Wednesday, June 27, 2012

One doctor embraces media to enhance the patient relationship

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Source: MacAuthor OB/GYN
Yesterday, we featured the article "Making an impact at the point of care". Today, we look at a doctor who is doing just that. Recently in Healthcare Informatics, they featured the social work of Jeff Livingston, M.D.  This OB/GYN in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, started his socail path at the suggestion of his daughter.  He saw many teenage preganacies, and wanted to figure out how to connect with them on their level.  His daughter suggested MySpace.  His initial efforts yielded lots of questions that he was able to answer.

He now regards these tools as an extension of his practice.  They're on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  They also maintain a HIPAA copliant portal to stay in communication with their patients.  This has also seen success because the whole practice has embraced it - nurses answer questions about the platform and encourage the use as well as the TVs in the waiting room that explain how to use it.

Dr. Livingston has seen success connecting with his patients in this way. He's also learned a great deal more by being able to interact and learn from his patient in an environment they feel comfortable in.  He is also making an effort to travel and share his successes with doctors around the nation and world.

In less than a month at ePharma Summit West, Justin V. Graham, MD, MS, Chief Medical Information Officer, NorthBay Healthcare will be on hand to present "How Can YOU Have Meaningful Impact at Point of Care?".  He will look at what doctors need in order to better care for their patients while they're in the care of the doctor.  For more on this session and the rest of the agenda,  download the agenda here.  If you'd like to join us in San Francisco this July 17-19, 2012, as a reader of this blog when you register and mention code P1756BLOG, you'll save 10% off the standard rate!

How will the success of Dr. Livingston's story affect other doctors and their use of social media? Do you believe this effort will lead to more doctors embracing social media?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Making an impact at the point of care

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Patient care is high priority among doctors for obvious reasons. Each day, there are new innovations that are attempting to improve patient care. One thing that is beginning to become more advanced technologically in the healthcare industry is point of care. Usually, point of care involves the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by healthcare professionals. It is also allows professionals to be with their patients inside or outside a hospital, allowing for convenience and an inexpensive way for patient to be tested and diagnosed.

And now innovators are coming up with ways help with patient at the point of care.

An article appearing on Sys-Con Media describes how Menssana Researchers are developing a point-of-care breathing test for pulmonary tuberculosis. There were 279 patients in England, India, and the Philippines took part in the research. The patient would breathe into the Menssana’s Breathlink system, which collects, concentrates and analyzes with a sensitive gas chromatograph. The breathing will last for two minutes and there would be a diagnosis completed in six minutes. The test is 84% accurate, leaving room for improvement to see whether it can be used to its full potential. Patients also are like the idea of having a breath test because it costs less, it is quick and it is less painless.

Pharmpro wrote that Roche and Panasonic Healthcare have decided to collaborate on a new monitoring system. The product will be manufactured by Panasonic Japan and marketed by Roche. It will monitor the blood glucose and lipids for patients for the early stages of metabolic syndrome. The system will aid healthcare professionals in detecting two major factors in that lead to a risk of having cardiovascular disease. The system can also detect people who may have metabolic syndrome early so that healthcare professionals can concentrate on the patient. The start time for the system will be at the end of 2012, presumable outside the U.S. first, with the hopes of eventually coming to U.S.

In less than a month at ePharma Summit West, Justin V. Graham, MD, MS, Chief Medical Information Officer, NorthBay Healthcare will be on hand to present "How Can YOU Have Meaningful Impact at Point of Care?".  He will look at what doctors need in order to better care for their patients while they're in the care of the doctor.  For more on this session and the rest of the agenda, download the agenda here.  If you'd like to join us in San Francisco this July 17-19, 2012, as a reader of this blog when you register and mention code P1756BLOG, you'll save 10% off the standard rate!

Monday, June 25, 2012

More Expensive Responsive Design Is Far Cheaper Than The Alternative

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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.

