How To Improve Your Mobile Health Strategy: Five Imperatives

With the exponential growth in mobile adoption, technology and new apps, mobile is on everyone’s list for 2011 and beyond, and rightfully so. The mobile “product” and “channel” offers numerous opportunities for all marketers, healthcare and pharma included.

Consider some of the facts:

  • Mobile will be the primary digital connection for both existing and new customers. [Forester]
  • Today there are well over 400M phones in the US, over 350M applications available for the iPhone and counting with more than 10B downloads. [Forester]
  • Mobile users will surpass desktop users in 5 years.  Mobile growth is the fastest in communications history. [Mary Meeker, KPCB]
  • Physician adoption of mobile devices is astounding. Chilmark  Research estimates 100% of physicians will have a smart phone and use content apps by 12/31/2013–with touchscreen tablet saturation by 2015. Smartphone Apps now focus on communication, alerts and decision support. Clinical reference content is currently leading mHealth apps, but will evolve with the growth of iPad and other touchscreen tablets to provide more flexibility, personalization, patient education…
  • Of the 85% of American adults who use a cell phone, 17% of cell owners have used their phone to look up health or medical information and 29% of cell owners ages 18-29 have done such searches. [Pew Internet Mobile Health 2010]

I listened to Julie Ask from Forester provide her thoughts for marketers: Top 5 Mobile Imperatives. [A FierceWireless Webcast]

Here are the five key takeaways, with plenty of implications for Pharma and Healthcare Marketers developing mobile health strategies:

  1. Drive Towards Convenience- Forester considers a product or service convenient if: The Sum of Benefits > The Sum of Inhibitors.  Mobile services- both web and applications- should address three core benefits: Immediacy, Simplicity and Context (which today usually involves location, time of day or past user behavior).  Delivering on these core benefits is critical to delivering a positive customer experience. What does simplicity mean for different patient segments? How do you provide context for your patients? doctors?
  2. Focus On Customer Needs- Go beyond pure marketing or selling to offer value add content and services.  “What’s in it for them?” e.g.: Walgreens new “refill by scan” fulfilled patients’ needs for easy prescription refills.  Customers appreciate when their needs are met!
  3. Mobile Is As Much Product as Channel.  This suggests not limiting mobile to just marketing or commerce- but introducing companion mobile services. Mobile can support customers throughout their journey.  How can mobile support your patients/ caregivers throughout their health or treatment journey? During discovery and consideration,  physician identification and dialog, pharmacy purchase, trial, retention, and if you are lucky enough, advocacy?
  4. Divorce the PC.  The addition of new technologies will push mobile phones well beyond the PC. e.g.: Remote health monitoring; 3d cameras enabling augmented reality, gesture control; chemical sensors enabling breathalyzer, food freshness, CO detection etc.It’s also critical to think about mobile as its own product and channel and not to force current web graphics or tools into mobile applications. The mobile experience is driven by different factors than the ‘desktop web’ experience–use case, location, urgency. Improving the Mobile experience can’t be accomplished by measuring activity alone like might be done for web–requires understanding of behaviors based on what consumers are doing and seeing with their mobile device in the real world, and requires ability to identify where consumers/patients are struggling with mobile user experience.
  5. Be Nimble.  Mobile is dynamic…plenty of uncertainty is in the horizon such as: new devices- just as the iPad came in- will disrupt; new means for controlling devices such as the Kinect will change our paradigms for how we control machines; new business models will appear; mobile will replace existing devices, tools and services; user context will be multi-dimensional etc. Focusing on on-going improvement is a must…as technology and learning evolves.

And there are always the specific considerations to work through for Pharma and Healthcare Marketers:

What are you most excited about for mobile health? How are you fulfilling doctor or consumer needs with new mobile strategies?  Where do you see the greatest challenges?

For additional reading: The Influence of Mobile Apps on Pharma: an eyeforpharma special report; the Path of the Blue Eye Project’s first breakfast presentation Mobile Health: Hype and  Hope  by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn,of THINK-Health; Four More Must-Read Mobile Health Reports by mobilehealthnews, including slides below from their webinar last month; Mobile Health 2010 by Susannah Fox, Pew Internet

Photo image credit:  Courtney Justice-The Cournell Group / stock credit:  M. Brubeck
Walgreens Refill By Scan image-credit: Business Wire

2 thoughts on “How To Improve Your Mobile Health Strategy: Five Imperatives

  1. Great blog! I wholeheartedly agree: I find myself constantly talking about the untapped opportunity for mobile and feel like I’m talking to a wall. Think about the potential of being able to message someone in a personalized, targeted and meaningful way while they are sitting in the waiting room! Pharma marketers need to do more in this space. One example I like is Epipen, who’s made a useful mobile app and seems to be pretty tapped into its consumers’ needs.

    • You raise a great point about doing more while patients are in the waiting room right before an appointment…the equivalent of hitting a consumer right at the Point of Sale at retail.
      Thanks for the tip on EpiPen. I will check it out; great product to take advantage of mobile and apps.

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