One of the most hotly debated topics in healthcare marketing is where to focus a brand’s multi-screen strategy. There’s no disputing mobile search and mHealth adoption rates have changed the way budgets are allocated and targeting is defined. Recent research shows four out of five smartphone users check their phone within the first 15 minutes of waking up, and 80% of those respondents say it’s the first thing they do in the morning.

The sheer scale and rapid adoption rate of smartphones and tablets into our daily routines has created a multi-screen lifestyle. People are tapping into digital media using up to three different devices on a daily basis. This lifestyle is opening up unprecedented content and communication channels for consumers, and deeply immersive methods for pharma marketers to engage users.

As the pharma industry continues to adopt multi-screen targeting strategies, new methods for driving deeper engagement with target audiences will continue to emerge. At its core, the smartphone’s unique value proposition is the ability to deliver personalized content for the user on the right screen at the right time. Optimal user experiences depend on relevant and actionable information and tools, and the ability to deliver a holistic experience that informs and influences decision making at the point of need.

Information, tools and services shared across a multi-screen continuum can also encourage stronger doctor-patient conversations and decision making at the point-of-care. Considering that data shows 89% of physicians would “prescribe” a health app to a patient, it is safe to say that we will continue to see more apps serving as the bridge between the doctor visit and a patient’s everyday life—all aimed at improving health outcomes.

Bringing Multi-Screen to Life: A Day in the Life of a Chronic Pain Patient

To bring a user’s experience to life, let’s examine the everyday patterns of a person living with osteoarthritis (OA). A person with OA may experience joint pain for months before being prompted to speak with their doctor to get diagnosed. This person may visit consumer health sites, advocacy organizations or discussion boards to research symptoms and gather information on potential causes of pain. During a doctor visit, the patient may see the physician using an iPad to review treatment guidelines or write a digital prescription. In discussing therapeutic lifestyle changes, the physician may recommend tracking diet and exercise habits over time to produce a measurable impact. In turn, the patient will log on after the doctor visit to check out treatment recommendations and share stories with peer-patients. Deep searches like these are most likely done from a computer, where users can easily save profile information for personalized updates and integration with mobile for repeat use.

Each of these touch points presents an opportunity for pharma marketers to engage the patient by providing tips on managing OA, in-context brand information and even drug coupons. Advertising with a multi-screen strategy gives an inherent advantage to brands by placing them right at the point of search, need or care: whenever and wherever patients are most likely to act on a decision.

One Multi-Screen Approach: The Crossroads of Content, Functionality and Utility

The best approach integrates these multiple touch points into a unified user experience. Desktop and mobile sites should draw from user data to generate personalized content. For instance, on the desktop, the patient could have a dedicated forum to seek peer-patient experiences, while the physician could tap into content to review the latest clinical data and take CME courses. Meanwhile, a WebMD survey showed that 70% of chronic pain sufferers are interested in using a mobile app to chart their pain over time.

The tools provided across these channels should also be designed to be printed out, tracked and used during the treatment conversation. The result is a channel-agnostic resource that increases the likelihood for more effective and personalized treatment by bringing the doctor and patient closer together. For the marketer, it’s an entirely new channel for delivering on strong ROI for the brand.

Brand managers today are charged with driving measurable impact with decreasing budgets and competing brands creating disease and drug category online “noise.” Brands that closely examine their audience’s behaviors across screens and apply these insights within a personalized context will translate impressions and cost-per-clicks into demonstrable brand growth.

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