Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Introducing the Digital Health Coalition Social Guiding Principles Summit

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This year, ePharma teamed up with the Digital Health Coalition in an effort to help provide direction to the world of pharma digital marketing. Join the DHC during the Medical Legal & Regulatory Summit day to hear speakers from Sanofi, Gilead Sciences, Palio, Facebook, The Society for Participatory Medicine, and The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest as they work with the audience to produce guiding principles for the industry at the event.

Stop waiting around for the FDA. Join the DHC at the 2012 ePharma Summit and make your voice heard. If you haven't registered to join us yet, don't forget to mention P1706BLOG to receive an extra 10% off the standard rate!  If you have any questions about the event, feel free to email jpereira@iirusa.com.

Managing the Right Communications Balance with Multi-Channel Programs

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Multi-channel communications are all-encompassing and part of the new messaging framework when engaging with today’s tech-savvy recipients. The challenge is connecting with each market segment and speaking in the appropriate voice to directly address and provide the proper public health content in a timely and well-balanced approach.

Today, targeted audiences readily seek and need ease of access to information. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) seek greater awareness about conditions and disease states; while healthcare providers (HCP) look for information designed to educate, provide insights and alert them in order to make better prescribing decisions for their patients. From disease state awareness, drug launches and label changes, to drug formulations and safety data; DTC’s and HCP’s have become more sophisticated in their approach to finding, accessing, and putting to use this information. DTC’s and HCP’s each require a variety of access points that can include one or all of the following: direct mail, computers, smart-phones and tablets. In addition, DTC’s and HCP’s call for multiple delivery formats to meet their active information gathering and communication preferences which can include direct mail, e-mail, and targeted micro-sites in both a traditional push and recently in a pull delivery approach.

The other side to this challenge is being able to connect with and provide the information as the need arises, in the format the DTC’s and HCP’s need it in, and at the very moment that it’s needed? Finding the right balance with these vehicles and the format delivery used with the DTC’s and HCP’s is a very delicate line to walk. At the same time, add to the complexity of these programs the prerequisite of governing federal laws and state mandates in conjunction with implementing the right balance of communication vehicles and delivery formats when undertaking these programs. This can be overwhelming and hard to manage without the right resources and production capabilities in place to execute and manage these initiatives flawlessly.

With a zero tolerance threshold for error when dealing with time and content sensitive communications, the best programs are executed utilizing a dedicated resource partner providing secured data management, comprehensive production, kitting and distribution resources. The seamless integration of workflows, production capabilities with global web-based management resources is the key to effectively supporting every stage of a multi-channel program.

Finding the right program partner to assist with these daily marketing, sales and advertising activities to ensure regulatory compliance, while achieving marketing outcomes, is critical. Simply stated, Quantum Group is that dedicated program partner for providing comprehensive and effective marketing communications and multi-channel programs at any and every stage of your program needs.

To learn more, please see us, Quantum Group,  at booth #21 at ePharma Summit, next week, February 6th to 8th.  If you haven't registered to join us at the ePharma Summit, register today and mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Only One Week Left Until The ePharma Summit!

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The 11th Annual ePharma Summit is Just around the corner.

Check out a welcome video from our chairman, Paul Ivans of Evolution Road Consulting.

Remember to use the code XP1706BLOG when registering to save 10% on your registration.  For more on this year's event, visit the webpage.

We look forward to seeing you there,

The ePharma Summit Team

What Pharma Can Learn from Fitocracy?

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Today's guest post comes from at closerlook, inc. He blogs at digital-pharma.tumblr.com and pretty much lives on Twitter (@digital_pharma) if you'd like to reach out.

Pharma likes to put itself in a very specific frame: They are makers of our “Brussels sprouts.” No one wants to take their meds, or go to the doctor, or track their progress. These are chores we all simply have to do. And while Pharma is fully engaged in finding and designing new Brussels sprouts to make us healthy, they throw a sidelong glance at the idea of adherence. You can almost hear pharma say, “It’s good for you, so just take your meds while we get back to making new ones.” They leave it to the prescribers and pharmacists to scare patients into adherence. But adherence is key to pharma’s success in the long run. Low adherence reduces the likelihood or curing or treating the disease, which lowers patient’s interest in taking more meds. If we instantly hit 100% adherence, pharma sales would be way up and we’d hear less doom and gloom at industry conferences.

