Friday, May 13, 2016

Why EHRs are Essential for Patients and Healthcare Providers

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Physicians and other health care providers are overworked. The number of patients seen daily has grown dramatically in recent years. In fact, according to a 2012 survey by The Physicians Foundation, 40.7% of American physicians see over 20 patients a day. Such a large caseload presents many opportunities for errors, miscommunication, and omissions. Electronic health records (EHRs) can provide a solution for these issues.

Why EHRs are Essential for Patients and Healthcare ProvidersWhat are EHRs?

Simply put, EHRs are health records in a digital format. They usually contain all the data of a traditional paper chart plus billing information, imaging and records across different institutions. EHRs allow instant centralized and secure access to patient data. Some of the benefits of EHRs are described below.

Space Saving

One of the main benefits of EHRs for healthcare providers is the physical space they save. An established doctor’s office traditionally has rows and rows of patient files. On average, those files are stored for 10 years, even for inactive patients. This takes up large amounts of space that could otherwise be utilized.

Speedy Access Anytime a doctor needs to work on a case, a nurse or secretary has to find and pull the patient’s chart. Since this usually happens dozens of times a day, the time spent can rapidly add up. EHRs eliminate this issue by using a simple interface. Patient data is pulled up almost instantaneously simply by typing a name, medical record number, or date of birth, allowing office staff to attend to other duties.

Outside reports are also available more quickly. For instance, if a patient’s primary care and hospital are on the same EHR system, then information about a hospital stay will be available to the primary care through the EHR. There’s no more waiting for a fax or mailed letter.

Data Centralization

As mentioned above, all patient imaging and reports can be stored in the EHR. So, a physician can easily bring up a MRI or lab results without having to call outside their office. Also, EHRs have all patient history consolidated in a single database, so conditions or procedures done many years ago can be easily stored and accessed.

EHRs don’t just store medical history. The patient’s social history, contact information and insurance information are all readily available. For example, a dentist with a new patient can easily check that patient’s individual dental insurance records through an EHR to see if veneers will be covered.

Error Minimization

In a recent report, researchers at Johns Hopkins announced that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. EHRs can help prevent these mistakes. Most EHRs provide a safety net in the form of drug interaction and drug allergy alerts. If a provider tries to prescribe amoxicillin to a patient with a penicillin allergy, the EHR will remind the provider of the allergy. Additionally, since EHRs track information across different providers, accurate continuity of care is ensured. For example, a surgeon would be able to see which leg has cellulitis by looking at primary care records in the EHR, even if the problem is not apparent on exam.


These days there is widespread concern about data security and identity theft. In The Physicians Foundation survey cited above, over 47% of the responding physicians reported they felt EHR systems did not adequately ensure patient privacy. However, if used correctly, EHRs can be much more secure than paper charts.

All EHR systems use password protection and most encrypt any information transmitted outside a provider’s office. As long as staff remembers to always lock their terminal or device, patient information remains safely behind a password.

EHRs are certainly the future in the healthcare field and present several major improvements over traditional filing systems, both for patients and providers. When both of these groups embrace EHR, they reap the benefits of speed, accuracy, and security.

About the author:

Greg Dastrup is a world traveler and professional writer with a passion for learning new languages. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America. You can follow Greg here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Building Practice Revenue for Medical Experts Through Digital Channels

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One of the most effective business-building tools available to corporate leaders and entrepreneurs today is digital marketing; however, many medical practitioners still lack a basic understanding of how online marketing techniques can enhance connectivity and accelerate conversion.

What Is Digital Marketing? 

Digital marketing has several definitions, but at its root, it is the process of using online strategies to increase a brand's visibility and conversion rates through online channels. Once any business owner's web media gains a competitive ranking on search engines and creates buzz on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, the brand is better able to generate new clients and retain existing customers, improving their bottom line. This does not only apply to retail outlets, however; medical practices can also leverage the same marketing methods to build their credibility, broaden their reach, and boost revenue.

How Does It Work?

