Is your digital initiative going to be disruptive, or destructive?

Something that has long troubled pharma brand teams, is the fact that whilst our industry creates such well-researched, creative and pragmatic digital resources for HCPs and patients alike, we still perennially struggle to get these resources into the hands of the users who they were designed to benefit.

‘End user’, or ‘customer acquisition’ strategy are terms that should be ubiquitous by now, and addressed/budgeted for as a priority during the early planning phases of any digital initiative.  However even when addressed, it seems there is still a great deal of reliance on field force promotion as best practice to facilitate downloads/visits by target HCPs.

However, reps tasked with this responsibility face a tough hurdle – HCP “app fatigue”…

A few years back it seemed as though nearly every brand was launching either a patient support app, a dosing calculator, a diagnosis app, a new med ed platform or company hub etc.

It’s not difficult to imagine busy HCP’s eyes glazing over upon hearing about the 3rd “app for that” since the start of that particular week.

To make matters worse, pharma then dealt itself an uppercut. The nature of annual replenishment of promotional budgets, combined with regular turnover of marketing personnel, led to the launch of new apps/websites etc, year after year for many of the same brands. The results of this perfect storm were illustrated in a report that reviewed 359 pharma apps, and found that a whopping 30% of those apps were never updated, and a further 29% were updated only once. Meaning that even if a HCP had taken the time to download the resource, there was a better than even money chance it would stop working after a short period of time, clearly this is not going to have a positive impact on a HCPs willingness to engage with new pharma-led digital resources.

So, what’s the solution?

If there was a simple recipe for this everyone would be nailing it. However three methods are likely to give your initiative the best chance of success when it comes to user acquisition.


1. Choose a solution – and stick to your guns 

As mentioned above, too many apps and platforms are discarded within a year. Overnight successes are few and far between. When launching a new platform, there should be a 5 year plan at a minimum, with a focus on constant iterations and new content, to entice visitors, and keep them coming back.


2. Co-Create

Many of the best individual HCP platforms and app companies have been founded by Doctors – this tells us something. If you commission a KOL (ideally more than one) or similar to be involved in the development and co-creation of a new digital initiative, there will be a two-fold pay off:

  • The KOL’s input will guide the ideal features and practicalities to consider and include.
  • The KOL(s) will become instant ambassadors for the resource, likely promoting it within their professional networks, resulting in organic download/visitor metric growth.

3. Change the channel

You’ve got the content, be it a diagnosis tool, patient support program or clinical paper. Instead of building a new app or platform to house said content, consider saving yourself months of time and thousands of dollars by integrating your content within apps and platforms that already exist. There are a plethora of independent apps on the market, with millions of downloads by HCPs worldwide. When brands embed their content into these channels, they get immediate impact and engagement with target users.

Companies like QxMD (diagnosis tools), Figure 1 (medical education), and Sosido (online HCP communities) all offer USPs that provide new and compelling value for pharma brands seeking ways to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Swipe Health partners with many of these independent digital HCP platforms, we call them New Age Medical Media. If you’re seeking new ways to engage your target customers with your content, we’d be pleased to offer our thoughts: connect@swipehealth.com

Keep the content – change the channel
Steve Royle
Client Solutions Director
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