Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blogger initative to talk about death

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Engage with Grace is making a huge push this weekend to talk about the subject most of us don't want to, death. A simple form allows those who are dying to make their wishes clear to those around them.

The Wall Street Journal reports a blog initiative to spread the word and encourage families to talk about the topic while they're together as a family this weekend for Thanksgiving.

Paul Levy, blogger and CEO of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, has a post this morning, describing an effort to get bloggers to write about this over the holiday weekend, when many people are visiting family. The CEO of Harvard Pilgrim, a health benefits company, tells the Globe that he plans to chime in on his blog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Employers using Heatlh 2.0

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In a recent article at the Toronto Star, they focus on the growing popularity of how people are going online to discover more about their health and the medical world. But the part that intrigued me most about this article was that some employers are using these sites to promote self-awareness for the employees, and educating them so they can boost productivity and reduce absenteeism.

Dr. Gunther Eysenbach, who provided insight for the article had this to say about why employers are embracing informing their employees of medical issues:

"We now see employers understanding that if they don't start to provide some very important support to their employees, they will be in quite a mess in the next few years because of aging baby boomers who are struggling with health issues, in terms of employee absenteeism, in terms of labour shortages, in terms of (the health effects of) people working 24/7."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Health 2.0 Live

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At Read Write Web, they're hosting a podcast this afternoon to discuss Health 2.0 on the web.

Monday afternoon we will be talking health 2.0 with some industry experts on our podcast show, RWW Live. It will be broadcast live at 3.30pm PST Monday (6.30pm EST). You can tune into the show, and interact with us via the chat, by clicking here.

For more information, click here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Humana starts YouTube Channel

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Humana recently opened up a YouTube channel, which as short clips that describe different aspects of health care in simple terms. Check out the channel here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Contagious can be a positive thing

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In a recent blog at The Health Care Blog, Jim Walker talks about how health 2.0 can be "contagious," but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The article points out that a social network that helped people get together to quit smoking was under publicized. These online social networks are also leading to very knowledgeable patients. But these communities need to be facilitated in the correct way so the outcome can be the most effective.

Walker provided a few guidelines:
-Online health communities need to focus on healthy behaviors

-Patients learn from one another, so get out of the way and let that happen
-Healthy caregivers need to be invited and welcomed into the mix

What guidelines would you add to Walker's ideas for creating an online positive community dealing with health care?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

MarketVox: Digital Doctors Connect to Patients, Info Online

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From MarketVox:

Online Media Consumption for Professional Development

Physicians are increasingly using emerging technology channels to enhance their professional development and shifting their learning online. When it comes to product and treatment information seeking, physicians on average conduct 41% of their pharmaceutical and medical device research online. This number is expected to reach 50% going forward.

For more information, please click here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Potential Seen in Europe for FS

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From MarketWatch:

With no available therapy for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome (FS), pharmaceutical companies have shown great interest in coming up with possible recommendations and therapies for treatment. Central nervous system (CNS) niche disorders have always been a major challenge and FS is no different. Some of the key products in late-stage clinical trials have shown considerable promise and offer high growth opportunities.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, European Markets for Fibromyalgia Syndrome, finds that the market earned revenues of $73.4 million in 2007 and estimates this to reach $406.3 million in 2013.
"The increasing number of patients being diagnosed with CNS niche disorders, coupled with the lack of drugs to cater to them, has created tremendous scope for new blockbuster products," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Sriram V. "The absence of effective long-term treatment alternatives for neuropathic pain disorders such as FS has created a large pool of potential patients."

Read the rest of this article here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Google on pharma online spending

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At the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, Google gives insight to what they believe is going on in the pharma industry with online marketing. They think that a company should only spend 4% of their budget online. Companies have been hesitant to dive in and start marketing due to the fact that the FDA has never issues guidelines, but Google claims that companies have gotten better. Read more here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is the flu coming to get you?

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Google search terms usually show trends. When the search terms are tracked, they can show whats going on in a community. They recently took advantage of this and started tracking search terms that are related to the flu or flu symptoms. In areas that these search terms are high, these areas are more likely to have a flu outbreak. An article at the New York Times examines this new outbreak tracker.

In early February, for example, the C.D.C. reported that the flu cases had recently spiked in the mid-Atlantic states. But Google says its search data show a spike in queries about flu symptoms two weeks before that report was released. Its new service at analyzes those searches as they come in, creating graphs and maps of the country that, ideally, will show where the flu is spreading.

This system people in the area to know a full week to ten days lead over flu outbreaks reported by the CDC, because reports of these come from visits to hospitals and doctors, which results in a lag time in information gathering. This is a system that can show the results of the intentions of humans.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Educate and Inform, No Failing Grades

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I thought I'd share this analysis in the NY Times on a new marketing campaign by the health insurer, Cigna. Now while we are talking about a health insurer, I think looking at the tools and different aspects of the campaign can provide some strategies for those of you in the ePharma marketing space. Recently Cigna launched a new educational program that combines online courses, an online game, social networking and charity. Called Cigna University " is composed of three courses: “Back to the Basics,” the equivalent of Health Insurance 101; “What’s Your Plan,” outlining the ins and outs of health care plans; and “Take Action Now,” examining the health care platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties."