Several digital strategies can be employed to optimize the practice’s online visibility and boost the company's revenue. One of the most common and important is web design and development. In today’s always-online culture, a well-designed and well-optimized website can clearly demonstrate the unique value a practice offers. According to a Pew Research study, more than three in four patients looking for health information online (77%) began with a simple search engine query. Ensuring that a medical practice’s website is optimized for such searches can lead those patients to that website. Ensuring that the site is clear, concise, and professional looking goes a long way to build the practice’s credibility and can lead new patients into the doors of the practice. Web designers use several different methods to make this happen, including building clean website templates to optimize the aesthetic appeal of the site and sharing relevant and accurate information about both the practice itself and its field of expertise.

Practices can also build relationships with their patients through social media channels. In today's world, one of the prime methods of communication is through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. One study determined that, on average, there are more than 1.44 billion active users each month on Facebook, and those people spend an average of more than 20 minutes each day on the site. This accounts for almost 20% of all the time they spend online. In the United States, that number is even higher, with each user spending about 40 minutes per day on the site. Many medical practices are able to take advantage of this fact by using social media to build relationships with their patients and establish themselves as both medical authorities and integral parts of the community. By regularly interacting with both prospective and potential patients across social channels, medical practices can build patient loyalty as well as bring in new patients.

Yet another way for medical practices to improve patient retention and growth is through e-mail list building. The more a prospective or loyal patient hears about a practice, the more likely they are to return or recommend that practice to friends and family. Sending out newsletters via email gets this process going by regularly providing the patient base with key updates and information regarding the practice such as upcoming renovations, new members joining the medical staff, promotional events such as discounted dental cleanings and sales on eyewear, new clinic openings, and so on. To maximize the effects of this strategy, medical marketers use proven techniques to increase the number of people who subscribe to the practice’s newsletter.

Where to Start?

Medical professionals are often more focused on providing the best quality medical care they can, meaning they are often less focused on marketing. There is a broad range of methods practices can use to begin leveraging digital marketing avenues to build their credibility and expand their client bases.

Some practices will simply ask an existing employee to focus on website design and social media engagement. This is the simplest avenue of entry, though it is not always effective, considering the person in charge of digital marketing may have little to no experience in the field. Another option would be to hire an on-site expert to work from the practice and focus specifically on digital marketing.

Often, medical practices will instead engage the services of a digital marketing company such as PatientPop, which focuses specifically on digital marketing for medical practices. Marketing companies like this specialize in helping medical practices connect and convert patients over online channels. These companies create cutting edge, customized web profiles that are visible across social media and healthcare sites. In the case of PatientPop, they also offer all-in-one solutions for reputation management, patient acquisition, and retention marketing.

The digital environment is ripe for medical practices who want to further establish and grow their patient bases. Social media and other online channels make it possible for these practices to reach more potential patients than ever before, and by optimizing their websites to provide the information patients need and building their own credibility as experts in their medical field, it is possible for physicians and clinics to solidly establish themselves for years to come.

About the author:

Greg Dastrup is a world traveler and professional writer with a passion for learning new languages. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America. You can follow Greg here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

[FREE WEBINAR] From Multichannel to Omnichannel with a Unified Global Identity with Janrain

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In today's highly competitive pharmaceutical industry, marketing success relies on the ability to reach verified healthcare providers and allow them easy access to content - on any device, anywhere, anytime. Pharma brands also need to manage consumer identities securely, ensuring users have defined access to content.

Janrain Logo [Webinar] From Multichannel to Omnichannel with a Unified Global Identitywith Janrain

Webinar Details:


Thursday, May 5, 2016 
Time: 1:00 PM EDT 
Duration: 1 hour
Hosts: ePharma and Janrain 
Webinar Cost: Free 
Register for the webinar here

Join this session to learn more about:

• How you can manage both HCPs and consumer identities in compliance with regulatory requirements, ensuring peace of mind that the right people have access to the right content.
• How to leverage social and professional networks so HCPs can gain access to valuable pharmaceutical products and services.
• How to remain in regional compliance when providing access to goods and services to physicians worldwide.

