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Digital Healthcare Marketing

Why Do Pharma Apps Fail To Engage Doctors?

By 27 May 2020April 18th, 2023No Comments

With the surging graph of smartphone users in recent years, over 2 million apps are available in the Google Play store, and approx. 1.83 million on the Apple App Store (Statista, 2019). Pharma companies too have jumped onto the mobile app bandwagon and are trying their best to engage key healthcare stakeholders through proprietary apps.

According to a report on Research2guidance, around 325,000 mobile apps were developed in 2017 for both patients and doctors. However, the high abandonment rate among app users, mainly HCPs, is an unfortunate side of pharma brand-building strategy through apps.


Phone Space Limitation: It is a universal fact that doctors don’t have time and the pharmaceutical mobile app space is a fragmented one. Today, almost every big or small-scale pharma company is initiating multiple app launches to reach its customers. This trend of having several apps catering to various therapeutic areas, offerings, and services is a recipe for failure as space constraints curb the installation of apps on every phone

 Lack of a Multi-Dimensional Approach to Pharma Content: The faulty uni-dimensional approach of pharma that puts excessive focus on specific product lines and therapy areas is pulling doctors away. Pharma marketers need to understand that drug-related information isn’t the only information doctors seek online. A survey by Bain & Co. reveals that doctors spend more than 75% of their information-seeking time on issues that are not drug-specific. Hence, to keep doctors coming back to your app requires consistent content postings and offerings in varied forms. Engagement and retention gradually improve when the strategies are designed around your consumer behavior which, in your case, is a doctor. Rather than a product-centric approach, pharma must consider the pain points and preferences of its customers while designing its content strategy.

Lack of Neutrality: Unethical marketing practices of pharma companies have seriously damaged their reputation and naturally, information available on a pharma app is viewed with suspicion by doctors. It is hard for doctors to trust pharma apps as providers of unbiased, authentic scientific content.

Trying to be the Expert of All: Pharma companies are denying the fact that digital marketing is not among their core competencies. Manufacturing and launching an app are only the first steps of an overarching plan to build meaningful relationships with prescribers using digital tools. It would be fruitless if your app is unable to generate regular traffic and this requires an investment of time and talent and a long-term commitment.


An online strategy focusing on offering real value to doctors and creating a one-stop solution for all their information needs has the best chance of delivering returns in the long run for pharma marketers.

Pulling a doctor into your online space, again and again, requires constant content postings of the right kind. An eclectic mix of knowledge-gaining and networking opportunities can glue a doctor to your platform. Doctors are looking for a variety of meaningful and informative content such as KOL opinions, clinical case studies, CME courses, and healthcare news. They are also keen to know about rare diseases and medico-legal issues. Peer-to-peer interactions and interdisciplinary dialogue are highly favored by medical practitioners.

Learning should be made fun through quizzes and clinical case challenges. Special campaigns can be designed to engage doctors on Health Days. A wise move for pharma would be to team up with neutral, 3rd party aggregators that have the expertise in medical content strategy and execution, ones who truly enjoy a trusted relationship with the medical community.


Docplexus app enjoys the trust of 380,000+ doctors across 99 specialties as the best place to stay updated on the latest developments in the medical field including innovative therapies and drugs.

We have been engaging with a large set of doctors for the past 9 years. Careful observation of their behavior and preferences has led us to become experts in digital content creation and dissemination. If you’re interested to know more about our Digital Marketing Solutions, write to us at

Docplexus – Pharma’s Trusted Marketing Partner
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