Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Use Marketing Automation for Improving Physician Relationships

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The marketing landscape is changing for healthcare companies, particularly those who manufacture and market medical devices or pharmaceuticals. The 2.3 percent medical device tax passed as part of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in many large organizations reducing the size of their sales teams and searching for other ways to reach physicians. Additionally, the Sunshine Act limits the amount of money pharmaceutical organizations can spend on face-to-face promotions, another historically popular means of healthcare marketing.
Marketing automation physician relationships pharma
With the increase in red tape and the reduction in resources, it’s time for pharmaceutical companies to truly embrace digital strategies, such as marketing automation. When done well, this software-centric strategy consistently delivers better results at lower costs.

Automation Doesn't Mean Being an Automaton

Marketing automation is an oft-misunderstood and very broad concept.

In the words of Marketing Automation Times, “Marketing Automation (MA) is a subset of customer relationshipmanagement software that focuses on the definition, scheduling, segmentation, and tracking of marketing campaigns.”

The term “automation” can stir up ideas of robotic interactions over social media and through email, but this is a misconception. Marketing automation allows organizations to maintain close relationships with customers and leads by granting users great power to personalize content.

This strategy allows organizations to adapt to new market standards. In the face of shrinking sales forces, organizations can replace in-office sales calls with personalized content sent through direct or digital means.

In fact, this strategy is what physicians themselves want. A 2013 study by HealthLink Dimensions highlighted that 62 percent of physicians prefer to communicate with pharmaceutical and medical device companies through email. In-office sales meeting and telephone calls were significantly less popular.

Using the Right Content is Key

A full-fledged marketing automation campaign can often be boiled down to a very intricate email campaign that offers increasingly relevant content based on how prospects interact with each email. We've already established physician’s affinity for email, but from the marketer’s perspective, using email also allows for a greatermeasurability of ROI.

For example, automation software can track opens, clicks, and other metrics that indicate which content is most successful. Which leads us to the key for marketing automation: communicating the right content to your prospects so they move further down the sales funnel.

Using content as a means of communications allows you to stay in touch with your prospects without seeming too transactional. Everyone loves great content, and physicians are in the unique position of needing to stay informed about a wide range of topics while not necessarily having the time to search out great resources.

If your email campaign provides physicians with the content they need, then you've already done wonders for building trust with your target audience.

The previously cited HealthLink Dimension’s survey even provides insight into what kind of content physicians look for from pharma companies.

Over 70 percent of physicians want information about industry-sponsored, accredited CME, while disease state information and patient education materials rank second with around 65 percent each.

Content around practice management ranks fourth with around 55 percent.

It’s Not All About Creation. Curation Works Too.

Depending on the size of your organization, creating original content may not be scalable. It’s understandable: creating new content is both expensive and difficult to execute. If original content can’t serve as the centerpiece of your campaign, content curation offers a viable alternative.

Consider physicians as consumers: they lead incredibly busy lives and have precious little free time. Gathering quality resources from respected publishers and sharing them with your email readers can provide comparable value to creating original content. Many healthcare providers have used this approach in their marketing. For example, the Mayo Clinic created an entire resource just for aggregating information for healthcare professionals.

Whether you’re creating or curating content, adopting marketing automation software holds a number of benefits for pharmaceutical organizations, both in terms of returns and costs.

The Content Marketing Institute in 2012 released a study estimating that healthcare marketing lagged two years behind the other industries.47 percent of healthcare marketers still invest heavily in print, compared to only 35 percent of all marketers.

This study showcases that there are large opportunities in digital marketing, and marketing automation adopters still have a chance to build a significant competitive advantage. Pharmaceutical organizations searching for scalable digital strategies need look no further than marketing automation.

You can hear more on the latest in digital marketing at ePharma West, September 22-24 in San Francisco. Download the agenda to see what’s on tap.

This post was contributed by Zach Watson, a Senior Research Analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers gamification, healthcare IT, business intelligence, and other emerging technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

ePharma Buzz- 9/12

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Some weeks, the news stinks and you’re better off just sticking to ePharma headlines.  Here are some of the top five from the last seven days.    


If Apple’s Smartwatch Succeeds, Here’s How it Will Change Health, VentureBeat- Is Apple capable or transforming our lives once again?  Greg Ferenstein (@ferenstein) sees a couple of avenues for them to do so through their new smartwatch.  Much has been made about devices improving the quality of sleep and fitness regimens, but new types of data capable of being captured through Apple’s smartwatch might be what sets HealthKit apart from other health data aggregators.  