Featured Speakers:

Jamie Beckland, VP of Product, Janrain

Jamie Beckland has been delivering custom web solutions for more than 10 years, and built his first social media community in 2004. Prior to Janrain, Jamie led the emerging media practice at White Horse, and has worked as a marketer and technologist with clients including Coca-Cola, Financial Times, Samsung, Wells Fargo, L'Occitane, The Brooking Institution, and many others. He frequently speaks about technology trends and writes for Mashable, Social Media Examiner, iMediaConnection, AdAge, and other publications.

Register here 

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Prescription Compliance at the ePharma Summit 2016

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Last month, I attended the Institute for International Research’s (IIR) ePharma Summit in
New York City. Managing communications for prescription discount card provider Watertree Health and having a background in technology and business, I was most interested in the disruptive health technology showcase and innovations challenge. One company’s presentation stood out in particular because of its mission to make prescription compliance easier: on-demand prescription delivery platform, Zipdrug, which has been featured in TechCrunchDrug Store News and Crains New York.

The ePharma Summit logo
IIR invited Zipdrug to present at the three-day summit after the company announced its partnership with CityMD, making CityMD a one-stop-shop for medical visits.

After ePharma 2016 ended, I followed up with Todd Weisbrot, Head of Business Development at Zipdrug to speak about Zipdrug and health care on a broad scale. Todd is a health care industry expert with over a decade of experience in the pharmaceutical and medical device space. Over the years, he has represented companies such as Medtronic Spinal and Biologics, and Bradley Pharmaceuticals in business development and sales efforts. He now leads business development for Zipdrug in New York, NY.

How big is the prescription compliance problem? 

70% of the U.S. population takes prescription medication; but due to medication non-adherence because of various reasons, there are 125,000 deaths annually because people don’t take or don’t properly take medications. Medication non-adherence costs our health care system an estimated $300B per year. Zipdrug’s delivery service aims to remedy this preventable situation. Zipdrug aims to eliminate the pharmacy visit altogether, by automating prescription ordering through an app, and then deploying a drug-screened, background-checked, HIPAA-trained messenger to pick up and deliver prescriptions to the patient's home. 

How did you get the idea for Zipdrug?

Zipdrug is the brain child of CEO, Stu Libby. Like many people, Stu had always experienced frustration waiting for medications at the pharmacy. But in January 2015 when his father was discharged from a hospital without his prescriptions, Stu discovered the need for a business like Zipdrug – one that can save lives by making it easier to get medications.

Why is Zipdrug innovative?

We’re living in an on-demand economy. Zipdrug fits into that mold by offering a service that delivers prescriptions in under an hour, but it serves more than a convenience to consumers – it helps them adhere to their medication. We’ve heard countless stories of consumers getting a prescription and forgetting about it, Zipdrug takes this out of the equation.

What are some other disruptions you’re seeing in health care?

Disruption starts with the leading health care companies across systems, payers and manufacturers. Their willingness to partner with start-ups is what is seeding disruptive innovations. Start-ups used to die waiting for their pilot partners, today more and more bigger health care players are open to new ideas from new companies and that’s where innovation is coming from. 

Why are conferences like ePharma important?

The future innovators are in that room, the incumbents who are not interested in this type of content will lose their leading positions in coming years to the start-ups and more established companies who come to ePharma to explore how new partnerships will shape the future of health care. These conferences are priceless opportunities to find the market leaders of today and tomorrow who want to push the envelope and innovate. 

What was most valuable to you in attending the ePharma Summit?

After our CEO's on stage presentation, the Zipdrug team was approached by companies that were not on our radar that wanted to explore possible partnership opportunities. As Head of Business Development, ePharma was gold!

Are you excited about telemedicine?

We are excited to partner with telemedicine providers to provide a true, fully inclusive health care experience at home - with Zipdrug, a patient can be seen, treated and receive their prescriptions without the need to ever leave their home or office. That’s exciting. 

Why have health care companies been so slow in engaging patients?

Risk mitigation and innovation don't mix nicely in health care. The innovators within the leading health care institutions have a difficult job in selling through interventions that will drive more patient engagement. Thankfully it seems to be changing. 

