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I finally broke down and bought the new iPhone 3G. I didn't need it, since I've been using a BlackBerry for years, but I wanted to investigate what the new technology could bring to healthcare marketing and marketing research. Articles in healthcare trade publications are starting to appear on the topic of mobile marketing, agencies have begun to optimize healthcare companies' websites for mobile applications, and I wanted to see the potential of this medium for myself. I have, and it is awesome. 

One area in which we have a common concern with physicians is that of access. We need to get access to them to communicate our messages, and they need to get access to information about diseases, treatments, drugs, etc., on a timely basis when treating patients. The Cluetrain Manifesto, a seminal book when it was published in 1999, points out that “markets are conversations,” and devices such as the iPhone can facilitate such access and marketplace interactions tremendously. In order to have this happen, however, we need to make far better use of this technology than we have made of any electronic media to date. In other words, shrinking advertisements for our healthcare products to optimize them for the iPhone won't have any more impact than it did repurposing the visual aids in the hands of our sales reps into e-details. 

We need to help our colleagues make optimal use of the mobile medium currently in physicians' hands.  We need to think about this new channel opening up to physicians, and to decide how to use it correctly to conduct healthcare marketing research with efficiency and timeliness previously impossible to obtain.

Richard Vanderveer is group CEO of GfK US Healthcare Companies
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