What's Your Digital iQ

Putting technology and trends to work for healthcare marketing

Inside the Minds of Physicians: The State of Mobile in the Practice


Kicking off the afternoon was a 3 physician panel discussing the mobile revolution and how physicians are using mobile and digital channels to consult and treat patients as well as communicate with pharma companies. The panelist included:

  • Dr. Samuel Grief, Family Medicine, University of Illinois
  • Dr. Ranjita Sengupta, Cardiologist, Somerset Medical Center
  • Dr. Guy Bernstein, Urologist, Bryn Mawr Hospital

The first question…

How are you using smartphones at the point of care?

Dr. Grief: The smartphone is a very useful tool for me. Not only is it useful for me to educate myself, but the information on medications that I look up I share with patients.

Dr. Sengupta: My iPhone is always with me. I think the iPhone is phenomenal. Not only do I use it for texting and calls, but I use it to look up results from studies, search new medications and look up information asked by patients. I open up Epocrates, look up medications and help patients become familiar with their medications.

Dr. Bernstein: I need a little bit bigger of a screen. In terms of interaction and reviewing larger text documents so the iPad is best for me. But, time is so pressed, especially in sitting and discussing with patients. So, I’ve used the iPad a lot less than what I imagined when I purchased my iPad.

Dr. Sengupta, cardiologists are second only to oncologist in tablet use, do you foresee using tablets in your practice?

Dr. Sengupta: I agree with Dr. Bernstein. I need a larger screen for certain things. But the size of the iPad still is a little off for me. It’s slightly larger than I’d like to carry with me, but doesn’t give me the same experience as my laptop.

Dr. Grief: Let me add to that, I believe the future of medical communication is not shrinking information but also having the ability to expand, to go deeper.

What role does mobile technology play in improving health literacy of your patients?

Dr. Grief: The way I envision using mobile to improve health literacy is to share the information I know about medications and treatments with my patients. To increase the health literacy, it’s up to the doctors to be a teacher. The way I see mobile playing into that is to provide the physician the ability to point a patient to sources of information with mobile friendly tools.

Do you recommend apps to your patients?

Dr. Bernstein: I don’t recommend a particular app but the apps that allow patients to track their own information, access it, and share it with me during the consult are the most useful.

Dr. Sengupta: I definitely encourage my patient to use apps to track their health and vitals. I constantly have patients coming in having used apps and ready to talk about their health. For example, they are using an app to track their BMI and are coming in to my office to talk about how to lose weight.

With the increase of medical devices that have wireless connectivity that will be flooding the practice with real-time information, how do you anticipate your practice evolving to

Dr. Sengupta: In my office, we have a rotation of doctors who is responsible for reviewing that data and responding to it. So it’s blended into our practice now.

Dr. Grief: In the family practice, we have much fewer emergencies but we are still getting information in to our office that we are reviewing.

What percentage of your time do you estimate that you spend online or on different devices?

Dr. Bernstein: Most of my time online is spent reading and responding to emails.

Dr. Sengupta: Yes, I would estimate that I spend 11-ish hour online each week. My personal computer at home is being used by my family, so my mobile phone is my best friend when at home. I would say 50% of that time I’m looking up patient care information.

Dr. Grief: For me, it’s more than 11 hours. The real question is whether using our mobile devices in front of the patient is disrespectful. It seems that patients are beginning to expect that the physicians is referencing a mobile device at the bedside and understand it’s necessary.

Dr. Bernstein: I would disagree with that. I think the physicians who are only looking at their device and not making eye contact and having a one-to-one conversation are being disrespectful and are not making a connection with the patient.

How do you prefer to receive communication from pharma companies?

Dr. Bernstein: For existing medications, I tend not to open up electronic information. I pretty much know everything I need to know about that medication. For new medications, I do read the information and actually prefer to have an in-person conversation with a rep.

Dr. Sengupta: I agree with Dr. Bernstein.

Dr. Grief: To be blunt, face-to-face communication is what we have become accustomed to it so it’s most comfortable. Ultimately, I would welcome electronic communication because I have the ability to read it or ignore it if I don’t think it’s relevant.


#DigPharm Stats: Mobile Apps



6 Must-Knows About Implementing Mobile into Your Strategy


1) RIM users don’t download apps. iPhone and iPad users dominate app downloads. Windows may challenge that in the near future.

2) The future is about interactive content delivered via HTML5. But reality is that content will continue to exist in analog formats.

3) Today’s CRM is limited to contact management. Engagement is very limited and visibility into sales rep’s behavior is poor. Little value for user hasbeen offered.

4) iPad provisions would not guarantee adoption. App abandonment rate is higher than consumer apps due to the “bore factor.”

5) Systems integration adds tremendous value. Process integration may offer too little of a return when it comes to sales enablement.

6) Intensive CAPEX (capital expenditures) associated with IT projects could force projects into a long journey. It’s important to keep engagement systems with loose integration.