So let’s look at someone who’s gotten the idea of adherence right and see what we can learn. Fitocracy is a site designed to get people to take a different kind of medicine: Exercise. Excluding those handful of crazy people who consider exercise fun, most Americans look at time at the gym or on the treadmill as a chore even more dreadful than swallowing some pills. Yet somehow, Fitocracy has levered a number of different psychological and sociological tricks to get people to commit to getting more fit, and then doing the work required to get there. How successful is Fitocracy? In a world where startups are desperate for people’s attention, Fitocracy’s site is invite-only, and it took a little effort for me to get in. In a nutshell, Fitocracy gives you points for being physical. You get points when you work out, but you also get points when you shovel snow, or take the stairs instead of the elevator (granted, you get a lot more points for deadlifting half your body weight than you do taking the stairs, but it all adds up). There are pre-assigned quests and achievements you can complete (like when you log 10 items in a week, or try a barbell squat). And as you add workout data, you can level-up, like in a video game. And like a video game, each level gets a little harder to achieve, but by the time you’re working towards level 10, you’ve got weeks of workouts under your belt and you have the confidence you can complete the level without it being too easy. Aside from the game tricks, Fitocracy leverages the power of each person’s personal network. Just as you will gain weight when you hang out with over-eaters, and get funnier when you hang out with clever people, hanging out with people who work out encourages you to work out. Hanging out with people trying to lose weight helps you look at your choices in a new light. On the site, your social network gives you props for good workouts or when you’ve had a couple of good workouts in a row. Or when you lose a few pounds. Or when you set a record on the treadmill or barbell. You get positive reinforcement, right there on your screen every time you work out, along with points for giving your friends props, encouraging you to give as well as you get. No friends? Join one of the existing groups, like the Chicago group or the weight loss group to achieve your goals. You are collaborating together, and that induces even more adherence. This is social proofing: you don’t want to let your friends down, and they don’t want to let you down.

 How can pharma steal some tricks? Well, if pharma wants to start using the ideas of persuasion, gamification and social proofing to increase adherence levels, it needs to start by getting out of its own way. Especially in terms of privacy. Yes, pharma succeeds because of federally mandated privacy laws, but as you can see from the thousands of patient forums, people are willing and interested in talking about their disease state so long as they get the choice to do it on their own. Pharma can play a part, and even encourage people to talk amongst each other without coming anywhere near violating privacy rules. They can build a site like Fitocracy devoted to diabetes or gastric distress or gout or depression, where patients get points for doing things that make them healthier (like taking their meds), or talking to other people with the same disease, or helping other people with their problems. Beyond the obvious health benefits to the patient and adherence benefits to Pharma, this community could serve as an active focus group, one that can help you understand patients and even leverage should you need to communicate with patients or the public at large. Pharma needs to become partners with their patients to solve a lot of each other’s nagging problems, and it seems Fitocracy has developed a pretty interesting template on which to model that solution. If you’re looking for Fitocracy invites to check it out, ask me on Twitter: @digital_pharma!

 And remember, I’ll be live-blogging/Twittering ePharma Summit next week. If you’re gonna be there, say hello! Full disclosure: I will have a camera and have no fear using it.  If you'd like to join me, register today and mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate!

Friday, January 27, 2012

AMA Weighs in on Social Media

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Casey Ferrell is a research analyst at Cutting Edge Information. He will be guest blogging at IIR’s upcoming ePharma Summit 2012 (February 6-8, 2012 in New York City). You can find him on Twitter or over on his company’s blog.

Joining the ever-growing list of organizations, associations and trade groups to weigh in on social media, the American Medical Association adopted this week a non-binding policy suggesting how physicians should go about their business on social networks.

Though there is nothing particularly groundbreaking within the policy document, it signifies a recognition by the nation’s preeminent physicians’ organization that physician participation in social media is happening and will likely continue. It seems each week as I peruse my Tweet stream, I see a new and staggering statistic about doctors’ technology adoption rates. Pretty soon smartphone ownership will be near universal for physicans, with tablets not far behind. These technologies provide real and meaningful tools to overworked doctors in all walks of life. From aspiring med students to seasoned surgeons, the medical profession is uniquely inclined to want, need and ultimately buy into digital technology, explaining the disproportionate rate at which doctors own and use those technologies. One of the outcomes of that early adopter status is increased exposure to all of the social media thriving in those technologies, thus it’s no surprise, really, that physicians tend to report social media usage rates higher than the average individual’s. What is completely unclear, though, is how they are using those media and for what purpose. Is it for personal use? Is it for professional use? Which platforms and services? Who are they interacting with?

All of this makes physicians’ use of social media an emerging area of interest to healthcare marketers, pharma companies, device companies, heck, even phone companies want a piece of this lucrative demographic. Which is why the AMA was smart to take this first step in recognizing that doctors are most definitely using social media, and to attempt to shape the way in which they do so.

