Pharma mHealth initiatives need clearer strategies, action plans

Pharmaceutical companies seeking to implement mHealth programs lack clear objectives and have not developed well-defined action plans, according to results announced in a report by Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based consulting firm Cutting Edge Information.

The study, "Pharmaceutical Mobile Health: Transforming Brand Marketing, Healthcare Communication and Patient Adherence," reveals that pharma companies often base their mobile development decisions exclusively on competitors' apps. In addition, another major pitfall is that many of these companies "do not know where they're headed when they start developing a mobile strategy," states the report. 

"Mobile initiatives should address a clear market need," said Adam Bianchi, chief operating officer at Cutting Edge Information, in a written statement. "As such, pharmaceutical and device companies must define their objectives before starting any mobile initiatives. When developing apps, teams should focus on the needs of their target audiences before their own. Of course, an effective app has to be compatible with each company's capabilities."

According to the report, companies must approach mobile strategy development as a "systematic process." A pharma executive from a Top 50 company is quoted in the report recommending that companies look internally before developing a mobile strategy. 

"First, companies need to understand why they want to go mobile," states the report. "Determining the rationale behind a mobile health strategy is a company's first responsibility when developing an mHealth initiative."

Another executive cited in the report recommended a "pragmatic approach" to mobile strategy that equips companies to develop realistic project launch timelines. 

In January, another report by Cutting Edge Information found that despite complicated regulatory hurdles, pharmaceutical companies continue to evolve their mHealth strategies in compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency's "ever-changing and obscure guidelines." The study, "Pharmaceutical Mobile Health: Transforming Brand Marketing, Healthcare Communication and Patient Adherence," concluded that many regulatory bodies, including the FDA and EMA, are only beginning to understand the potential benefits of mHealth apps.

While the EMA's ban on direct-to-consumer advertising has limited the marketing potential of mHealth, it has not prevented pharma companies from communicating unbranded disease awareness efforts, according to Cutting Edge Information. However, in the U.S., the FDA's "lack of clear mobile guidelines and inconsistent enforcement, have kept U.S. companies struggling with mHealth strategies," according to the study.

To learn more:
- read the announcement