Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen the slow, incremental incursion of computers (and the web) into the daily lives & workflows of both patients and healthcare providers. And drug companies. And everyone else.
Computers (and the Internet) are now ubiquitous. Just try to imagine life, and work, without them.
Watching the evolution of processor speed, interface design, enterprise apps, web technology, wireless access, and ever-shrinking form factors has been fascinating, perhaps even painful at times. Then the iPad showed up.
Two and a half years ago, when the first-generation iPad showed up, I predicted it would be a game-changer for healthcare; but frankly, the rapid adoption rate by doctors, patients, and provider companies (including pharma) has taken even me by surprise. The uptake, even in regulated industries, has been phenomenal.
Which means we now need to step back and ask a very important question: Is the mobile computing device destined to be the new (inter)face of healthcare?
My answer is a resounding “Yes” for one simple reason: smartphones and tablets are rapidly becoming the new interface of life and business. Period. End of story.
Within 2 years, portable devices will take on the mantle of “first-screen” status – that is, more people will be accessing digital-everything through mobile devices rather than through desktops. And that trend is accelerating, not slowing down. Already, about 62% of U.S. physicians are using tablets (mostly iPads, currently).
Quibble with me if you wish (you do have every right to be incorrect, after all!), but let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that personalized mobile computing devices will be the interface of life, business, and (therefore) healthcare.
If that is so – and I’m now turning to address my friends in pharma/biotech/med device companies – who is redesigning your entire business infrastructure and customer experience to reflect this inevitability? Anyone?
The “face” of your company to patients and doctors has traditionally been a human face (sales reps, for instance) – but we know where the field sales model is heading. The digital noise of broadcast TV and websites and banner ads – these models are all based on non-mobile computing approaches. The new channel is in the pockets of our customers – all of our customers.
This transcends being merely a training, or sales, or marketing, or technology issue. This is much bigger. It is fundamentally an interface issue. The entire healthcare information and delivery cycle will become “mobilized.” For the smart life sciences companies, that means at least one sure-bet avenue for competitive advantage – get ahead of this trend. Even if you have to take a go-slow approach to social media, the mobile interface is not going to be optional or off-label. It’ll be first-line.
And don’t get hung up on Apple vs Android, etc., etc. Flavors and versions are secondary. The inexorable mobile trend is primary.
Person-to-person contact will never lose its importance in healthcare (or life, or business). But when you look at how patients and doctors and administrators and caregivers and news outlets and everyone else is interfacing with information and with each other, the writing is on the wall. Or, more accurately, on the tablet. And the new “writing” is digital, multimedia, personalized, real-time, geographically aware, and mobile. It’s the new normal. Today.
As the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky put it, you need to “go to where the puck is going to be.” That place is in customers’ pockets. If you’re not in the process of thoroughly mobilizing your business, you’re already behind.
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