Monday, February 27, 2012

Doctors adopting iPads, so how can hospitals benefit?

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In a recent study from Manhattan Research, they found that of 1200 doctors surveyed in five European countries, 20% said they owned iPads and 27% of those doctors use these devices while at work.  An additional 40% planned on buying an iPad in the next 6 months.  According to TUAW, these rates are the same for primary care physicians and specialists.  Their general use is typically researched based, focusing on medical articles and videos and education of the patients.

Interestingly, in the US, some apps have been created in the hospital environment to help the physicians.  In San Diego, the Palomar Pomerado Health Systems in San Diego developed an App that help the doctors within the hospital.  According to PC Advisers,  an app created that pulled information on the patients in their surrounding area in the hospital and delivered their information to the tablet.

Here's how it works:
Physicians log in to the app, which uses location services to generate a list of their patients who are currently in the hospital. The app communicates with patients' RFID wristbands to determine their whereabouts. And the list is auto generated and sorted by patients who are closest in proximity to the doctor accessing the app.

The app gives doctors up-to-date summaries of patient information including allergies, active medications, lab info, recent vital signs, and more. A doctor can drill down into more detail in each area by tapping an icon, to see, for example, data on recent blood tests, prescriptions, various patient charts and notes, and even look at X-rays.

What benefits can both iPad and Android based tablets have for hospitals and physicians?  Will streamlining the systems and platforms have for both patients and doctors?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Grand Theory of Pharma Marketing

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

Einstein’s last project before he died was the search for the grand unified theory, proving how all the major forces in the universe are related: gravity to the speed of light to the attraction between electrons and everything else. It remains the “holy grail” of physics, something huge, important, and possibly unknowable.

HCP marketing has a grand unified theory that marketers are trying to understand. A unified theory would tell us that a married male gastroenterologist in Alabama with a degree from a public school who works in a small private practice needs X touches before he will change their prescription behavior, but an unmarked female Obstetrician in a large hospital in Seattle will need Y touches.
Our unified theory shows us how tactics are related to each other. If an HCP has seen a complete eDetail, for example, maybe they need five fewer touches than one who has never seen one. What about rep visits? Or conference attendances? How do they all interrelate, and how much work do they do in encouraging behavior, by themselves or in tandem with the other tactics?

It's far easier to think in smaller terms. Here’s a hypothetical campaign: Send a million emails and see how many someone has to get before they’ll go to a web site. How many web visits do they need before they register? How many registrations turn into an eDetail viewing or sample request? How many samples (both with and without a rep visit) will lead to more prescription writing?

We look at these questions in isolation because looking at them in the larger picture is... messy at best, requiring very complex mathematical models. To be fair, if any of us were better at math, we’d probably be engineers instead of marketers. And the kind of math we’re talking about goes beyond the pre-calculus class we took freshman year. And if I had a nickel for every marketer with an MBA who said that they barely passed their stats class, I’d be able to retire. To an island. That I owned.
That’s why companies exist that are full of math nerds who can run modeling data and tell us what our deciles are. They tell us who should be prescribing and aren’t, and who needs a little push based on what data they have available to them.

But again, this is small ball. What if we started thinking big?

What if we took all the data we had... But, we don't have enough data. We need a lot more data, and it's gonna take a little work to get it.

For the next year, every banner ad you put in the field needs to get a dynamic ID number. In places where an HCP has to login, correlate that ID number to the HCP ID. You already know what emails are being sent to that target in your brand, so figure out a way to get all your brands to collect the same data so that you can put it into one big pool. Take all the data the reps send back (oh yeah, you might need to teach reps how to collect info so they can tag and input it into your CRM). Take all your eDetail data. All those business cards you collect at the conference to win a free iPad. All the mailers. All the web traffic (cookies, people). Every giveaway, every teleconference or teledetail, every meal, every pen left behind. All these things are collectible and able to be connected to a given target. Then add everything else you can find out about your target: specialty, school, practice type, practice size, gender, age, geography, marital status, family status, psychographic data about their parents and how they were raised (what, you think that’s not available?), everything. Think like Amazon or Target. Collect every coupon that’s been redeemed, every prescription filled, every visit, everything. We’re playing for the majors now, so stop thinking small.

What could all that data in the hands of serious math nerds tell us? Here’s a sample of the questions they can answer: are reps effective (broken down by specialty, brand, location, practice type)? How many emails does it take before a target prescribes (and how many before they will opt out completely)? Do nurse practitioners ever click on banner ads? Is there value in seeing your brand name again and again on an ad even if it doesn't lead to a click? Which is better: email then a rep visit, or a rep visit and then email? Which works better at a conference: a lot of little trinkets or a chance to win a big prize?

The days when a brand didn't know which half of their marketing was effective is long long gone. These days, we aren't far from knowing if a PCP in New Jersey wants your brand emails every 21 days or every 18 days, and how many they need to receive before a rep shows up to make the visit worth the trip.

But it all starts with thinking big and collecting the data. What data are you collecting? How are you planning on using it?

Maybe you need better answers to those questions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ePharma Love Affairs

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There have been several great love affairs in the digital pharma world, and we wanted to highlight a few for Valentine’s Day -

Couple of the year...

Doctors heart Apple products. Our 2011 Taking the Pulse® U.S. study found that 75 percent of U.S. doctors owned either an iPhone, iPad, or iPod – far outpacing adoption of Android and BlackBerry devices. The iPad in particular is poised to transform the physician workday. As of last Q1 (just one year after the iPad first hit the market) already 30 percent of doctors owned one and an additional 28 percent said they planned to buy one within 6 months. Additionally, these doctors expressed strong interest in using iPads to facilitate practice management and patient education. The 2012 version of Taking the Pulse® U.S. is just about to go into fielding and we expect to see a significant boost in iPad ownership from last year. One thing should remain the same though – doctors’ love affair with Apple will likely remain strong.

An enduring romance...

In a report a few years ago, we referred to search as the little black dress of marketing – a classic that never goes out of style. And now a few years later, when it comes to online health research, search is still very much in vogue. When consumers seek health information on the Internet in key medical scenarios, such as when experiencing new symptoms, preparing for a doctor’s visit, or after receiving a prescription, the vast majority rely on search engines rather than going directly to a website. Additionally, consumers are more likely to use search engines than web browsing or apps to find prescription drug information on their mobile phones. While some technology pundits claim the online landscape is shifting towards a narrower digital world characterized by apps and a declining need for browser-based searching – in digital health, the fires of romance should keep burning for search and consumers at least for the time being.

Star-crossed lovers…

The relationship between social and pharma is, well, complicated. On the one hand, our latest ePharma Consumer® study found that 42 percent of online consumers agree that pharma companies should be involved in online health communities, and this expectation is even higher among certain caregiver and patient groups. On the other hand, even with recent FDA draft guidelines, it doesn’t seem marketers are finding that it’s getting any easier to navigate the social media regulatory minefield. Additionally, when it comes to getting questions answered directly from pharma company representatives, very few consumers want this messaging via general social networking forums like Twitter or Facebook. Throw in the challenges of social ROI measurement and you’ve got a relationship ripe for angry phone hang ups and late night tears into pints of Ben & Jerry’s. So while pharma and social media may not be headed for divorce yet, the union will likely encounter its share of stormy weather for the foreseeable future. But just as we hope against hope that Seal and Heidi reconcile, we can remain optimistic that this pair can somehow work it out in the end!

