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Mobile Apps: Reaching Healthcare Audiences on the Devices They Use Most

Doctor Mobile AppWhat kind of computer do physicians use most? You may be surprised to learn it’s not a computer at all. According to several surveys, the overwhelming majority of healthcare professionals prefer a mobile device.

A recent study by technology firm CDW revealed that about two out of three physicians own a tablet, and uses it an average of 2.4 hours per day.

With their portability, ease of use, and computing power, it’s no surprise that mobile devices have taken off in the healthcare field. According to this same study, 91 percent of healthcare professionals say tablets help them access information on the go, and the average user gains 1.2 hours of productivity by using a mobile device.

What could this user do with an extra 1.2 hours? Interact with your company or product. The mobile app is one of the best new marketing vehicles around, and smart healthcare IT marketers should make it a priority.

The FDA is putting the finishing touches on its final guidelines for mobile medical apps. These rules generally will not affect marketing applications, whose purpose is primarily to communicate and sell to an audience.

A mobile app is likely to find a larger audience among healthcare types, simply because mobile devices are so popular with this audience. Sure, you’ll still want to employ your regular arsenal of marketing vehicles: brochures, videos and product demos, websites, email, and social media. But a mobile app can incorporate any and all of these elements in one, easily accessible source.

Your app can be informational, communicating your message in text, images, video, and sound. It can be interactive. It can be social. And because you can update it regularly, it can be dynamic. With this much potential, your mobile app could be the magic bullet in your healthcare IT marketing strategy.

POCKET.MD publishes an extensive directory of mobile apps created by pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies. A quick browse shows that Abbott, Bayer, Medtronic, Siemens, and other big players are well-entrenched in the mobile device space. But a deeper look reveals a large number of smaller, niche healthcare IT providers.

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What do these apps do? Many of them help users access comprehensive information about the company’s products or services. They can easily support audio, video, and interactive tools, as well as link to third-party information sources like journal articles or clinical trial data.

Other apps provide reimbursement information, Continuing Medical Education (CME) modules, data about ongoing clinical trials, or helpful tools and calculators. Some are designed in conjunction with an event, such as a trade show or clinical conference. Many are available in multiple languages. There are even games, such as GoalPost Avenue, developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Successful apps let users interact with your company, product, or service. Ideally, the user should be able to plug in their own data and filter out irrelevant information, or customize the experience to see how your product will benefit them directly.

But no matter what, the app must have value for the user, helping them to save time or accomplish a task. It should never be just a digital pamphlet.

By offering healthcare providers timely and relevant information, a value-added service, or just an opportunity to have a little fun, a mobile app becomes an extremely hard-working marketing tool. In fact, a well-designed mobile app could easily garner more “face time” than your sales or marketing reps. (And it doesn’t have to buy them lunch afterward.)

Have you considered adding a mobile app to your healthcare IT marketing mix? Or are you aware of other companies who’ve had success using mobile marketing of any kind to reach a physician audience? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

czphoto1Caroline Zelonka is a guest blogger for Kitterman Marketing Group. She is the former senior writer for White Space Healthcare Marketing and Publicis Dialog Healthcare Marketing Practice and has worked with Abbott, Baxter, Edifecs, LifeScan, Microsoft HealthVault, Ventus Medical, El Camino Hospital, Eisenhower Medical Center, and Swedish Medical Center.