Pharmaceutical companies fall behind on website optimization

Pharmaceutical companies are not keeping pace with the use of mobile devices, Internet and smartphones by healthcare professionals, according to a new report by Manhattan Research that reveals just about 33 percent have mobile optimized product websites.

The report, which assessed 169 healthcare professional (HCP) product sites run by more than 50 pharms, states the mobile gap is a "critical blind spot" for the industry given more than four in five physicians are using mobile devices for work and research efforts, as well as formulary investigation and clinical information.

"Mobile is a critical channel for reaching physicians and other healthcare professionals with digital information. Pharma marketers face numerous barriers to mobile-optimizing their digital properties, from cost to legal and regulatory concerns, but given the way professionals are using smartphones, it's really a must-have," Manhattan Research Digital Analyst Mehek Punatar said in an announcement on the report.

The report also analyzed nine service portals and 98 HP apps created by pharmas. The most mobile-optimized websites are in several specific medical areas including lung cancer, Type 1 diabetes and breast cancer. Standalone mobile websites are more common than responsive design sites, according to the report, developed by Digital Competitive Landscape, an intelligence database, report series and strategic service from Manhattan Research.

The website assessment aligns with 2013 research that revealed pharmas seeking to implement mHealth programs lack clear objectives and have not developed well-defined action plans. The research states pharma companies often base mobile development decisions exclusively on competitors' apps. Another major pitfall is that many "do not know where they're headed when they start developing a mobile strategy," according to the report. 

It also comes amidst increasing mobile device and app use by care providers, payers and patients. Smartphone use for health data jumped from 6 percent to 19 percent, between 2012 and 2013, according to a survey from Mavosky Health/Kelton. Pharmas may also be missing a looming opportunity to engage with medical prescription end users as the same report indicates 35 percent trust a disease website sponsored by a pharma.

The Manhattan Research report notes top pharmas active with mobile site optimization are Novo Nordisk, which has mobile optimized all its websites, and Genentech, which has optimized nine of 11 sites. Of the pharmas reviewed, nearly two thirds had just one mobile app for HCPs or none at all and the apps are heavily focused in oncology.

To learn more:
- read the report
- read the announcement

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