Sources: Manhattan Research - Taking the Pulse® U.S. 2011, Cybercitizen Health® U.S. 2011, ePharma Consumer® 2011

This guest post was contributed by Maureen Malloy, Senior Healthcare Analyst, Manhattan Research Maureen Malloy is a Senior Healthcare Analyst at Manhattan Research, with a focus on consumer digital health trends. You can find her on Twitter or at Manhattan Research’s blog.  This post is co-posted with the Manhattan Research Blog.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

ePharma Summit 2012 - That's a Wrap!

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By Casey Ferrell
Research Analyst, Cutting Edge Information
Guest Blogger

Okay, it’s been almost 24 hours since ePharma Summit 2012 wrapped. Like a good holiday feast, if you did it right you’re probably still digesting the experience like I am. Day One’s symposia offered a more intimate setting for attendees to interact with panelists, while Day Two was a big bacchanal of sessions, networking, keynotes, and panels. Day Three was a tamer affair, with more targeted sessions focusing on case studies and practical applications of the principles discussed the day before. Based on conversations with fellow attendees, Wednesday’s content was a welcome transition from the “what and why” to the “how.”

I’ll briefly recap roughly half of the day’s sessions, but before I do I wanted to share some general observations I took away from the event as a whole. First, there are some very impressive individuals working within the epharma space. I won’t open Pandora’s box and start naming names lest I inevitably overlook someone, but suffice it to say that the future of digital promotion in pharma is bright if the industry figures out how to retain the enterprising intellectual capital on hand at this conference (and that's a big if - there is a brain drain underway in digital pharma). I spend a lot of my professional time taking a long view of the role that digital can, should and is now playing in the industry, and clearly so do a great many of the people asked to speak at ePharma Summit.

A general take-away was that the industry is gradually shifting from a tactically driven approach to a one driven by strategy. Hallelujah, might I add. Companies are less and less interested in being the first kid on the block with a sweet new iPad app than they are being the kid on the block with an iPad app that has real uptake, aligns with broader marketing goals and serves the customer in some kind of meaningful way. Again, hallelujah. In my experience conducting digital pharma benchmarking research, this shift has been underway for some time, and because it is being codified by new internal structures like centralized dedicated digital departments and multidisciplinary digital task forces, you’re now starting to see how pharma is beginning to get a handle on smarter ways to execute digital promotion.

This is critically important for the following reason: in the years since the internet came onto the scene MLR has been unjustly portrayed as a monolithic, unmovable object standing in the way of digital “progress,” and as a result, an already tense relationship between it and marketers became downright antagonistic. It used to be that marketers would push to open a branded Facebook page for their product simply because everyone else had one, or because their marketing friend at Nike said it was The Future. It used to be that these things were undertaken hastily, rashly even, due to a perceived urgency that if they were not, everyone would laugh at them. And in so doing, marketers had a hell of a time justifying them to leadership and to MLR. Now, though, it seems that people in digital pharma are learning the wisdom of tying digital campaigns to an existing bedrock of marketing strategy, thereby contributing to a more collaborative and less combative approach to building digital creative and getting it out the door. In other words, the more epharmateers recognize the value (and lack thereof, in many some cases) of digital and how it fits within the broader marketing strategy of a brand, be it corporate or product, the more likely it is that it will not only get approved but have some kind of real and measurable impact. The days of building smartphone apps to reach an elderly target audience who don’t own smartphones are mercifully coming to an end. This shift is painfully slow, but it is underway.

My one suggestion for next year’s ePharma Summit is simple: open the back channel up to the rest of the audience. It’s no secret that a significant proportion of attendees are active on Twitter, and actively use it during the conference sessions to communicate to one another and those following the conference-sponsored hashtag, #epharma. What would greatly add value to the conversations taking place on the stage, on the floor and online is if everyone could see the thoughts of their peers and react or respond to dissenting views, nearly all of which are as insightful and thoughtful as the ones being agreed upon on stage. Open the kimono, put the “e” in ePharma, and put up the Tweetstream next year. I guarantee a more lively and engaged audience. Because that’s what everyone here is after anyway, right? Engagement?

Okay, onto the sessions. What can I say about Andy Smith, author of The Dragonfly Effect? Smith is an able presenter with a gift for beautiful storytelling through slides. I won’t get into the nitty gritty specifics of his talk (I suggest you read the book), but his message to pharma was that when lives are on the line, you have carte blanch to invent compelling ways to engage with people on behalf of other people. He told a touching story about two friends diagnosed with Leukemia around whom a rather incredible effort was built to find suitable bone marrow donors (they were both South Asian, exacerbating the difficulty of finding a match stateside). Social media and digital channels played a massive role in organizing hundreds of marrow registration drives that led to matches for both friends. Sadly, they relapsed and lost the struggle, but the lesson Smith took away was the power of social networking to drive remarkable health outcomes. “Revolutions start by the actions of a few ordinary people. Find the ignition point and light it,” Smith said.

Two interesting case study panels followed. The first, I Wish I’d Done That!: Social Media, was led by Todd Kolm, director of emerging channel strategy at Pfizer, who was joined by panelists Alison Woo, director of social media, BMS and Zoe Dunn, principal, Hale Advisors. Kolm delighted in showing the audience what not to do with Twitter through non-pharma examples of social media failings, from the f-bomb drop at Chrysler to the utter ignorance showed by Kenneth Cole during Egyptian uprising. For those who aren’t familiar with these examples, I encourage you subscribe to a feed such as Mashable or TechCrunch where you will be sure not to miss the latest flub in corporate social media. There are lessons to be learned, even if it is outside pharma. Among the most important of these lessons is to know that social media is earned media — so make sure you earn it. Dunn pointed out a number of examples of pharma social media done well, including Sanofi’s Allegra OTC campaign and Pfizer’s Viagra counterfeit YouTube video. Woo offered her own take on good examples of “socpharm” as well as her social media best practices, which are simple but indispensable:

·         Have a target audience; you can’t reach everyone
·         Create a compelling message
·         Think about value for audience
·         Use the right tool for the right audience
·         Measure metrics
·         Think of engagement as an ongoing practice

The I Wish I’d Done That!: Mobile session was led by David Kopp, senior VP of consumer media, Healthline Networks. Joining him were Jay Appel, director of physician relationship marketing, Amgen; Scott Wolf, executive VP of sales, Everyday Health; John Viera, senior director of strategic marketing, Daiichi Sankyo; and Kate Miller, director, Evolution Road. Two things really jumped out during this session: one idea and one tactic that both have a lot to say about where mobile is going. The idea was suggested by Viera, citing Progressive’s Snapshot, which documents real-time driving behavior and incentivizes people through lowered premiums to drive more safely. The application to pharma is already happening, he said, though the quantified self movement and apps that track human biodata. Viera thinks that the future of mobile will be in passive technologies that collect health outcomes data which companies can then leverage in negotiations with payers. That will be quite interesting indeed. Another example, also pointed out by Viera, of an effective campaign was the TextInTheCity SMS initiative to reach at-risk teens. The decidedly “low-tech” tactic actually helped the campaign have a much better penetration and uptake because the target population was much  more likely to have feature phones than smartphones. Just another example where knowing your audience and using the appropriate channel to reach them. Had the campaign tried to get fancy for fancy’s sake, it would have failed.

After lunch (that flan in the tall shot glasses was pretty sweet… thank you, I’m here every Wednesday night), I attended the Multichannel Consumer Marketing track again. An interesting session by Deborah Radcliffe, director, Consumer Center of Expertise at Pfizer, focused on how to open up your content to sharing and how to do so compliantly. What follows is a handy list of questions you need to have the answers to if you want to take the plunge into the world of sharing (and there is ample reason to do so: 73% of people say they process info more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when it’s shared with the):

·         What’s the objective?
·         How does sharing help achieve that?
·         What’s the target’s sharing behavior?
·         How does content you want sharable align to marketing objectives?
·         Is your content relevant?
·         Is it valuable?
·         Is it share worthy?
·         If you applied the seven factors that prompt sharing (laughter, inspiration, cuteness, originality, shock, surprise and nostalgia), what would you learn? Is it touching people?
·         What might you do to increase share worthiness?
·         What does your target think of your stuff?
·         And most critically: do you have the tool to do it?