Study: Majority of Patients Willing To Try Telehealth Appointments, iHealthBeat- We've seen data before suggesting that age is a major determinant of how willing patients might be to engage with doctors digitally.  According to a survey from Fierce Health IT (@FierceHealthIT) “comfort setting up a call” and “distance from physician” were also big factors in a patient’s willingness.  But don’t confuse “willingness” for a preference.  While most indicated they were at least somewhat likely to engage in this type of appointment, 86% of patients who had never done so before expressed a preference for in person meetings. 


 7 Healthcare Trends to Watch Out for in the Remainder of 2014, Healthworks Collective- Alleli Aspili looks into the healthcare crystal ball and predicts some developments over the next four months.  Some, such as health apps being on the rise, you might have guessed but a couple caught our attention.  Specifically, the notion that partnerships will be expanding for delivery of care.  The article calls for the increase in dependence on community based groups such as “social service agencies, gyms and other non-healthcare service providers.” 


What Is Patient Engagement: Health IT Leaders Define the Term, Electronic Health Reporter- “Engagement” falls into the category of "buzz word" which sometimes causes terms to lose their meaning.  This group of leaders in Health IT provides some clarity for the rest of us.  Here’s a taste: John Simpson, President of Digital Health Strategies explains, “The bottom line is that health IT skill sets will need to evolve and expand. Effective digital patient engagement requires a new approach to technology platforms.”


Bayer’s Digital Health Accelerator Picks 5 Startups, nuviun- Pharma is becoming more and more involved in the startup scene and now, many companies are beginning to take part in these ventures.  Most notably, Merck set up an accelerator back in 2010.  Most recently, Bayer HealthCare has pledged $65,000 in seed funding to each of five tech companies hand selected from a pool of 70.  Ever heard of Qompium? They’re developing an app that can detect irregular heartbeats.  


Looking for more than a week’s worth of the latest in digital pharma marketing? Join us at ePharma West, September 22-24 in San Francisco. Download the agenda to see what else is on tap.

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tick Tock. Clock’s Ticking on ePharma West

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Though the Summer is ending, ePharma West is heating up, just under 2 weeks away.

We have exciting news to share with you and are ecstatic to announce:




Download the latest agenda for more details. 

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See you in San Francisco,

The ePharma West Team

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cardiologists Pouring Their Hearts Into Digital

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Cardiovascular disease is a huge expense in the U.S. costing more than $440 million annually.  The men and women in charge of delivering these treatments are one of the most difficult groups to reach.  If you’re one of the many attempting to reach these professionals, you may want to consider digital methods—that is according to this research from Digital Insights Group.

Cardiologists digital search use communicate patients info web desktop mobile
Source: Digital Insights Group


Get a cardiologist's point of view straight from the source at ePharma West. Join us September 22-24 in San Francisco. Checkout the agenda to see the list of “A-players” lined up.

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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Monday, September 8, 2014

FDAs Guidances Stir Conversation, Uncertainty Among Marketers

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The FDA’s latest draft guidances on social media certainly had people talking but according a recent survey, many remain on different pages on exactly what the impact of those guidances will be.  In the survey of digital healthcare marketers, conducted by the DHC, most agreed that the door remains open to communicate with patients and health pros through Twitter, however there was a disconnect on the exact impact of those guidances.

When asked about the guidance’s impact on internal conversation over the use of Twitter, 71% agreed that it helped to increase the discussion.  The far majority also agreed that the latest developments “leave the door open” to communicate through Twitter with health pros (79%) and patients (86%). 

Although many acknowledge the possibility still remains, not all felt the latest guidances would necessarily encourage this type of communication.

FDA Draft guidances social media digital health marketers
Source: Digital Health Coalition 

Creating a compelling tweet with a 140 character boundary provides a challenge to even the most effective wordsmiths.  With the addition of the regulatory considerations mentioned in these guidances, that task becomes exponentially more difficult.

When asked about adding features to mediums with character spaces limitations, the list provided by the respondents included the following:

• Embedded video patient education
• Persistent companion banner or video or other to prominently display required/legal text for compliance purposes
• Click-to-call
• One standard link and language to the FULL product label at the end of the Tweet –would be adopted by all and standardize the experience—helping followers

The full report from the DHC can be found here.

You can hear directly from the FDA on their social guidances at ePharma West, September 22-24 in San Francisco. Download the agenda to see what else is on tap.

SAVE $100Register here and use code XP1956BLOG.

This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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