Thursday, July 31, 2008

Online Health Records in Minnesota

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Pushing health records online has been a main priority for Google, Microsoft, and Aetna. Now Minnesota’s current governor, Tim Pawlenty, is in the process of releasing a bill that would enable 50,000 state employees to access their health records online by next year, and everyone in the state by the year 2011 according to this latest post on the Wall Street Journal Blog.

Tim Pawlenty mentions:

“We need to put consumers in charge. We need to give them the tools so they can make good decisions”

Will this development in PHR help bring about a change in how pharma companies are reaching health consumers?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Conversations Not Taking Place Online

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In a recent study done by the Keller Fey Group, they found out that of the word-of-mouth conversations people were having online, less than 10% of conversations are happening, while 79% of these conversations are happening in person, according to this article at Health Populi.

Of the 10% of people talking about drugs online, those talking are family members, friends, coworkers, professionals. Also noticed was that only one in five of those who are talking to clinicians, meaning not many of the conversations online were with experts. Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of Health Populi believes that those selling prescription drugs need to find a way to utilize both online and offline word of mouth conversations for drugs, because so far, conversations are taking place primarily over the phone.

Ed Keller, the CEO of the Keller Fey Group, had this to say about the findings:

"The Keller Fay data is a helpful reminder that whatever is happening in the world of digital media is still only a fraction of all the conversations of health issues, and overwhelming online word-of-mouth are still conversations over the phone with people they know in some way or another personally."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Brand Websites Most Useful Tool in Pharmaceutical Marketing

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Nielsen Online and comScore are in accordance that branded websites may be the most important marketing tool for pharmaceutical companies. As this article informs, exposure-only to online ads results in a 4.0% adherence at next fill, exposure to and interaction with online ads (Rich Media) results in a percentage of 9.5%, while visits to Brand.com result in a 19.7% adherence rate.

Bridget O’Toole, VP of comScore had this to relate regarding the study:

"The most effective online marketing tool for both patients and prospects is the brand's Web site. It's important to realize, though, that visits to a brand Web site are achieved through the use of a variety of offline and online tactics, such as online banner ads, search and offline advertising. This is why it is essential for marketers to develop fully-integrated campaigns that not only raise awareness and educate consumers but that also drive visitation to a site."

As we have noted before on our blog, pharmaceutical companies are notorious for their small budgets when it comes to online marketing. Will this new study change marketing campaigns for the pharmaceutical industry?

Monday, July 28, 2008

CVS Launches a New Online Medicine Management Tool

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CVS now makes it easier for consumers to communicate with pharmacists and refill their prescriptions with their new features and tools on CVS online. Prescription management makes it easier for patients to have instant access to their medication history with a simple click of a button. Ordering refills and setting up refill reminders are as simple as a click of a button as well. What’s also interesting is that CVS has created a Health Information Center where patients can go and view thousands of credible healthcare articles.

Now that CVS has created an online system for pharmacists to communicate with patients, will they be releasing a similar web application to improve communication between pharmacists?

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Internet’s Impact on Doctors

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Recently, I found an article about the how much doctors are utilizing the internet. This article at Pharma 2.0 had these amazing percentages:

  • 99% of physicians are online for personal or professional purposes
  • 85% of offices have broadband
  • 83% consider the Internet essential to their practice

Also amazing was the reliance that doctors were placing on their Blackberrys for medical-related information:

  • 54% own a PDA/smartphone
  • Survey found a 15% attendance drop over the past three years at major conferences; doctors can watch or download the presentations online
  • Primary care physicians are more likely than average physicians to use a drug reference database
  • Google is the search engine of choice with 91% using it for medical and pharmaceutical queries
  • Corporate pharma sites are not information destinations

As we’ve posted before, physicians are looking to the web to both network and connect with their patients through Web 2.0. Now we see that they are also looking to the internet as a source of knowledge that can help both them and their patients.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Health Wiki “Medipedia” is Being Launched By top Medical Schools

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Academic health institutions including Harvard, University of Michigan, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, as well as sources such as NIH, CDC, and FDA announced that they are joining forces to contribute to a new health focused wiki titled Medipedia. The press release from the Medipedia website stated that the intention for the new site is to be the “worlds largest collaborative online encyclopedia of medicine”. The website will be launched later this year. The press release also made note that advertising will be “non-invasive text-based advertising” in order to help with any costs incurred.

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff, Professor of Medicine at Harvard released this statement:

“Medpedia has the potential to become a vital tool for scientists, researchers and educators, as well as for the general public across the globe, providing easy access to the latest and best information on medicine. Sharing what we know, we can help each other and help ourselves.”

It will be interesting to see what opportunity pharmaceutical companies will be able to capitalize on in terms of Internet advertising. As we have reported in the past, Pharmaceutical companies have been notoriously reluctant to pursue online avenues for new marketing ventures. In fact in this blog it mentioned that only 3.1% of the marketing budget for pharmaceutical organizations was allocated towards ads on the web.