Following this was a brilliant session by Todd Siesky, communications and external relations, Roche Diabetes Care US and Robert Muller, associate marketing manager, global marketing, Roche Diabetes Care US. They talked about the success they’ve had in developing cause marketing. The reach of their campaigns grew exponentially when they were able to gain the trust and partnerships of some 30 of the most influential diabetes bloggers, which took guts, persistence and humility on Roche’s part. To me, the essence of the session was this:  vision drives strategy drives tactics, and when you start with vision and add to it a long-term, sustained commitment, the results can be remarkable.

EPharma wrapped with a session on the global marketing environment. Mark Bard of the Digital Health Coalition led a panel comprising Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest,  Ray Chepesiuk, commissioner, PAAB, and Muller from Roche. Pitts talked about the importance of intent when dealing with cross-jurisdictional snafus. If you’re trying to be cute and skirt compliance, regulatory agencies are going to catch you, Pitts said, adding that “the .eu or .ca is not a get out of jail free card.”

So, that’s it from ePharma Summit 2012. Hope you enjoyed the tweeting and blogging! If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it. I'm on Twitter (@Casey_CEI), and I'd love to continue there the conversations we started this week. If you loved or hated what I brought to the table, do let @epharma know so they can decide whether the should can me or bring me back next time. Hopefully it's the latter and I'll be seeing you all again soon. Thanks for reading!

#ePharma Wednesday Updates and Commentary

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Kudos to Andy Smith and his presentation on the Dragonfly Effect. Aside from having one of the best designed presentations (along with @PeteDTweets yesterday), he presented three examples that we not just inspiring, but relevant to almost everyone in the room. While only one was directly health care related, I was impressed by the amount of work he put in to relating these non-pharma examples to pharma. For example, his Coke case study seems anti-theatrical to pharma (they sell sugar water), and yet I, and others around me, could immediately see how to apply the lessons to our work. This was our anticipated return on the cost of attending -- to be inspired, not by a magical future beyond the horizon, but by ideas we can put to work today.

Beyond that came an object lesson from Peter Frishauf and Jay Goldman in discussing the value that SMS message could play in a brand. Text messaging has been relegated to the junk drawer of our marketing tool kits despite the fact that it is functional, useful, and has a reach Apple, Google and Facebook can only dream about. Their presentation influenced any discussion regarding mobile for much of the rest of the day. After lunch, Scott Wearley opened up and gave everyone of us a realistic and reasonable blueprint for relationship marketing. This wasn't broad strokes and vague ideas, this was a set of instructions better than those that come with Ikea furniture. Take it home, build it yourself.  I was very much impressed by what Robert Krensel and William Tunno had to say. The pictures were pretty, but the conversation on how best to utilize Those pretty pictures showed a depth of thought and consideration I wasn't expecting at all. At both these sessions, I took a lot of notes. However, without being too much of a curmudgeon (it seems someone else is filling that slot quite well), I'd like to call a few things out. First, I appreciate the value of great big numbers to grab attention. But telling me that a billion iPhones were sold or a trillion Facebook accounts were created doesn't help any of us. These numbers are as helpful as the fact that it's usually warm in NYC. What's worse is when these broad numbers aren’t just useless, but edge into the territory of obfuscation. For example, when you call out that 37% of all new tablet sales are Android tablets, this is an aggregate number that doesn't reflect the facts on the ground that HCPs are now and continue to be passionate iPad users. The same is true for calling out sites like Pinterest and Tumblr as “hot new properties” without revealing that both site have very narrow audiences (good luck running that Viagra campaign on Pinterest without a radical reworking).

There was an interesting conversation I had with a few people this morning. I won't call out who they are, but it occurred after the presentation that listed all those twitter blunders, notably from non-pharma brands (because pharma always does social right? If you say so). There was a running bet as to what percentage of the audience had not heard all of these twitter blunders before (and some were pretty famous, like the Kenneth Cole/Eygpt tweet and the Chrysler agency posting about Detroit drivers who couldn't drive). Our group assumed that most people had heard of all of them. When we asked around, we found was that most people hadn't, and that some hadn't heard of any. If you are active in marketing, especially in eMarketing, these tales should be as familiar as the case study surrounding New Coke. That conversation turned shifted on twitter, where people mentioned sites like and where news like this is a hot commodity. Plenty of people chimed in with other great sites for Web 2.0-type news until someone suggested that having this conversation on twitter meant that the people who needed to hear about them would be missing out; those people were not just ignoring the twitter back-channel, they were willfully ignoring the rest of the web world. They were only aware of things like Facebook and Twitter and mobile healthcare apps and iPad content delivery in so much as they needed to be for a given project and no more. I worry when I think about stories like these.

One of the amazing things about social media is its ability to create, manage and strengthen the connections between ourselves and so many others. I know so many people who turned their organizations on to twitter because they were hooked on twitter themselves. And yet, here we see a huge segment of the audience paying money to be told how incredibly important twitter (and it's brethren, no need to be twitter-specific) is to their campaigns and to their brands, indeed to their own livelihoods, but never dipping their toes into the water. Aren't these the risks we all said we wanted to talk and have others take within our organizations? Are we just talking, or do we really mean it? So I implore you, you delightful participants of ePharmaSummit 2012, jump in. Be part of the conversation. Agree and disagree. Pick a fight online among your peers and lose. See what those tools your company is paying so much money to leverage can really do. As for places to learn more about the eMarketing world outside of pharma, my twitterzens (twitter citizens? I admit I made that one up) and I came up with the following list: (be aware, they will reference Burning Man on this site. Don't be alarmed.) Notes about what was said on stage can be found at

Big virtual high-fives to Sarah Gordon and Jennifer Pereira for getting Casey and I invited to all these sessions so we could bring the best to you. They bent over backwards to help us help you, and I hope their bosses read this far down the blog post. Thanks also to Casey Ferrell for letting me partner up with him in this blogging experiment. We hope we did you, the presenters, the organizers and our peers proud (so if you got something out of this, let @epharma know! Otherwise we won't get invited back!). Beyond that, please please please feel free to engage me on twitter @digital_pharma or schedule lunch with me if you’re in Chicago. Good night!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#ePharma: Day Two Roundup

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By Casey Ferrell
Research Analyst, Cutting Edge Information
Guest Blogger

Well, we’re two thirds of the way through the 2012 ePharma Summit. Day One was a full day of symposia, while Day Two was a mishmash of sessions, keynotes, thought leader panels, futurists, multichannel tracks, examples of award winning campaigns and coffee. Lots of coffee. 

My colleague James Ellis and I were live tweeting the day’s events, but we are going to provide a roundup blog here to help flesh out beyond 140 characters what the sessions had to offer. We split up the job, so between both of our blog roundups, you’ll get a pretty comprehensive view of the day, minus coffee breaks and totally unrelated bathroom breaks.

