Just a quick search on my iPhone App Store for ‘apps for doctors’ brings up 2,197 results. Even if I was a doctor, wanting to get into digital, I really wouldn’t know where to start.
Luckily, several people have done the work for the doctors by summarising the best Apps for HCPs. One of the first things you learn, is that whilst there are a lot of general apps, the rate of development for more specialised roles is also just as astounding.
With downloads over 700,000 and an average of 3.5 star rating, MedCal is one of the most prolific reference apps for HCPs. It provides doctors with easy access to about 300 medical formulas, scores scales and classifications. We non-medical professionals have this opinion that doctor’s brains are like supercomputers and can hold an infinite amount of information. But I’m sure they struggle. Which is why an app with this large and relevant resource database comes in handy and is applicable to a large proportion of their daily practice.
Again, if you’re a busy doctor working in a clinic seeing perhaps 100 patients a day, it might be difficult to remember to eat your lunch, let alone learn about any new upcoming trials. Which is why the “ACS Trials” app is also pertinent to a doctor’s practice to convey important information in a concise and mobile way. Cardiologists can be quickly alerted through push notifications to a new trial and read on the go in-between patient appointments or procedures. Thus, maximising the use of their very limited time.
One more example that I have to mention is actually sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. Sanofi are one of the top names in the diabetes arena with their digital work, especially on Twitter talking to diabetes patients and providing them with valuable therapy information. So it’s no surprise their name comes up in the app store. Sanofi have also thought hard about the implications of Cardiologist’s limited time and invented an ‘AFib Educator’ app to support their customers (they have several products in this therapy area, for example, Multaq).
Perhaps my favourite app though, is one that challenges my assumptions about how technology can be integrated into certain professional settings. ‘EMS Tracker’ is an app for paramedics to record key events as they are transporting a patient to the hospital. Whilst I love the idea of an app that stores vital information such as dose of drug administered, symptoms at first point of contact, and then email it to the treating physician, avoiding any potential mishaps, the idea that a paramedic can be updating an app in an emergency setting does make me a little sceptical of how far we are willing to go in the digital takeover.
Why is this of interest to our clients in the pharmaceutical industry?
Well, quality over quantity should be highlighted here. There can be thousands of apps available, as we have seen, but if they don’t meet a need for the doctors, they won’t get used. It’s as simple as that.
It’s what you can easily learn from a benefit laddering exercise that we use in our market research interviews to uncover the most valuable product insights for our clients.
1. What is unique about the app? What features does it have that differentiate it from the hundred other apps available? Does it provide access to medical resources that other apps don’t? Does it give more accurate heart rate readings versus other monitoring apps? These are questions that pharma should be understanding before they commission the creation of their app.
2. What functional benefits does the app provide? Does it reduce the time a cardiologist spends scrolling through volumes and volumes of papers on Acute Coronary Syndrome? Or does it provide a cost saving, replacing more expensive diagnostic tools? Does it decrease the amount of resource needed to perform a certain procedure?
3. Last but most definitely not least, what emotional benefits does the app represent? Does it give the doctor that sense of satisfaction when he has accurately diagnosed a patient and the patients themselves are grateful for the relief?
Therefore, the need to conduct market research into what the unmet needs are and how a product might best meet those needs is essential for pharma looking to develop an app to support HCPs. You might also be reading this and thinking – that’s exactly the strategy we use offline!!
And you’d be right of course. Just because it’s digital doesn’t mean we should abandon the basics of marketing. Although, I suppose if we ever do forget the basics of marketing, I’m sure there will be an app available to download…
Thanks for reading!
Written by Sofia Fionda; Research Executive