In a previous article I explored the growing role that virtual reality (VR) is playing in the healthcare industry, including its use as a marketing tool for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, and questioned what the future of VR may look like in a world where technological advancements are being made every day. It seemed clear to me that while VR is still in the early stages of medical application, it’s already making a huge impact on the healthcare industry and that, regardless of its infancy, VR technology is most likely here to stay. Because of this I concluded by saying that tech-savvy pharmaceutical marketers should consider adding it to their future strategies as an invaluable means for engaging with customers. In the second installment of this three-part series I look at the ways in which Augmented Reality (AR) is transforming the future of pharmaceutical marketing.
The term ‘augmented reality’ is increasingly being used these days thanks to the resurgence of VR headsets and the use of AR smartphone apps such as Snapchat and Pokémon Go. One of the biggest confusions in the world of immersive technologies is the difference between AR and VR. They sound similar but they’re two very different concepts. VR immerses the user in a fully artificial computer-generated environment with which they can interact. AR, however, overlays virtual 3D graphics on the real-world environment, augmenting the way users see their everyday life and bringing them more information.
As I established in my previous article, VR has shown exciting signs of potential, ranging from its ability to help student doctors and nurses learn about our anatomies to helping to treat patients suffering from a wide variety of conditions. But it is AR that is really beginning to make its mark on the industry. While VR results in a more immersive experience, AR provides the user with more freedom, and marketers with further possibilities due to it not necessarily requiring the user to wear an unwieldly headset. AR apps are being used in healthcare for a variety of applications including medical training, patient education and care management, pre-surgical assessment, minimally invasive surgery and rehabilitation. Moreover a report by Goldman-Sachs predicted that by 2025, the AR healthcare market would total almost $5.1 billion, with an estimated 3.4 million users throughout the world. Question?
There are two principal ways in which pharmaceutical and medical device companies can benefit from using AR to market their products. The first is by leveraging it as a means to help educate both patients and physicians in a more engaging way, and the second is by enhancing the sales process and empowering sales reps to provide a next-generation customer experience.
The use of visual imagery to communicate information is augmented reality’s most crucial and most effective feature.
For sales reps that often need to compete for a physician’s time and attention, the ability to quickly demonstrate the benefits of a new product using AR could be hugely beneficial.
Many drug and device manufacturers who are early adopters of AR are already reaping the rewards of implementing it across their products and marketing strategies. Using AR they’ll be able to distinguish themselves from the rest of the market and create a stronger bond with their customers going forward, which will lead to greater brand loyalty.
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