The policy describes the following six principles:

1)      Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.
This should go without saying, but I suppose stating the obvious is part of any good policy document.
2)      When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently. Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.
I think this is intriguing primarily because it suggests to those doctors who don’t use social media that they probably should if they want to protect their reputation, or at least make a habit of trolling the digital waters for mentions of their name, practice, etc. This seems to me a concession by the AMA that the option of staying on the social media sidelines may eventually become infeasible or professionally inadvisable.
3)      If they interact with patients on the Internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines just, as they would in any other context.
This, to me, is where physician social media usage will get very interesting as physician-patient interaction begins to test the bounds of HIPPA, FDA regulations and FTC regulations. The policy is careful here to go back to the generic “Internet” rather than social media. Internet interactions can run the gamut from completely exposed and publically accessible by anyone with a modem to highly encrypted, password protected exchanges that provide more privacy and security than a telephone ever could. In social media, the distinction between privacy is more blurred, especially on the monolith of social media, Facebook. If you are friends with your doctor on Facebook, exchanges could occur via private message or in a variety of other ways and with varying degrees of privacy. I suspect legal clarification will eventually be required on this front.
4)      To maintain appropriate professional boundaries physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.
To split or not to split. That is the question every professional must make, doctors included. I see plenty of advantages to separating online identities, while I fail to see a commensurate set of advantages to exposing one’s private life to those of one’s patients. Perhaps I’m wrong, and I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on why it might be a good idea.
5)       When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions. If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.
A bit of self-regulation can never hurt, but this is merely an extension of physicians’ existing code of conduct.
6)       Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students), and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.
In other words, social media is serious business, folks, and people can get hurt. We can all use that reminder from time to time.  Right, Anthony Weiner?

The ePharma Summit is just over a week away!   Would you like to Casey Farrell and more than 600 Digital Pharma Marketers in New York City February 6-8? Register today and mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the current rate.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yahoo Identifies Key Insights to Help Health Marketers Create Meaningful Connections with Women in Mid-life

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Did you know that 3 out of 4 women, age 40-59, have at least one medical condition? 

To find out more, Yahoo!, the premier digital media company, partnered with Digitas Health to thoroughly understand how women in this age group make health decisions as people, not just as patients.

Yahoo! and Digitas Health surveyed more than 2,500 women age 20-59 to understand how women think and feel about their life stage, their health and caring for others with health conditions.  

Five major insights emerged:

1.       Nearly half of women, age 40-59, have a positive outlook about life
2.       Women experience information as much emotionally as functionally
3.       The Web offers multiple touch points that ignite their decisions to act
4.       Woman are looking for a partnership with their physicians
5.       Five health styles emerge that come at the intersection between a woman’s outlook and her situation
More details on this study are available on Yahoo!.
Yahoo! is a sponsor of the 2012 ePharma SummitVisit booth #24 to learn more about Yahoo!'s solutions for pharma marketers or contact us at : 866-506-3593.

About Yahoo!:
Yahoo! offers premium content and solutions for pharma marketers to engage with their audience, at scale.  As the premier digital media company, Yahoo! creates deeply personal digital experiences that keep more than half a billion people connected to what matters most to them, across devices and around the globe. And Yahoo!’s unique combination of Science + Art + Scale connects advertisers to the consumers who build their businesses.   For more information, visit advertising.yahoo.com.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

AMA Physicians Survey Results to be Available at #ePharma

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The MMS Center for Healthcare Market Research Data is conducting a flash survey of a sample 5,000 physicians selected from the American Medical Association (AMA) Physician masterfile for release exclusively at the ePharma Summit.

Please feel free to submit any questions you would like to see included in the survey, the deadline is January 30, 2012. Email suggested questions to t-nugent@mmslists.com.

When you register to join MMS at the ePharma Summit next month, be sure to mention code XP1700BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate and stop by the MMS exhibit at ePharma (Booth 16) for a free copy of the results! Topics will include physician use of social media for professional purposes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Five Tips for Pharma Digital

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These are some broad tips for leveraging digital in pharma marketing to effectively and efficiently connect with digital audiences.

1. Be where they are

Consumers: Data shows that consumers are online seeking healthcare information. Consequently, the point at which this audience engages with health content in digital creates a highly qualified, near point-of-purchase opportunity to connect with your audience.

Physicians: Manhattan Research reports that 99% of physicians use the Internet, and the percentage of time they use it for professional purposes is upwards of 11-hours-per-week and growing. In addition, their activity is no longer restricted to before and after work hours. Time online during patient visits is also increasing at notable rates year-over-year. Their #1 online activity is researching pharmaceutical products on sites like Drugs.com. They also read professional journals across the multiple channels of print, online, and mobile.

2. Budget for effective SOV

At eHealthcare Solutions Premium Advertising Network, we see thousands of campaigns. It is troublesome how many agencies will attempt to buy an ineffective share of voice. Some site-specific purchases seem to be made simply to be able to inform the client that “they have a presence” on a specific site with a strong brand name. If a purchase translates into too small a share-of-voice, however, we often recommend that clients save their money, because the campaign will simply be ineffective.

3. Deliver a relevant & timely message

We tend to think of people as being clearly in just one stage of the customer-engagement funnel. What we find, though, is that reality is murky. Promoting through the transitions is powerful as well. If someone is 90% on their way to the next stage, it is far easier to push them through the next step. Don’t miss out on opportunity by assuming they are already converted.