Do you think that this will provide enough of an incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to increase their marketing presence online?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pharmaceutical Industry Lack of Involvement in Social Media

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This article I found discusses how pharmaceutical companies are behind the times in terms of using social media as a tool. A study conducted by Digitas Health confirms the articles opinion by stating that the industry has not been quick to engage with these new tools as a result of the risks associated. As Bruce Grant from Digitas explained it is

"not an unrealistic worry especially in the current climate of public opinion, legislative and regulatory scrutiny, and aggressive plaintiffs looking for class-action suits."

That is not to say that the pharmaceutical industry should not explore their options, instead many feel that it is important for them to keep current. As Grant also mentioned


"We need to understand that we are in a dialogue with patients in which the patients hold much more influence than they have held ever before. Social media can leverage this dialogue. We need to learn from this. Consumer voices are gaining influence. There is a new kind of conversation where there is a more equal share in the power between large institutions and user communities than in the past."

It will be interesting to see how and when Pharmaceutical companies increase the utilization of social media, and other web 2.0 tools.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lack of Online Pharma Advertising

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The top 13 pharmaceutical companies that were included in AdAge’s 2008 list of 100 National Advertisers spent $6,998,700,00 on advertising. Based on the amount that they spent in total they were responsible for roughly 13% of total spending for the combined top 100 spenders. What intrigued me the most, however, was that amount that pharmaceutical companies spent in Internet advertising in comparison to organizations across other industries. Below is a graph depicting the differences in spending.


One bloggers opinion is that the Internet is not proficient for reaching a mass market, and therefore is not a huge part of pharma advertising budget. Instead as the post states there is a “lack of reach in comparison to TV and magazines.” Also stated in the viewpoint is that “the Internet is not nearly as motivating as TV in getting consumers to visit their doctors and ask for a specific brand of drug.” The post also discusses that until the Internet starts to model the TV more, for example expand You Tube, pharmaceutical companies will continue to invest more heavily in TV and magazines in comparison to other companies.

Another opinion, as posted in this blog is that ROI for online pharma ads is not only bad, but sometimes even negative. Pharma Exec magazine stated that online ad spending decreased by 5% in 2007 from 2006 for the pharmaceutical industry. In a closed door session, 14 Pharma executive directors, stated that they “are still in the dark about the bang they are getting for their online buck. No one has been able to draw the direct line from online marketing to prescriptions.”

What are your opinions on the lack of online marketing spending by Pharmaceutical companies?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Redesigning Health Web Pages

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One common problem we see today is inoperability and too much clutter on websites. Users want to be able to visit a homepage and be easily directed to different information sources. This post on Microsoft’s Health Blog details how the new redesign of their health homepage makes the site more user-friendly.

One noticeable detail is the clear navigation to several health-related lines of business. The newly redesigned homepage includes links to providers, health payers, products & services, and different health agencies just to name a few. Digging deeper into the site, these links will send you off to archived webcasts, white papers, and case studies. What’s particularly interesting is that they also include a feed from their healthblog which updates when a new post is written. This in term gives its users a reason to keep coming back to the site.

So when was the last time your business decided to give its website a facelift? It’s a web 2.0 world out there.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Search for Medical Images

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I came across this post from John Sharp on the eHealth Blog in which he reviews a website, MDPIXX, which is a site that physicians can search for more than 12,000 medical images including CAT scans, X-rays, and pathology slides. John notices that this site is very similar to the YouTube homepage in which recent images fade in and out. In a web 2.0 world and with the growing popularity of social media, this site also offers an opportunity for visitors to comment on images, thus creating a collaborative experience for the user. What are some examples of social media that your business or clinic has adapted to its strategy?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

InnovationRx helps patients remember to take medicine

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According to this article at xconomy Boston, the United States tax payers pay between $200 and $300 billion a year for medical services because of patients failing to take their medicine. A website, InnovationRx, wishes to help people remember to take their medications and help this problem. By simply signing up for the service, those who have input their medical prescriptions into the system can be called, texted or emailed when it is time for them to take a prescription. The service also sends reminders as to when the prescriptions need to be filled. Other benefits on the site: a prescription diary and a tool for testing drug to drug and drug to food interactions, as well as a photo archive of medicine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

CDC Joins Web 2.0

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Last week, we informed you that Johnson and Johnson and the FDA had begun to use YouTube as way to reach out to their clients. At EHealth, they tell us that the CDC has also joined and begun to use Web 2.0 to connect with their patients and doctors via the web. Through e-cards, the recipients receive ways to maintain a health lifestyle, and links to the CDC website where they can learn more about health. The also have a webpage for Widgets. The available widgets are CDC public health data and statistics, CDC seasonal flu updates and a CDC weekly influenza map.

