The Pharma Marketer’s View on Google Glass

Ever since the Explorer program put Google Glass in the hands of consumers, users have been asking what it can do for healthcare. And until now, the answer has been very hands-on: We’ve seen several surgeons perform live surgery and a conceptual video imagining a Glass-integrated hospital. One doctor has even credited Google Glass with saving a life by allowing him to access a patient’s record on the fly.

But for all its applications in the hospital setting, we’ve heard very little talk of how Google Glass can benefit pharmaceutical marketers. While our jobs don’t require sterile hands or instant chart retrieval, this new wearable tool can help us as well. In conferences, during rep calls and in daily agency life, Google Glass can be a great tool to help us achieve our goals.


While Google Glass is now available to the general public, the high sticker price ($1,500) has prevented it from being widely adopted. Most doctors have heard of Google Glass and may have even seen videos of its applicability, but have never gotten a chance totry it out. Integrating several pairs into a booth would not only be a great draw but would also signal to physicians that a company is digitally savvy and interested in using technology to help them. Wearing a pair of loaner Google Glass, doctors can interact with our booths through augmented reality, playing games and viewing in-depth information about products and their features.

Rep Calls

Reps have a lot on their hands—literally. By loading a detail aid or short call into Google Glass, they can free up their hands and peek out from behind a print sales aid or an iPad. And since they are the only ones who can see what’s on the screen, they can easily access personal notes about which selling technique works best for each physician. Alternately, doctors can take the Google Glass for a spin themselves, viewing an interactive detail aid or navigating through a product’s MOA up close.

Agency Life

Team members are always on the go, racing from strategy meetings to pitch prep to capabilities presentations. Google Glass can help them organize their communications, give them directions to the client’s office, and keep them up to date on the latest breaking news about the products they work on. The best agencies talk about being “plugged in”—Google Glass takes that one step further, integrating essential information into a wearable form that goes with them everywhere they go.

Google Glass can also be integrated into pitches, in which agency members can pass them out to the clients they’re trying to win over, demonstrating firsthand the digital tactics they recommend for a campaign.

Review of the View

In our experience using Google Glass at our agency, we’ve found it to be a great tool for not only capturing and accessing different types of information, but also for communicating with others through video chat. When our colleagues see us wearing the device, they want to try it—and agency-wide test sessions become rich sources of discussions on the future of wearable technology in healthcare.

Since Google Glass is at the forefront of this movement, it has some expected growing pains. The battery life is short, and it’s annoying that it must be tethered to an Android device in order to access maps (we are predominantly a Mac shop). And since we bought our Google Glass to be shared, the linking it to a Google Plus account doesn’t help us much—and sometimes even makes it difficult to remember where our files are stored and who has permission to access them.

Mostly, however, we have found Google Glass to be a great experience and can’t wait until it’s integrated as readily into marketing as it is into surgery and general medicine.

  • Hannah Thurman

    Hannah Thurman is a VP, Director of Channel Planning at DDB Health. Her POVs have appeared in PM360, Med Ad News, Pharmalive, and the Healthcare Marketer’s Exchange, and she has been awarded the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame’s Future Famer award, which recognizes individuals under 35 who have already made a lasting positive impact at their agencies.


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