When measuring ROI, evaluate comparable placements – don’t mistakenly compare the CTR of a brand-building campaign with one of direct response. These media buys were made with entirely different objectives in mind. Don’t compare an awareness campaign with that of a treatment-targeted campaign. When dealing with consumers on different ends of the disease awareness continuum it’s important to message to them differently, as well as to set and measure their desired results differently.

4. Utilize expertise of strategic partners

Agency partners are one important source of strategic collaboration. But there are many additional experts available to serve you and help you meet your marketing goals via the digital channel. Consider expanding your circle of advisors to tap into fresh and more-specific talent. Many strategic resources will work for free if they have services that might meet your needs because consultation provides an opportunity to showcase these services. Brainstorm directly with strategically aligned vendors and consultants. No one understands better how to tap into the potential of their area of expertise than the companies offering the services under consideration. These partners provide a great opportunity to create new solutions or to take existing products and tailor them into a program that will achieve great results for your unique situation.

5. Maximize time & investment

Countless studies by Dynamic Logic, comScore, and others have evaluated aided and unaided recall, and NRx and TRx lift resulting from online ad exposures and site visits. These studies have shown that digital advertising works. In fact, because online programs have been held to a higher standard for so long, other media are being asked to measure themselves against the same criteria. Digital performs well... and it’s flexible, cost-effective, and measurable.

Because metrics are so readily available for digital campaigns, data management becomes a key success factor in getting the best results for your investment. It’s vital to establish performance goals and measurements at the onset of a campaign –even before the creative is developed and the media buy is planned. Then, when live, campaign data and results need regular monitoring and optimization. For maximum results, it’s important to share all the data with all partners involved in the campaign. Each player has a role and a unique perspective in the process. Timely collaboration around what the full data picture means against the success metrics results in faster action toward optimization, improved efficiency, and more time for you to experience greater results.

RJ Lewis will be presenting "Trends & Technologies to Watch in 2012 & Beyond" at the 2012 ePharma Summit.  For more information on his presentation and the rest of the agenda, download the brochure here.  And, as a reader of this blog, mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the current rate when you register to join us this February!

About the author: R.J. Lewis has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for his entire career. He is the Founder & CEO of eHealthcare Solutions (EHS), the leading solutions-focused premium advertising network serving both advertisers and publishers in the digital healthcare marketplace. Our exclusive representation of more than 75 top-quality digital partners helps us deliver high-value exposures to and engagement with target audiences across the many niches of healthcare, including physicians, other HCPs, patients, and caregivers. We leverage our pharmaceutical, marketing, media, and digital expertise in strategic partnership with our marketing clients to deliver effective, custom solutions for their brands. EHS delivers proven results for both advertisers and publishers. For more blog posts from this author, click here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

'Twas the Night Before New Year's...

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Casey Ferrell is a research analyst at Cutting Edge Information. He will be guest blogging at IIR’s upcoming ePharma Summit 2012 (February 6-8, 2012 in New York City). You can find him on Twitter or over on his company’s blog.
... and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring except for my mouse.
I returned from vacation, I checked email and snail mail,
I dashed over to Twitter; I had missed seeing Fail Whale.
But something was amiss; #socpharm was achatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to Windows 7, I flew like a flash,
Tore open my Tweetdeck, and threw up the hash(tag).
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Guidance! Oh Joy! It’s finally here!
But wait, what’s this? What’s this bulky title?
It’s not what we thought. This is a false idol.
Off-label requests and how to respond?
I couldn’t help but feel that we’d all been conned.
More rapid than eagles the pundits they came,
And they whistled, and shouted, and set the Interwebz aflame:
"To the blog! ToTwitter! To the new Facebook wall!
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
The next two weeks saw the blogosphere explode,
With more than sixty posts attempting to decode,
This FDA Guidance of Near-Mythical Proportions
That had us in various states of contortion.
It’s too short! It’s too shallow! There’s nothing here new!
We wanted to see something on which we could chew!
But fear not, pharmateers, cooler heads have prevailed,
The guidance, while narrow and modestly scaled,
Is a document of promise that once I had read,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
It wasn’t a document to dismiss or condemn,
But a little wayfinder for the Spitzes and Shwens.
A handy little piece of non-binding regulation,
Acknowledging all of the wild speculation,
Around if and how pharma could ever be enabled,
To respond online to stuff that’s off-label.
So now we know what to do on this front,
Let’s hope going forward the FDA doesn’t punt.
Just think, with more guidance, maybe five or six more,
We’d be deep into digital where we haven’t before.
As I sat back and breathed and began my perceiving,
I was shocked yet again by a guy who was leaving.
None other than Boy Wonder, the wise and sage Jon,
Announced a new venture he was ready to try on.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his Tweeps gave a whistle,
And away he then flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Pharming to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

See Who's Attending the 2012 ePharma Summit!