You know all the numbers already; it appears that nearly every HCP target has or is about to get an iPad. They all had smart phones last year. The numbers are growing so fast, that some people have just stopped collecting them and have begun to simply say, “We are rapidly approaching maximum market saturation” and moving on to other, more interesting questions. A quick check of your web stats and email applications confirms that almost 40% of your traffic is mobile. This leads you to one simple and inexorable conclusion: you need to get mobile. If you talk to your agencies and partners, they will be more than willing to spend your money and re-build your website and your online tactics (eLearning, request forms, formulary tools, etc) into a mobile version that will look good on a phone. Some may even suggest that you put all that into a set of apps (one for iPhone, one for iPad and one for Android) to allow for device specificity. Sure, you could do all that. And you could also just send me a check for six figures. But you shouldn’t.

When talking to your agency partners, listen to the one who uses the phrase “responsive design.” You may have already heard it, and not known what it was. Well, let me help you sound like an experience, and savvy web solution shopper. If you go the old route of building a site for the desktop, the tablet and the phone, you have three sites. You know what kind of hassle it is to update one site already: between label changes and marketing position changes, it is a lot of work (read: expensive).

Having three separate sites doesn’t get you any benefits of scale. You have three sites that must be coded completely differently, even if they have the exact same content. The management costs alone would make you blanch. Maybe you’ve already done the math, and that’s why losing 40% of your traffic to mobile isn’t the catastrophe I made it sound like before. Maybe the return on investment to three sites doesn’t work for you. Responsive design is the solution to the same problem that you and every other web business is having (this isn’t a pharma issue, it’s a web issue). The solution is a change in mindset for the coding of your site. Using HTML5 and CSS3 trickery, they can build a site once (with only a single maintenance budget) and have it look and work completely differently on a laptop, tablet or phone.

The code can tell what kind of device the user is using to request the page and delivers the version that’s appropriate. It isn’t just a matter of making the text smaller or anything, with careful planning, it can do everything from make the link buttons on the phone big and easy to use, or even resizing the graphics for new retina-display screens. Even the images can be adjusted, re-shaped and re-sized on the fly to maximize their value on a given screen. This kind of responsiveness may already be in place in some of your sites, like when it delivers slightly different versions of code to different versions of browsers. The current understanding of responsive design just takes the idea and moves to its logical conclusion: one site that looks and acts like many. The framework can even be used to more easily port content into device-specific apps. Users can download apps – which are really just slightly modified browsers – that pull your responsive site through their window. Now, it’s not magic. But it’s not free, either. You can expect to pay more for a site that uses responsive design practices. But one responsive site is far cheaper to build and maintain than three sites.

ePharma Summit West will take place July 17-19, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  For more on this year's program, view the agenda.  If you'd like to join James, register today and mention code XP1756BLOG to save 15% off the current rate.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How do you control your brand message?

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To be scolded in a public forum would not rank near the top of anyone’s bucket list. We try to avoid it from happening but somehow it always seems to come into our lives. But the more pressing question is, how do you control the conversation? How do you make sure you are not being run through the mud with a few disgruntled customers? 

In an article written by Media Post, they explore the downside of having bad publicity, sighting the horrible working conditions at an Apple factory in China (which was later proven untrue), but they also make the realization that social networking is where the voice of the consumer is at its strength. The article continues to give an in-depth look at the fears and what steps may lead to controlling the messages sent by the consumer. 

General Mills even attempted to speak out on a controversial issue in this country, according to the MinnPost. The issue of same sex marriage is heavily debated from kitchen tables to representatives in business suits on Capitol Hill but General Mills decided to voice their opinion. They posted on their blog their support for marriage equality, opposing a legislature in Minnesota that would define marriage between a man and a woman. They were successful in gaining positive feedback regarding their decision to say they are in favor of marriage equality, which contrasts with Target when they decided to make a one hundred thousand dollar contribution to a gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. 

Target was not a fan favorite after their public endorsement of Tom Emmer running for office in Minnesota, who was in opposition of marriage equality. However, Target stated that they were only in support of his position regarding businesses. The public soon at a whiff of the news and began to voice their opinion as well regarding the decision by Target. 

Not only can your brand be in trouble regarding consumers, but the FDA occassionaly sends warning letters to Pharma in regards to social media usage. Policing such companies like Global Sweet Polypols, LLC and Golden Temple of Oregon, LLC , the FDA has brought about violations pertaining to the usage of marketing their drug products without disclosing necessary information like the risks in taking the drug and having misleading information, according to Nutra Ingredients-USA . The FDA issued a warning letter to pharmaceutical companies about the marketing of medicine on social media sites, expressed here in the Washington Legal Foundation.

