The surge of mobile devices, smartphones,iPads and tablets, is forcing the pharmaceutical and medical industries to change the way they do business. But it is also creating a more personalized approach for how each part of these industries interact with their customers. Here are a few ways mobile devices are influencing how pharmaceutical companies, payers and providers are doing business that emerged from a recent Mobile Strategy for Pharma conference held by EyeForPharma.
Responsive website design A report from Morgan Stanley has estimated that 50 percent of web traffic will come from mobile phones in five years. There is the additional understanding that people relate to their smartphones in a similar way that kids do with their video games. But most medical and pharmaceutical industry websites are optimized for desktop and laptop computers. Websites need to be better equipped to handle mobile traffic. Responsive website design is a way of optimizing a website for any mobile devices. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) developed and launched 10 consumer facing drug brands from its primary care division in four months optimized for mobile devices. Among the brands are Celebrex,Viagra,Premarin, Chantix, DetrolLA and Lyrica.
Todd Kolm, director of emerging channel strategy in the consumer center of expertise, said one of the underlying principles that drove the project was if the company can properly leverage emerging digital channels, it can better engage and support consumers’ needs and maximize the growth in mobile device traffic. It aimed to do that by providing content, facilitating dialogue and access.
Telerounds The sexy idea is about providing a way for patients in a hospital setting to communicate with their physicians even when they are not at the hospital. An early version of the concept in 2005 took the form of physician robots on account of the tablet screens being attached to “robots” that move from patient to patient. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers in 2005 met with positive feedback from patients and the Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan has been testing the concept with patients using iPads equipped with a Apple’s Face Time program, similar to Skype, in post surgery settings. On industry expert rattled off several reasons why it just isn’t practical right now. First, it would assume that surgeons are always available when the patient needs to speak to them. Current reimbursement models don’t support it. Most hospitals don’t grow iPads on trees for patients to use upon admission. It wouldn’t work with physicians since they could not be reimbursed. Still, it might work better when patients are discharged as a solution for providers trying to reduce readmission rates.
Patient experts Dr. Roni Zeiger (@RZeiger), former chief health strategist at Google and part time physician, is launching a company called Impatient Science to give what he describes as patient experts a louder voice. They are patients with serious illnesses and rare diseases who have used the Internet to cultivate an expansive knowledge of their illness.They know who the leading researchers and specialists in their illness are, they have mined all the public data they can find on drugs and treatments being developed, and are exchanging information through social media, apps and tools to collect personal data with the goal of getting the most personalized treatments for their condition.
Zaiger pointed to companies catering to these patients who he believes will have a significant influence on the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Treato, for example, tracks drug side effects as reported by patients and compiles it into a file. each file includes comments, ratings by other users and recommendation of alternate drugs based on feedback. You can also look up symptoms and get a list of drugs recommended to you. He held up the example of companies that have used search patterns to track illnesses like Google Flu. Another company, Sickweather, follows a similar idea, only using Twitter.
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