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We invite you to join more than 600 attendees at the digital marketing event for the life science industry. The ePharma Summit is the one event of the year where leading pharmaceutical companies and innovative solution providers get together to transform the pharmaceutical marketing landscape. Do you want to be among the attendees?  Register today and mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the current rate.  We hope to see you this February 6-8, 2012 in New York City!

Companies attending the 11th Annual ePharma Summit include:

5th Finger * Abbott Laboratories * About.com * AccentHealth * Acxiom Corporation * AdRx Media * Alliance Health Networks * American Greetings Interactive * Amgen Inc * Andy Smith * Argus Health Systems * Astellas Pharma Global Development * AstraZeneca * Bang Albino Inc * Bayer Inc * BioCentric Inc * Biogen IDEC Inc * BlackDoctor Inc * Boehringer-Ingelheim * Bristol Myers Squibb Company * Bulletin Healthcare * Cadient Group * CareWave Media * Celgene Corporation Liz Arnold MLS * Center for Medicine in the Public Interest * Closerlook Incorporated * Communispace * comScore Inc * Covidien * Crossix Solutions Inc * CSL Behring * Daggerwing Health * Daiichi Sankyo Inc * Delta Marketing Dynamics * Depomed Inc * Direct Medical Data * DKI Direct * Doctor Directory * DotHealth LLC * EatingWell * eHealthcare Solutions * Eli Lilly and Company * EmpowHer com * eT Consulting * Everyday Health * Evidon * Evolution Road Consulting * Extrovertic * Flashpoint Medica * Fleishman Hillard * Forest Laboratories * G2 * GA Communication Group * Galderma Laboratories LP * GiftsOnTime * Global Advertising Strategies * Global Marketing * Google * Grey Healthcare Group * Group 80/20 * HallandPartners * Harte-Hanks Inc * HealthDay * HealthiNation * Healthline Networks Inc * HealthPrize Technologies * Hearst * Heartbeat Ideas * Hologic Corporation * IMC2 Health and Wellness * Intouch Solutions * IntraMed Educational Group * Invivo Communications * IPG * Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc * Johnson & Johnson Inc * KPMG * LLNS * Lucy Rose & Associates LLC * Lundbeck Inc * M2 Worldwide LLC * Manhattan Research LLC * MannKind Corporation * Maritz Canada * Mayo Clinic * MDM Communications * Medical Marketing & Media * Merck & Company Inc * Merkle Incorporated * Merz Pharmaceuticals GmbH * MicroMass * Microsoft * Novartis * Novo Nordisk * Pharmaceuticals Inc * ORCHID HEALTH CARE * Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development * Palio * Patient Conversation Media * PCX Pharma Connect Express * PepsiCo * Pfizer * Pharma Advertising Advisory Board * Pharma Force * PharmaLeaders * PharmaVOICE * Physicians Interactive * Pozen Inc * Precision Health Media * ProlifIQ * Psychology Today * Publicis Touchpoint Solutions * Publicus Medical Education Group * Purdue Pharma LP * Quality Health MTS * RealAge * Roche Diagnostics Corporation * Rustic Marketing * Sanofi-Aventis * Seamless Medical Systems * Sermo Inc * Shire Pharmaceuticals Ltd * SSCG Media Group * Swarmology * T Scott International * Telerx Marketing Inc * The Agency Inside * Harte-Hanks * The Sample Network * Underscore Marketing * Univision * Vibrant Media * VirSci Corporation * Vitals * Vogel farina * WebMD Professional Network * Weight Watchers International * West Wireless Health * Wired Magazine * Within3 * Within6 Communications Inc WRB * XVIVO Scientific Animation * Yahoo *

Get Out of The Marketing Bubble

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Today's guest post comes from at closerlook, inc. He blogs at digital-pharma.tumblr.com and pretty much lives on Twitter (@digital_pharma) if you'd like to reach out.

Let's say someone commissioned a very special book from you. They already knew the subject, format and title, but you had to supply the content. And, for the sake of this silly hypothetical situation, you’re going to be paid enough money to retire like a prince. So clearly, we need your best thinking here.

The book is called “The One Thing Every Marketer Must Do Well.” Yes, the one thing. Not the one system, not the one methodology or tactic. Just one thing. And the worst part is that the book must fit onto the back of a matchbook cover.

So, whatever you think the most important thing is, you’d better get to the point.
What have you got? What’s the one thing that’s gonna let you buy a plot of beachside property and learn how to paint? Will you fall back on the Four P’s? Do you think that’ll get you a 7:30 tee time at Pebble Beach every morning? What about “think strategically?” Is that ball of meaningless text going to pay for that cottage in the Hamptons?

No. But here’s what my version of the book would say: Understand what the customer wants and give it to them. (And, for the record, I will be retiring to a hotel suite in a new city every year. We can meet for drinks in Barcelona.)

Can you beat that “one thing?” The best part of it is that is leads to a zillion tough questions, all of which are vital to the process.

