Is there room for the iPad in health economics?

3 min read
First Published: 
Sep 2012

Key Learnings contained in this article:

Mobile devices have been key to the healthcare, pharmaceutical and medical device industries for decades and this year’s iPad 3 is no different. The iPad 3 was first released to the United States and some European countries on March 16th 2012. One of the main features, which is particularly useful for visualizing health economic models, is the iPad 3’s retina display. This new feature enables the image, evidence, or whatever you are presenting to be rendered with extreme clarity. According to Walt Mossberg of All Things Digital, with the introduction of the 3rd generation model, the iPad now “has the most spectacular display…seen in a mobile device”. The iPad has been taking the healthcare, pharmaceutical and medical device industries by storm since its initial release two years ago (in April of 2010).

Doctors, patients, key account managers, hospitals, health economists, pharmaceutical reps and medical device sales reps have been in on the action. Just consider Novartis CEO Jimenez’s memo to employees that Apple’s “game-changing” iPad will make it possible for sales reps to save 205 hours over the course of the year and allow “the entire field to make an incredible 35,000 additional customer visits each year”. Previously, sales representatives struggled with the ability to differentiate themselves through clear, concise, and interactive messaging, but the iPad now gives these Key Account Managers an effective way to communicate the economic evidence.

Since pharmaceutical and medical device companies invest significant time persuading payers to adopt their products, communicating economic evidence efficiently via the iPad has become an important part of this value proposition. New iPad apps, that allow the presentation of interactive content on the iPad, provide similar productivity gains for key account managers with the communication of health economic evidence.

Despite the iPad’s appeal, it does come with some drawbacks regarding health economics. A major shortcoming is that the iPad doesn’t support Microsoft Excel or Adobe Flash which are some of the main programs used to create and present economic models. And of course there is the challenge of distribution; how can you smoothly implement a tool for the iPad across a sales force that is spread around the globe? Will you need to create two tools, one for PCs and one for iPads?

The fact of the matter is that the iPad is here to stay. According to Manhattan Research’s ePharma Physician report, 38 percent of ePharma Physicians have seen a pharma or biotech sales rep use an iPad or other tablet during a face-to-face meeting in a 12 month period ending in June 2011.

It’s only a matter of time before this impressive device becomes the industry norm within the payer landscape, providing key account managers with the necessary collateral to communicate the value of their products in a way which is engaging, visual and consistent with the brand values.

About the Author

Gijs Hubben, co founder and CEO of BaseCase, has a combined background in Pharmacy and health economics. He has eight years of experience in health economic research with a focus on joining web technology with economic modelling and value communication.

About Basecase

BaseCase builds spreadsheet driven apps that transform complicated health economic models into intuitive and interactive value communications. These apps visualize and explain key scientific data in an interactive and intuitive format easily understood by non-experts. Used to present models including Budget Impact, Cost Effectiveness, Burden of Disease and Epidemiology, these apps take many forms including interactive dashboards, value summaries, slide-decks and embeddable calculators. The apps run on all devices including iPad and available both on and offline.

Berlin-based software company BaseCase provides a value communication solution that ensures health economic arguments are communicated effectively

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