New tool calculates true cost of mobile apps for pharma and healthcare

Enterprise software developer Red Hat debuted an online calculator to help determine the true cost of mobile apps.

Going mobile is no longer an option for pharma and healthcare. But along with a go-to-market strategy, companies need to know how much mobile apps will cost. Enter enterprise software developer Red Hat.

The company recently launched a free-to-use Mobile App Assessment Tool, targeting pharma and healthcare decision-makers looking to deploy apps for large numbers of field workers—such as sales reps and doctors—as well as those considering or reevaluating consumer-facing apps.

"Organizations are realizing they have a lot of new competitors coming onto the scene, and ones that they may not have considered before, like digital competitors that are digital-first in the way they go to market,” Clare Grant, general manager of Red Hat Mobile, said in an interview. “A lot of traditional organizations, like pharmaceutical companies, are having to review their go-to-market strategy and how they interface. Who owns the customer, who owns that relationship, and how can they get closer to the end user."

The cost calculator can be accessed via a Red Hat microsite, where developers answer 10 questions built around needs on the front and back ends, deployment and scalability. For pharma companies, the last two are particularly important because companies have to take into account the costs of a private cloud or possibly even on-site infrastructure solutions, Grant said.

Other “hidden” costs for pharma could include content integration with several back-end systems, regulatory or compliance requirements, and the need for a compelling patient or user interface.

In general, estimates for the cost of developing an enterprise mobile app range from $100,000 to $500,000, but they can go much higher depending on factors including complexity and ongoing maintenance and updates.

The Red Hat tool is meant for a wide range of companies—smaller ones just starting out with mobile apps and on up, to larger multinationals that may just be interested in a mobile check-up or price-out for an idea.

Based on a survey Red Hat did last year, Grant said, she thinks pharma is fairly advanced in the use of mobile apps compared with some other industries. That study found that 82% of pharma companies are achieving positive returns on the mobile apps they already have, and they're planning to increase investment in apps by more than 15%.

"For pharmaceutical companies, apps are really important to improve productivity and to improve efficiency across their different business processes, and for those that are customer-facing, to improve customer engagement and customer interaction,” she said.