Pharma manufacturers expressed a clear interest in launching new mobile initiatives in the coming months – if they haven’t launched them already – but nearly three-quarters of the companies surveyed said mobile budgets represent 5% or less of their total ad spending, a new survey found.

Of the primary obstacles to launching mobile – whether it’s app creation, mobilizing existing websites or implementing text messaging services – a lack of knowledge about ROI was the number one concern, with 52.9% of respondents citing ROI uncertainty as a key impediment. Lack of audience reach was the second largest concern (29.4%), and lack of budget allocated for mobile programs was third (23.5%).

Despite limited budgets and a lack of expertise – just 5.9% of the companies surveyed called themselves “experts” in mobile – 41% said they currently use the mobile channel to communicate with clients, customers or employees. Fifty-nine percent said they do not use mobile currently, and 31.3% said they plan to launch a “first mobile project” in the next six months to one year.

Bob Gear, partner and VP of client services at Trinsic Interactive, a digital agency behind the “Healthcare Manufacturer 2011 Mobile Trends” survey, said he was “probably most surprised” about the fact that all of the companies surveyed – 100% – said healthcare professionals are or will be the target audience for mobile initiatives. “You typically think about consumers when you think about mobile,” said Gear.

The survey, conducted jointly by Trinsic Interactive and Vital mHealth, a mobile-focused digital shop, drew on responses from 40 manufacturers spanning pharma, biotech and medical device manufacturers. Gear said 10 of the top 15 pharma companies participated in the survey.

Over 75% of respondents currently using mobile, or expecting to use it in the future, said they use apps as a marketing or educational tool, according to survey data. The complete report can be downloaded, for free, here.