We have all heard the countless statistics regarding how much HCPs and consumers are using mobile devices to access health information. And mobile’s prominence as both an information portal and as a marketing channel should only grow in 2013. PM360 asked experts from around the industry for their best mobile marketing advice and the answers to some key questions: What is the best way to reach HCPs and/or patients through mobile? How can you use it to increase brand awareness? What is the best way to optimize your mobile endeavors? How do you navigate the current regulatory issues?
Director, Emerging Channel Strategy
Consumer Center of Expertise
Remember not that long ago when being online meant first getting online? Getting online used to be a discrete activity, and a chore at that. You would fire up the computer and then set in motion a series of hisses and squawks as the dial-up modem negotiated a connection. Once online, you’d do some surfing and then log off. You were then no longer online.
Today, we live in an “always-on” world where that computer and modem fit in your pocket. No, pockets have not grown (cargo pants notwithstanding), it’s the technology that has gotten smaller and taken the form of today’s smartphone. Much like the smartphone, health is always on, too. It follows us wherever we go. Health conditions may change over time yet our health is always with us. We cannot log off from health.
Health and mobile have begun to converge, and that’s a good thing. According to Manhattan Research, more than half of smartphone owners feel more in control of their health as a result of using their smartphones for health or medical info. So what does this mean for pharma? It means we have a real opportunity—an obligation in fact—to be there in mobile, to be relevant in this always-on world.
But how can pharma always be on? How can we truly be relevant in mobile? Is the right answer mobile web? Or SMS? Or an app? It may be these or perhaps something entirely different. There’s no single, right approach, but there is a clear wrong one—to not be there at all.
So, think about the consumers in your category and consider how your brand can be there for them wherever they are and whenever they’re ready. Think about how you can be always on. This mindset might just help distinguish your brand’s signals from all of the other hisses and squawks out there.
President and CEO
HCPs are well established as early adopters when it comes to mobile technologies, from the earliest versions of Epocrates for Palm and BlackBerry devices to the latest tablets and apps. Recent ComScore data confirms that four out of five HCPs are seeing websites intended for them (branded and unbranded), so it makes good sense to invest in mobile versions of those sites—particularly if their content is intended for use during consultations (formulary lookup, prescribing information, etc.).
Recent research by Klick’s Digital Insights team shows that the rate of adoption of mobile technologies by people 50 years old and over is outpacing the general rate of adoption. This is critical because people 60 years old and over are nearly three times as likely to take a prescription drug as those between the ages of 12 and 19, and over 40 times as likely to take more than five drugs. Meanwhile, 34% of people aged 50 to 64 currently own a smartphone (compared to 45% of all adults), but that population is growing at a rate of 42% year-over-year (compared to 29% for all adults).
The rate of tablet ownership among seniors makes an even stronger case—27% for the same age group—having grown by 86% since January 2012. These trends clearly point to a not-too-distant future in which mobile will be our dominant digital channel and it is strongly recommended that all brands begin optimizing for it now.
Experience suggests that mobile-optimized websites offer a much better ROI over native mobile apps, particularly as a first step in this new space. It is time to take a “mobile first” approach to designing new digital properties, starting from the mobile experience and working toward a deeper desktop version. This ensures that both audiences have the best possible experience, rather than the much more common mobile site that feels entirely tacked on.
There are three keys to reaching and engaging HCPs and patients through mobile:
1. Recognize that HCPs and patients are unique audiences: They are very different from each other and from reps, and their available time, interaction styles and content requirements differ.
2. Embrace heterogeneity: Mobile device operating system penetration will vary between these two populations. One size does not fit all.
3. Measure, adjust, measure: Mobile applications generate large amounts of “digital exhaust.” Capture and analyze the data, adjust activities, lather, rinse and repeat. Append transactional data to CRM records.
Both HCPs and patients want to be informed and they want tools to engage. Patients want information to help them understand their conditions, treatment protocols and safety—they want reassurance. HCPs want factually accurate information on how to treat and affect outcomes; tools to engage with specific individuals who can help them make informed, beneficial decisions; and the ability to engage on their time schedule, not the reps’.
We are living through the inflection point of mobility—with all things new, it is easy to forget that results matter. When it comes to measuring for success, the best optimization of mobile initiatives is to stop the madness of “one-off” solutions—prevent brands from moving independently of each other. Too many life sciences companies incent marketing “innovation” and not results; this tends to lead to duplicative efforts and information “islands” within the company. Create centers of digital excellence, focus on the user experience, embrace the immediacy of mobile, deploy platforms, require app-to-app data sharing, integrate with legacy systems and master databases, capture all of the data (digital exhaust), and analyze and measure what matters.
