Thursday, July 26, 2012

The scientists of tomorrow make an impact on eHealth

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Recently teens with top innovations in the science world conviened in Palo Alto, California to be honored for their scientific community a the Google Science Fair.  The top winner was Britteny Wenger of Sarasota, Florida who created an online app to predict the probability of breast cancer among small tissue samples.  Brittany's test went through 7.6 million trials and showed 99% accuracy.  Read more at the Scientific American.

Other winners included Jonah Kohn of California who developed a device that helped those with hearing impalement better feel the vibrations of music for their enjoyment.

What do scientific innovations like these promise for the future of the Pharma technology industry?   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How can social media impact on care?

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In a recent article at Medical Daily, they look at the impact different social tools can have on the health of patients.  While it can be a new learning tool, it's also a way to manage health.  The UC San Diego School Of Medicine is looking at how the Wellaho, an app, can affect the health both in the hosptial and at home for patients with Type I & II Diabetes. The School is conducting a test by measuring the use of it's participants by looking at how many times they log in, how many others they invite to the platform and how long they're on the platform.

What do you think the results of the study of the App will find?  Do you think patients find apps like these beneficial for their health?

Monday, July 23, 2012

ePharma Summit West: And Then We Went Home

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This week, ePharma Blogger for closerlook, inc. is in San Francisco covering ePharma Summit West.  Tune in every morning for a recap of the previous day's sessions!

Day Three of ePharma Summit West 
July 19th, 2012 

Before the day's festivities, I had a great chat with Pete Dannanfelser (@PeteDTweets, to his friends) that helped me crystalize a few thoughts I had been having about pharma conferences. Not specifically about ePharmaSummit West, but about all conferences. Thought they certainly applied here.

First, that by trying to present consumer and professional-focused sessions, conferences split the middle, guaranteeing that an audience member will only be able to take value from 50% of the sessions. Add to that the fact that even if someone is talking about something relevant to your interests, there's a 50% chance that the speaker will be talking too high or low level for you, or will simply not resonate. So at best, a conference can only bat .250 for any given attendee, though each attendee will see that 25% come from very different places.

But Pete had a different perspective, one that I started to see pop up in presentations: that the difference between consumer and professional is an arbitrary one. For example, if we make consumer-focused patient education guides, they will be built by the consumer-side. However, a professional-side rep will deliver them to an HCP, sometimes wrapped in a professional-facing product or program. That project could just as easily been built on the professional side as the consumer side, so why make a distinction?

This idea was reinforced on the second day during Chad Ballentine's presentation on consumer-side CRM. An audience member asked about HCP CRM and Chad replied that there was no connection between the two projects. I would wager that this wouldn't be an unseal reaction because as someone who works for a company that focuses on HCP CRM, we don't have too many chats about patient data. But really, the data is the data. Placing them in different silos (and systems and tools) isn't really helping anyone, is it? And yet, a common theme among presentations is that pharma needs to become more user-centered. The "user" doesn't have to be defined as patient or the HCP, but as the person that pharma touches. The gerrymandering way in which we draw a line between these two groups keeps us from really achieving such user-centered mindset.

 And yet, there are moments where you can see pharma being forced away from such separation, albeit in small ways. For example, Bill Drummy (@drumbeat) showed off apps that commonly put the rep and the HCP on the same side of the iPad to build engagement and understanding. Or Lori Keith's presentation on building a library of videos that helped build a conversation between the internal and external scientists (the more you break down walls, the more we must become comfortable giving up complete control). Breaking down walls between X and Y will grow from "idea" to "challenge" in the next year or two, I'm guessing.

The second point that gained some more clarity is the notion that these conferences serve as wailing walls for the industry. No matter how positive the presentation, the comments and off-line conversations tend towards moaning and "woe is us." This isn't helped by the common practice of starting each presentation with a series of slides that might as well be entitled, "We're all doomed and we'd be better off if we just stayed in bed."

I bet if I polled any five of you, you could build your own set of Doom slides, mentioning how blockbuster drugs are done, reps staffs are shrinking, docs don't want to see reps, technology and channels are fragmenting, the FDA won't let us play in social, and that HCPs only spend X seconds on a patient, Y minutes a month learning about new treatment options, and have to worry about Z new regulations that make everyone's life harder. It's time to eat a bowl of worms.

And yet, the last day's sessions bucked this trend. For example, when Facebook representative Christy Cooper talked about all the ways Facebook is bending over backwards to help build services within pharma's limitations, she wasn't laughed out of the room. The audience could see that even within tight regulatory limitations, good work was being done. And when Sanofi's presentation concurred, you could almost hear the light bulbs turning on. Mark Bard and Courtney McGowen's presented a strategy that helped bridge the gap between your great idea and MLR's crazy need to not get us all sued. It wasn't pie in the sky, but a set of steps that effectively closed the gap between the known and proven tactics and the new, untested and untried idea we think could have a real impact.