Some of the unique aspects of the campaign is not only is the course material available on the primary site but across multiple sites including iTunes, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. I had to stop and think for a moment - Flickr?? and then I remembered that it now offers users the ability to post videos along with photos.

I think the real unique value to the campaign is the combination of an online game with a charity offering. Cigna offers to make a donation to a charity called Water for People based on the number of correct answers you make. You not only can track your results on the site, but also through your Facebook profile. Now there's a powerful combination in my opinion. Easy access to information, combined with a fun, interactive game that not only feeds into your competitive nature (showing off your score on Facebook) but also your philanthropic side. A winning combination I think. What's unique I think is the use of casual gaming along with aspects of an alternative reality game (ARG) that has become increasingly popular tool for marketers in other retail product spaces and being applied to a product segment not usually known for using such tools.

Now if you are familiar with ARGs, I agree, this example from Cigna is not quite what some marketers have in mind when they think ARG, especially when you compare some of the great ARGs in recent years such as this one and this one. I actually remember my first experience with an ARG, it was for a Sony brand of televisions that was running a campaign that incorporated blogs, online puzzles and cyphers and cryptograms. It was very convoluted to say the least, but for several weeks it had me going back and searching through the material repeatedly.

Nevertheless, what makes an ARG isn't just the complexity of the game itself but the social aspect of it. Here I think is a great take on it. Traditional online or casual games are typically you against the machine or you against another live player. But what takes the ARG to another level is that some aspect of the game can be shared to a broader audience more than just the invitation to play. That's why I think Cigna has found a great combination of the social through sites like Facebook while providing a powerful incentive by combining it with a worthwhile charity. And most importantly - it avoids the typical direct marketing sell, the sites "...are not branded Cigna and the Cigna logo is not all over them,” (sic)Sheila McCormick, director for consumer education at the Chicago office of Cigna, adds, to underline that the initiative is “not to sell product but to educate people”.

It's worth looking at, and its success I think can provide some examples for Pharma marketers to consider as they develop an interact campaign. I've tried to find some similar examples with no luck, if anyone has any, please share and I'll update the post with it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Web 2.0 and Healthcare

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Jerome Nadel has this great presentation showing links between web 2.0 and pharma. Take a second to flip through it.

Web 2.0 And Healthcare
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: 2.0 health)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Intel develops a way for patients to connect to health care providers at home

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Intel has developed a health care laptop, the Intel Health Guide, that is also an application and database system. It allows the health care providers and the patients to be directly connected to each other. It received clearance from the FDA in July and is now being tested in Oregon. Find out more at cNet.

Friday, November 7, 2008 adopts Content Resource Management

Pin It Now! has adopted the use of content resource management to help it's users better access basic coverage information and utilize tools for making informed decisions about their Medicare healthcare options, benefits and needs. Find out more here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis Increase Social Media Budgets

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This post on Med 2.0 discusses how Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis have increased their budget for social media initiatives. This is a good day for pharma companies to realize the potential benefits that online communities and other social media efforts can bring to the table. Now that these two huge companies in the pharma industry have taken the first step, it will only be a matter of time before the rest will follow suit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Calling for Off-Label Promotion Restrictions

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Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D., an associate professor in the GUMC Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and Douglas Melnick, M.D., a preventive medicine physician in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, are two researchers asking for tougher more stringent regulation on off-label promotion of drugs. As it stands, once a drug has been approved for one condition, it can in some cases be legally prescribed for another condition or with different dosing. The two researchs, as mentioned here, believe that:

"states and other jurisdictions have a duty to protect the health of the public. Allowing off-label promotion of drugs for untested, unproven benefits maximizes industry profits at the expense of public health." They further go on to say "While off-label use is sometimes necessary… valuable off-label uses should be discussed by unbiased researchers in bona fide medical journals. Promising therapies should be tested in clinical trials. Truly useful off-label benefits of drugs will not remain a secret."

What is your viewpoint on this issue? Do you think there is a need for more stringent regulation with more penalties?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Increasing Amount of Health 2.0 Consumers

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The latest report out from Manhattan Research states that over 60 million Adults in the U.S. are consumers of health 2.0. This includes, health blogs, online support groups, prescription rating sites, and other health-related social media applications, according to this news source. This number is double that of the previous year, and as Meredith Abreu Ressi, VP of Research at Manhattan research stated:

“Social media is changing the way that consumers gather health information from the Internet. Patients and caregivers are no longer limited to static resources but are now sharing advice and treatment experiences online. And it’s not just younger audiences connecting online – consumers with conditions such as cancer, fibromyalgia, and depression are also avid users of these types of resources. Health 2.0 is happening, and it’s changing the way things are done in the healthcare industry.”