When a company thinks about creating a mobile app, the first step is often to hire a digital agency to give input and potentially help build the app itself. But increasingly, physicians are looking to bypass pharmaceutical marketing teams and digital agencies and are looking to develop their own apps themselves.
The main question is “Why?” The first answer is that many agency apps don’t live up to the standards of the physicians who use them, and instead, focus on a generalized topic rather than in-depth usability. The second reason is that some digital agencies feel physician apps aren’t worth the time because many times, medical apps don’t sell as well as other more generic and streamline dapps. So, what about a pharma marketing team? A marketing team can often end up working with productivity in mind rather than practice. On the other hand, physicians already know what would make their everyday work more convenient, while some marketing-based apps can end up causing more confusion than aid.
The next question lies in how physician-lead app development affects the rest of the market, particularly in the way of FDA regulators and the development process in general. Regulation of medical apps by the FDA has long been a tangled web of requirements and loopholes, but new regulatory efforts are being made that may very well separate the good, the bad, and the ugly. Needless to say, what regulators are looking for is apps that are not only practical, but that also prove that they are helping a physician or pharmacist in his or her job. As medical apps begin to grow to upwards of 40,000, finding suitable apps is not proving to be a walk in the park. So, physician-lead app development is one way to ensure a medical app’s success.
Lastly, we need to look at the development process itself. While this may not be true in every case, there is often a trade-off of quantity for quality. In the long run, it should be obvious that a quality app will acquire and retain more users than it’s low quality competitor. Quality issues can be overcome by focusing on usability, clean development and thorough testing.
However, perhaps the most interesting issue is; how will this disrupt or improve the business profitability of pharma marketing teams in future?