Columbus, Oh. Why is it that pharma apps don’t get the same downloads and usage as apps from other industries? A recent study by Research2Guidance (R2G) analyzed more than 725 apps from 11 pharma companies and found “the top pharma companies have 65 apps in the Apple and Google Play app stores on average, compared to 1 to 2 apps from the average health app publisher. However, even the pharma companies with the most downloaded apps have only accrued 6.6 million downloads since 2008 and can boast less than 1 million active users.”
Niche audiences and local markets. The report offers some possible explanations, such as many of the apps are for highly targeted audiences like healthcare professionals, or people with specific disease states. In addition, pharma apps tend to target local markets, in three or fewer countries, which makes them “unlikely to compete on download numbers with fitness, health, or diet tracking apps that appeal to a large segment of the market”. (mobihealthnews)
Who’s doing it right? Given that our metrics may look different than other healthcare apps, let’s look at who’s succeeding within their portfolio.
Sanofi-Aventis, US – GoMeals
Still appearing on the Apple Downloads Chart, GoMeals started as a food-reference library for diabetics to look up calories, fat, protein and carbs among thousands of common items. It has evolved to include features for patients to record blood glucose results, track activities and calories burned, and a restaurant locator for specific dietary needs.
Johnson & Johnson’s (Janssen), US – Care4Today
Another app that continues to be recognized, Care4Today is a mobile health manager that goes beyond simple medication alerts. It pulls in information from medical databases about medications, can tie in with family members, and has a charitable rewards system for adherence. New developments include Care4Today programs specifically for Mental Health, Heart Health, and Orthopaedic Care.
Eli Lilly, Denmark – ED Web App
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a challenging topic for patients to discuss with their physicians. To support these conversations, the ED web app provides non-branded information for the healthcare professional prior to the patient consultation. Following the consultation, relevant information can be sent to the patient based on the discussion facilitating informed choices about treatment options and building trust. [eyeforpharma]
Boehringer Ingelheim, Germany – Respimat Inhalation Demonstrator
Designed for HCPs, the app provides medical information on the next generation device and facilitates physicians training patients on how to use Respimat. What makes the Respimat Demonstrator stand-out compared to other comparable apps: it enables inhaler interaction – a key issue, provides hands-on experience with an intuitive interface and it is available at no additional cost. [eyeforpharma]
In short: We look to these frontrunners as benchmarks of what resonates with patients and HCPs, but also realize that it’s not always a numbers game when it comes to pharma apps. As with any app development, the ones that gain traction start with the end user and work backward to develop user experience and functionality that is worth coming back to.