Pharma's Guide To Being 'Smart' About The Apple Watch

While the Apple Watch still rolls out to the initial pre-order customers, the pharma industry is making changes. Android has rolled out major updates to Android Wear to compete with the Apple Watch and app developers are lining up to add to the over 3,500 existing Apple Watch enabled apps. But what about you? What is your plan to understand how this new screen will impact your efforts?

There are four main ways that brands need to be smart about Apple Watch, Android Wear devices, and smartwatches in general. Understanding these key areas of functionality will not only help you understand these devices, but will help you stay ahead of how they will be integrated into your customers’ lives. 

1. Notifications

2. Glances

3. Passbook

4. Watch Apps

Notifications are the first thing an Apple Watch user will address. If someone has never used a smartwatch before, it may take a day or two to get the fire hose of information alerts to an acceptable level, as any app that delivers notifications can have those mirrored on the Apple Watch out of the box. So, if the user’s app is iOS 8 compliant, and has notifications enabled, it will show up on the Apple Watch natively, as with the digital starter kit app shown here. 



Brands need to think about what information they are delivering via notification and how the context may change as a user views a notification on their smartwatch. These notifications can significantly cut down on the time spent pulling a phone out of a pocket or purse each day, so you need to determine if the notification is information-based or requires action on the watch or phone.

Glances are the more in-depth view of information fed from the phone to the watch. This can be a view of news feeds like Instagram and Twitter below, or can be a stream of recent articles, data, or even a controller of specific functions for your app on the phone. 

Brands should ask themselves how they can deliver timely, contextual information or functionality that users can use to interact with apps while still on their phone. Should users be able to log a pill, or should a doctor be able to see the latest approved news on the condition that you treat? 

Passbook passes show up on the Apple Watch as soon as they are added to Passbook on your phone. Using passbook to access loyalty cards and store cards is relatively easy to do. You can also access and scan train and movie tickets, even boarding passes on your watch. Brands can deliver coupons for in-store purchases or even copay cards for new patients to use as shown below.

Need to remind pass holders about the value of the pass as they near a pharmacy or a local medical facility? You can. Determining how the user will use a Passbook object can inform your app, notifications cadence, even your existing RM program. 

Finally, we come to Smartwatch Apps themselves. While there are no third party stand-alone apps yet for the Apple Watch, Android wear does allow for some stand-alone experiences, and Apple is likely to in the future. In the meantime, you can still create a smartwatch-focused experience of your app. Should users be able to flip through inspiring stories, read instructions for administering your drug, dictate notes or a message to their doctor? There are many answers, which should be guided by the context that you identify as most relevant for the user on this device. 

Right now the smartwatch market is in its early stages. Early movers like Pebble and Fitbit pushed the wearable space and the larger players have now begun to define the wrist-based engagement. Android wear established the model for how a phone connected smart device on the wrist should act, and Apple has now refined user expectations for what to expect from that experience. As more of these devices reach your customers’ arms you will need to have the answers to these questions and more. Brands will also need to have defined plans in order to be smart about watches and this powerful new screen.

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