At ePharma Summit West, Scott Oppliger, Founder & CEO, Social Volt, will be presenting "What is the Real Risk of Losing Control of YOUR Brand Message Online?" Passionate about social media and technology, Scott has the knowledge to take calculated risks regarding online communities. For more information on Scott's presentation and the rest of the program, download the brochure. Register to join us today and mention code XP1756BLOG, you'll save 10% off the standard rate!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

[INFOGRAPHIC] Solutions to your greatest pharma marketing challenges

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What are the Top 10 Challenges of the Pharma Marketer today?  After doing some market research, Conference Director Sarah Gordon came up with these 10 challenges and mapped the difficulty according to email, social media, web and mobile.  Do you map your mediiums and difficulty levels in the same way?

ePharma Summit West is taking place July 17-19, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Don’t forget, as a reader of the ePharma Summit Blog, when you register to join us and use code XP1756LI, you’ll receive an additional 10% of the current rate! If you have any questions about this year’s event, feel free to email Jennifer Pereira.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How can do we converse with consumers?

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One question that seems to concern some businesses is just how to connect with the consumer. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are utilized daily by consumers and companies alike. So what’s the problem?

An article written for Business Insider talks about this problem in a study conducted in May of this year. It explains the relationship of consumers and brands on social media platforms, specifically Twitter. The study was commissioned by Conversocial, who specializes in social media customer service. Of the consumers taking the survey, 55% of them described their experiences with brands online were “disappointing.” To go along with those results, 41.1% expected a response from the brands within 24 hours. The findings of the study have similarities to another research conducted last year involving Facebook.

According to eMarketer, consumers want a more genuine interaction with the companies on such sites as Facebook. They reference a study done by A.T. Kearney, analyzing the conversations or lack thereof with their interactions on Facebook.  The findings noted in the article show that 94%, up from 91% in 2010, of the conversations on Facebook would not allow consumers to interact with them on their Facebook wall. In addition, 56% of those top brand name companies did not respond to a single post posted by the consumer.

What we see is that more and more consumers want to interact with companies on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. They feel as though this is their best outlet to voice any concerns or applause for whatever the company has done. Not only does the consumer want to voice their own opinion, they also would want to hear a response about what they posted.

At the ePharma Summit West, AJ Brustein, Global Senior Brand Manager, The Coca-Cola Company will be presenting “What does it take to have authentic and meaningful conversations with YOUR consumer?” For more information on Brustein's presentation and the rest of the program, download the brochure.  If you'd like to join Brustein this July in San Francisco, register to join us and mention code XP1756BLOG to save 10% off the current rate.

Are you surprised by the data displayed? What do you believe are the necessary steps for Pharma to interact successfully with consumers through social media?

Monday, June 18, 2012

CRM Is a Strategy, Not Technology

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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. James will be joining us at ePharma Summit West July 17-19, 2012 in San Franscico, California.  If you'd like to join James, be sure to register today and mention code XP1756BLOG to save 15% off the current rate!

No, wait. Just because this is going to be about CRM doesn’t mean you need to bring your call to action into the room. This will not be about computers. The problem is that we just see the acronym and not the words themselves. You think you know what CRM is, that it's a big database filled with info about all your customers and it spits out all sorts of insights like what channels each target prefers and what messages they seem to respond to. Except none of that is in the name itself: Customer relationship management. No tech. No servers. No database. No channel preference. It's just a way to manage the relationships you have with your customers. If you owned a bar, knowing what the regulars liked to drink and remembering that Ol’ Joe gets a little maudlin after his fourth – that would be customer relationship management. You wouldn't need a server, because you would know many of your customers by name, by drink, and by story. That's what a good bartender does, right?

So why do we need to inject databases into the concept? When you think CRM, don't think servers and analysts, think strategy. Because that’s what CRM is -- a strategy. It is a way of thinking about your customers to help them have a positive experience, so that they come back for more. It is a system and structure that forces you to put the customer in the center of all your marketing thinking.