Charlotte McKines, the global VP of marketing communications and channel strategies (that’s right, global) at Merck and Co., had an excellent presentation on how a multinational company might look at the evolution of digital channels and how they can fit not just within a company’s overarching marketing strategy but within that company’s overall business goals. McKines’ well-organized presentation outlined three primary ways in which digital is transforming the industry. Looking beyond the pill, she said, digital is “the connecting point, the core enabler that allows us connect to our stakeholders.” With digital experiencing a meteoric rise — 86% of physicians go to the web daily to gather health, medical or prescription drug information — whoever “gets there” first will have a major competitive advantage, McKines said. The three keys to getting there are:
  •  Adjusting the organizational mindset
  •  Embracing new technology
  •  Building new business models

Adjusting the organizational mindset (no small task) means aligning to rapidly changing customer needs. This means improving sales force effectiveness (i.e. making the sales rep the quarterback in the middle who is calling the number of a certain channel depending on preference), engaging Generation Y (i.e. striving to make the pharma experience match the non-pharma experience they’re familiar with or recognizing their “self-service” mentality) and utilizing digital functionality (i.e. doing micro-segmenting, personalizing content and maximizing spend).

Embracing new technology means picking a strategy before it picks you, McKines said. Interestingly, her first point here was to use social media to promote collaboration, steer conversation, listen to customers and respond quickly. Her second point was to leverage mobility (i.e. enable mobile content delivery to reach consumers in real time, support sales and training, and increase customer engagement). She also pointed out the importance of integrating channels (i.e. deliver one message across all channels).

Building new business models means shifting the internal (i.e. centralizing innovation, decentralizing localization, and prioritizing content) and shifting the external (i.e. using collective intelligence, investing in infrastructure and choosing the right partners).

Her session ended with a Q&A highlighted by a pointed comment from the audience in which an agency attendee said, “We can only innovate as fast as quickly as you can change.” McKines’ responded by saying, “I realize we are not always a fast and nimble partner, but that’s why we need partners, to push us to change.”

The next session I covered was a moderated panel discussion led by Liz Cernak, CCO of Pozen, based out of my college hometown of Chapel Hill, NC. Founded in 1996 and public since 2000, Pozen focuses primarily on drug development but is in the process of transitioning to a commercialized model and as a result put together a coterie of thought leaders to form its digital advisory board, including Raj Amin, CEO, Healthnation; Bonin Bough, Sr. Director of Digital and Social Media, PepsiCo; Marc Monsseau, Founder, MDM Communication; Daniel Palestrant, MD, Founder, Sermo, CEO and Founder, Par8o; and Meredith Ressi, President, Manhattan Research. Among the highlights (paraphrased unless in quotations):

Monsseau: The biggest challenge digital can help with from a marketing perspective is in heralding the shift from one-way to two-way communication and targeted approaches, while in sales, it presents a way of reaching physicians with more efficacy and reach. “At the end of day, you still have to have great content.” It needs to be resonating, actionable, and useful. Content that lives in digital now is dry, not what you want to watch or share. Opportunity exists to create content that people can take in, but can also start a conversation with, with a doc or someone else struggling with the disease. Ultimately, what’s needed is content that can improve health outcomes.

Bough: Set it and forget it is passé. Deep customer listening on top of real-time customer engagement is the way of the future. The quantified self (referencing Kevin Kelly’s talk) allows people to their own progression through their own healthcare, meaning pharma and healthcare need to adapt. Bough also provocatively stated that pharma is negligent if it is not listening to its consumers through social listening techniques, highlighting the difficulty in applying non-pharma perspectives to the risk-averse, highly regulated industry.

Palestrant: How can pharma use digital to better relationships with physicians? One way is through sophisticated sales and techniques that can amplify efficacy data. He also talked about how social media can cost-effectively communicate important messages to stakeholders in ways that speak to their own preferences for information consumption. Among the communication revolutions to date (including the printing press, broadcast, etc.), the digital age means that now the tail is wagging the dog.

Amin: Digital allows pharma to touch consumers in deeper ways across multiple platforms. Consumers see media differently as they get comfortable with new devices, so the industry needs to learn when to present content based on the disposition of the consumer. Are they lean back? Lean forward? On the go?

Ressi: Mobile is completely changing the game. Platform adoption metrics change under our feet. Understanding the way it changes how healthcare providers learn and gather info and how it changes service expectations is critical if the industry is to properly leverage the opportunity.


I attended the post-lunch (no monster reuben today, just a forkful or two of salad and a cookie… okay, two cookies) multichannel consumer marketing track hosted by Alison Woo, director of social media at BMS. She had Mark Bard of the Digital Health Coalition and Jack Barrette, CEO of Wego Health, up to discuss the recent FDA draft guidance on off-label communication. Among the quotes that really stood out to me was Barrette saying that “not looking for [adverse events] or not trying to look for them is an indefensible position.” This was borne out of a lively conversation between Bard and Barrette on the scope and impact of the narrow guidance and how it may impact the way in which pharma chooses to address its digital presences in light of misinformation correction, off-label comments and AEs.

Gregg Zagras and Jen Willey of RealAge presented a session on their product, which depending on your orientation might equally frighten or excite you. Their digital health assessment produces a score that represents your actual age as compared to your real age (i.e. a heavy drinker and smoker who is into red meat and couch surfing might in reality be several years older than their age). The tool allows individuals to chart a path toward better health while offering pharma clients the ability to position their products in front of highly aligned segments of the population. People with high cholesterol, for example, might be presented with statin drug ads while they progress through subsequent health evaluations beyond the original assessment. 

Willey and Zagras argue that brands need to consider their patient population before launch in order to optimize their marketing efforts. Obviously, one way to do so would be to partner with RealAge. For the curious, the site also offers the ability for individuals to learn what their sex age is. Insert your own joke here.

The last session of the track was a refreshing perspective from patient advocates Amy Gurowitz, Founder, MS SoftServe; Jeffrey Roberts, Founder, IBS Self Help and Support Group; and Max Szadek, Founder and Executive Director, Divabetic.

The last panel discussion of the day back in the main hall brought some of the industry’s most influential thought leaders in the digital space together to talk about future trends. Of all the great insights, my favorites revolved around how the industry should handle the challenge of working with Medical, Legal, Regulatory (MLR). Julie Holcombe, senior director, US Vaccines Marketing at Pfizer referenced the hilarious Kevin Nalty-produced video that aired this morning called “Fear Factor: Pharmaceuticals” in which MLR was presented in a less than flattering light. She said that video is what is wrong with marketers’ thinking. She said MLR and marketing need to be “frenemies to the end. … Their job is to keep us safe, and we’re walking a fine line between wanting to not get a letter” and still get the job done. Since “we as marketers are not going to regulate ourselves, … we may have to extend the olive branch.”

Joe Shields, head of global strategic marketing at LifeScan, said that MLR departments need a tune-up to ensure that they are not an operational bottleneck, but he also suggested a curious idea that to save money, time and resources, some pharma companies purposefully dial back MLR capacity to throttle back marketing output. I’m not sure what the industry thinks about this, but it certainly provoked a reaction on the #epharma tweetstream by agency and media thought leaders who found that idea troubling.

Peter Dannenfelser, director of North American digital marketing for Jannsen, said that the MLR issue raises two key points: the industry clearly needs to play in the space, but it also needs to do a much better job of communicating to consumers the rules that it has to play by, something that he thinks pharma could do a much better job of.

One of two Best in Show sessions was hosted by James Chase, editor in chief for MM&M, in which he discussed the GetToKnowC campaign launched by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Ignite Health that earned the top spot at the 2012 MM&M awards in the best disease/education website category. Brian Lefkowitz, chief creative officer at Ignite and Hugo Brown, associate director of marketing at Vertex joined Chase on stage to talk about the campaign and how it took shape. Brown said his company wanted to empower Hepatitis C patients while removing the stigma of the condition. Lefkowitz explained the way his agency created a multichannel campaign featuring deep, rich, informative content with the right tone. One feature of it that jumped out at me was the homepage, which opens with a creative segmentation feature, allowing visitors to choose the “person” that best represents where they are in the process of dealing with the disease.