Chief Digital Officer
The best way to reach and engage HCPs and patients is through understanding their pain points and being responsive to their needs. Campaigns and programs that enhance the physician-to-patient dialogue, facilitate higher-value conversations and create better long-term outcomes will always cut through the clutter and realize higher uptake. Remember, both audiences are looking for efficiency and integration into either their workflow (for HCPs) or “life-flow” for patients and caregivers. Providing each with what they want, how they want it and, most important, when they want it shows that you understand their needs and are an integral part of their treatment program.
Two key ways to achieve these objectives:
1. Make your solutions device-agnostic using a responsive design strategy. True responsive design (the ability for a site to customize content, navigation and layout to the device through a single set of code) may pose issues with the med/legal team because size and placement of assets are fluid, but these can be “pharmacized.”
2. Make the program, site or application “prescriptive” in nature (just like the medication/device itself), enabling it to play a role in the long-term outcome and quality of care, so it gets used. Patients receive better care and condition management, physicians see greater improvement in their patients’ quality of life and the pharma industry wins because its drugs and devices are being used as prescribed and intended by the treating physician.
In the “always on” era, HCPs and patients can’t afford to spend time interacting with mobile initiatives that don’t deliver against their unmet needs, and pharma can’t afford to build more apps, campaigns and websites that don’t deliver added value to their ultimate stakeholders—physicians and the patients they treat.
Senior Vice President, Sales
As a mobile market leader, Epocrates recommends companies consider the following when developing a mobile marketing strategy:
Embrace the platform: Mobile offers a new opportunity to engage users at a more direct and personal level. Companies must design for mobile rather than re-purpose existing web content.
Know your audience: To increase the chances for success, pharma manufacturers need to understand their audience’s needs and behaviors—do they access information on a smartphone while with a patient, or conduct research between appointments on an iPad?
Provide value: Manufacturers have excellent resources that are not making it into the hands of physicians. Rather than thinking of mobile as a digital ad channel, consider how it can help you deliver content of value to physicians in a format they want to receive it in.
To effectively reach physicians through mobile, pharma companies must take a targeted, personalized approach that will engage them at the point of care. They should remember that physicians are consumers too, and the same rules apply when engaging through mobile: (1) Target your message. (2) Keep it short. (3) Make it actionable.
Contrary to current perceptions, physicians are open to content from pharma companies, but on their terms. Specifically, physicians want access to reliable prescribing information and a more direct line of communication with the drug manufacturers. Mobile’s convenience and accessibility can address both and present pharma companies with a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the pharma-physician relationship in a thoughtful, controlled manner. Yet, pharma manufacturers need to be strategic about their mobile strategy and integrate tools, such as popular medical apps, to provide targeted information about their brands and bring value to physicians when they are making point-of-care decisions.
The companies that integrate this type of thinking and planning into their marketing are the ones that will take the pharma-physician relationship to the next level.
Let’s face it, mobile is no longer an optional part of most pharma marketing efforts. Consumers and HCPs today use a variety of devices and browsers to access healthcare information, and the options just keep growing. But creating separate websites, content and apps for iPhone, Android, and various tablets can drive costs through the roof. How do marketers ensure their prized content is available via multiple devices while minimizing costs?
Responsive web design is a technology solution for websites that ensures content is displayed appropriately on each device whether it is a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer. Leveraging the “write once, read everywhere” attributes of responsive web design offers the following benefits:
Efficient, consistent updates. One single web site that renders well for mobile, tablet and desktop computers means marketers no longer must maintain multiple sites. Updates to functionality and content can be made just once, and consistency across devices is assured.
Mitigated risk. The ability to update key information—such as labeling or safety information—in one place reduces risk of error.
Better SEO and UX. A single URL enables better search engine optimization and device redirection. This means the web site can be found more easily, and the user experience is better overall.
Combined Analytics. Responsive web design enables the ability to view and compare traffic patterns across all devices in one report.
Developing and maintaining separate sites for mobile, tablet and broadband can be expensive and time consuming. A site developed using responsive web design can address the content demands of various devices without breaking the bank. While the up-front time and cost associated with a responsive web design initiative can be more expensive than a basic web development effort, the cost, time to update and risk exposure will be significantly less overall.
CEO & Founder
Mobile has quickly become the new point-of-care tool for reps to engage HCPs. It’s a more timely, efficient and effective way to deliver collateral. A mobile device, specifically the iPad, acts as a container and holds everything the reps need—except for their lunch. And this container is what the brand can control in order to extend brand awareness and provide content to the reps to allow them to engage with doctors. Most importantly, this content needs to be fluid and support dynamic updates.
