We’ve all heard the buzz. Physicians are responding to technology at rates no one would have dreamed possible a few years ago. According to a Manhattan Research survey published in May 2011, 81% of physicians were using smartphones as opposed to 72% a year earlier. Now we are starting to see a preference emerge in actual platforms. Of the three smartphone market leaders, Android, BlackBerry and iPhone, physicians have begun to lean towards the Apple iPhone according to the same Manhattan Research report, and this preference is extending to the Apple iPad notebook platform as well.1

So what does this tell us about how to proceed with online content development to reach our target markets? How do we optimize the technology to deliver our message? Do we concentrate on the Apple iOS platform? What about HTML5, the latest web development platform with its built-in improved support of multimedia platforms? Navigating these technology decisions is no easy task.

THE DILEMMA

I keep hearing from clients that their technology standards demand that all digital work be done in HTML5. The innovator in me couldn’t agree more, but not all users have the equipment and updated software to use this latest technology.

Data gathered from our HCP panel indicates there can be display issues with HTML5 in the Internet Explorer 7 browser, producing some less-than-optimal user experiences. Over the last six months, a little less than 80% of the panel has continued to use older Internet browsers that don’t render HTML5 pages. In a recent program delivered online via computer for eight months and live on mobile platforms for two months, the mobile platform generated 67% of the total response.

PLANNING IS KEY

So what does this information tell us? Essentially we are back to basics in terms of measuring ROI on interactive online content delivery platforms. It is very costly to develop content for multiple platforms, particularly considering the relatively short shelf life of most of these campaigns. (Most content we create becomes obsolete within 18 months due to message changes and branding updates.)

Therefore, developers of interactive online content for delivery to HCPs should keep three key questions in mind in order to optimize the spend:

  1. What is the problem the brand is trying to solve?
  2. Who is the target audience?
  3. What venue will that audience most likely use to access the information—their computer, a notebook or their smartphone? And if a smartphone, which one?

Along with these over-arching questions come many others, concerning design and animation control (fixed positioning of type and graphics), device optimization (smartphones and tablets), media types (video, 3D), and database access. All of this planning has to be done upfront to deliver optimal results.

GOING MOBILE

Certainly, usage trends seem to point to mobile platforms as the future of HCP content delivery, so mobile must be a critical part of our planning mix. The fact that there are three major mobile platforms to consider in delivering an optimized user experience does complicate things, but there is a hybrid approach, such as that used by Facebook, which allows us to code in HTML5 + JavaScript with wrappers to fit the unique smartphone platform requirements.

It’s not a perfect solution, but could be the most cost-effective approach to reaching HCPs as the technology continues to shake out. The good news about mobile platform coding is that it can shorten the time to market and increase ROI (given the generally smaller cost of delivering mobile programs). Simplicity is the name of the game here—simple solutions to specific problems, executed succinctly.

REFERENCE
1. Dolan, Pamela Lewis, “Doctors driving IT development with their mobile technology choices,” amednews.com, posted May 23, 2011. http://www.amaassn. org/amednews/2011/05/23/bisb0523.htm

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