Monday, July 14, 2008

HealthMap pinpoints outbreaks using current news

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A new website, HealthMap, filters news from sources that include GoogleNews, the World Health Organization and online discussion groups into areas and regions and pinpoints outbreaks as they spread an a map. John Brownstein, a professor at the Harvard Medical School, was one of the co-founders of this venture. He hopes that this website will help the developing country the most, as it is a free website, and those who live in countries with poor health infrastructures can use this tool to prevent potential harmful diseases. Currently, the break downs are only available by a state/province level.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Companies beginning to utilize YouTube

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At the Eye of FDA blog, Mark Senak has been taking a look at what companies have been doing to increase viral video. Recently, to major players in the pharmaceutical world, Johnson and Johnson and the FDA have created YouTube channels. Together, these two companies already have over 100 subscribers to their channels.

Senak believes that a viral video source such as YouTube is a good way to connect with users. It’s a direct link between those who are looking for the data provided and the company providing it. It is also easy to spread the data from one interested person to the next. They can also provide up-to-the-minute news on current situations that they are facing. The downfall Senak sees is that companies have no way of censoring the comments left on the videos. In this case, a social media plan should be drafted on how to deal with comments that are not favorable to the company.

We’re seeing many Pharma companies begin to reach out to their clientele using blogs. The next progressive step is YouTube. Companies could provide information directly to their clients, and begin to build a relationship digitally by providing important information.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Patients Turn To Web for More Control

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Medical patients have increasingly begun to turn to online information technology in a struggle to win more control over health related decisions. John Sharp’s post today in eHealth provides us with a very useful report, Helping Patients Plug in:Lessons on the Adoption of online Consumer Tools presented by the California HealthCare Foundation. This report shows us that the demand for health web 2.0 technologies, or better known as health 2.0 for many, is extremely high but its availability is low. There is a growing need for better online health searches, access to medical records, the ability to email doctors, and a platform or network for consumers to share advice/treatments with other patients and experts in the field. Many health companies have started to adopt health 2.0 technology, but clearly not enough. Take the time to review the report as I’m sure you’ll find the information useful.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

RareShare provides Support for Rare Diseases

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RareShare, an online community for rare diseases, provides an online gathering place for those with diseases that are not common. Profiled at Read Write Web, we find out that RareShare has 600 different communities for rare diseases and they are looking to expand to 1,000 by this fall. The site was launched in May 2008.

The goal of the community is to give patients with the rare diseases support that may not be available where they live. The site eventually hopes to have the doctors who treat these rare diseases join and participate in the community. As for now, the forums are the basic form of communication along with the members profiles.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Study shows online health care could be successful

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A study, detailed here at The Health Care Blog, shows that online care can be beneficial to patients. In the study done by Group Health of Puget Sound, they divided patients with high blood pressure into three groups. The first group had online access to MyGroupHealth (an online option) and services, the second group had access to blood pressure cuffs in addition to onsite training and the third group had online consulting available every two weeks with pharmacists.

At the end of 12 months, half of the online group had reduced their blood pressure while only 1/3 of the patients in the first two groups reduced their blood pressure. This study shows that willingness to work with patients online can be beneficial both for the patient and the doctors. How can doctors work with health care groups to develop a way for online consulting to become a main stream reality?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More Electronic Prescriptions Could be a Possibility

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Of the four billion prescriptions written for drugs, only 25 million were submitted electronically according to this article at Pharmalot. This could be changing in the future, as the two big companies in the prescription drug world are calculating a merger. The two networks are composed of Benefits Managers (such as Medco, CVS Caremark, and Express Scripts) and drug store chains (such as Walgreens, RiteAide and Walmart).

According to the article, health insurers, business groups and the federal government have been pushing physicians to prescribe medications electronically because it eliminate some of the mistakes made and save lives of those filling the prescriptions. The temporary name for this entity is SureScripts-RxHub and there will be 200 million Americans who benefit from this new merger, as 70% of US pharmacies will have the ability to accept electronic prescriptions.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Twitter being embraced by the Doctors Community

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At the Clinical Cases blog, they write a post about why the author has started using Twitter to help them follow the medical world.

Some of the reasons this doctor has embraced Twitter are:

-Easier patient reminders – The ease of providing patients with chronic diseases little reminders. Instead of phone calls, patients can subscibe to the Twitter feed and be reminded of what they need to do.

-News breaks first on Twitter – we’ve seen cases where earthquakes are reported first on Twitter before any other news source. Patients can stay up to date better with the concentrated news source

-The doctor’s lounge feel – doctors can communicate easily with other doctors who work in the same field.

-Doctors can publish small findings – The doctors can write a paragraph or two about their new finding, without the hassle of publishing it in a medical book. The information gets to the intended sources quicker.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Startup SpreadingScience Bringing Web 2.0 to Biologists

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Richard Gayle, former employee of Immunex, formed a new startup in April called SpreadingScience, as reported by this article in xconomy. The new company is a social networking site for biologists in the pharmaceutical industry. Some individuals speculate that the lack of this kind of forum thus far has been a result of secrecy that pervades the drug industry, however, as stated in the article:

Gayle is convinced that biologists need to adopt the new technology, because in an era when the entire human genome is in the open, there is too much information for an individual, or even small group inside a company, to sort through it efficiently.

As a result, the aim of the new company is to combat this difficulty, and provide a forum for in-house communication to enable more “Eureka! moments” through increased interactions.