Back... to the future!

Excuse the cheesy title, This iconic film was on TV last night and it triggered what I believe to be a pivotal thought…

Few would argue against the notion that it’s an exciting time to work in pharma.

Although the exciting days of multi-billion dollar blockbusters such as the anti-hypertensives, statins and COX-2s etc have quieted down (remember those launches!), and the entertaining of physicians has been scaled back (and rightly so); we’re now presented with an evolving landscape that enables us to effect real and measurable change.

As this landscape of HCPs and patients (and indeed the entire developed world) make the final transitions from digital immigrants to digital natives, we’re presented with a new world of exciting ways to engage with them.

But let’s quickly jump in our DeLorean and dart back to the mid 2000s and the dawn of digital pharma marketing.

Here we’ll recall a gold rush (for many agencies at least) in terms of app development. Whether focused on HCPs, patients or otherwise, it seemed every brand team had to have one.

We all envisioned a not-too-distant future where HCPs would welcome our new digital diagnosis tool, or happily prescribe our patient app alongside our medication.

Unfortunately, this is where things became (and continue to remain) messy.

Several things went wrong, all at once:

  • Not enough attention to UX/CX
  • Limited investment in user acquisition strategy
  • ‘Set & forget’ approach (59% of pharma apps have only ever been updated once or never at all – this really puts users off)
  • Perceived bias associated with pharma-produced resources
  • HCPs were bombarded with apps from every angle

It didn’t take long before the AppStore was overflowing with pharma initiatives, and HCPs were becoming overwhelmed yet underwhelmed in the same breath with the state of affairs.

This legacy can still be seen today, in the glazed-over eyes of some HCPs when presented with the ‘latest’ pharma app.

Essentially, we’re become victims of our own enthusiasm.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, in fact quite the opposite.

Our audience has evolved and so has the technology. New initiatives and techniques such as gamification, AR/VR, and now studies are demonstrating survival benefits for patients who engage with digital as part of their disease management.

There is also a growing range of independently developed medical apps and platforms, used by 000,000s of HCPs around the globe that proves they’re receptive.

If today’s brand teams can adopt these new engaging technologies and solutions, whilst avoiding the aforementioned past mistakes, the cream will rise and we’ll realize the effectiveness and impact of our digital initiatives, just the way our predecessors once envisioned.

Now with that in mind, let’s join the Doc and go back, to the future!

Back… to the future!
Steve Royle
Client Solutions
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