Lisa Chau currently works in digital strategy and business development for free Prescription Discount Card provider, Watertree Health. Her previous experience in health care includes biotechnology logistics management for Living Independently Group, and special projects in education for the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in conjunction with affiliated teaching hospital, White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Read more about Watertree Health and connect on Twitter: WatertreeHealth

Lisa's work has been published in ForbesUS News & World Report as well as Huffington Post. She is an adjunct lecturer for the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch, and has been a featured guest on NPR.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Explaining The Technical Side of Healthcare in Marketing

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Marketing new healthcare technologies to clients who may lack the technical background needed to understand a product can often be a challenging undertaking. Providing a short primer that details the technical nature of a product and having additional answers and educational resources at the ready can often provide more effective results than bombarding leads and clients with more information than they may be able to process. Concentrating on the potential benefits and advantages a product is able to provide makes it much easier to handle the technical side of medical technology, systems and resources.
Explaining The Technical Side of Healthcare in Marketing

Marketing Systems Designed to Improve Medical Imaging Workflow

New innovation and advanced technology have led to a major economic boom within the field of medical imaging. Diagnostic procedures and imaging techniques used to produce information crucial to the patient care process throughout numerous medical fields have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Electronic image and file archive systems and transmission methods, such as picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), are in greater demand than ever before. Marketing strategies that will ensure that the technical nature of such systems can be more easily explained can make it much easier to improve lead conversion rates and sales figures.

The increased demand for more technical sales skills can create no end of problems for those who have little experience promoting or marketing products that rely on sophisticated technology. Key sales stratagems for explaining the technical side of healthcare products and services can include avoiding language that may leave leads feeling insecure about their level of understanding and finding ways to explain advanced concepts clearly and concisely. A classic mistake with technical sales is to provide too much technical information rather than finding ways to express complex concepts in a way that will be easier to understand and absorb.

Concentrating on The Benefits of a Technology

Potential clients often need to grasp little more than the basic premise of a product in order to see and understand its potential benefits and applications. Explaining how PACS systems can be used to reduce instances of preventable medical errors which are currently a leading cause of death in the U.S. is often all that is needed to generate interest in the technology or product. By concentrating on the advantages that new technology is able to provide, it may become possible to generate interest without having to delve too deeply into technical specifics.

Preparing Information in Advance

The most effective technical sales techniques are those that find an effective middle-ground. While providing leads with too much technical information too quickly can lead to confusion, being unable to furnish a more detailed answer upon request can also create problems. Preparing answers in advance and seeking out ways to ensure that even the most complicated aspects of technology can be expressed simply and effectively can ensure that any questions that may arise can be addressed more effectively. Being able to explain the difference between CT and MRI scans in layman's terms, or being able to explain the limitations of relying on courier services or fax machines to transmit medical images can make an important difference.  

While sales and marketing professionals need to have in-depth knowledge of their products, they are rarely required to become experts themselves. Being able to provide leads with additional resources and educational materials is often just as effective as being able to answer questions of a technical nature directly. While knowing all the answers would no doubt make it easier to explain the technical side of healthcare products, simply knowing where to find the answers is often more than sufficient to assist customers and prospective leads with any questions they may have.

Greg Dastrup: Explaining The Technical Side of Healthcare in Marketing
About the author:

Greg Dastrup is a world traveler and professional writer with a passion for learning new languages. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America. You can follow Greg here

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Behavior Change Driving Digital Health is Bubbling Up from the Bottom

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This week marks one month since ePharma Summit 2016 opened and closed. It’s a good time to reflect on a final takeaway from the conference and close my notebook.

Clearly, there is more grand thinking about the future and emphasis on the promise of digital health at this point than in the celebration of successes. But that isn’t to say there aren’t a few current successes and some projects underway that will start to bear fruit even as I write this.
The most important aspect of digital health that I learned at the ePharma Summit was that patients are truly at the center of any advances in the use of healthcare technology to achieve lower cost, higher quality and improved outcomes. After all, it’s the patients who need answers who are behind the rapid uptake of any promising health or wellness application that might offer hope, support, and solid answers.
Stupid Cancer Show founder Matthew Zachary at the ePharma Summit 2016
Stupid Cancer Show founder Matthew Zachary said emphatically he has legions of Millennials with cancer using apps and participating in peer support who freely offer their information for healthcare professionals who can use it to advance a cure. It’s there for the taking, and it is being offered enthusiastically.
Another informational session featured the developers and founders of GI Health, an app that helps diagnose and support patients who have GI symptoms so they can provide accurate and potentially life-saving information to their gastroenterologists.
On the marketing side, another app tracks physician online interactions to help pharmaceutical companies get product information to prescribers at the point of making treatment decisions.
The bottom line here is that there are plenty of players from the patient, provider and payer worlds who already have their heads in the game. Expect any moment that this 24/7 interactivity with health information will reach critical mass and change the whole game of caring for patients.
One of my favorite health IT gurus wrote a blog recently wondering how we will move the needle in healthcare. John Lynn at EMR & HIPAA says health IT companies have been throwing solutions at the patient wall for years, but concludes ultimately it is a fail.

