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How the iPad Helped Modernize Pharma Sales

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It only took months after the launch of the iPad to get pharma interested in its use. The first iPad launched in April 2010; by October 2010 several Intouch Solutions clients already had our iPad apps in the field. Today, while many companies seek to find the right mix of personal and non-personal promotion, it is still the rare company in the industry who is not using iPads. Why is this? What made the adoption happen so quickly? What’s been the argument behind it – and what, perhaps, are companies still missing?

The Allure of iPad
To begin with, why was there such an appeal to adopt the iPad? David Windhausen, an Executive Vice President at Intouch, explains, “Why did pharma gravitate to iPads so quickly? It’s because physicians did. They saw that it was a way to embrace the things they needed to do their jobs in ways that are fast and intuitive. It’s not so much the device, the name, the model – it’s about how humans interact with it. The iPad interface lets HCPs quickly gain access to information in a way that previously was difficult.”

Meridith Goulet, Director of Client Services, agrees. “The form factor is so great for physicians. iPads are portable, content-rich and connected. They make so much sense for a provider – and for sales reps, for the same reasons.”

Sales reps need to engage healthcare professionals – they must do it on the move, they must keep their customer at ease, and they must work rapidly to communicate complex information. Tablets are perhaps the perfect device for this.

The Tipping Point
The iPad rapidly reached a tipping point and, today, is less a status symbol and more a badge of belonging. One study showed that 94% of Fortune 500 companies were using or testing iPads. But pharma is not an industry known for rapid acceptance of novel ways of doing business. There’s an argument to be made that its quick leap to iPad was a positive sign – a demonstration of a new nimbleness and willingness to keep pace with the evolution of communication technology.

The use of iPads has affected our business in a variety of ways. It has enabled a great deal more data to be gathered and analyzed – every tap made, every second an image displayed, each path used to explain information to an HCP can now all be tracked and considered. It has almost completely eliminated printing costs and minimized carbon footprints. Quantifications of the phenomenon are difficult simply because it keeps growing, but some are available: it’s tactile engagement quadrupled physicians’ behavior change, and caused 54% to say that rep visits with tablets were more valuable.

Intouch Solutions’ pharmaceutical clients using iPad’s have seen the results. Sales reps who offer the highly interactive experience through their iPad continually increase their call times and enhance physician call satisfaction.

Much, Much More Than a Shiny Object
Intouch CEO Faruk Capan pointed out in a Med Ad News article that the important thing about iPad is that it’s not simply “a new way to deliver an old sales aid. It’s an exciting vehicle to bring data to life in new and different ways. It provides a unique experience in a rep-to-physician setting and can enhance physician-to-patient information delivery, too.”

As handheld devices like tablets become ubiquitous, opportunities increase. Manufacturers, marketers, payers, regulators – all types of healthcare constituents can communicate with professionals and consumers, who can – this is perhaps the most important piece – communicate back, and with each other.

Capan gives an example: “What we look at now is, how can we build an app, an environment, and content, that will pull through? Our Allora Doc platform gives reps a way to provide HCPs with information outside the sales call. They can push information that was requested, and then the HCP can view a whole channel to download more. They can share it with their patients and, with their permission, we can see the data on that content being used.”

“We probably build more apps than anybody,” Capan says. “But it’s not about building apps – it’s about making an entire multichannel program do more and work harder for the reps and our clients. It isn’t just about creating the coolest app, and it can’t be just about one-way messaging. We think about the physician, the patient, the payer … the intersection of ALL the components of healthcare. And we design experiences and provide tools that are really needed and will really be used.”

This is the crux of the matter: iPads offer opportunities that were previously physically impossible and we believe that this ability is changing the whole game of healthcare for physicians, patients, and pharma companies.

We’ll discuss more about these opportunities in our series ahead.



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