Finally, Phil McKinney's presentation brought home the idea that innovation isn't just in the R&D department, but can and should be leveraged everywhere. Yes, that sounds nice, but how can a brand manager or brand agency really achieve that? Well, we could let go of the what (product, service, channel) and focus more on the who (audience needs and audience segmentation) and the why (if you truly understand the "why," you can let go of what isn't necessary). By way of example, Phil told a story about his assistant who wondered why expense reports were so painful and found a new product which cut a few minutes off the process every month per person. That may not sound like much, but if you did the math across your company, you could see that a similar idea might save your brand hundreds of man-hours a year. What does that cost?

The positive note may have been lost on those people who had to catch early planes home, but it really ended the conference the right way. We all have those momentary epiphanies sitting in the audience, but how many of us end up applying them to our work? Isn't that what we really want to do? The catharsis of lamenting the future is fleeting. Walking away with action items and momentum is what we come for. Maybe I'll see you in March and we can compare notes then. Full notes of the day's events can be found at

Thursday, July 19, 2012

ePharma West 2012: Complete Coverage of ePharmaSummit West, Day Two

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This week, ePharma Blogger for closerlook, inc. is in San Francisco covering ePharma Summit West.  Tune in every morning for a recap of the previous day's sessions!

Day Two of ePharma Summit West 
July 18th, 2012 

 There are two people who got discussed a lot at today's ePharma Summit sessions. These two people are entities we in pharma (brand or agency side) think about a lot. The problem is that when we think about them, we think aren't all thinking about the same people.

For example, the first person that gets a lot of discussion is a patient. Perhaps you don't know her. According to presenters and audience members, she is motivated/unmotivated. He always and never takes her meds. She knows how to and is scared to talk to his doctor. He loves mobile devices but hates to use them. She has insurance but go to clinics and have the disposable income to spend freely on healthcare. It sounds confusing, but luckily, he has an amazing doctor. She reads journals exclusively, assuming you can classify Sermo posts as journals. He has an iPad and an iPhone but doesn't know how to put a USB drive into a computer. She wants more patient data, but doesn't want daily emails from every patient. He relies on data exclusively to make decisions but can't read a patient's chart. She always and never wants data about patient savings programs. All that's well and good because we marketers use reps who docs love and never let them into their offices.

Marketers use non-personal promotion to talk to people and leverage personalized mass-communication tools. We want data and analytics so long as we don't actually have to make decisions with it. One thing we can all agree on: MLR is the enemy. I'm just kidding about that last one. I promise. It only underlines how complex our jobs are. There is no target, there are twenty and they are commonly contradictory. Threading the needle between such wants and needs would be a walk in the park compared to all this. We all see and hold on to (rightly or wrongly, backed up by data or years of experience) so many biases and "truths" about our respective targets that we've gotten lost in the deep weeds.

But do you want to know the worst contradiction pharma faces? That pharma may only survive if it learns to embrace wellness, preventative medicine, off-the-shelf consumer-grade tech and behavior change. At it's most blunt: pharma can only grow and thrive by not being pharma. At least, that's what I am starting to get from this conference. In a conference filled with plenty of "top influencers and thinkers" and brands who would happily call themselves "conservative," each day so far has ended with a panel of technologists and entrepreneurs who seem hellbent on burning a specific page of the medical and pharma history book and do it all over again the "right" way. It's almost Dickensonian to have invited the Ghost of Christmas Future to our conference to tell us our fates. At least they had the good grace not to gloat. Here's the most galling part about these young upstarts: Their willingness to listen to the data and take action on it.

If there is a Achilles heel within our industry, it's our unwillingness to listen to the data, to play our gut hunches in the face of contradictory data, to elevate the status quo as we bemoan the future in a blockbuster-less world. Maybe the time we spend complaining about how slow and clumsy pharma is could be better spent making it more agile in the few places it can. Maybe we can ask the data answerable questions and commit to acting on the answer, no matter what it says. Strangely, the bright spot for pharma is how many messy steps exist between the now and the pharmaless rosy future painted for us (side note: I call for a moratorium on all conference sessions in which the presenter has to say "one day…" before making a point: if you aren't doing it, you can't talk about it).

Today's panel of technologists and entrepreneurs talked as if the idea of destroying pharma and getting bought up by pharma were equally successful ends. And maybe they are. I say these things to praise pharma, not to bury it. Speaking of praise, I reserve it to presenters who were willing to talk in specifics rather than in vague generalities. Those of us in the audience who are professionals (spoiler alert: all of us) appreciate it.

 My complete notes are at if you'd like to skip my generalizations here and get a more direct read on what was said. Feel free to spread the link.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ePharma West 2012: What I Saw at ePharma University

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This week, ePharma Blogger for closerlook, inc. is in San Francisco covering ePharma Summit West.  Tune in every morning for a recap of the previous day's sessions!

ePharma University: Day One of ePharmaSummit West
July 17th, 2012

It's an expectations game. It always is. If you chose to come to the University portion of this conference, you probably expected to get less high-level presentations and a lot more specifics. Tactics. Lessons learned (not the "Maybe investing in jackalope futures wasn't a great idea" lessons, but more of a "So if we change the intention of the subject line, we see a 15% increase in open rates" kind of lessons).

