If you were having difficulty getting fair balance approved for smartphones, due to screen size, the screens just got a whole lot smaller.
Apple is showing its ability to continue to innovate in the absence of its late great genius founder, Steve Jobs. With the latest reveal of the Apple Watch, combined with previous announcements of Apple Health (for consumers) and HealthKit (for developers), Apple, among other disrupters, have healthcare in their sights.
Is our pill manufacturing industry ready to embrace change and create value by influencing outcomes for patients who embrace these tools?
Based on past consumer successes at Apple, it is likely that this smartwatch will see rapid adoption. In a few years, Apple Watches and devices like them might be as ubiquitous as iPhones are today. How will your brand capitalize on having a computer on the wrist of millions of patients that senses and reads various individual health metrics such as pulse, sleep cycles, activity levels, calories burned, and more.
Most people always have their smartphone on or near them today. The Apple Watch may be the first quantitative-self enabled “on your person” device to hit the mainstream. Your patients will now essentially be wearing their iPhone and all of its computer power, plus an additional array of sensors. All the time. At work, at play, while sleeping and while having sex.
The Apple Watch offers unique opportunities for individualized patient feedback loops and individualized corrective messaging and support coaching. The future personified by Dick Tracy and Maxwell Smart is here.
Imagine your pill bottle or weekly pill container embedded with a near field communication (NFC) device that senses when the patient’s hand (more specifically their wrist) hasn’t come close enough to the bottle to take their meds at the appropriate time. That alert triggers a simple reminder that confirms if the meds were taken and offers to connect the patient to a nurse if they have questions.
The responses to the alerts, as well as the ambient data of NFC interactions with the pill container are all logged and sent seamlessly to both the patient and the doctor—to the patient with helpful reminders of the importance of taking the medication as prescribed and the encouragement to do so, and to the doctor as a summary right before their next appointment.
Now imagine a similar device embedded in the pill itself that not only validates the medication was taken, and taken properly, but also verifies the absorption rate, and other factors after the patient ingests the medicine. This is exactly what companies like Proteus are working on, and continuing to improve—ingestible sensors. They don’t use a battery, but are powered by the body itself.
Imagine using Apple Pay in conjunction with geofencing interceding at the point of pharmacy transaction when a patient is buying your scrip and offering a discount on the medications. In exchange, patients join your health program, which is designed to help improve their health outcomes. Imagine giving them further discount incentives tied to their ability to achieve results towards positive health outcomes.
For the savvy marketer, these connected devices represent opportunity knocking. So like Agent 99 said to Agent 86 seemingly oblivious to his ringing shoe, I ask you, “Are you going to answer that?”