Pharma and mHealth: A partnership that should grow

Today's mHealth apps boast wide-ranging benefits for the pharmaceutical industry, from the ability to help discover patients' habits regarding prescription intake to potential cost savings, according to consultant Ajit Shirodkar.

Shirodkar, in a blog published to LinkedIn, says that pharma companies need to understand that "mobile applications are an innovation area that matters, and there are a host of reasons why it would be beneficial for them to explore the opportunities that apps offer to innovate their business."

One reason apps are invaluable is the ability to reach out to every fifth citizen worldwide this year, he notes, asserting that a smartphone's display will become the third screen (after the PC and TV) for communicating with customers and patients. Such real-time connectivity with patients will boost drug use compliance, which will lead to improved outcomes, Shirodkar says. Apps also will allow pharmas to differentiate products from competitors and help in the discovery of how patients are using prescription medication.

"The market has always been cash-rich, as it needs to be given the investment required to continue the research and development behind the medical advances which have made such a difference to humanity," he says. "[N]onetheless, increasing pressure from regulators, thin pipelines and the patent cliff which has seen the rise of generics is a threat to continued prosperity."

Despite such potential gains, the pharma industry has lagged in mHealth app development and adoption. Legal and liability worries, as well as the need to follow strict regulatory compliance, have many pharmas at the gate when it comes to app innovation. That's despite evidence apps can help patients with medication adherence and improve clinical trial efforts. An Avella Specialty Pharmacy study earlier this year reported that apps focused on helping HIV patients follow medication intake requirements significantly boosted adherence.

For more information:
- read the blog post