So how do you understand the customer? The problem with marketing in any industry (pharma is no exception here) is that the marketers all get together and talk and think and write blog posts (guilty!) and articles and read books and end up building a marketing bubble, one where little new thought gets in or out.

How can pharma understand its customer (in my case, the HCP), when it just talks to other marketers? Getting outside the marketing bubble is hard work, and it's far easier to let the focus groups tell us what customers want.

What do HCPs really want? My feeling (and I’m willing to hear opposing views here) is that what HCPs really want is a 25-hour day. Or the need for less sleep. Or more efficient records management.

They want more time.

HCPs know that paperwork is part of the job, but they feel like it takes too much time away from their patients.

HCPs know that medicine changes every day and that part of their job is learning new ideas to keep up. I don't see the surveys that show that they hate to learn new things.

But I see the surveys that show that many see reps as time-sucks, black holes from which there is no escape from marketing hackery. They see tsunamis of email pitches and requests for attention, and they think to themselves, “somewhere in that mountain of spam are two good things I need to know, but how can I know what they are when they all look the same?”

HCP’s have the desire to learn. But more than anything, they hate having their time wasted. This is your customer.

So how do you give them what they want? Start by getting out of your marketing bubble, stop thinking about what you like and think about what your customer needs. What they need is for you to stop showing off all your well-considered strategic thinking, your expensive creative and your cool new technology and cut to the chase and tell them what they need to know.

Right now, I bet each and every one of us could cut the size of our marketing materials in half without losing the inherent meaning within. It may not look as cool or be as flashy, but it will save the HCP time. And if that’s what they want…

Here’s another thought: If we spent as much time on our login form (or better yet, started thinking about ways to make an HCP login once and see more content) as we do on our graphics, would we have more engaged HCPs?

Build a reputation for getting to the message faster and I bet you'll be surprised to see more HCPs better engaged than they are today.

So think about what you can do in every marketing piece to save the HCP time. That’s what they want, and they’ll reward you for giving it to them.

ePharma Summit is coming up fast. Will you be there? Let me know! I'm guest-blogging the whole thing and maybe I'll interview you! I'll make you famous to fifteen people!  Also, if you register to join us mentioning code XP1706BLOG, you'll receive a 15% discount off the standard rate!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Can packaging increase patient adherence?

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Patient compliance with prescribed medication remains a challenge for doctors.  Frequently, patients are given medicine but fail to comply with the prescribed dosages, often failing to take the medication though it's prescribed time period.  With this in mind, NVC Netherlands Packaging Centre has asked a question: Can package design of medication affect the patient adherence?

They believe so: 
Designing packaged medicinal products in the  proper way, may significantly contribute to the improvement of healthcare by stimulating, supporting and enabling an effective adherence of the patient to the medication prescribed.

It would have to be a team effort among many parties, including the physicians, the doctors, and the package designers.  But what specific factors are influenced by the package design?
  • Take point-of-consumption (POC) as starting point for packaging design. 
  • Apply available and possible newly developed communicative and behavioural insights into packaging. 
  • Use packaging to facilitate and stimulate positive feedback loops between patient and healthcare providers. 

Next month in New York City, the ePharma Summit will be examining a variety of ways to influence patient adherence with their medication.  Novartis will be on hand to present "Define Mobile Medical Apps from a Pharma Marketer’s Perspective & a Regulatory Perspective" as well as the presentation "Encourage Patient Adherence through SMS" in the Future Trends on Mobile track.  For more information on these presentations and the rest of the agenda, download the agenda here.  As a reader of this blog, when you mention code XP1706BLOG while registering, you'll receive a discount of 10% off the standard rate

So if findings of this conversation from The NVC about package design for patient adherence and the use of digital communication for reminders is combined, what could this mean for patient adherence?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hospitals see power of social media

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We all know the power of crowds and social media.  In a recent article posted by The Cypress Times, they examine some of the best ways hospitals have captured this power over the past few years - from fundraising to sharing patient experiences for the better of the community.

A few that stood out to me were:
Massachusetts General: They created an app for users to find the closest emergency room.  Since many people turn to their cell phones in a time of crisis, I found this to be one of the best to reach those in need where they are looking for help.

Nebraska Medical:  They created a YouTube Channel. This YouTube channel frequently features patients an their stories - encouraging others to share and seek treatment.  This has lead the Nebraska Medical Center to see an increase in requests for certain surgeries.

UCSF Children's Hospital: They successfully harnessed the power of social media to raise money to build a new children's hospital.  Through the game FarmVille, where players sold purchased candy canes, over $805,000 was raised, and lead a strong foundation for a new children's hospital to be built.

At the 2012 ePharma Summit, Kevin Kelly, Author, What Technology Wants, Founder & Senior Maverick, Wired Magazine, will be on hand to present Quantifying Ourselves through Technology: How What Technology Wants Can Inform What the Healthcare Consumer Wants, where he will look at the power these tools are bringing not only to these hospitals, but patients as a while.  For more information on his presentation, download the brochure here.  Don't forget, as a reader of this blog, register to join us January 6-8, 2012, and mention code XP1706BLOG to save 10% off the current rate!

