Pharma is going to have to become a tech company

imagesIf the new about an Apple iWatch turns out to be reality healthcare marketers had better be ready because the healthcare applications are endless for device like this.   Imagine a watch reminding you to take your medicine or working with another medical device to record things like blood pressure and glucose levels.  It’s not that hard to imagine and it really opens the door to empower patients to take more control of their healthcare.

Just when you thought you had a handle on DTC marketing something new comes along ! Well get used to it.  The rise of devices to track a patients wellness, like Fitbit, are a clear indication that there is a market for devices that help patients monitor their health.  The challenge for healthcare marketers is going to be to start thinking like a technology company and stop thinking of healthcare  in past terms.

Of course the other issue is where is the FDA going to come down on the development and implementation of apps for an iWatch  and what is considered promotional versus value added for patients ?  Then there is the connectivity to bluetooth enabled medical devices and home PC’s.  Will the data be secure and will patients have the ability to transmit the data to their doctors ?


According to Fierce Mobil Healthcare “Eighty-nine percent of doctors were likely to recommend a mobile health app to patients in a January 2013 survey by ambulatory clinical solutions provider eClinicalWorks. The Westborough, Mass.-based company conducted the online survey of 2,291 healthcare professionals in the United States, 649 of whom were physicians. Ninety-three percent of doctors interviewed for the survey found value in connecting an mHealth app to electronic health records and 93 percent of physician respondents also saw mHealth apps improving a patient’s health outcome. According to survey results, nearly six in 10 doctors (58 percent) said a top benefit for having an mHealth app feed data back into a patient’s EHR was the ability to provide patients with automatic appointment alerts and reminders. In addition, six in 10 physicians also said that at least half of their patients would be interested in appointment reminders via a mobile app.”

With the President calling for more cuts in pharma prices for Medicare and Medicaid patients and costs rising for drug development can pharma companies really invest in establishing a technology organization or are they going to have to rely more and more on external vendors ?  Those companies with vision should plant an anchor in the sea now and learn from their experiences but too many will just wait for the wave to crash on shore and play catch up like they are doing right now when it comes to marketing.

9 thoughts on “Pharma is going to have to become a tech company

  1. Phil Baumann

    Putting regulatory considerations aside, I can see Apple dominating mHealth here…

    ..BUT, they’d need to do one thing (and I think they might make an exception): Open up the device to other products and mobile software (Android, etc.). That may be a risky, but if Apple plays it smart, the “watch” (as silly as it may be for other purposes) could become the mobile medical platform of choice.

  2. Iain Scott

    I completely agree with Phil Baumann’s comment — interoperability is shaping up to be a big issue in this market. One would also hope that if Apple does get into the health business, it won’t force consumers down the iTunes road.

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