Consumer Electronics Show 2013 (3 of 4): What the Slew of New Tablets and eReaders Means for Pharma

Tablets-and-eReadersAs the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) ramped up, I’d sneak peeks on my iPhone to get the latest news. During the show, I’d read longer articles and reviews on my iPad. At home, I flopped on the couch and immersed myself on the iPad Mini.

So, yeah, three things: First, I am an Apple fanboy. Second, I love my tablets. Third, I also have a Kindle Paperwhite.

CES 2013 featured a flurry of new tablets and ereaders. At least some of the companies competing in this space are smart (not all of them), but all of them recognize the inevitable future of tablets and ereaders.

A year ago, I would have shared a statistic that validated the rise of ereaders and tablets. It would have justified the price or proved that more people were buying these things. This year, few people doubt that ereaders will become the medium of choice for many, if not most, of the nation. From the Kindle to the Nook to the iPad to the Galaxy, digital book readers are getting less expensive and more powerful. Sales of ebooks and e-magazines are booming.

What it means for pharma

A few years ago, the pharma industry was trying to understand what social media meant for healthcare communications. We struggled with blog monitoring, social media communities, and even open message boards. The learnings from those early explorations have defined much of what we do today.

Before that, it was the web. We tried to use this exploding channel for patient, caregiver, and healthcare professional communications. Again, trial and error taught us what works, what doesn’t, and how far we could push the envelope. It was a learning process, but we got there together (even if sometimes we were competing with each other).

Now many clients are taking a digital-first approach to marketing and communications. They understand that almost all of their targets have access to the web.

But the rise of ereaders and tablets has created a new challenge for our industry. We’re advocating—and in certain cases pioneering—responsive-design strategies. Clients recognize the value (and savings) of creating channel-agnostic content that adapts to devices, platforms, and channels. It just makes sense.

If you’re a brand already using responsive design, then the influx of shiny new mobile devices, tablets, and ereaders announced at CES simply means you need to test on new platforms. If you’ve only designed for the desktop, well then it probably means that your message and design will be breaking on even more platforms. Not good.

What to do next

In a few weeks, the dust will settle from CES 2013. We’ll have a better idea of which mobile devices will actually ship and which were just vaporware and prototypes. You’ll want to have at least two or three of the most promising, buzzed-about devices that actually ship.

Test your sites on all of these new platforms. Review how your message displays on these new screens. If your patients, caregivers, and doctors are using them to read your message, you need to know what their experience is like. Hold the device and pretend to be your target user.

If you’re not using a content strategy that includes responsive design, you should meet with your team to discuss your options. If you are, congratulations—now go test your messages on these new devices.

If you are a client (or want to be), give us a call to learn about the newest devices as they become available. We get most of these new devices, and we can show you how we build and test your sites. Or you can come by to play with them yourself.

Our industry can no longer be multiple years behind popular technology and new devices. Our target users include patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals…and many of them are already using this new technology. If you care about your message reaching your target user, then you need to know exactly what they will see when it reaches them.

Patient-compliance and education programs shifted to the web years ago. Unfortunately, those experiences don’t always deliver the right experience on a tablet or smartphone. If your patients and caregivers use tablets already, then you should be building experiences that reflect this (not so new) channel.

From the diabetic with dietary needs to the parent of an epileptic child, mobile health tools can be essential to prescription compliance. Pill-plus programs must deliver an excellent experience that integrates into the lives of patients, since tablets and smartphones are becoming an extension of everyone’s lives. The first step is recognizing that this technology is here to stay.

CES 2013 is a good excuse to bring up the topic of content strategy and responsive design to your internal stakeholders and agency partners. Schedule a meeting to get the conversation started.

It’s timely, relevant, and (if you think about it) will probably be received on a tablet device or smartphone.

CES 2013 Series:

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