All posts by chandan
With the confluence of ground breaking technologies, we are entering into an ultra high-tech era that we call the post digital world. The effect of this transformation is vividly reflected in the pharmaceutical sector while pushing its potential to the edges.
Digital marketing has disrupted the conventional face of the pharma industry. With the introduction of innovative technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), pharma industry is witnessing a revolutionary change in its approach towards marketing. From educating doctors to supplementing surgical manoeuvres to empowering the pharmaceutical sales force, AR applications will provide real value to patients and healthcare professionals alike.
Augmented Reality is a live direct or indirect view of the real world whose elements are augmented or supplementedusing computer simulated inputs such as sound, video, graphics and GPS data. In lay man terms, augmented reality or virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. A few years back, AR was the main content of science fiction movies and games, but with the advent of technologies like Google glass and Oculus VR, it has now become accessible in the real world.
Google Glass: Google Glass is a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). It was developed by Google X with the mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer. Google Glass displays information in a smart phone-like hands-free format.
Oculus VR: Oculus VR is an American virtual reality technology company founded by Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe. Their first product, still in development, is the Oculus Rift, a head-mounted display for immersive technology virtual reality (VR).
With a considerable portion of the global population now having access to smart phones and tablets equipped with a camera and high speed internet access, these 3D interactive displays are suddenly a viable mass-marketing medium. However, many people find augmented reality to be a clever approach, but few find the technology useful and viable owing to the mass hype associated with it!
Pharmaceutical Industry has always taken a back seat when it comes to pro-active marketing, owing to the numerous regulation in place. However technology always finds its way to accommodate itself within the regulations. Some classic examples of the employment of augmented reality in this avenue would be
- Enabling patients to see what is going to happen inside their body or how certain drugs work inside one’s body.
- Helping doctors get a better understanding of each and every step of a procedure or treatment would be another usage of AR.
- Empowering patients by enabling effective engagement with them through the experiential approach.
When it comes to marketing, today’s consumer no longer believes in static information. They want to interact, visualise and know it for themselves, how a certain thing is going to work, or proceed. And healthcare being a very personalised and sensitive subject, the consumer’s expectation is generally high, thus raising the bar. Today’s consumers want information first hand, and the only way to achieve it, is by making them experience it! The only thing limiting pharma’s use of AR now is our imaginations. The technology has reached the point where the possibilities are endless.
Below is a video where Dr. Suzanna of Genzyme explains potential use of augmented reality. Genzyme has used AR to explain calcification of heart.
Video Source: www.medicalvision.de
Technology’s impact on the medical industry are not just limited to medical procedures. All major stakeholders like HCPs, patients as well as caregivers contribute in shaping these medical trends. These trends came into existence in order to address issues and change in behaviour of these major stakeholders. For example, the advent of online health forums happened due to the increase search of credible information by caregivers and patients online. Below are certain trends that came to the limelight in 2015 and are headed to become the next big thing in medical industry.
Gamification meets Healthcare
Gamification follows a simple concept – using gaming techniques in non-gaming environment. After being successfully applied in management practices, this trend seems to be promising for the medical and healthcare sector as well. These days a lot of people are exposed to an array of games, be it on computers, tablets or phones. Games have a highly engaging interface and are normally successful in delivering the brand messages. This power of mobile application is now being used to promote healthcare applications. These apps can be used in a number of ways. It can collect data from patients, track their movements and exercise levels, record their food habits etc. The possibilities are endless. Medical professionals can deploy these applications to collect data from patients and provide them with regular health recommendations based on this data.Health tracking in a fun way can motivate chronic disease patients and help them keep on track.
Apart from afore mentioned apps, certain games are specifically being developed for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. These games are targeted at improving the cognitive function of one’s brain that generally get affected when a person is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other form of Dementia.
Online Medical Information
The internet is accessed by both – medical professionals as well as patients. Patients are increasingly accessing online materials to read up on diseases and educating themselves. Though self-medication is not favourable nor is recommended, a little education on the symptoms, steps to be taken and preventive measures can definitely curb the spread of many diseases. Also in case of chronic diseases like heart related diseases, diabetes etc. where one of the major health demand is change in one’s lifestyle, online medical information become very valuable in guiding a patient about the necessary changes as well as in adapting it. In addition to the patient, online medical information is also of significant importance for the caregivers. It not only grants them access to important information but also enables interaction with other caregivers via online forums.
Moreover, when there are breakouts such as Ebola, H1N1 or hepatitis A, the internet can be used to connect medical professionals with the general public to educate them correctly regarding preventive measures. This can be done through videos, live conferences or even blogs.
3D Printer Prosthetics
One of the most talked about invention of this decade. 3D printers are making a lot of buzz these days. In the medical field, 3D printers can be used in multiple ways to produce results that were just possible in theory a decade back. 3D printers can be used to create prosthetics, casts, braces, implants, etc. that are highly customisable depending upon the patients’ needs. Moreover, surgeons can even create 3D copies of organs.
Mobile sensory data collection
Wristbands, fitness trackers and mobile apps are all really popular these days to collect data on the number of steps you took today, water intake or how many calories you burnt. Most of these devices collect data based on senses and are really affordable. Not just fitness conscious people, but seniors as well as kids are sporting these trackers. In the future, clothes, which can collect sensory data, are likely to hit the market. This opens up a myriad of possibilities for the healthcare industry. In a couple of years, getting real time data about one’s health or monitoring the basic life support activities are going to be a breeze. Another major way in which technology is going to be beneficial is its assistance in medical R&D. With technology giants like Google and Apple getting into healthcare, wearables and apps are here to stay.
Electronic Medical Records
Imagine a world wherein a patient’s medical records is available in an electronic form. This would be really beneficial for doctors who deal with patients that keep changing hospitals based on their requirements and facilities. With all records in digital form, it would be easier for hospitals to share medical records of patients. Thus, when a doctor meets the patient for the first time, he will have the medical history beforehand. It will not only save time of the doctor, but will also prove valuable for the patient who has been admitted in the hospital under emergency circumstances.
The above technological advancement not only seem to disrupt the traditional healthcare industry, but are on a quest of building an ecosystem altogether. Health is no longer going to be unnoticed/untapped but continuously monitored and analysed. After all better healthcare can only be achieved through accountable healthcare!