Is Mobile Health Changing the Face of Pharma’s Relationships with Its Targets?

The simple answer to this question is yes. Pharma has already produced a plethora of mobile and digital devices geared to both patient and physician perspectives. With the accessibility of these versatile apps, pharma’s targets continue to demand more. While a few research organizations have reported a rapid rise in physicians’ access to tablets, it’s not about the technology inasmuch as it’s about what the technology has to offer.

By Sarah Ray,
Research Analyst

Just a year out from the so-called “year of the mobile,” physicians want to see how to make technology go further in their specific practices. They want to learn how to access and use mobile apps. They want to be able to stream key opinion leader videos and have access to live one on one video technology. Ultimately, they want to take advanced of technology and make it work for them. Sales reps are the perfect source to provide this information.

A recent Medical Marketing & Media article indicates that iPads and other mobile devices have changed the dynamic between pharmaceutical sales representatives and physicians. Today, physicians are demanding more of their sales reps and it’s clearly paying off. As technology develops, physicians require concise information, delivered faster. Mobile devices offer this function.

Equipping sales reps with iPads proves beneficial for pharma and physicians alike. A recent report by Cutting Edge Information, “Pharmaceutical Mobile Health: Transforming Brand Marketing, Healthcare Communication and Patient Adherence,” explains the benefits of iPads and other mobile health platforms. The report indicates that among surveyed companies, the physician-facing tablet platform represents the leading company-perceived generator of return on investment (ROI).

The rationale behind why companies view physician-facing applications so favorably is simple. Mobile applications are synonymous with broader access for pharma and physicians. Having access to iPads means physicians can better use health-related technology to interact with peers, patients and pharma companies. In return, iPads help pharma sales reps facilitate active dialogues with physicians concerning healthcare trends. This favorable interaction fosters the type of potential relationship envisioned by pharma.

According to Medical Marketing & Media, more than 15 of the top 20 companies already equip sales reps with iPads. Other companies are following suit. Indeed, Manhattan Research’s ePharma Physician 2012 study shows the prevalence of iPad-generated presentations, up from 30% in 2011 to 65% this year. And physicians are making it worth reps’ time. Upon the conclusion of iPad-based sales presentations, 35% of doctors said that they’d be more likely to request a sample and an additional 29% stated they’d be more likely to prescribe the drug presented.

Increasing iPad presentations shows the functionality of technology in a professional setting. The tactic pushes the bounds of sales and physician interactions beyond brief interactions in hallways. Using iPad and other technology to present sales information empowers sales reps to discuss more than the brand and equips physicians with new points of access. Displaying new technology will build stronger future relationships and possibly open the door to new forms of physician-medical science liaison (MSL) interaction as well.

Published November 12, 2012

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