2016 is going to be one of the most exciting years we will see in the pharmaceutical industry because we are staring down the technology telescope from the wrong side, technology pipe dreams for many pharma marketers will become reality because the six figure barriers have shrunk down to sizes that appear small in most budgets.
I’m talking about the big news coming out of CES Las Vegas, wearable technology and what Google would do if it were a pharmaceutical company.
The ripple effect of Oculus Rift has got stronger and we are seeing a wave of new possibilities popping up. Over the past few years the mammoth cost of making a high quality immersive virtual reality experience has held pharma marketers back. Six figure sums and if we are brutally honest with each other, cumbersome VR headsets, have stood in the way of seeing wider adoption beyond the congress exhibition stand. Not any more, VR technology has caught up and you can immerse yourself in new environments that are both real and sci-fi by sliding your smart phone into a piece of cardboard and downloading an App.
What is really important though is why would you want to do this in the first place? The exciting possibilities we are working on use virtual reality to communicate key data with empathy because after all, doctors, pharmacists, nurses and payers are all people who deeply care about their patients. Therefore why wouldn’t you want to harness this technology to create an immersive experience that is transformative, rather than just telling them about your data in a traditional way?
Other industries would never dream of communicating hard facts without empathy.
Bringing down the barriers and being able to produce VR experiences that can meet our ‘gaming expectations’ has endless possibilities in 2016, imagine being able to train in new data to world wide field forces with emotion and not needing to book expensive flights or hotel rooms?
Late last year I met with Sarah Haywood who is chief operating officer at MedCity, one of the best examples of London catching up with Silicon-Valley. In 2015 Sarah was talking to payers about adopting new technologies such as wearables that improve health outcomes. In 2016 Sarah will need to be kicking down the doors of payers’ offices because the wearable inflection point is just around the corner.
The consumer-grade products of 2015 that we have to physically engage with will gradually become extinct. The wearables revolution will be the big news for 2016.
The next inflection point in healthcare will be how patients connect directly to their physician 24/7 365 days a year to provide longitudinal data on their health state.
Taking a blood pressure reading during a 5 minute consultation twice a year will be passé, in vogue will be wearable technology that sends data straight to a patient’s health records – hold this thought for 2016.
Collecting Big Data will make it possible to understand patients’ health better than ever before and doing it passively means that we will see transformative effects in our understanding of disease biology; in turn we will build better health profiles and better predictive models. As more data is pulled into these models payers will very quickly see that technology can constrain costs through disease prevention, better end-targets and improved compliance. If Big Data stops patients slipping into a poorer health state Sarah Haywood and others like her will have a far easier job of persuading payers to evaluate technologies faster, with clear separation from drugs or medical devices.
What would Google do if it were a pharmaceutical company? Google would apply its machine-learning algorithms to your health records and predict what happens next. Your blood pressure readings (hold this thought for 2016) would become a predictive model for your future health intervention.
Google is investing in healthcare and whilst we watch what happens next and what happens next with Big Data there is a convention of thought in Why Health…What would Google do, or Facebook? In contested markets standing out from the competition is critical, you cannot do this if you limit your thinking to the pharmaceutical industry.
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