A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

I Have Seen the Future and It’s Your Phone

Posted by | 5:18pm on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Smartphones are on the growing edge of the economy. The Wall Street Journal recently reported a 63% increase in U.S. adoption of smartphones. What impact will this have on the world of rare disorders? It could be considerable.

Adoption by Physicians

Interestingly, some of the biggest growth in smartphone use is taking place among physicians. According to a recent study by Manhattan Research, 61% of physicians currently use smartphones, and smartphone adoption rate is expected to reach 81% among physicians by 2012.

“By 2012, all physicians will walk around with a stethoscope and a smart mobile device, and there will be very few professional activities that physicians won’t be doing on their handhelds. Physicians will be going online first for the majority of their professional needs and will be regularly pulling online resources into patient consultations,” said Monique Levy, Senior Director of Research at Manhattan Research.

Mobile Health and Main Street

It’s not just physicians who are interested in smartphones and other mobile devices that can be used to deliver healthcare solutions. A Harris Interactive and CTIA Wireless Association study found that 41% of chronically ill respondents were interested in learning more about mobile healthcare. Among the general population, 39% reported an interest in learning more about mobile health, and among physicians, 79% of specialists and 59% of general practitioners wanted to learn more about mobile healthcare. In today’s healthcare economy, it’s not surprising to discover that part of the appeal for physicians was the potential mobile health has for increasing efficiency while benefiting patients.

What Does It Mean for You?

One way mobile devices are transforming healthcare is by providing a way to track treatment and alert physicians to changes in important health indicators. In the world of rare disorders, where there is often a need for careful monitoring of patients and ongoing communication between physicians and patients, mobile devices offer tremendous potential.

Some of the most interesting new ideas have come from pharma. Take, for example, CSL Behring’s HeliTraxSM System, which uses a hand-held device to track treatment and bleeding episodes in people with hemophilia, as well as to communicate with the hemophilia treatment center.

Games for Diabetics

Another application that’s ideally suited to smartphones is the use of games as an educational tool. For kids, right?  Not necessarily. A team of U.S. and Chinese researchers have come up with an interesting way to capitalize on the explosive growth of smart phones in Asia. They’ve developed a software application that includes games and logging features to help elderly diabetics manage their health and become educated about their condition.

Mobile’s Impact on Email, Search and Analytics

Even if you don’t plan on venturing into the world of mobile healthcare devices, the growing use of smartphones will undoubtedly have an impact on your marketing efforts – if it hasn’t already. As smartphone use increases, design and content changes will be needed to accommodate patients and physicians who are viewing emails and accessing information in a new way. Metrics are more of a challenge on mobile devices. Even Google is gearing up for the impact of mobile devices on search – and health, surprisingly, is emerging as a key category for mobile search.

Should mobile devices be part of your marketing plan for 2010? Tell us what you think.

(Image courtesy of Yeray Hernandez via Flickr)

About Pamela Todd

Pam’s extensive work in online intelligence, competitive analysis and audits allows her to provide clients with insights into their audiences’ needs and preferences. She puts those insights to work in creating and implementing user-centric, interactive content strategies to reach targeted patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

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