apps: A Great Way of Reaching HCPs?

Ad-funded drug apps on the rise

The popularity of smartphone technology within the pharmaceutical industry is growing, and while some prefer to pay to receive services ad-free, an increasing number of US medical professionals are opting for a different business model.

Epocrates, the app that provides information on drug dosage, side effects and interactions, has seen a rise in the uptake of its free ad-funded version.

According to reports, plans for its development include a virtual sales rep for pharmaceutical companies to showcase their new products.

Pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer have already recognised the importance of putting their products literally ‘in the hand’ of the medical professionals within smart devices. Not only is this a more direct and measurable form of sales, but it can also create a better return on investment long term.

While the marketing messages offered in the free version of Epocrates will need to be refined to become more relevant to the user (as they currently have to be filtered  to get to the information requested), the launch of this type of app  introduces a new business model into the increasing mix of medical apps available.

Medical portal InPharm recently counted a total of 39 apps produced by the 11 largest pharmaceutical companies, across various markets and target groups.

Like Epocrates, the key to the success of smartphone apps will be the extent to which developers meet the needs of the specific medical groups by providing relevant content and timely propositions, so that an ad-funded business model doesn’t hinder their ability to access information they need to help their patients.

Drug companies increase spend on mobile and online media by nearly 80%

Pharmaceutical companies across the world increased their investments in mobile phone apps and educational websites by nearly 80% last year.

According to a study by Ernst & Young, drug companies including Merck & Co and Novartis AG are leading the way in what seems to be a new wave of enthusiasm towards social media and the online landscape on the part of drug companies.

In total, global pharmaceutical companies started 97 new projects aimed at using IT to improve the quality of patient health. By comparison, 124 project had been started in the four previous years altogether, representing a massive leap forwards for development this year.

Just over 41% of this year’s projects were apps for smartphones – an increase from 11% since 2006.

Experts say that the move is partially due to the increased pressure that pharmaceutical companies are under from governments to prove that their products are worth their prices. Plans exist in the UK to match the prices of products to their benefits starting in 2014. This therefore calls for more involvement from patients throughout the lifecycle of a drug, from initial testing to post market surveillance – all of which can be easily and effectively facilitated via the use of social media.

Carolyn Buck Luce, global pharmaceutical leader at Ernst & Young, told one US website: “Pharma can’t exist the way they have existed; what is surprising is the pace of change.”

“The next big change in health outcomes is behavioural change, where medicines play an important part but not the only part.”