By Matthew Arnold, Principal Analyst

The healthcare industry has been something of a laggard on the mobile marketing front, and that goes double for pharmas. Our maiden Digital Competitive Landscape survey last fall found that less than a third of pharma U.S. consumer-facing websites were mobile optimized.

Not that pharmas don't appreciate the importance of mobile and they should, because while most prescription drug information-seeking is still driven by desktops and laptops, the use of smartphones and tablets for Rx drug info is rising fast, and covers a wide range of activities and decision points. Most do, but getting their budgetary and regulatory ducks in line takes time (of course, these speed bumps will be lost on consumers that have come to expect a smooth user experience and seamless transitions from screen to screen).

So as much of the industry plays catch-up, it's nice to see a company thinking big, and on a global scale, about potential applications for improving medication adherence and condition management through mobile devices, as AstraZeneca is through a partnership with UK-based wireless giant Vodaphone. The effort centers on the patient-physician relationship and aims to use mobile- and Internet-based services, along with patient-generated health data, to facilitate better care for cardiovascular patients across a variety of markets. According to the release:

HCPs will be able to give patients the option to use these mHealth services, as an integral part of the patient care process, empowering them to manage their conditions as part of their daily routine. Patients will have access to educational material - personalised for their needs - and will benefit from coaching and treatment support to help manage their medication and lifestyle changes, and track their treatment progress.

Apple is investing heavily in health tech, and is reportedly building a front end program for patient-generated health data, per last week's Healthbook leak. Smart pharmas and wireless carriers and others will be thinking ahead about how to use that data to improve patient health.

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