Responsive Web Design and Healthcare

Responsive Web Design

Understanding what your target audience is looking for online and delivering it effectively is paramount to a positive user experience. Not only is it important to the experience but it will also make or break the success of any message you are delivering to your target audience. You can start by using metrics, surveys, live interview sessions, or beta testing to figure out the best way to set up your online message. If you can take user data and combine it with a flexible online experience real time, your success rate will increase significantly. This is where responsive web design merged with your overall strategy comes to life.

Responsive web design is all about providing the most optimal experience for your end user. In the development sense it’s a combination of flexible layouts, imagery, and CSS media queries. In the world we live in right now, that typically points to mobile strategy when creating the user experience. Whether it’s a laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet the interface should adjust accordingly for the screen real estate. If you’re doing this correctly the capabilities of the device being used are exploited for the users benefit. Mobile content needs to be concise, valuable, and to the point. For example, find out the top three things your user wants and give that to them right up front. You can always allow for an entry way into the full desktop experience. This is well worth careful thought and planning with half of the adult US population owning a smartphone.

With all this being said, the question is how could this type of design impact the distribution of important healthcare content. That goes for both the patient and the physician. There is an overwhelming amount of this information available online, but what if there is a more specific story to tell. It could be in regards to an obscure disease, or simply a disease state that is misunderstood. If you start with that lens you can evolve to a responsive web design approach that will give a respective user some real value as it pertains to healthcare. Healthcare related websites are clearly using this type of lens when defining how to approach mobile and responsive web design.

Two Approaches to Know

To break this down a bit further, there are 2 approaches when it comes to mobile that are worth mentioning. There is the standalone mobile site, and the responsive mobile site.

The standalone mobile site will typically be more direct with less information up front. It is staged with a mobile URL such as m.webmd.com. If you come to a mobile responsive web design it takes the entire desktop website and reconfigures on the fly. You end up with all the content from the desktop site, but just presented in a way that leverages the mobile interface. This type of website can be found with the same URL as the desktop website.

What does that look like in the pharma and healthcare information space? Here are a couple effective approaches to healthcare information that uses the principles of Responsive Web Design, and mobile strategy.

Drugs.com uses responsive web design principles: www.drugs.com

WebMD uses device direction to a mobile specific website: m.webmd.com.

There is a debate right now as to what the best strategy is when it comes to responsive web design. Should you use a mobile only optimized website, or a web responsive approach? It really depends on your target goals, audience, and the type of content your providing. If you feel that your audience is limited in time, you may want a very simple direct mobile website. If you are a Drugs.com with lots of information that requires access at all times it lends itself to responsive web design.

Healthcare information is using a number of paths when defining this strategy. The essence of the approach will certainly have a great impact on pharma and healthcare information the more it evolves. It will ultimately define the way people want to consume all types of healthcare information.


Improving Patient Adherence Through Mobile


Helping patients adhere to their medication has been a long time challenge. There’s an array of adherence challenges, such as, forgetfulness, too busy, cost, experienced (and potential) side effects, and the list goes on. Today, there are plenty of devices that work to address and solve these challenges. For example, devices helping with forgetfulness can range from basic weekly pill organizers to the more advanced GlowCaps. A downside to devices like these is that they must added to one’s environment and routine. However, with the advancements of mobile technologies, we’re able to replace adherence devices with apps. These mobile apps are added to one’s mobile device which may already be apart of their environment and routine.

Below is a listing of mobile applications that address specific adherence challenges:

CHALLENGE – Forgetfulness

RxmindMe (A)
Created for users who forget to take their pills, RxmindMe allows you to create nine types of reminders – daily, every “X” days, hourly, weekly, on specific dates, on a specific day of the month, and on a specific week of the month. It allows unlimited prescription entities to track all your medications.

OptumRx (B)
The upcoming mobile app from OptumRx will allow members to fully manage their medications with the convenience of a mobile app. Subscribers will be able to set reminders and track their medication consumption for all their prescription and non-prescription medications.


Duet Health (C)
Duet uses reminders, triggers, and reward systems to reinforce behavior that results in more positive outcomes. This experience creates engagement that is personalized, interesting, and informative making adherence a desired event rather than an added chore.

Avatar Alerts
A prototype by iQ that turns adherence into a rewarding game. By applying a gaming layer to adherence, users are more likely to take time out of their busy schedule to receive rewards such as points, level ups, and more.


Walgreens (D)
Designed to make everyday tasks easier, with convenient features, the Walgreens app offers mobile coupons. Users can get access exclusive mobile coupons available for in-store purchases. For example, for transferring your prescription to Walgreens, users can receive $25.

Caremark by CVS allows users to check drug coverage and cost from their mobile device. This feature allows you to discover to actual costs rather than assuming the cost is going to be to high for you.

CHALLENGE – Experienced Side Effects

Fluent 2.0
A prototype by iQ that communicates side effects that may be expected during time of use. Because you may be unaware of your medication’s known side effects, Fluent 2.0 sends text messages during your treatment to educate you on what you may experience and when.


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