Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Use of the iPad in the Medical Marketplace - A Practical Perspective

Since the release of the iPad, the medical community has taken notice of the importance of transmitting medical education and information across simplified devices.  Brands have come a long way since creating video loops for the patient waiting room, where ultimately the waiting patient simply wants to watch the local news programming or talk show anyhow.

We are now in the age of instant information access. Patients come into the exam room more informed than ever and there is often a large gap between the patient and qualified, clinically sound educational materials. Further widening this gap is the medical professional's inability to adopt this new technology in the care process. It's the wild west out there. Just as in the early days of website development, everyone now wants a custom iPad app. But no one really knows how it works or what to ask for. 

Take, for example, a typical interactive timeline: likely, a brand started 10 or more years ago by relying on the physician-patient interaction, in the office, with branded patient education materials designed to raise the positives about its proprietary device or drug. Sometimes, these even got a bit fancy: slide rules or die-cut, rotating discs! Next came patient videos, online data capture and  DVDs. We thought we were really something when we advanced to standing kiosks, audio and video podcasting.

But the iPad brings an entirely new dimension. Aside from the obvious "wow!" factor, it may in fact actually increase a patient's comprehension of a complex concept or procedure. It's portable, eco-friendly (or at least, not paper!) and sustainable. The marketing and education can live on beyond the clinical setting; it's outdoor advertising, interactive, and physician and patient education all-in-one. At least for now, it's memorable. The visual display is impressive to most and visible to those with less than optimal vision. And iPad uptake among healthcare professionals, medical and surgical brands and consumers is steady and growing. Simply predicting the continued use of the iPad in healthcare is underestimation at its core; we have yet to see the myriad ways marketers and designers will enlist this particular form of interactivity to drive awareness, action and sales.

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