While Pharma is awaiting regulation, hospitals have found a way to harness this powerful medium for the better.  What are some of your favorite examples of hospitals using social media?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Two Mobile Paths for Pharma

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Guest post author: R.J. Lewis, Founder & CEO of eHealthcare Solutions (EHS)

As pharmaceutical marketers look to integrate mobile into their marketing plans, they are evaluating two options: to build mobile apps themselves or to align with existing apps that already reach their target audience in a positive way. That decision lies in what the marketer is trying to achieve.

For brands whose patient audience would benefit from information or data-capture on their cell phones, then building an app to meet those needs might be a wise investment. However, the value proposition being offered in exchange for that consumer data must be compelling enough to motivate data input. A great brand can and should be seen as presenting a positive solution for meeting a customer’s need; however, if that value-position is in the product itself and not in the mobile offering the product is considering, then the brand should consider the more moderate approach of advertising on existing applications that have already established popularity among the right target audience. There is value in aligning their great product brand with that of a great mobile app brand that already has customer trust and loyalty. Both of these paths, when executed well, deliver messages to the right audiences in a relatively uncluttered environment when the person is in the right mindset to appreciate a relevant message.

These “build” vs. “buy (advertising)” approaches vary in other ways as well. Because data defines the mobile audience, advertisers can more accurately target their message and achieve larger scale when buying. Large scale can be obtained when building as well, but it is a much slower process. There are far fewer privacy concerns when buying advertising because no personal audience information is being shared directly with the advertiser. The availability of anonymous targeting data helps improve the quality of the connection to each user. It’s a win-win-win situation for the brand, the mobile app, and the consumer when brands have a relevant value-proposition and message for the target audience.

RJ Lewis will be presenting "Trends & Technologies to Watch in 2012 & Beyond" at the 2012 ePharma Summit.  For more information on his presentation and the rest of the agenda, download the brochure here.  And, as a reader of this blog, mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the current rate when you register to join us this February!

About the author: R.J. Lewis has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for his entire career. He is the Founder & CEO of eHealthcare Solutions (EHS), the leading solutions-focused premium advertising network serving both advertisers and publishers in the digital healthcare marketplace. Our exclusive representation of more than 75 top-quality digital partners helps us deliver high-value exposures to and engagement with target audiences across the many niches of healthcare, including physicians, other HCPs, patients, and caregivers. We leverage our pharmaceutical, marketing, media, and digital expertise in strategic partnership with our marketing clients to deliver effective, custom solutions for their brands. EHS delivers proven results for both advertisers and publishers.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The FDA's End-Run Around Social Media

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You've read the FDA’s new partial guidelines for pharma in social media titled "Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices," right? (If you haven't, go now. We're all waiting. Try Dose of Digital or Fierce Pharma.)

Okay, so in a nutshell, if I'm reading this right, it says that pharma companies are allowed to respond to people who post in private and public internet spaces about off-label uses of their drug. But have to respond privately. Specifically, these are unsolicited requests, so you can't coordinate with your marketing company to seed the idea that Brand XYZ cured baldness. There are some other considerations, but that's the gist. (Those of you waiting for complete guidelines from the FDA should get comfortable, because if this is what we got in a year or two of discussion, you're in for a long wait.)

So, here’s what is interesting:

1) The words "liability," "expectation," or "anticipate" are nowhere in this document. The FDA is not yet ready to place the burden of having to listen to every online channel on pharma. Yet. So pharma can hang back and choose not to get involved in social if they don't want to because the FDA is not forcing them to.

2) The rules for what pharma is allowed to say seem to differ depending on whether or not the request came in public or private, despite the fact that the answer must be private. (Private requests will answer scientific questions with scientific information, public requests will pretty must stick to the label and ask the requestor talk to a healthcare professional.) Thus, the same questions asked in two different medium might get two different responses.

3) The FDA is saying while pharma can respond to all unsolicited requests about their own brands, they have to respond privately. But we all know in social media nothing stays private for very long.

Let’s walk through a scenario to see how these new rules are applied.

So I write Brand XYZ and ask them a question. The brand is now allowed to respond privately, but they, as good corporate pharma citizens, must be "truthful, non-misleading, accurate and balanced," and include standard response information. Then, I go on Twitter and ask the same question and get a different response via DM or email. This isn't much on the surface, except that the FDA has done everything to keep pharma from ever saying anything anywhere that hasn't been reviewed seven ways to Sunday. The review process is the FDA's way of getting everyone to stick to the script (because it's far cheaper to stick to the script than to try something new, and gamble on whether it survives medical, regulatory and legal reviews). To allow two different responses from pharma on the same question is new.

