Bespoke medical apps

What can bespoke medical apps do for you?

It seems that every business publication, from Forbes to Entrepreneur to trade publications, says “You need an app.” But what does this really mean, in practice? You can reach out to patients with personal medical apps, or to healthcare providers with apps that support education and practice. In fact, medical device companies are leading the way among industries, in terms of rolling out apps.

Focus on the internal

Increasingly, though, companies across business sectors are creating their own mobile apps not for external, but for internal use, to enhance their sales teams’ efforts. You might think there’s little sense in spending time and money developing an app that almost no one will ever see — but there’s evidence that the return on investment is high. Data show that the top sales teams in the field are ‘significantly more likely to use mobile sales apps than their peers’:

  • About 60% of high performers are using mobile apps to support their sales forces
  • Just 33% of low performers are using mobile apps.

Now, we don’t want to suggest it’s a strictly causal relationship — it’s probably ‘A little from column A, a little from column B’, but it seems medical device and pharmaceutical companies may be able to improve sales performance by supporting their teams with technology. Just as you invest in sales training and education about your devices or drugs and the market, you should be equipping sales teams to achieve in today’s marketplace.

Determine and align priorities

Knowing you want an internal mobile app to support sales is the first step. There are numerous forms that app can take, of course. But there are three elements that should underpin the development of any good sales-focused app.

  1. Brand unification. Although sales and marketing goals may seem to be on the same page, they may in practice diverge quite significantly, particularly in large, international companies. Joining up the dots is made all the more challenging by the rapid pace of innovation and new publications around your devices or drugs — it can be hard for sales teams to keep up. If you want to better align sales and marketing goals, you could create an app that easily lets the marketing team communicate current, on-message information to sales, which unites the company’s ‘brand’ with the sales teams’ face-to-face relationships, and ensures that healthcare providers and facilities will be aware of the latest developments for your products when making purchasing decisions.
  2. Offline access. The beauty of mobile apps is that they can be used online or offline. With an app, sales reps needn’t risk going to a hospital and finding a dearth of Wi-Fi that keeps them from either downloading information or that makes playing a video a buffering nightmare. On the other hand, the ever-reliable PowerPoint presentation doesn’t necessarily come with all the capabilities your reps might desire. It also might not look as slick as a well-designed app — that’s not to say that aesthetics are everything, but they are important. Mobile apps can be updated while online, and ready to go with the most up-to-date information when on location, regardless of internet access. This gives your reps confidence that they’ll be well-prepared, and that the client will enjoy a seamless experience that doesn’t feel like a belaboured pitch.
  3. Centralised data source. In addition, the app needs to make it easy to update resources and propogate to all users. Conventionally, locally stored — that is, on the hard disk of the sales rep — resources are used, with the danger of presenting out-dated information to clients and missing out on newly available data. In addition, hard drives fail, laptops break, and smaller devices, such as phones or tablets, can be stolen. These nightmares could mean losing all that personalised data. By keeping reps informed and up-to-date with an easy-to-use centralised library, a mobile app averts these issues before they arise.
  4. Performance tracking. What better way to understand the results of smooth presentations with up-to-date information than to track them? You can build into a mobile app the ability to track which features are most often used, which features audiences (e.g. physicians, administrators, purchasing managers) respond to and, in turn, which features get results. Even an internal app can let you access valuable market data from the front lines, without having to make a separate, specific effort. In a market space increasingly driven by data analytics, an app that supports sales provides a value-added proposition.
  5. Ease of use. Although it may seem that ease of use should go without saying, many mobile apps are overly complicated, which only discourages users from making the most of the tools and information on offer. And if reps aren’t using the app, all that potential goes to waste. A mobile app to support sales teams should deliver a high level of functionality, while offering an elegant user experience.

Case example: Publication Profiler app is always embracing new technologies and looking for ways to innovate communications for medical device and pharmaceutical companies — turning technology into opportunity. Recently, we were approached by a large international biosurgical device-maker to solve a problem you might relate to: a seemingly continuous stream of new research being generated and published about their products, making it hard for their sales teams to keep track of all the different papers.

To make things faster and easier for their sales and marketing staff, we proposed developing a ‘publication profiler’ app to centrally collect relevant publications for quick browsing, whenever and wherever they need it. The result is an app that lists each paper (over 200 as of this writing), available for quick browsing on iPhone or iPad whenever and wherever reps need them. Because the app was developed using platform-independent HTML technology, it could also be installed on Android and WinPhone. Links to publications of interest can even be shared with clients at the touch of a button.

Identifying the relevant papers is easy, users can filter by:

  • product
  • surgical speciality
  • level of evidence
  • study features
  • relevancy rating
  • author name
  • keywords
  • country
  • benefit (e.g. reduction of blood-loss).

Each publication summary includes the abstract, methods and limitations, benefits specific to the product discussed, and the key marketing message — thus unifying marketing and sales efforts. Key metrics are also listed, including number of patients, the evidence level, journal impact factor, number of citations, relevancy ranking and country.

Check out the Publication Profile demonstration video:

Turn technology into opportunity

Whether you want to better support your sales teams or improve reach with patients and clinicians, can provide one full-service solution by combining our experts in mobile technology and those in medical writing. The most persuasive presentations engage your audience, have proper design and simplify the process. Make your audience curious about your message by developing an app that delivers both high-quality, original information and full-functionality, all at the tap of a screen.

About Wesley Portegies

Wesley has over 10 years' experience as a marketing manager in the medical industry. He has successfully launched several products in the medical device market and has a great passion for sales and marketing.
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