“Lately, I’ve become more and more interested in what will really move the needle in healthcare IT. Plus, I’ve been thinking through how most health IT companies approach their solutions and how the methods we’ve been using for years are failing so many patients in healthcare. As part of this analysis I’ve been discovering a need for healthcare IT companies to spend more time and focus on the behavioral side of things than they do today,” John wrote.

True behavior change is coming from the bottom up; it will not be driven from the top down. For stakeholders in the outcome of the digital health revolution – and that is all of us – look at the change already bubbling up from the bottom to see the behaviors that are changing the present reality of healthcare right under our noses.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Necessary Hospital Technology that is Often Overlooked

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ePharma | Health tech blog post
As technology has made its way more into healthcare, there are many parts of it that while being extremely important are often overlooked. While many people automatically assume that hospitals seemingly run themselves, the truth is that the best hospitals rely on more and more technological systems in order to run efficiently. Whether it's the latest system for electronic health records or for imaging technology, various factors such as patient safety, competition from other healthcare systems, and cost effectiveness all play a part in determining whether or not hospitals stay competitive in the ever-changing world of healthcare.

EHR Systems

EHR systems, also known as Electronic Health Records systems, play a pivotal role in today's hospitals. Considered more important than ever by most hospital administrators, EHR systems perform a number of functions that are often overlooked. For starters, as hospitals place a bigger emphasis on population health and preventive care, these systems allow hospitals to be competitive by acting as platforms of communication. With patients now using more doctors and facilities than ever for their care, EHR systems allow hospitals to easily track patient care like never before. As an added bonus, hospitals having certified EHR systems have also discovered these systems allow for easier recruitment of physicians, enabling them to maintain the highest levels of care.

Imaging Systems

Next to EHR systems, imaging systems have made hospitals better at providing patient care as well as staying abreast of the latest changes in healthcare technology. PACS system, which stands for Picture Archiving and Communication System, provides an extremely economical and efficient way for hospitals to store and retrieve images from multiple types of imaging sources, such as X-rays and MRI. In addition, ultrasound imaging devices are being used more and more in Emergency Rooms to let doctors get much more detailed images of patient injuries. Having become much more prevalent within the last decade, these systems not only lead to better patient care, but also let hospitals attract and retain the best medical personnel.

Infection Detection Technology

Considered more important than ever by hospitals everywhere, infection detection technologies are important in many ways. Not only do they keep hospitals compliant with the ever-growing number of regulatory issues they face, but they also allow facilities to have data to show patients they will be safe while staying there. Considered to be very cost-effective due to their ability to make hospitals less reliant on paying for expensive antibiotics, IDT systems such as the PCT test for sepsis have become commonplace in U.S. hospitals within the past five years. Rapidly becoming adapted by forward-thinking hospitals, they are expected to become even more common in the decade to come.

Staffing Management Technology

With staffing and labor costs accounting for more than 50 percent of a hospital's expenses, many facilities have in recent years started to implement staffing management technology systems as a way to decrease costs without sacrificing patient care. Helping hospitals walk the fine line between over or understaffing, an SMT system reduces unnecessary overtime while also keeping hospitals from relying on outside staff from healthcare staffing firms. While discussed little in the media, staffing management technology is looked upon as one of the most important advances in healthcare within the past decade by administrators.

