Global Report: Mobile Conquest
Global Report: Mobile Conquest
Update once, deploy often
From an internal perspective, one of the advantages of the approach is the cost-effectiveness of pulling content from the website.
“If we maintain the website, it will automatically maintain the app,” Uydess says. “That also controls price, because we don't have to maintain two separate repositories of content. We just update it once and deploy it often.”
Content approved by medical, legal and regulatory teams is pushed to the two locations—site and app—simultaneously, so, “We've reduced workflow while also ensuring compliance…without creating an extra burden for medical/legal/regulatory reviewers or brand managers,” says Uydess, adding that the approach has reduced the global marketing team's time to market.
The company has also found that its pragmatic approach to site and app development is in step with authorities in the locales they serve. At this point, several countries have their own portal—NML.co.uk, NML.es, NML.it and NML.com (the US version of the portal).
This means that the US FDA or Spain's Ministry of Health, for example, set the rules for their version of website and app. “In fact, in Spain and Italy, we had compliments from their regulatory bodies on how we developed [NML] and routed it through their process,” reports Uydess. “Our process and attention to local law is something we found was welcomed by the local government.”
Speaking of which, NML.pro—the headquarters marketing version—complies with Danish rules. And Novo Nordisk defers to existing promotional standards for its mobile content review. “We don't get overwhelmed or confused because it's new technology that has little regulatory guidance or case law,” Uydess says. “At its core, we follow all the rules for print and other promotional material.”
It's all about the distribution
Off to a promising start, will Novo's mobile HCP app have legs? Apps need to get noticed, and Novo Nordisk is taking a strategic approach to distribution, leveraging social media and other avenues.
“Today's web is all about distribution channels,” says Uydess. “With NovoMedLink, we really embrace this idea.” Novo Nordisk can communicate marketing messages to HCPs through the NML website, opt-in email program, a mobile-friendly version of the site (see below), and iPhone/iPad app. NML.pro also allows docs to stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, an RSS feed, and by engaging in content and sharing it on any blog.
Other big unknowns, though, are operating systems and devices..Apple's clinical market share may cede ground to Google in some parts of the world. “It's a little tricky,” says Manhattan Research's Levy. “We don't know what's going to happen with Android and emerging markets…We're not talking about one platform for any market. It's not impossible, but it takes resources to do mobile well.”
Novo's answer: a wireless-friendly version of NML launched in July so that people with Androids, Blackberries and other types of smartphones can access all the content using a wireless browser. Future enhancements will include compatibility with Apple's Air Play and Air Print functions.
Is more air play on the way?
Erin Byrne, EVP and chief engagement officer for ghg, expects the trend of HCP mobile apps to grow “dramatically” over the next 12-18 months. All the better for physicians, with help from pharma, to enhance dialogue.
“Companies that provide [quick information to physicians during the day] in an easy way, that's not disruptive to the patient experience, will have the ability to build a relationship with the HCP,” says Byrne. Her agency helped launch Text4Baby, a mobile education program for pregnant women and new moms in the US which has reached 200,000 users and is extending to Russia in the fall.
She says ghg is also working to develop professional apps for the global market that enable delivery of patient education in various electronic formats. “The glow of that better service stays with the patient after the appointment,” notes Byrne, adding that “this kind of follow-up is increasingly important as we move to a model where doctors are compensated based on outcomes,” and clinicians are rewarded for helping patients stay the course with treatment.
If brand managers decide to dip into their global marketing budgets for a mobile app for prescribers, what it should entail is an open question, given that the landscape varies by country and by physician specialty.
The litmus test is comprised of two questions, advises Levy: What's a value-added service, not a distraction, and what fulfills a genuine need and doesn't merely duplicate something the clinician can get somewhere else?
Look for the next killer HCP app to come from Asia or Latin America, predicts Gloria Gibbons, of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide. “I'm seeing a lot of activity in [those two regions] that's innovative and being fed back into mature markets.”
Gibbons, who is president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, adds: “Global clients are using Brazil, Korea or India to pilot new ways of communicating via the digital channel and then taking that into a global roll-out.” Asia, with its booming mobile internet penetration, has been an ideal proving ground.
In one sense, the mobile HCP app accomplishes for pharma what it can't do outside the US through branded DTC advertising: enhance and extend, if not stimulate, patient-physician dialogue.
As mobile device ownership grows, Uydess foresees more support for the channel than for, say, social media, in which marketers are still testing waters and waiting for FDA guidance.
As of now, though: “Not many companies in those countries are going to the extent that we are in developing content and services online, whether it's a website or mobile,” Uydess observes.
He has a theory: the value of portals and apps which can be produced cost-effectively, with a likelihood of positive ROI, are “not truly understood by the industry as a whole.”