Whether at home or on the road, where do you go for information? The internet, of course! According to a recent Ipsos Reid study, more adults are using smartphones and tablets 1 like a desktop PC to browse the web and engage in social media, in addition to using interactive applications.2

What does this mean for pharma? The answer is three-fold:

1. Consider your Audience
There has been rapid growth in mobile usage among adults and it would appear that more young adults are using their smartphones to access health information online based on their search terms. A recent study found that three of the top five symptoms searched using Yahoo Mobile this year were early pregnancy, herpes and HIV while the most popular symptom searches on desktop PCs included gastroenteritis, heart attacks, gout and shingles.3 Knowing your target audience when developing a communications and marketing strategy is essential to success. A mobile application for osteoarthritis management will likely not have the same impact as a pregnancy application given the demographic for these health conditions.

2. Create for Enhanced Portability
The tablet is a tool of great potential for healthcare professionals and patients. For Research Coordinators a tablet can provide handheld access to all clinical trial resources, the internet, and their email and calendar. This enables them to be more efficient and have consistent access to current trial materials. For patients and health consumers, applications for monitoring health conditions have become extremely popular,3 as enhanced patient care comes not only from effective treatment but close monitoring and management. The ease of having information accessible in your pocket, purse, or briefcase is very appealing for an individual striving to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

3. Cater to the Online Health Community
According to a recent Google study, adults utilize the internet over any other resource for answers related to health questions and concerns. Surprising? The internet outdid the family physician for such information by nearly 10%!4 This, paired with the fact that more and more individuals are using their tablets and smartphones for web browsing, means that companies should be thinking mobile when building their communications strategy. Not only is it essential for websites to be functional on mobile devices, it is optimal to have mobile-specific websites that are meant for smaller, touch screens.

Mobile devices are fast becoming a key medium for internet access and the inclusion of a mobile strategy should become standard for any communications platform.

Daniella McCrorie

1. http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=5596
2. Ipsos Reid Mobil-ology study of the mobile market in Canada, January 2012
3. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/technology/as-smartphones-become-health-aids-ads-may-follow.html
4. Google & OTX, Health Consumer Study, December 2009 http://www.gstatic.com/ads/research/en/2009_HealthConsumerStudy.pdf