It has been a few weeks now that I have had my 3G -i-Pad. Sadly, I haven't had as much time with it as I would have liked, because I've been very busy with that stuff called work. But what I have seen and done with it has been telling and maybe what I have not done with it is of even more interest.
What have I done? The first thing you do when you get an i-Pad is start considering the apps you want at your finger tips. My first apps were centered on a few things that would help me with work – notebooks that will allow me to take notes and draw slides that I can then send to other folks to execute – as well as some fun stuff – the piano keyboard is astonishing. I bought a few movies and of course, began to get books. I got the New York Times app and looked for others that apparently don't yet exist. Yet…
What haven't I done? I looked for some apps that would help me out with respect to medical stuff. I wanted, but didn't find, an app that would allow me to put in my medications and doses and then it would connect with the PI for those drugs and perhaps also list the MedGuides or any other pertinent information, like what I can and cannot do when taking the medication (like drinking grapefruit juice). Maybe such an app exists, but I haven't found it during my limited time for searches. In fact, I didn't find a single app in the healthcare department that I downloaded.
There has been a chorus of voices such as Jonathan Richman at Dose of Digital who have called for greater exploration of apps by medical products manufacturers, including my own, on more than one occasion.
The FDA is stepping up communications enforcement. But one would not market a product using an app. It wouldn't be appropriate any more than it is advisable for a company to stick DTC ads onto YouTube and hope that people will watch them. It isn't the way it works. Social media is, well… social. That means that an integral part of communications today is not about talking at your audience, it is about building relationships. That is something for companies, not product brands, to accomplish.
Apps may play a part in developing such relationships. Apps either built through supporting third parties in the development of disease or condition-specific resources that will help patients, or through non-branded development of apps to support patients.
Who knows? Maybe even the FDA can begin producing apps – the Recall App – the MedGuide App – the Boxed Warning App – the Advisory Committee Notice App? The Orange Book App. It sure beats trying to sort your way through the Web site to find what you want, rather just have an app for that part that I want. It is not far-fetched. In fact, it would be advisable.
The advent of the i-Pad, and the strategic opportunities it offers in communicating with one's constituencies, is the most recent wave in a long line of technological developments that is changing the consumption of media. Remember, it took a few decades for television to mainstream. The i-Pad sold a million units in a month.
And what does pad technology represent? It is an extension of the smart phone – and it is emblematic my desire as a consumer of media to combine my need for portability with my desire to participate in communications. And perhaps most importantly to comprehensively have all I need at my fingertips. It is an important trend for all who do business with consumers to understand and take note.
The medical products industry has been among the last to understand and utilize social media of any industrial sector and still struggles. Here is another and new opportunity. Take it.