Allow me to be specific. You’ve got a target list. Maybe you’ve broken it down by deciles. And you are recruiting everyone on that target list to opt in to your email campaigns. Now, your email campaigns, are they a bunch of emails you send out every few weeks in a specific order? Maybe you occasionally interrupt that order with breaking news about a conference or a label change? Yeah, I figured as much. So what’s that getting you? Are you learning about your targets? No, you’re shouting at them. And worse yet, you’re shouting at them all the same way. The twenty email messages you’ve spent the last nine months crafting and pushing through MLR are to be sent in order, to everyone who opts in, are they increasing your prescription rates? Are they increasing your rep and sample requests? Are they increasing your target’s understanding of your brand? I’ll buy you a drink at ePharmaSummit West this year if you can answer ”yes” to all those questions.

Let’s assume you’ve embraced an adoption path for all your targets, that everyone was either unaware of your brand; aware but ignorant of what the drug does; educated but unconvinced of its value, convinced of its value and prepared to prescribe; or ready to tell other people about their positive experiences with the brand. Which of your twenty emails speaks to which of those audiences? Are you sending your messages in a way that moves each target from one step to the next? Can you confirm that each target has moved to the next step before you send the next message? (Did you notice that every question asked where the customer is? This is what I mean by customer-centered.) This is what CRM can tell you. With proper implementation, it can see that Dr. Smith is aware of the brand (because she went to a conference and dropped a business card in the bowl to try and win an iPad). So it sends Dr. Smith three emails in a row about what the purpose of the drug is. The system knows that after the second email, the doctor clicked the link to learn more and watched most of the eLearning video. This means that our target has moved to the next step, so skip the third ”brand awareness” email and move on to the campaign to get them to request a sample. At the same time, Dr. Jones already is aware of the brand and it's mechanism of action, so a series of messages are sent about requesting samples and formulary information. This is how you manage your customers.

The strategy comes first. We can figure out how to build the database and tracking system later. Here’s the scary part: you can't say that you don't think CRM is valuable because every business tries to manage their relationships with their customers. It's a cornerstone of building a good business. What you may object to is the way that strategy is implemented, but you can't ignore the strategy itself. So tell me: how are you managing the relationships you have with your customers?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vaccinations options are becoming prevalent. What about the way we track it?

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Do you know which vaccines you've had?  What about the vaccines your children have had?  Many people in the United States don't know the answer to this question, so the makers of BeImmunized set out to correct this.

According to Mashable, their goal is to create a digital shot record that can be accessed by doctors, schools, healthcare providers and patients.  It could also be more easily kept up to date than the yellow shot record that can often be out or date.  The creators of the site focused on usability in order to encourage those who use it to be able to use it functionally.  This self-funded start up is avialable to all United States citizens for free, but a push for California residents to join has been the focus thus far.  After patients sign up for the services, they're even able to receive text messages about when they should be receiving upcoming vaccinations in addition to when outbreaks of certain illnesses occur in their area.

This is just one of the many ways that patients can step up and control their personal health.  By stepping up and digitally keeping track with an easy to use platform, they enable themselves and healthcare officials to provide a better healthcare experience.  In the  eMarketing University for Brand Managers at ePharma Summit West this July 17-19, there will be a variety of sessions that will look at digital platforms such as this, that can share how Pharma can better reach their audience and encourage healthy behavior.  As a reader of this blog, register to join us and mention code XP1756BLOG to save 10% off the current rate!

Do you think an update needs to be made in the way America tracks who has had what vaccination?  Do you think BeImmunized is on the right track to make this happen?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Providing Value is More than just Creating an App or a Facebook Page

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Roni Zeiger, MD
It’s easy to get caught up in new marketing channels, without evaluating the value it provides to customers, or potential customers. In order to increase brand awareness and build meaningful content, you need to get inside the mind of the consumers.

At the ePharma Summit West, you’ll travel inside the minds of consumers via Roni Zeiger, MD, Co-Founder and CEO of Impatient Science and former Chief Health Strategist at Google. While at Google, Dr. Zeiger helped create everything from Google Flu Trends to Symptom Search, popular tools consumers use to manage their health needs.

"Mobile is redefining how people interact not only with online content, but with their world. It's also an opportunity for us to focus on providing real value that solves our users' problems." -Roni Zeiger

Following Dr. Zeiger’s guru presentation, Yolanda John-Morton of Lilly USA will share insight into their Lilly for Better Health tool, created to engage consumers and encourage them to make better health decisions.