So that’s a wrap from Day Two — looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow as we wrap up the 2012 ePharma Summit. I really hope that all this blogging is helping you attendees derive even more from what has so far been a rich conference experience for me. Please do forgive any egregious typos; a stenographer I am not. If we haven’t met yet, please do come introduce yourself and learn more about the benchmarking research and analysis that I do in the digital marketing space for my firm, Cutting Edge Information. You know where to find me: near a plug.

Day Two at #ePharma Summit, HCP Track

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This is the first day of the “big” conference, but my second. If you want the play-by-play for today or yesterday, just read my notes at Feel free to share that link around.

At the end of yesterday's sessions, I saw some trends emerging, most notably, segmentation/targeting and the twin specters of mobile and social. We saw a lot of tactics, which served a lot of people very well (judging from the twitterverse response), and a lot of data to help people like me make better decisions in the future.

Today was a very different day. Today was a macro level view as opposed to a more micro-tactical view. The discussions centered on broad strokes and ideas, hints as to what the future of pharma marketing holds.

Here’s what I will be taking away form today’s conference:

One, pharma has been in a transition period for a long time now. How long have we been calling this “the year of mobile” or “the year of social”? Three years? Can we stop the buzz-word bingo? Speaking at a macro level doesn't mean glazing over deep truths, it means getting to the heart of the matter and distilling what’s true. Can we call a moratorium on pointing to mobile as a hot new channel? I've had an iPhone for four years (and I missed the first generation). Clearly, mobile isn't a new channel, it's just a channel. Same with social. Same with games. Next year, you’ll just sound like someone who still says “hotlinks” and “information superhighway.” You really don't want to be that person. Do you want to know who’s succeeding? People with a genuine sense of humor and dedication to solving problems. Some people seem to be more interested at cataloging the reasons to lament the future, to pooh-pooh what we all know is coming. Do you want to work with them? All problems are solvable, they just need to be broken down into pieces and dealt with.  Telling us not to be too focused on tactics or getting more focused on tactics isn't as useful as understanding when and where a tactic might be useful.

That's the same telling us all to be more strategic. You might as well tell us to be smarter or not to be too smart. The same goes for saying I should target and segment and track and analyze. That I should focus on the customer, that I should focus on what worked, that I should create efficiencies. Got it. Agree. Highly agree. Cannot agree enough... But we all already agreed when we signed up. What else? Find the golden nugget of truth and deliver it with the help of examples and data.

This is the world of multi-channel marketing, but are we living in a world of multi-channel analytics, where we measure each channel independently but also in conjunction with all the other tactics. Who among is is really doing this right now? Are we too busy arguing that this channel is better than that channel? Or kvetching that MLR is complicated (in other breaking news, many people use Facebook, budgets are getting squeezed, HCPs like iPads, and puppies are cute)?  William Gibson once said “the future is now, it just isn't widely distributed yet.”

That phrase came to me during the session on Quantitive Self, as I realized that the tools and ideas to do everything was already in all of our hands. It just isn't widely distributed because people refuse to see the value. This isn't a shot to those who disagree, as we are all strong with more opposing viewpoints. I was struck by how some voices dismissed the QS out of hand, as if it were threatening and scary. There’s no difference between what was said in the session and diabetic who measure their glucose every few hours, or the person who watches their caloric intake, or the person keeping track of their bench press. The bitter rejection smacks of fear and denial. And I know the people in my rooms are smarter than that.

Here’s what I didn't hear much of that I wish I had: Lifetime value of a customer. Two different people outside the events brought this concept up independently to me, and only one person even hinted at the concept’s existence. We are getting too focused on the efficacy of this tactic today versus that tactic yesterday that we miss that everything we do should be in service of the goal of understanding our customer in both the short and long term. Without that understanding, we are in danger of becoming the Crazy Eddie of marketing, shouting whatever it takes to get someone to prescribe. Is that the game you really want to play? Relationship Marketing. In attempting to understand our customer, we build a relationship with that customer. Even when we fail to understand them, the relationship exists, however dysfunctional and flawed. Why do we continue to pretend that this isn't true? It won't do pharma any good to stick its head in the sand and pretend that relationships can be solved by mobile or social (a medium it still isn't comfortable in). We must face the issue head on, plan and execute marketing that fosters relationships we want to be in. And while I appreciate a fresh point of view, a point of view uncluttered with even a basic understanding of the day-to-day realities didn't do me (or many others, based on the twitter response) any good.

Especially if the resulting advice is to “change faster” and “fail harder.” I don't disagree, but I'm not blind to the facts on the ground.  Far Better was the panel which discussed (among many other things) MRL on a level that I hadn't considered before. MRL isn't the enemy; they are partners we haven't brought into the fold yet, just as we haven't taken the time to learn what they can teach us. I will admit that my brain is pudding. I will be taking notes tomorrow, but since I'm traveling home, I'm not sure when I'll be posting my blog. Maybe Thursday. So enjoy the notes, and keep the twitter back channel going!

Free email deployment form DMD at ePharma!

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Make sure you stop by DMD’s booth (#14) to receive a free 20,000 HCP email deployment. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of DMD’s second edition of Emailology, a comprehensive glossary of email, digital, and mobile marketing terms, including statistics and medical simulation technology data.

6 Ways to Integrate Email and Social Media Marketing

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In a recent StrongMail survey, more than two-thirds of business leaders indicated plans to integrate social media with their email marketing efforts in 2012.

Email and social media make a great team according to DJ Waldow of Waldow Social.

According to Waldow, including and promoting social sharing or share with your network options in an email are important for a few reasons:

  • They extend the reach of your emails: The more people share your email, the more potential you have for opens, clicks and conversions.
  • They allow you to identify key influencers: Most email service providers (ESPs) include metrics on who has shared your emails the most often, as well as the effect their sharing has had on other key stats (opens, clicks, conversions, etc.). Armed with this data, you—the marketer—can be better informed as to who your key influencers are. If appropriate, you can then send dedicated campaigns to your biggest supporters.
  • They provide an opportunity for list growth: The more eyeballs on your emails, the better chance you have of gaining new subscribers.
  • Waldow also believes that including and promoting social connection(s) options in an email are important for a few reasons:
  • They provide another platform to connect with your audience. Each platform—email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, a blog, etc.—enables you to communicate and interact with people in different ways.
  • They give email subscribers more options: It’s possible that your email subscribers prefer to engage with your company or brand on different channels. While email is great, it’s not the only option.
  • They allow you to expand the reach of your message.

Waldow suggests several ways to capitalize on the synergies between email and social. For a list of his six top tips, stop by the MMS exhibit (Booth 16) today at the ePharma Summit.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day One of the #ePharma Summit 2012 - MLR Symposium

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By Casey Ferrell
Research Analyst, Cutting Edge Information
Guest Blogger

The ePharma Summit 2012 kicked off with a full day of symposia on three tracks. I attended the Medical, Legal and Regulatory Policy Summit, and as I write this, my head is swimming with interesting facts, perspectives and best practices from the day’s presentations.

The first half of the day offered opportunities to hear from senior pharma personnel in the Medical, Legal and Regulatory Affairs (MLR) departments at companies ranging from Top 10 to mid-sized. The second half of the day featured a summit within a summit, as the Digital Health Coalition led a host of short, rapid-fire sessions that covered the legal, regulatory, agency and vendor angles as they apply to the DHC’s Social Guiding Principles. This latter portion ended with a panel discussion in which Peter Pitts of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest moderated a discussion ranging from the president of a patient advocacy group to the head of global digital marketing at Roche. Talk about information overload. So before I start forgetting everything, here’s a brief recap of the day’s sessions.

