In 1982, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the public only had three main choices for their evening news, and Ted Turner had recently started CNN, which was derisively referred to by the Washington news establishment as "Chicken Noodle News." We typed our scripts on typewriters, which pounded the words onto multilayered script books that had carbon paper between each page. The pages of TelePrompTers went by on a conveyor belt and often got jammed.
It's hard to believe, but back then, DVD sounded like something you could get if you didn't wear protection, e-mail sounded like science fiction, and you actually had to be somewhere at a certain time and place to receive a phone call.Full Speed Ahead
Today, our cars tell us where to go; DVRs record our favorite shows and play them back when we want them; and information once only available at the Library of Congress is now just a Google away. Cell phones, iPods, and BlackBerrys mean that advanced communications technology once reserved for Air Force One are now in your teenager's purse. NBC Universal recently formed a strategic alliance with YouTube.
In June, National Semiconductor announced that it was giving each of its 8,500 employees video iPods for work. According to an article in the August 17, 2006 issue of USA Today, nearly 24 million Americans will watch television on their cell phones by the year 2010. This doesn't even take into account video iPods and streaming video on the Internet.
So what does all of this have to do with pharma?
Television stations are under increasing pressure not to air video news releases, and DTC advertising is under more scrutiny than ever before. Add this to the fact that doctors are pressed for time, patients are constantly seeking new information, and drug companies are continually researching new products. The healthcare industry needs a new medium to deliver information.
Product managers need to know how to communicate these messages in a convenient format—one that is portable and on-demand.
"We've seen an incredible interest in using the iPod across many areas of medicine," says Elizabeth Kerr, director of science and technology markets for Apple. "For example, doctors are using video iPods to teach and treat patients, educators are using video iPods as teaching aids, and pharmaceutical companies are using them to keep their sales forces up to speed."
Indeed, drug companies are starting to create materials specifically for portable video devices, and third-party organizations are giving video iPods to physicians to promote disease education.
Medical centers are jumping on the trend as well: The Cleveland Clinic recently added video podcasting to its Web site so doctors can learn about ailments related to cholesterol, cancer, and stroke whenever they please. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New England Journal of Medicine, and Pfizer are other organizations already using audio podcasts.
Video podcasts "open up an entirely new channel and an opportunity to reach physicians, patients, caregivers, consumers and even the investment community with our messages," says Lisa Adler, vice president of global corporate affairs for Millennium Pharmaceuticals. At a recent medical meeting, a third-party organization approached Adler, asking if Millennium would sponsor the organization's podcast to patients and physicians.
The information tsunami is also being felt at the clinical level. Christopher Barley, MD, is a Manhattan internist who says his highly educated, well-to-do patients come in armed with enormous amounts of information, some of which is confusing or inaccurate.