For more information on this session and the rest of the event, download the brochure.

ePharma Summit West is taking place July 17-19, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Don’t forget, as a reader of the ePharma Summit Blog, when you register to join us and use code XP1756BLOG, you’ll receive an additional 10% of the current rate! If you have any questions about this year’s event, feel free to email Jennifer Pereira.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cloud-Based Software Company Appature Appoints Pharmaceutical Marketing Veteran Bob Harrell as VP Marketing, Healthcare

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SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - Jun 7, 2012) - Appature, Inc., a sponsor of the ePharma Summit, recently appointed Bob Harrell as the company's new Vice President of Marketing, Healthcare. Appature, a leading software-as-a-service (SAAS) provider for life sciences, offers a "surprisingly simple" relationship marketing platform that enables healthcare marketers to easily mine data, launch campaigns, and get actionable insights to drive deeper customer relationships and market share.

Harrell is known in the industry for innovation and leadership in the convergence of life sciences marketing and digital technologies. Leveraging this perspective, he will lead marketing efforts for Appature's solutions to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, driving the next generation of thought leadership, relationship marketing vision, brand awareness and strategy for the company.
"Bob has always had a keen sense of where the industry is heading and how technology can be applied to the commercial aspects of our business," said Matt Emmens, Chairman, Shire PLC. "I'm confident he will bring great value to Appature in his new role."

"We are thrilled to have Bob's experience and tremendous vision for how pharma marketing must evolve to address the rapidly changing environment," said Kabir Shahani, CEO, Appature. "This is exactly the thinking and talent we need to continue to accelerate the growth of our business."

"I believe this is an exceptional opportunity and great time for me to join Appature," said Harrell. "The industry can no longer rely on the blunt instrument of mass campaigns to reach customers. The next five years are critical for pharma and medical device companies to develop the mature marketing capabilities already in place for industries such as retail, finance and consumer packaged goods. Appature's cloud-based relationship marketing software platform, Appature Nexus, is built to address this exact need. It enables both brand management and commercial operations teams to realize the value of data-driven 'informed marketing.' I look forward to helping grow Appature to the next level," added Harrell.

Bob joins Appature from Shire Pharmaceuticals, where he served as Director of Integrated Marketing since 2004, maximizing the value of Shire brands such as Vyvanse, Intuniv, Lialda, and Carbatrol. Prior to joining Shire, Bob worked in Prague, Czech Republic, where he led Marketing and Operations for an American-owned eBusiness startup. Earlier, Bob served as a Group Account Director for SimStar (now part of Rosetta Marketing), a Princeton-based RM/interactive marketing agency. Bob's 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry began in hospital sales for Merck, followed by field sales for Astra Merck. He then assumed a variety of positions with increasing responsibility at Astra Merck and AstraZeneca headquarters, including Product Communications Manager, Director of Field Communications, and Director of Strategic Communications.

About Appature, Inc.
Appature, Inc. is a Seattle-based technology company that provides a "surprisingly simple" cloud-based relationship marketing software platform, Appature Nexus, designed exclusively for healthcare and life science companies. Appature Nexus enables marketers to deepen brand relationships and drive share growth with a platform that integrates the marketing database, campaign management tool and analytics suite into one easy-to-use tool. Leaders in the pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer healthcare industries rely on Appature to realize the full potential of their customer relationships. Please visit

Monday, June 11, 2012

How To Cut 25% of Your Marketing Budget Today

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Today's guest post comes from . Ellis is the Digital Strategist at closerlook inc. and blogs at He also needs more activity on his Twitter account (@digital_pharma) if you'd like to tell him he's wrong. No, really. James will be joining us at ePharma Summit West July 17-19, 2012 in San Franscico, California.  If you'd like to join James, be sure to register today and mention code XP1756BLOG to save 15% off the current rate!

You have a lot of possible and actual targets, and almost as many ways to describe those targets: deciles (based on past prescribing data), deciles (based on predictive modeling tools), engagement scores, adoption path position, geographic area, specialty, practice type, and more.

The problem with many of these descriptions is that they tend to paint a partial picture of your targets. For example, deciling by past prescription data says ”this group used to prescribe a lot, this group used to not prescribe much.” That’s great information if this were a history class.