According to a recent study by Manhattan Research, over 60% of doctors already have an iPad, so their expectation is to interact with mobile as they already do via a great user experience and in real time. Physicians exhibit consumer behavior when tapping into their mobile devices—the bar is Angry Birds, not your website. They also want the content to be specifically for them, a custom presentation or customized information. Therefore, mobile devices and apps need to be able to provide the flexibility to tell the story that the doctors want to hear. In addition, doctors expect to have the latest information instantly shared with them (so they in turn can share it with their patients), so mobile apps should also provide the ability to easily share content and materials. By being able to present and share relevant content in real time, in turn, reps will find that time spent with doctors will increase.
In addition to arming reps with iPads and apps with engaging content, these apps should be optimized in order to gain the most effective metrics. Apps should provide visibility into how sales reps are using it. This way real-time intelligence can be gained on what content is being used and can even identify patterns from the most successful reps to provide best practices.
Mobile has become an important channel, but before just jumping on board the hot trend, companies must look at the best way to optimize their ROI on mobile initiatives. For that, feedback is key. Companies should consider gathering valuable input four times in every web experience they build. First, test the user experience by walking sales reps through prototyped wireframes. Their input can lead to validation and new, valuable features.
Once the app is built, test the alpha version with the same reps and ask if the experience meets their expectations. As the application is released, implement Google Analytics. This allows you to see the most popular functions and those that may need some refinement or perhaps removal. Last, ask for feedback through quick overlays inside the application. You’d be amazed at the ideas the users have once they start using the mobile experience.
However, uncertainty is really killing innovation in the mHealth field. The FDA has some guidelines for mobile apps, but only for those that classify as a medical device. The rules lack clear guidance and the best ideas from the small, nimble shops often don’t reach development out of fear. The best advice for anyone developing a mobile app is to add six months to their go-live date and work as quickly as possible to submit the appropriate claims.
This was a big discussion point at AdvaMed 2012, The MedTech Conference, and it was encouraging to hear members of the FDA talk about the changes the department made to speed up the process. It still takes way too long to get approval, but there’s no way around it for now. Even simple calculators that work in tandem with a physical device are susceptible to FDA approval, so we just need to stay on top of any federal decisions.
Director, Pharmaceutical Digital Marketing North America
The first step in optimizing mobile initiatives is to have a strong and deliberate strategy. One of the most common pitfalls is to “mobilize” your dot-com. Mobile is not at all like your desktop website approach. Content is still king, but it is about quality, not quantity.
To optimize, first determine who would want specific information from your brand or company in what I call a “mobile moment.” Is it dosing while writing a prescription or side effect information while taking the product at home? Is there something you can do to encourage getting the Rx filled while standing in line at the pharmacy or a tool to improve that new patient’s experience? Then think about how the individual would want to receive this information. Is it an easy mobile web interface or is there value in downloading an app for your product? Keep in mind the level of commitment in time and bandwidth it takes for either.
From a metrics perspective, many of the same success measurement methodologies apply—with expectations appropriately set. Visits, usage and downloads are still viable yardsticks but, while mobile is growing at an incredibly rapid rate, it is still a subsection of the digital universe. It is also important to take note that if you are providing the right content in the right place at the right time, then data including time on site and page views should not necessarily be incredibly high if you are doing it right.
You will also be amazed at what you will learn about your users if you make your content easy to use. We know that the intimacy of the mobile experience tends to be quite high, so people are more likely to tell you a little about themselves and exactly what they want if there is a promise of receiving it. Use this information to sharpen and evolve your mobile strategy.
Mobile and Social Media Channel Lead
With exception to mobile video content (and the social amplification of it), I don’t believe mobile is an effective awareness channel. Instead, mobile is organically more intimate—offering high value utility for the user and meaningful engagement for the marketer.
Therefore, mobile objectives should be less focused on messaging to the customer and more on enhancing or improving a task or need in service to the customer that the offline world cannot achieve. I believe this distinction between messaging and service in mobile presents the industry an opportunity to truly add value beyond the efficacy of a pill. While traditional CRM programs have yielded poor or inconsistent results for patients and manufacturers, I believe the ubiquity and power of mobile will revitalize how the industry fosters patient retention.
It’s also at this intersection of powerful mobile capabilities and healthcare that pharma marketers and researchers need to begin to transcend the boundaries of our industry and acquire skills and strategies of our consumer electronics industry kin. The auto industry is a great model for this transcendence. Today, auto makers are differentiating their car lines with technologies like Bluetooth, surface screens and augmented reality dashes. Drivers have come to expect that they can make a voice call with a simple non-touch command on the road.
Bottom line, we need to better understand and react to the ways technology will continually change customer behavior and expectations. Therefore, my challenge is this: Why shouldn’t a patient expect to receive a prescription for a mobile app from the manufacturer of their specific medication? An app that’s an integrated and powerful tool that provides critical treatment and support utility.
The opinions expressed by the authors in the Think Tank section are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of their affiliated companies or organizations.