Increasingly, pharmaceutical companies are deploying patient-facing, custom mobile apps to help them connect with both consumers and doctor networks, but with over 300,000 mHealth apps on the global market, it takes strategy to stand out from the crowd. What should pharmaceutical companies strive for when developing their apps, and what advice can they incorporate from seasoned professionals?
Scott Connor, VP of Marketing at Acurian, says developing an app with a clear purpose is often the best way to start. “It sounds simple, but too many apps try to do too many things in an effort to increase uptake and stickiness. But what this does is make the app undifferentiated, confusing, and ultimately extinct.”
Acurian recently launched COLO, an app to help those suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis track their symptoms. COLO features a clean UI/UX design and draws from proven engagement techniques such as a high level of personalization and gamification/rewards for regular use, but remains true to its original purpose without adding a lot of extra bells and whistles.
“A successful patient-centered app will stay true to the philosophy that less is more,” Connor says.
David Goldsmith, Chief Strategy Officer at WEGO Health, believes that the most important factor to consider when developing pharmaceutical apps is relevance. “Pharma companies must consider what patients need, not just the actions they want patients to take, so that patients remain engaged throughout the program,” he says. “Identifying technology that can address specific patient challenges and fits with their lifestyle is absolutely essential. Companies that embrace design thinking, and that work with patients as co-creators at each stage in the design process stand a much better chance of bringing products to market that will delight patients, gain meaningful traction, and get used over time.”
Tim Davis, VP of Digital Patient at ERT Clinical, emphasizes the importance of relying on a data-driven approach to app investment. “Pharma companies must consider what patients need, not just the actions they want patients to take, so that patients remain engaged throughout the program,” he says. “Identifying technology that can address specific patient challenges and fits with their lifestyle is absolutely essential. Pharma is increasingly moving toward a minimum viable product — MVP — approach, whereby initial development focuses only on the program’s core requirements. This approach expedites the route to market launch, saves time and money, and critically, allows pharma companies to gain insights to program usage that can drive refinements in additional functionalities and subsequent version releases.”
Jennifer Sigaud, Managing Director at Atlantis Healthcare, believes that content is the one factor that differentiates one app from the other. “On the surface an app can look shiny and exciting and might initially incite engagement but if the content isn’t relevant and doesn’t resonate with the individual, the user will not continue to engage over time,” she says. “Our experience tells us that content is king.”
What are the important factors you value when it comes to the apps you use? Do you have an idea for an app that can add value to your brand and help you to connect with the customers you want to reach? In our EndPoint Modeling workshops, we help you to prioritize the features and functionality of your app, in addition to its look and feel, and we guarantee that your app will be delivered 100% to spec and on-budget. We’d love to answer any questions you might have.