Conversely, deciling by predictive modeling (so sexy, so hot this year) is so complicated, most of us can only say ”based on an equation so complicated I'd need PhD and a white board the size of a building to explains it, this group should prescribe a lot and this group shouldn't.” It’s less like history class and more like science fiction.

The issue is that while this kind of segmentation tells you who should write and who shouldn't, it doesn't try to tell you why. And that’s important because if you know why, you’ll know what you want them to do, which means you’ll know what kinds of messages to send them to change their behavior.

So, let's call this this the Context Quadrant Metric (all you MBAs should feel very much at home, they rest of you, don't worry -- this is easy). It's a two-by-two chart. Across the chart, plot out engagement. You can decide how you want to measure this. It can be as simple as decile, but you could also count all the different touches you've made back and forth (number of emails sent, videos viewed, speaker programs completed, honoraria received, etc). Low engagement to the left, high engagement to the right.

Vertically, plot the number of prescriptions written in the last year. No prescriptions at the bottom, lots of prescriptions at the top.

Now, you’ve got four quadrants. The bottom-left is filled with targets who are low-engaged, writing few prescriptions. Call these your “Unlikelies.” In the bottom-right you have highly-engaged, low prescribers. Call these your “Underachievers.” Upper-right corner is your highly-engaged, high prescribers. These are your “High-Responders.” Finally, in the upper-left, you have low-engaged, high prescribers. These are your “Overacheivers.”

What does this tell us? Well, we now see where there are correlations between the marketing actions you are taking and prescribing. We’ll also see how in many instances the actions you make have nothing to do with the outcomes. For example, you spend a whole lot of money trying to talk to the Underacheivers, but they don’t seem to be doing what you want. How much money is too much? Or maybe it's proof that your marketing message isn't working for them. Maybe these are the moochers who are happy to watch any videos you put in front of them for the free MREI at the end. Maybe no amount of MREI in the world will get them to prescribe.

How valuable is that information?

And what about your OveracheiversYou are spending a lot of money trying to talk to them, but they are ignoring you entirely without negative consequence to your bottom line. They have massive ROI. Maybe instead of trying to get them to opt in, you should just start sending them thank you emails and leaving them alone. How much money would you save that way?

By understanding the contents of each target group, you can make smarter marketing choices, saving huge amounts of money on dead-end or already-satisfied targets that can be used on new messages to those who will actually respond to them. You can frame marketing strategies (and budgets) around better understanding your audiences.

Friday, June 8, 2012

How can we better connect patients with their doctors?

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The doctor/patient relationships has been dwindling in value in the recent years.  In a blog post at the New York Times, they highlight the fact that many patents often don't bring up certain topics due to the fact that patients almost felt trapped when it came to talking to their doctors.  Reasons cited in the article included an often authoritative feel from the doctors, others felt  like they were upsetting their doctors when it came to communication.  This simple relationship can put a huge hole in the best care that a patient could be receiving.

Kevin MD recently voiced his concerns over the doctor patient relationship.  He believes that 90% of being a doctor is connecting with patients and 10% is knowing what medicine to prescribe for the best care.  By being able to connect and form a relationship with the patient, a doctor knows what is best because they've had the time to get to know a patient's condition, how they're dealing with it.  He also points out that many questions can't be answered when the patient needs to know the answers because a patient isn't going to make an appointment, wait in the doctors office and take time to connect with the doctor.

And no one can forget the rising cost of Medicare.  How can this be fixed?  Forbes believes that we should blame the delivery system when it comes to the rising costs of healthcare.  We live in the age of constant testing.  To bring down the cost of healthcare, the right type care needs to be delivered at the appropriate time.  The absolute worst way to do this is to cut the amount of reimbursement per patient to each doctor.

What we see is a trend that the more time the patient spends connecting with a doctor, the better the care they can receive.  However, due to external factors pressuring the doctor to spend less time with the patients, a giant disconnect has arisen in the relationship.

