Columbus, Ohio—The idea of leveraging beacon technology for pharma clients has been striking a chord with many of our brand teams. Beacons are small wireless sensors that come in many forms from different manufacturers. Some are about the size and shape of a computer mouse and can be adhered to any surface. Others are smaller and thinner, like puffy stickers. The sensors are relatively inexpensive and can be placed in various locations to broadcast tiny radio signals. These radio signals are received and interpreted by your smartphone. By establishing micro-location, it gives your smart phone contextual awareness, thus the ability to deliver targeted, relevant content.

Beacons are being used in other industries, such as retail to deliver in-store coupons, or at sports events to provide content relative to where the person is in the stadium.

So, it’s a great new technology. What does it mean for pharma? The important thing to consider with beacons is the micro-location factor. We don’t just know that the HCP is at the hospital; we know that she’s at her desk. We don’t just know that the nurse is at the office; we know that she’s just picked up your brand’s starter kit in the sample closet. This gives us a valuable marketing strategy: being in the right place at the right time.

Here are just some of the applications for beacons we’re working on:

  • HCP updates – triggering disease state information or new brand developments or updates when the HCP is in a certain location (like at their desk)
  • Supporting the first script – when an HCP interacts directly with your brand (like in the sample closet), they are prompted with brand-specific information that they can share with their patient.
  • Optimizing wait time – presenting patients with information as they wait for their appointment or at the pharmacy
  • Patient pharmacy prompts – when a script is filled, the patient receives information and alerts specific to that drug
  • Medication reminders & Proximity alerts – patients can place a beacon on their prescription to be reminded to take medication or to be alerted if they are too far away from their medication.
  • Emergency contact/procedures – a smart fob attached to a diaper bag or backpack is programmed with emergency contact and procedures when children are away from their parents (see Sketch 1: “Pack Tag” )
  • Prescription information – the cap uses NFC and beacon to send a signal to a nearby phone or tablet with quick access to information about the prescription, interface with multimedia, FAQs, even click-to-talk customer service (see Sketch 2: “Tap Cap”)


Our take: Delivering content to healthcare professionals and patients when they are ready to receive it, can not only increase our reach, but deliver real value to them, like improving relevance and remembering. 

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 years. She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, GSW. There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business. Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes. A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, Leigh also was recognized as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.