Lucy Rose, president of Lucy Rose Associates, despite being under the weather today managed to adroitly moderate a series of five sessions addressing the MLR perspective on digital marketing, social media and mobile media. The first session featured Joanne Curley, a director of regulatory affairs for Shire, who was filling in at the last minute for a colleague. The lack of preparation time didn’t stop her from delivering an informative take on how Shire addresses digital marketing from the reg affairs standpoint. Among her observations were the four most important questions that a reg affairs department faces when dealing with digital marketing:

1)      How do you ensure appropriate balance of efficacy claims and risk information?
2)      How do you include important context for claims when space is limited?
3)      How do you keep branded content separate from inappropriate surrounding content?
4)      How do you leverage additional functionality (i.e. sharing, commenting, etc.) in promotion and remain compliant?

The answers to these questions obviously vary from situation to situation, but for a marketer looking to push something through review, they should be prepared to have the answers to these four questions ahead of time. Among the other highlights of the Curley’s session were the implications of mobile formatting on regulatory compliance, the non-existence of the one-click myth, and the role that Shire’s multi-disciplinary social media team plays in improving the compliance of digital initiatives.

The second session, led by Jim Parker of Sanofi, talked about his company’s social media task force as well. It is also comprises cross-functional representatives. “Our task force meets every two weeks, and it never runs out of things to address,” Parker said. He went on to describe the scope of the guidelines developed by the task force, including general considerations, terms of use, personal use, promotional material, non-promotional material, press releases, blogs, video, sharing, commenting, and issues management and response. Obviously at Sanofi, the idea was to develop an internal policy that left no stone unturned. As a result, the company has the ability to engage in social media at a deeper level than a company that has to develop internal guidelines as instances come up. In fact, the company is able to essentially allow non-promotional social media content to avoid lengthy review processes, enabling more real-time interaction.

Mobile medical applications and last year’s FDA guidance on the topic of what is and is not considered a mobile medical device was the subject of Novartis’ Jack Scinnelli’s session, providing an encapsulation for marketers of what the agency plans to regulate.

One highlight of the morning session was a slideshow by Paul Savidge of Bristol-Myers Squibb. In it, he helped explain the December 2011 draft guidance on responding to unsolicited requests for off-label information. Using characters (and, I assume, music) from the hit silent movie The Artist, he told the story of the FDA, played by the dashing leading man, and industry, played by the lovely heroine, as they talk about the first guidance to acknowledge the existence of social media. I asked for a link, but as of yet I don’t have one. When I get it, I’ll be sure to post to the ePharma Summit blog as soon as humanly possible. It was creative, informative, at times very funny, and ultimately a very engaging way to describe the pretty dry material the FDA usually provides.

After a Q&A session and lunch (in which I regrettably ordered The Reuben from the Carnegie Deli – seriously, have you seen it? It must weigh three pounds), Digital HealthCoalition co-founders Mark Bard and Joe Farris led a lively afternoon session that opened with the unveiling of the nonprofit’s Seven Social Media Guiding Principles. Here they are:

1) Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to participate in social media as a means to promote public health, improve patient outcomes and facilitate productive patient/physician relationships.
2) Regulated healthcare companies are not responsible for user-generated content online that they do not control. Regulated healthcare companies are deemed to “control” health and medical content if (i) it owns such health and medical content and has material editorial authority or (ii) it paid for the creation of such content and has material editorial authority over such content.
3) Regulated healthcare companies have a responsibility to report adverse events they become aware of. Regulated healthcare companies should follow the existing adverse event reporting rules in place at the FDA.
4) Employees of regulated healthcare companies should disclose their material company relationship when posting comments/content or engaging in an online conversation relating to a company product or relevant healthcare issue.
5) Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to respond to questions on sites they control within a reasonable period of time, and to implement reasonable measures to enable timely responses to crisis and emergency situations.
6) Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to make reasonable efforts to correct misinformation that is factually incorrect.
7) Regulated healthcare companies should endeavor to appoint employee(s) tasked with the role of “patient liaison” focused on representing the best interests of the patient online. 

The rest of the afternoon saw several presenters apply these principles to various issues facing digital marketers and healthcare communications in general. Mark Gaydos of Sanofi offered another regulatory perspective, and provided some salient counterpoints that marketers need to address, such as how to preserve prominence in mobile presentations and whether or not platforms like Twitter can ever really be a promotional tool, given its character limits. David Ralston of Gilead Sciences described some of the alignment and non-alignment between what the DHC’s guiding principles describe and what the FDA’s off-label guidance address, noting that for a number of principles there was a good deal of synergy. He also pointed out, however, that the guidance does not provide safe harbor to a pharma company to correct misinformation, one of the core tenets of the DHC’s proposed guidelines. A panel of vendor representatives offered insight into what is happening in the world of social listening, and Melissa Davies of NM Incite described a shift in the underlying philosophy behind her pharma clients’ motivation to gather social listening data, saying that more and more, she’s seeing clients look for not just data but insights (i.e. what does the data tell us about consumers and what they are looking for?).

Michael Myers of Palio offered an engaging session of case studies on the best and worst in pharma-initiated social media. He pointed out that some of the hardest falls have occurred at the companies making the biggest strides, illustrating how the industry, if it is to move forward in social media, will need to accept that mistakes will happen, and that ironically, social media allows those companies to rectify and correct those mistakes with unprecedented alacrity.

John Patten of Facebook presented on the wondrous reach of the social media giant and pointed to examples of how pharma has been able to successfully negotiate a presence on the medium. Among the highlights of his session were the revelation that the new personal timeline aesthetic would soon be rolled out to brand pages, as well as the impending implementation of advanced admin features that would allow, among other things, a pharma company to directly message an individual who posted inappropriate/non-compliant content on their walls, thereby offering the industry a way of mitigating a previously uncontrolled risk.

The day wrapped up with Peter Pitts’ assessment of the off-label guidance, in which he offered a frank assessment of what the document does and does not do well, including the curious insistence on refusing to acknowledge that pages have the most compliant, up-to-date information possible on products. He then moderated a panel discussion in which the theme of the day was summed up: digital marketing can and will continue to gain momentum, but pharma needs to begin accepting that social media will likely never offer it the promotional avenue it seeks, but rather should be viewed as a way of gathering market research, providing needed accurate medical information about their products and fostering consumer trust through unbranded initiatives.

The slide shows from the day’s presentations are not yet available, but I've been assured they will be in the coming days or weeks via the ePharma Connect web portal available on the conference homepage for those attending the event.

#ePharma Summit, Day One Summary

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Day one at ePharmaSummit is done, and I figured you’d like to know what you missed if you didn't get on the flight to NYC. You can catch the blow-by-blow on my live notes site at (I plan on updating again tomorrow, so keep an eye out.)

But for those looking for something closer to an executive summary, there were definitely some significant trends that kept popping up. The word of the day was Segmenting (and/or Targeting, which is just the other side of the same coin). Treat different people differently and they will respond in great numbers and with deeper engagement. Data was presented that shows that it's easy to say that an email has a 6% response rate, but if the rate is really 11% in one group and 2.3% in another, how useful is that 6% number? It doesn't just apply to email.

Even videos appeal to very different audiences in very different ways. For example, Die Hard is a great movie to a very specific audience segment, very different from those who think Dirty Dancing is the greatest movie ever. Rather than just throw something out there you like, know your audience, know your targets, know what they respond to and become a hero. Segmenting was a fundamental concept in at least four different discussions. My concern is that there was a lot of talk about segmenting, but not a lot about how to segment, or where the data is that helps you segment or how to manage your segments. One talk mentioned that you could just buy demographic (and maybe psychographic) data to help you segment, but how will that tell you if an audience prefers email to mailings to video to conferences? How will you learn if your audience is the kind that sees their condition as a burden, or as something you barely acknowledge?  Maybe that's to be discussed in future sessions.

