Pharma apps? Irrelevant

KEY TAKEAWAY: According to a MyTherapy 2015 survey, 96% of pharma apps have less than 100k downloads, 50% have only been updated once or never and 48% of users leave no good reviews.  Should pharma walk away from apps?  No!

Of all the market research I have been involved with perhaps none is more eye opening that the use of mHealth and apps.  I’m not talking about fitness apps that measure your steps and heart rate, I’m talking about apps that help people live with and manage chronic health conditions.

There are some health conditions that patients don’t want to be reminded about, but there are also a lot of opportunities.  A great example is MS.  We tested an MS app that gives daily tips on living with MS as well as a tracker of daily symptoms that could be shared with HCP’s.  When we showed the concept to MS patients they loved the concept, but only of the apps were updated on a regular basis and had relevant information as well as being able to share within an MS community.

The client balked at the opportunity because of the cost of the updates (via an outside agency) plus the number of platforms (iOS, Android). That nasty ROI word killed what could have been a great initiative to connect with patients.

It’s ironic that, in most cases, pharma won’t do anything without an ROI at a time when patients could care less about being sold and just want help navigating our healthcare system.

There are three things to remember about mobile health apps:

1ne: They need to be tested

2wo: The information has to be relevant

3hree: They shouldn’t require patient interaction everyday

4our: They have to be updated on a regular basis 

This means having a budget to experiment and the people within the finance area don’t like that word.  They want to see how these types of programs are going to drive business because we need the money to keep Wall Street happy.

There are some brave companies trying mobile apps, like GSK’s app for COPD, but for the most part, it’s amateur hour when it comes to implementing this new technology within pharma.