But since the FDA is quite clear on keeping those responses private, maybe it thinks it can control the message in the world’s most porous communication environment. Which would be silly.

So either A) the FDA is asking pharma to do nothing new (i.e. "stick to the script, kids") or the FDA is anticipating (or worse, not realizing) that every private response will quickly be copied and pasted into public forums all over the internet, thus negating the FDA's own intent of keeping off-label information private.

On one hand, the new guidelines seem to focus on solving a very narrow problem in social media. On the other, the FDA may be trying to learn how quickly these "private" messages will become public, indicating that the FDA is serious about understanding the social media environment–not just in theory, but in practice.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Influencer Myth

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Today's guest post comes from at closerlook, inc. He blogs at digital-pharma.tumblr.com and pretty much lives on Twitter (@digital_pharma) if you'd like to reach out.

If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, you probably already know the thesis: In order for an idea to be adopted by a large group of people, you need an influencer, someone who wields sway over large groups of people. That one person who may not dominate the conversation, but the one people listen to when they speak.

It's a great theory, and you can see why marketers adopted it: reach and influence a large number of people by leveraging a relatively small number of key people. The hard part is to figure out who those key people are.

This is a theory born in modern communication models. The greatest example may be that of Walter Cronkite and how his feelings on the Vietnam War swayed millions of opinions against it. Or MLK influencing millions of Americans of every color to stand up and demand equality. It's also the basis of every celebrity endorsement.
And it might not really be true.

What if we were looking at the idea of influencers backwards? In a system where we feel like the one can hold sway over many, who’s in charge? The one or the many?

Influence is two separate processes held together: one person wielding an opinion and many people interested in listening. If the group isn't interested in listening, what good is the influencer? If I'm not in the mood to buy a car, how important is Eminem’s feelings about a Chrysler?

Perhaps what we see when we see the key influencer effect is the natural aggregation of like-minded and interested people congregating and getting themselves ready to listen. At which point, someone (or anyone) with some basic credibility can take the mic and make their case. Is that person truly an influencer or are they leveraging a very ripe environment? Was MLK influencing people who previously had no opinion on civil rights? Or was he tapping into the existing desire for equality?

Once a congregation occurs, social pressures work to encourage people to act in the same direction (for example, you are more likely to laugh and laugh louder when those around you are laughing), thus reinforcing the idea that the influencer is influencing.

In Albert-László Barabási’s study about connection (he was the first to suggest that we’re all just six degrees separated from Kevin Bacon each other), he finds that there are no key influencers, no selection of people influence more people than others. What he saw were groups, connected to each other by a series of strong and weak bonds. You talk about something and someone on the edges of your social network hears it. They talk about it and someone on the farthest edges of their network pass it along.

In my own work, I looked at people I considered very influential people: social media gurus. These are people who have tens and thousands of subscribers and followers, people who have ideas about social media that get disseminated very quickly (e.g., Chris Brogan and Jeremiah Owyang).

When they post an article, I read it. Their ideas are now part of my thought process. Thus, they are seen as influencers. But who’s in charge, the person trying to influence or the people who have come to listen?

This is problematic because pharma relies heavily on KOLs to be its brand-supported influencers. And if influencers really don’t wield an inordinate amount of influence, where should pharma be focusing?

Again, let's return to the model: it's the congregation of interested people that leads to influence. It's more important to find (or build) those groups than to find someone to influence them. Once you find the group, standing in front of them (depending on the medium) with some basic credibility will make you look like an influencer.

For example, should you try and find an all-star pharmacist to talk about your brand? Is there really a pharmacist that all other pharmacists listen to? If there is, could you point that person out to me? Or is it more true that each pharmacist is probably professionally friendly with a handful of other pharmacists? If we could reach a few of them, the ones interested in our brand, they could influence the handful of people in their own networks. Isn’t that how you commonly learn about new ideas?

Perhaps pharma should spend more time and resources cultivating these congregations of people interested in learning about new treatments and brands than trying to find people with special influencing powers.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

FDA releases some digital marketing guidance

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After years of waiting, the FDA has finally released a little guidance to help Pharma companies navigate the social media waters.  Late last week, it released "Guidance for Industry Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices".  In this fifteen page piece, the FDA addresses how Pharma companies should address those online looking for information on drugs for reasons other than why the drug would be prescribed.

In the article from AdAge,  FDA spokeswoman Karen Mahoney stated, "We understand the level of interest and wanted to get out what we had available to provide guidance, the first of multiple planned guidances that respond to testimony and comments from the Part 15 public hearing that FDA held in November 2009."

Read the social media guidance here. At the 2012 ePharma Summit, the MLR Summit, you’ll analyze the specifics of off-label reporting and have an opportunity to discuss digital marketing from a regulatory perspective when industry experts discuss what matters most to them.

Was this what you expected from the FDA as their first guidance on social media?  What do you think of it, and what do you expect to see next from the FDA?