The other watch word(s) were the dual terrors of Mobile and Social Media. Either separately or in conjunction, these twin villains were going to make every pharma marketer’s life rough. Why? Because these are symbols of change. The fact that they are technological advances means little: they are the things we point to that are forcing the industry to change for the first real time in decades.  The most interesting viewpoints in the room never said, but certainly indicated, that all would be well if we would simply take the time and care to evaluate and choose. A great example was a process that helps one firm get an unscripted video shoot through MLR. It was simple: they took the time to understand what the objections would be, planned for them, found alternates, or faced them head on. Ignoring what you see ahead is tantamount to failure. Surely this same idea can be applied to social media and mobile? 

Finally, I will say that sessions that presented data seemed to be the most interesting, not just to me, but to everyone in the Twitterverse. We've reached the point where we don't need to be told what the difference is between Twitter and Facebook, but we do need data to help us make decisions for ourselves. Not data we can all get from a quick Google search (though some of that was excellent, I'll admit), but from research we've done ourselves. Too many people throw out that 102 million people watch health care videos. But that number isn't useful because We don't know how many were about diabetes and hypertension, and how many were about the proper way to exfoliate and the best way to execute a dead lift? Healthcare isn't our industry, pharma is. And it will make things very messy very quickly if we start confusing the two. But there was data in spades. Two email research sessions were based on data collected as recently as last week. Another firm opened their kimono a little to show us their internal numbers. These things can do a lot to help people in my world understand far more than broad generalizations and semi-applicable case studies.

I look forward to tomorrow, though, as I don't have my schedule in front of me, I have no idea what ePharma has in store. Good night, kids. See you bright and early in the morning.

Friday, February 3, 2012

EPharma Summit 2012 is (almost) Here!

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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.  If you'd like to join me next week in New York, register for ePharma 2012 and mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate.

The ePharma Summit 2012 is just days away, and I for one can’t wait to meet so many of my Tweeps, LinkedInmates and various other virtually networked folks. Also, I hear there is was a chance for some light snow, which for this displaced Northerner would be a welcome sight have been nice (Old Man Winter has evidently forgotten North Carolina this year).

With more than 600 attendees, this is one of those conferences where the nametag really comes in handy. I’ll be guest blogging the event, so please don't hesitate to introduce yourself if you find me bopping from one session to the next, laptop in tow, trying to find an outlet. For those of you who can’t attend, you’ll be able to follow along in several ways: myself and James Ellis will be live blogging throughout the day on I’ll be posting round ups nightly and for several days after the conclusion of the event. I’ll be tweeting (@Casey_CEI) from as many of the sessions as I can get to. I won’t be the only one tweeting, though —follow the #epharma hashtag for a deluge of event-related tweets.

A recent intriguing addition to the agenda has created a summit within a summit: the Digital Health Coalition partnered with ePharma event organizer IIR to create a parallel track called Social Guiding Principles Summit. The Digital Health Coalition, which was created to serve as the collective public voice and national public forum for the discussion of current and future issues relevant to the digital and electronic marketing of healthcare products and services, will host a variety of industry thought leaders in short, 20-minute sessions. Look for the DHC to discuss its Social Guiding Principles and how those can immediately impact your digital marketing efforts.

With three days of non-stop sessions, countless opportunities to network, and chances to learn from the best of the best, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once. That’s where I come in – I hope by blogging the event that you’ll be able to absorb even more of the bounty of critical information and perspectives this event holds in store. See you there!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Special offer from MMC for 2012 ePharma Summit Attendees!

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MMS is offering an introductory test to qualified new customers, available only to 2012 ePharma Summit attendees. MMS will deploy a test email to up to 3,000 physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or hospital pharmacists.

MMS email reaches over 1 million healthcare professionals including over 800,000 physician email addresses. AAPA-E-Mail (SM) exclusively utilizes 100% opt-in email addresses from the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the national professional association of the PA profession. ASHP-E-Mail (SM), just launched this year, reaches over 50,000 health system/hospital pharmacists at 100% opt-in email addresses from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), the esteemed national professional association of health-system/hospital pharmacists.

Survey results show that email is the preferred method of communication among physicians. Email is the nexus of ePharma—the optimal way to promote online ventures including eDetailing, Web sites, gaming, mobile, social, and more.

This offer is available only to ePharma attendees. Offer expires February 29, 2012.  To take advantage of this offer, see MMS at Booth 16.  If you'd like to be eligible for this offer, register to join us in New York City next week.  When you mention code XP1706BLOG when registering for the 2012 ePharma Summit, you'll receive 10% off the standard rate!

#HCSMUK: Proceed… with caution.

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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.  If you'd like to attend the ePharma Summit, taking place next week in New York City, register today and mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate!

The UK’s Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) had something to say to pharma at a recent conference. According to Dominic Tyer’s excellent Digital Intelligence Blog, the ABPI’s web editor Melanie Quashie told attendees of SMI’s Social Media In The Pharmaceutical Industry Conference that the trade association had no intentions of putting out any more specific guidelines, but that it saw no reason why pharma couldn’t use social media under the current code of practice.

According to Tyer, Quashie said, “If your objective is to benefit the patient, and you’re working within the boundaries of the Code of Practice, then there is nothing stopping companies embracing social media and taking the opportunity that it presents.”

That’s a heartening statement from a senior staffer at the trade association. Her opinion certainly shouldn’t be taken to represent the official line of the ABPI, but the fact is that increasingly, important institutions are beginning to acknowledge the potential of social media to improve public health, add value to the healthcare delivery system, and empower consumers, patients, and healthcare providers. In December, the FDA issued a draft guidance with similar language regarding the opportunities social media present to the pharmaceutical industry. These are important steps; they mean the powers that be are beginning to understand the power these media hold to transform health outcomes for the better.

But to answer Quashie’s rhetorical question, there is something stopping companies in the UK from embracing social media: the PMCPA. A day after Quashie encouraged companies to engage their consumers via social media, Dyer reported that the enforcement arm of the ABPI announced it found a breach of code against Allergan for a tweet by one of its employees. In short, the employee used his or her personal Twitter account to communicate with a friend who was working for an agency on behalf of a patient organization. The tweet mentioned a specific product (Botox) and mentioned one of its indications (stroke spasticity).

The employee, unfamiliar with the nuances of Twitter, meant to send the tweet as a direct message (DM) but instead tweeted it publicly to his or her friend, meaning that friend, their followers and the followers of the patient organization they tweeted on behalf could see it. Allergan has a company policy on the usage of social media by employees which prohibits mentioning specific products, and in truth this was the result of an error by an individual employee who was inexperienced using Twitter.

Nevertheless, the tweet was reported anonymously to the PMCPA, which found a breach of multiple parts of the code of practice, mainly the one preventing pharmaceutical companies from promoting prescription drugs directly to the public. The PMCPA felt that this tweet was in effect an advertisement.

Whether the ruling or the PMCPA’s interpretation of the code was appropriate is, I suspect, a matter of heated debate. But it seems fairly clear the ruling will have a chilling effect on pharma companies (and employees) considering the use of social media. In fact, the PMCPA in its ruling suggests “pharmaceutical company employees need to be extremely cautious when using social media.”

It would seem that the ABPI’s tacit endorsement coupled with the PMCPA’s latest slap on the wrist would indicate that if pharma is to proceed in adopting social media in the UK marketplace, it ought to be carried out with extreme caution.

ePharma Welcomes Partner XVIVO!

