The key to improving the way that patients find out about new approaches to their own healthcare is literally in their hands. The wide availability and speedy adoption of smartphones has made these devices the tool of choice for consumers to find information. This digital engagement suggests that health apps are a promising option for multichannel pharmaceutical marketing. In a recent article in Pharmaphorum, Christine Jacob, founder of digital marketing and communications agency Digi-Bridges, sites a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey which shows that the adoption of mobile health apps had doubled from 2013 to 2015.
Though consumer adoption of mobile technology has been fast, regulatory oversight of this new frontier in healthcare communication has been slow. Pharma and medical device companies need to be aware of whether the services offered by their apps will be considered a medical device or treatment subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. Jacob says that a product that crosses the threshold of offering diagnosis or treatment will likely be subject to the same regulatory oversight given to medical devices.
Pharma and medical device companies don’t want to run afoul of regulations governing treatment or marketing of healthcare products or services. To make sure they stay within regulatory boundaries, some companies develop apps that emphasize disease awareness and management. As examples, Jacob cites the Bayer-sponsored Skin Peace app, which helps patients calculate the proper dose for topical medication; the Novartis sponsored ViaOpta app, which helps with navigation for those who have visual impairments; and Eczema Care, a Johnson & Johnson app that helps patients manage the flare-ups of this chronic skin condition.
Big pharma is coming around to the idea of using mobile apps as a promising marketing channel — one that’s worth supporting. Jacob points to Bayer and Janssen as companies that have invested in digital health startups and created a pathway to nurture innovation. The hope, she says, is to bring together the resources and experience of big pharma with the innovative ideas of digital health startups.
To hear more about how you can enhance your digital and multichannel marketing strategy, attend the 2nd Pharma Digital & Multichannel Marketing Boot Camp, taking place February 7-8, 2017 in Burlingame, CA at the Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront. This intensive two-day program not only teaches you strategic processes, it also gives you the tools and skills you need to gather insights and develop your own digital and multichannel programs. To learn more about this event please download the brochure or visit the website. Click here to register and be sure to mention Priority Code C649BLOG.