PharmExec Blog

Medical Journals Follow Docs to the iPad

It’s something of an enigma that most physicians are keen to learn about and use cutting edge medicines and devices for their patients, but are often apathetic or worse when it comes to new communication technologies and digital information exchange. Where else can you spot a fax machine being actively used these days, outside of a hospital or doctor’s office?

Even with the federal government writing checks to those physicians willing to use electronic health records in a meaningful way, many are still dawdling on implementation, which makes the meteoric uptake of the iPad by physicians something of a surprise. Sixty-two percent of physicians in the US now have one kind of tablet or another, but mostly its iPads. Big Pharma recognized the trend and passed out iPads to its sales forces; physicians who previously wouldn’t give a rep the time of day were suddenly being engaged for twice as long on a detail.

With four in ten physicians telling Manhattan Research that they use a tablet between patient consultations, and reporting that online medical journals are the number one destination at that time, it makes sense that journals themselves get on board. To that end, Wolters Kluwer’s Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) journals are making it easier for pharma and device marketers to reach physicians while they’re at work, by offering app versions of their journals and taking advantage of the interactive tools and rich media capabilities offered by the device.

In the journal Neurology, for example, Acorda Therapeutics’ began a series of ads for Ampyra – a drug indicated for the improvement of walking in patients with multiple sclerosis – with a detailed mechanism of action video placement. The company followed it up with a before and after video featuring a real MS patient in a side by side, struggling to walk normally before Ampyra, and walking markedly better after having taken the drug. In addition to advertising, authors submitting papers to LWW journals can also submit video to accompany the text, things like recorded surgical procedures or a conversational summary of an article or topic.

“No one reading a print journal follows a directive to watch a video online,” says Karen Abramson, president and CEO of Wolters Kluwer Health Medical Research. “The [iPad] platform has enabled us to engage physicians with content they probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.” LWW journal apps across six specialties showed that iPad readers interacted with an ad, on average, for somewhere between 10 and 40 seconds, according to LWW’s preliminary internal data. What is unique about the journal apps and their capabilities, says Abramson, is the model. Instead of buying print or online journal ads, LWW “sells the whole audience;” a bundled model versus selling individual channels.

Some of the medical societies have even begun to cease printing their journals, and have gone completely digital with journal apps, notes Abramson. Perhaps some day physicians will give up their manila folders stuffed with loose leaf and xeroxed patient records.

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