When it comes to the pharmaceutical industry’s digital ambitions, it’s becoming less and less about producing stand-alone apps and more about developing digital tools that have therapeutic potential. This was the message Dr. Joseph Kvedar had for those attending the recently concluded 2015 HIMSS Connected Health Conference.
According to Kvedar, executives at pharmaceutical companies generally have viewed digital technologies from a marketing perspective. But, pharma’s marketing-focused approach toward digital health is beginning to change. One major factor contributing to pharma’s evolving relationship with digital is an ongoing effort to figure out how to deliver products and services that go “beyond the pill,” and improve well-being while boosting outcomes.
According to MobiHealth News, Kvedar noted, that “we’re seeing more instances where [pharmaceutical executives] are adding a wearable component as part of the package or an app that is an integral part of the therapeutic.” He urged more drug firms to “start thinking quite differently about the space, and not everything that makes you better is a pill.”
Of course, this is easier said than done. Pharmaceutical companies are currently working to address a number of issues when it comes to their digital health offerings, including:
But, could pharma be facing another challenge to its digital ambitions that’s literally hiding in plain sight? It all comes back to the level of mistrust that many physicians have for the pharmaceutical industry. And, it turns out that skepticism about pharma’s intentions extends to the digital arena as well.
According to the recently published “Digital Doctor Report 2015” produced by Ipsos, “doctors have a greater level of distrust of pharma compared to technology companies.” Specifically, 40% of European physicians surveyed say they don’t trust applications developed by pharma. In contrast, only a quarter of physicians express the same sentiments toward technology firms.
In its report, Ipsos does not offer specific recommendations for how pharma can overcome the physician trust gap in digital health. So, I’m offering a few suggestions for how pharma can improve physicians’ perceptions of its digital offerings.
By leveraging its inherent financial, knowledge and regulatory strengths, pharma has the potential to not only earn physicians’ trust, but play a leadership role in the fast-evolving global digital health landscape.