At ePharma Summit West, Roni Zeiger, CEO, Impatient Science; Former Chief Health Strategist, Google, will be presenting "What do Patients Want from YOU?". As a doctor, he is currently working in many different fields including previous work in diffent aspects of Google Health and keeps his patient connection by seeing patients nights and weekends. For more information on Roni's presentation and the rest of the program, download the brochure. Register to join us today and mention code XP1756BLOG, you'll save 10% off the standard rate!

How can we, as the Pharma industry, work to foster this relationship?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pinterest: Is This The Next Big Social Media Channel for Pharma?

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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.

If you haven’t heard of Pinterest yet, you are probably purposely avoiding it. It has become the fastest-growing social media site in the US (#3 behind Facebook and Twitter, ahead of #4 LinkedIn) and it has a fairly rabid fanbase. But what is Pinterest? How is it different from the other social networking sites we’ve grown comfortable with lately?

To understand Pinterest, you need to think about the internet not as a bunch of ones and zeros (bytes), but as a collection of things (photos, articles, posts, videos, graphics, infographics, PDFs, etc).

Typically, you might spend a lot of time crafting an article that includes a bunch of text, a few images, an infographic, and maybe some links. You think of the article as the unit of transfer – the product produced and distributed. This is a holdover from the previous generation of media (magazines and journals).

But what if the pieces were as valuable as the entire article? For example, let's say you have a set of instructions on how to make something interesting. A headboard, for example. You will write the instructions out and annotate it with a series of instructive photos describing each step. To you, the information, as defined by this collection of text and images, is the thing. Except, the final image is really pretty. It allows people to see the outcome and mentally project it on to their lives (or, in this case, in their bedroom). To them, the final picture is the thing, with a bunch of semi-interesting text and explanatory images along for the ride. The picture of the dessert is far more important that the recipe. The picture of the dress is more important that who makes it (but not who sells it, as many retail brands are finding that Pinterest is a more effective channel for sales that Twitter or Facebook).

Think about it. The information needed to create something isn't as important as the marketing tool wrapped around it. That is the thing that Pinterest trades on. So people see the image and pin it to their board (it's like “Liking” something on Facebook, but allowing the user and their fans to see all the related likes in one place). Beyond that, other users (via searching or via networking) see the image and may choose to like the image as well.

This is Pinterest: A very visual array of ideas grouped by a user to collect inspirations on given topics.

If you're confused by my examples (headboards, desserts, dresses), then you don't know the audience for Pinterest (whether it was the intended audience or not). Depending on the source of information, Pinterest's users are 68-97% female. What is successful on Pinterest is very pretty, very cute, very clever, or very funny. The marketing piece (the final product, the lavishly-designed graphic, the snarky line) trumps the supporting content. If you want your material pinned, you had better have a gorgeous photo or killer infographic.

So what does all this mean to pharma? Based on the meager existing pharma usage of Pinterest, it's very hard to say. Like all social media, the tool is designed to facilitate conversations between people, a conversation that might sound like "I like this thing, and you might, too." Despite the value that pharma brings to people's lives, there isn't much activity on the boards. For example, a search for the enormously popular Viagra leads to seeing three pins: one bottle image, one ad, and one picture of red pills forming a heart. A search for Paxil shows roughly 20 pins, where Paxil is as likely to be used as code for "chill out" as in a professional frame. And searching for Nexium shows far more pins for "natural alternatives" and online pharmacies than anything the industry might consider useful or productive.

From the other side of the fence, Bayer US's Pinterest page (53 pins currently) is filled with advertisements for its business, sustainability, innovation and education initiatives. The only brand shown is for pet med Advantix.

We can see that Pinterest may not be an obvious channel for pharma. It is open (people can comment freely and re-purpose a pharma pin onto a board of any name they choose), it is conversational, and it is very visual. These are traits that do not lend themselves to pharma.

That said, there is a massive community here (mostly younger and female). If we look at the example of NuvaRing (female contraceptive), there aren’t many pins, but almost all of them are serious or informational in tone. Clearly, the audience here understands the value of this product to both themselves and their peers. The question is: will Pinterest become the way women talk to each other about this brand? That remains to be seen.

You can follow ePharma Summit on Pinterest here.

Join James this July at ePharma Summit West, taking place July 17-19, 2012 in San Francisco.  Download the agenda to find out more about the program.  If you register to join us today and mention code XP1756BLOG, you'll save 10% off the standard rate!