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The ePharma Summit team is pleased to welcome XVIVO as a provider of animated transitions for this year's event.

XVIVO is an award-winning animation studio that prides itself on creating compelling visual productions for pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech companies, advertising agencies, educational organizations, museums and broadcast companies.

In addition to providing the transitions for this year's event XVIVO Vice President, Robert Krensel, will be presenting during the Case Study Tracks session on Multi-Channel HCP Marketing that begins at 1:30 on Wednesday, February 8th. He will be co-presenting with William Tunno, the Director of Product Marketing at Incyte Corporation in a segment called "Develop Interactive Programs and Animations to Aid Sales Force Efforts." Robert and William will discuss the objectives for development of the original MPN (Myeloproliferative Neoplasm) mechanism of disease (MOD) 3D animation program and how it was used by the sales force as an interactive detailing aid when visiting physicians. The program was also used on their website to further educate physicians about MPNs with the idea that a knowledge base and anticipation of the product would be helpful to achieve market penetration even before the drug received FDA approval.

To learn more about XVIVO's custom education and communication services, check out and their amazing demo reel!  Also, it's not too late to sign up for ePharma Summit 2012 taking place next Monday-Wednesday in New York City!  Visit the webpage to find out more and mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Five Days Left before the ePharma Summit - Register to join us today!

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You’re invited to join the growing number of pharmaceutical marketers at the ePharma Summit, which is just five days away, February 6-8, 2012, in New York City. This year, we have over 100 pharmaceutical marketers in attendance, more than any other event. Don't miss out on the year's best event to learn about the latest trends and technologies in digital marketing.

To better address your unique needs and wants, we’ve continued to update our agenda to ensure you get the most up-to-date, relevant information. Below are some of the recently confirmed speakers, topics, and sponsors:

Recently Confirmed Speakers Include:
  • David Ennis, Diabetes Franchise Leader, Global Marketing Communications & Channel Strategies, Merck
  • Robert R. Müller, Associate Marketing Manager, Global Marketing, Roche Diagnostics, Diabetes Care
  • Liz Cermak, Chief Commercial Officer, Pozen Inc.
  • Xavier Petit, Integrated Marketing - Multi-Channel Strategy Services, Shire
  • Jerome Mead, Director, Capability Development and Integration, Bristol-Myers Squibb
...Plus the outstanding members already on our faculty.

New topics include:
  • The implications of the FDA’s recent draft guidance on responding to requests for off-label information
  • The benefits of using gaming to reach consumers
  • Strategies to improve patient adherence through mobile devices
  • A focus on how to better use email-specific capabilities for marketing purposes
  • How to best connect with caregivers

Also, be sure to visit our website to check out the new Social Guiding Principles section of our Medical, Legal & Regulatory Summit day, presented in conjunction with the Digital Health Coalition. This afternoon of sessions brings together experts from pharma, consultants and companies like Facebook to help determine the direction that pharmaceutical companies can take in the absence of FDA guidance.

As a reader of this blog, when you register to join us and mention code XP1706BLOG, you’ll receive a 10% discount off the standard rate! If you have any questions about this year’s event, feel free to email Jennifer Pereira at

Interested in iPad for Selling?

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By Ira Haimowitz, PhD
10 things you should consider before taking the leap


Sure, the iPad is the coolest new gadget around. Yes, everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. Success, however, depends on thoughtful planning and measurement. You must get clear on what your objectives are for rolling out iPads to your sales force. The iPad has numerous features that make it attractive to sales reps. At only 1.5 lbs, it’s easy to tote around. Battery life is excellent. It’s intuitive to use, and apps load quickly, making it easy to access information at the flick of a finger. In addition to being appealing to sales, the iPad is a compelling tool for marketing, as consumers and healthcare providers are flocking to adopt iPads. Consider this: In the world of professional relationship management, a sales rep might begin with a short presentation to the doctor, supplemented with iPad apps; physicians can use apps for patient education. The iPad opens whole new realms of possibility. What are your specific and measurable goals for selling with an iPad?


What functionality does your sales force require? Do apps already exist, or will you create them? What role does cloud computing play? For starters, consider contact management, SFA/CRM, eDetailing, email and calendaring, and expense reporting.

Some other questions to consider: Are iPad audio and video projection capabilities sufficient for group presentations? Is 3G connectivity available in all the areas of the country where your reps work? If not, are critical apps available offline?


Consider building into iPad apps training, including product training, that can be accessed on demand at home or at district meetings. Reps will need practice in order to integrate the iPad into their day-to-day routines. How will they hold the iPad during presentations? What mechanisms are in place to prevent the screen from reorienting? How should they hold it when obtaining a physician signature for samples? How will they connect it to a projector for group presentations? This instruction can be easily built into an app for the iPad. Product training can also be extremely effective leveraging the full capabilities of the iPad.


Consider conducting conference room pilots, followed by a small field force pilot to test ease of use and physician or consumer response to form and content. Learn from these pilots and make adjustments to sales and marketing materials, processes, and training.


Yes, you need a digital strategy, and ensuring that it is well orchestrated, aligned, and consistent with your brand goals is critical to success. It is not sufficient to have a branded website, develop a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and call it good.

Consumers and healthcare providers demand information in new and evolving ways that they specify. It is more important than ever to reach your audience in their own context, on their own terms. Use research to determine your audience’s preferences, and carefully craft the experience that will reach them on that platform.


Design a measurement plan that is rooted in business objectives. Communicate measures of success with stakeholders to ensure alignment. Then, measure and report operational metrics to all stakeholders to inform future brand engagements.


Sales force operational metrics will supply leading indicators of success for your marketing campaign, and the interactive detail in particular. Is the interactive content being utilized by the sales force as you anticipated? What is the HCP’s reaction to interactive content—are they engaged? Does the sales rep perceive the interactive content as impactful?


There is a lot of data available to collect, but that data is meaningless unless you analyze it and supply it to those who will act on it! Provide appropriate insights to each group of stakeholders to inform future brand engagements.


Selling with an iPad represents a cultural shift. It is critical to ensure processes are in place to rapidly respond to changing market needs and keep content fresh. Interactive content is only “new” once. Stale content is a sure way to alienate your target audience, not to mention your sales reps. This kind of agility will require the commitment and active participation by several groups of stakeholders: sales and sales leadership, sales operations, sales training, marketing, marketing science and market research, IT, medical/legal/regulatory, and potentially sourcing and vendor management.


Contact your CementBloc account director to schedule a half-day workshop. The CementBloc will help you assess how to best leverage the iPad to meet your brand goals, set priorities for iPad tools and content development, define measures of success, and build a road map for the transition to selling with an iPad.

Would you like to join The CementBloc next week at ePharma Summit?  Register today and mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate!  The ePharma Summit will take place Monday, February 8 - Wednesday, February 10 in New York City.

About the Author

Dr. Ira J. Haimowitz, Executive Vice President, Group Director, Intelligence and Analytics, at The CementBloc

Dr. Haimowitz received his PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994, and his MPhil from Cambridge University in computer speech and language processing. He has spoken and published extensively, and has also served for 7 years on the board of the Pharmaceutical Management Science Association, including a term as President in 2006. Dr. Haimowitz recently authored the book Healthcare Relationship Marketing, from Gower Press, and has a blog by the same name.

About The CementBloc: The CementBloc is a leading multichannel health and wellness creative agency based in New York. Founded in 2000 by Susan Miller Viray and Rico Viray, The CementBloc is also a founding member of Indigenus, an independent global network of entrepreneurial healthcare creative agencies.