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Future of iPad #mDetailer® in Mumbai for Pharma

Prior the iPad, almost every pharma account manager was using paper leave-behinds for detailing doctors. In four short years, the iPad has changed everything. It is now the dominant tool for detailing. In fact, the term, #mDetailer® , is now synonymous with account manager use of the iPad.

Considering the conservative nature of pharma information technology, the pace of adoption has been nothing short of astounding.

If only it was as easy as buying iPads — #mDetailer® required pharmaceutical companies to make significant investments in infrastructure. To support the delivery of content, the firms invested in closed loop marketing platforms. Large deployments of iPads also required deployment of Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms such as Mobile Iron and Airwatch. Given the rigorous regulatory nature of technology within pharmaceutical companies, setting up the pre-requisites for #mDetailer® involved a considerable leap of faith.

To leverage this technology, pharma marketing teams also needed content that lived up to the experience of the iPads. Their agencies were forced to quickly ramp up from producing printed leave-behinds to creating rich and interactive experiences. Agencies had to rapidly grow their digital teams to meet the demand, hiring large numbers of software developers.

When the iPad first arrived, these detailing experiences were often crafted as one-off native iOS applications at considerable cost. Building these early applications required skills that exceeded the in-house capabilities of even the largest agencies. For many agencies, “digital” practices had been limited to HTML development, Mobile app development and Adobe Flash. The latter was not a viable option on the iPad platform.

As the #mDetailer® space matured, HTML5 became the de facto standard for producing these detailers. HTML5 lowered production costs somewhat and better leveraged the existing digital agency skill set, but it also delivered less “sizzle” for the detailing process. A study identified the obvious — “Physicians expect to be wowed”. Creating a good #mDetailer® experience required a level of “wow” factor to engage doctors. While the HTML5 approach initially reduced the cost to create an #mDetailer® , delivering an elevated experience meant additional effort above and beyond a native experience. Agencies and their clients quickly discovered that it required increasingly larger investments to produce engaging content in HTML5.

With every account manager carrying an iPad, the competition for content quality elevated the game. The past couple of years have been something of an “arms race” in the #mDetailer® space. Investment in #mDetailer® was happening faster than results could be measured. It was just a matter of time before the metrics caught up and a correction was on deck.

We are seeing evidence that the high cost of this content is now affecting the level of investment in detailers on the iPad. There has been anecdotal evidence of the trend, but agencies are now beginning to see the impact. While cost is a consideration, it is by far not the only factor behind this disruption.

  1. The iPad is no longer new
  2. When #mDetailer® caught fire, doctors were excited to see iPad devices show up at their offices. It had a new-ness and immediate appeal. The doctors were willing to be detailed just to see the device. When the “retina” iPad 3 arrived, doctors were happy to just see one.

    Today, upwards of 75% of doctors now own iPads — you will find more or less depending upon the particular survey. When you consider that almost every account manager is now detailing with an iPad, the novelty of the technology has become irrelevant. Doctors have become desensitized to the experience of being detailed via an iPad.

  3. Cautionary Tale of iOS7
  4. When iOS7 was released, many of the original native #mDetailer® applications for the iPad no longer functioned properly. Some organizations were faced with software development applications that worked under iOS6 or iOS7, but not both. While most organizations bit the bullet, supporting iOS7 sometimes required considerable investment and in some cases unplanned reinvestment in content.

    Having been through the iOS7 upgrade, organizations are now much more sensitive to the native iOS software development lifecycle and the hidden costs associated with the Apple’s annual updates. Unfortunately, an HTML5-based strategy is not a silver bullet. In iOS7, Apple continues to condemn HTML5 content to a second-class experience with performance that can be 3x slower than the standalone Safari browser.

  5. Microsoft Office is now an option
  6. Many detailers begin life as a PowerPoint presentations that are converted to HTML5 for use on an iPad. The arrival of PowerPoint allows this content to be used as-is with no conversion required. When budget is a consideration, Microsoft has provided a compelling option.

    Some agencies and pharma organizations experimented with Keynote, but Apple’s tool required reformatting and re-factoring content. With real PowerPoint available, the quick and dirty detailer is now a simpler and more viable alternative. Despite the absence of closed loop marketing metrics/analytics, some cost-conscious organizations are already jumping at the opportunity to leverage PowerPoint presentations as-is.

What’s Next?

It is expected that iPad #mDetailer® will continue to play role in the interactions that account managers have with doctors. That said, emerging realities around the efficacy of the iPad and the high cost of content have cooled the #mDetailer® spending spree. While #mDetailer® is here to stay, we can expect changes in distribution of investment that include the iPad as merely one component of an #mDetailer® strategy.

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Future of iPad #mDetailer® in Mumbai for Pharma

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