Mobile Devices

To provide staff with the latest information, hospitals now provide mobile devices to doctors, nurses, and others to make the patient care experience more efficient and safe. Allowing doctors to translate into other languages such as Spanish, perform medical calculations, and access patient records, the use of these devices represents a cultural shift in healthcare that will become more important as the years progress.

While patients may think little about the various technologies being used during their care, hospital staff and administrators realize there are numerous technologies that are overlooked every day despite their effectiveness. However, as more becomes known about these technologies, attitudes are expected to change.

About the author: 

Greg Dastrup is a world traveler and professional writer with a passion for learning new languages. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ePharma Summit Recap on Customer-Centricity, Social Listening and Storytelling

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With the growth of social media, social listening for pharma is being more and more integrated in a marketing strategy. This year at the ePharma Summit many speakers couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of monitoring the conversations that take place online. Here are just a few reasons why social media listening is important for pharma: 

Why do you “listen”? 

Reshema Kemps-Polanco, Global Marketing Leader, GU Oncology Franchise at Johnson & Johnson:

“We do social media listening to understand our product, competitors, and our patients. We listen to the conversations to have a better idea on what the industry looks like at the moment [to help build empathetic brand.]”

Christophe Trappe, the Chief Storyteller, The Authentic Storytelling Project (@CTrappe):

"When you share the story, there's always a different perspective. Make sure you pass the message that was intended to be passed." 

Grace Soyao, Founder & CEO, Self Care Catalysts Inc.(@gracesoyao) started her session ‘Patient’s Digital Life Driving New Business Intelligence, Insights and Decisions’ from quizzing the audience: 

“Are you changing with the patients?” Approximately 50% of the room extended their hands. “Good, because once patients go out, they start going digital. They go online, research their medical conditions and address their questions in an online communities. And if you only rely on the traditional marketing, you won't know their (patients') stories.”

Be smart about doing social media listening 

ePharma Summit. Edlynne Laryea "Listening to Learn - How to Generate Insights from Social Data" slide
Social listening is extremely important but there's so much data being generated that it turns into noise. It’s becoming harder and harder to scan the internet for insights, so you have to know what you are looking for. 

Edlynne Laryea, Social Media Lead, Worldwide Digital Center of Excellence at Johnson & Johnson (@edlynne) during her talk on ‘Listening to Learn – How To Generate Insights From Social Data’ suggested: 

In order to evaluate the data driven through social listening, you need to ask yourself (and your team) the following questions: 

• What will this data tell me?
• Is it something new?
• Can I use this data?
• If my competitors had this data, how would they use it against me?
• Does someone else care for this information? And how can I make them care? 

But also:

• Can we use the insights to get better? How can we optimize our campaign after it has been launched?

Social listening and Content Marketing

How patients search on your brand online? They don't

ePharma Summit. Presentation slides

Being just a silent observer is not enough. It is really important to listen, but then you have to engage.

“Why do you think content marketing matters?” Trish Nettleship, UCB, Inc. (@trishnet) asked the audience during the ‘How to Move from Product Talk to Content Driven Experiences’ panel at the ePharma Summit.

“It's about changing the focus of us as a brand and shifting it to our customers (patient experience.) Go online! How patients search on your brand? The answer is - They don't! Patients are looking for their symptoms and diseases.” 

Nettleship stressed on the importance of understanding the audience, their wants and needs. “Once this is established,” she followed, “the pharma businesses can start figuring out how to match the patients’ needs with the business objectives. Not the other way around.” 

In the age of patient-centricity, it is crucial to deliver relevant content; content that speaks to the consumers. But how do we know what content works? Some experts suggest to go over the patients’ houses and speak to them in person, some – to conduct focus groups and extract value from there, and others hint on social listening. There’s no right or wrong answer. We need to optimize and focus our messaging – the value proposition as we go on with a campaign. Because it's about building a long-term relationship with the audience. 

Sandra Valez, Content Strategy Leader, Customer Engagement COE, Merck couldn't have said it better:
“It is really important for you to understand What Does Your Customer Really Want in order for you to start building your patient-centric content marketing strategy.” 

Have some thoughts and would you like to share them on Twitter?

Don’t forget to mention @epharma and #ePharma16! 

About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at Informa, Knowledge and Networking, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at or @ksenia_newton.