Data. This is not the time for Buzz Word Bingo (no one said "synergy" once as far as I could tell) or trying to impress other agencies who almost got that account. This is for the sergeants, the ground-level leaders who sweat whether or not that email did its job this month or if that banner ad was worth the placement. Should we have gone with responsive design instead of just a mobile site? Is an email every 21 days better or worse than an email every 19 days? And if these were your expectations, you probably came away satisfied. There weren't many brand folks in the room today, so it was agency-side folks who were taking the most notes. And there was a lot to take in. 

  • Bill Drummy of Healthbeat Digital made a pretty serious case for why agencies and brands should shift a far greater portion of their marketing budget to digital than they have so far. Bill focused on the amazing ROI of multi-channel digital campaigns (double digits, mostly), especially in relation to TV or print-only campaigns (where 2:1 isn't a bad day at all). When he discussed mobile, he hit a point I haven't heard in the Pharma sector: The idea that mobile creates a shared experience. The immediate parallel that came to mind was the iPad Rep detailing visit, where the Rep and the HCP aren't just talking to each other, but talking and sharing together while seeing the same content. The HCP can take charge of the engagement, or the Rep can direct the narrative much like a parent can direct a story told to a child.
  • If you took a year's worth of emails to only HCPs and separated the ones with good open and click rates from the rest, what would these emails have in common? Well, a lot it would seem. According to Terry Nugent of MMS. The best emails aren't magic, they just follow simple rules and don't get too clever. For example, a basic sales-letter format and style is far more effective than a press release or image-based emails. As Terry said repeatedly, "this isn't me saying this; this is the HCPs saying this with their mice." 
  • Chris Crichton from 5th Finger underlined a lot of points about mobile. I greatly appreciated his stated goal of not saying that 2012 was the year of mobile (especially since 2010 and 2011 were the years of mobile) and diving into the ways mobile could move and engagement forward. While his points were valid, the things that stuck came from a member of the audience, who said that the best way to make a business case for mobile was to look at the percentage of abandons that came from mobile. QED. 
  • While the phrase "content is king" has been a dead horse as far back as 2005, Jeffery Erb of Harte-Hanks, Inc. gave it some new life by talking about content strategy, focusing on video as a way to turn the brand into a character, the character into a narrative, and use the narrative to foster engagement. 
  • Interestingly, the final panel of the afternoon brought the most discussion despite it being a little farther out on the cutting edge than pharma usually ventures. The panel featured three gentlemen from three different companies that were focusing on using technology to make the most of the doctor-patient experience. David Perez of Seamless Medical showed off an iPad app that re-wrote the patient registration experience, using off-the-shelf tech to make signing in a new patient cheaper, faster, and more satisfying for all parties. Jim Kean of WellnessFX focused on using tech to help patients who want data about themselves to empower their conversation with their doctor. The amazing thing is that because his model breaks out of the insurance model, he can run tests and get patient data faster and cheaper than even many BCBS networks. Paul Willard of Practice Fusion finished up the day with a presentation on a cloud-based EHR that isn't just free for any HCP, but allows for far more opportunities for pharma to communicate with HCPs at the exact second they are thinking about what brand to prescribe. 

So what did any of this mean? Is there an underlying thread here? I was glad to hear how many people said "treat medium X like medium X, not like a re-write of your website/sales aid/poster." For example, iPads are books and TVs and computers and stereos and web browsers and books and survey tools all wrapped in one. They have cameras, GPS, gyroscopes and compasses. We shouldn't treat them like PowerPoint. I also found it very satisfying to see how many people were interested in embracing the digital model at last, one which is predicated on the idea of "Try it, test it, fix it, re-test it, optimize it, and do it again." 

This is far from the "set it and forget it" model many brands think MLR has forced them into. But none of this digital testing and optimization can be done without access to real data, a note touched on directly and indirectly by every presenter. And all the data in the world is worthless without the political will to make decisions based on it. Bill Drummy said that many brands saw the ROI of digital, but still spent huge amounts of money on low-ROI TV and print. When pressed, brands have no analytical leg to stand on, so they resort to "We need to maintain a mix of media." So close, but so far. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Full notes of the day's events can be found at and you can always Twitter me at @digital_pharma

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What patients want from their doctors?

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The hardest thing to gauge is what someone wants from you. No one can read minds (or maybe you can, if so, you are truly unique), so the best way to accomplish this is to go find out what they may want. The main attraction is finding out what patients want from doctors. Well, patients are offering their opinion of how doctors should make things easier for them.

A survey conducted of 1,000 patients mentions that 90% wanted to self-manage their own health. Patients want to be able to book appointments, refilling prescriptions and access their own health information online. But even with those numbers, 85% of the patients being surveyed still want to keep the patient-doctor interaction. The survey was broken down even further. 48% say that patients would rather have doctors handle their own records, where as 44% say that they want to handle their own records instead of their doctors. 88% wanted email interaction with their provider, and 76% want the option to email consultations with doctors.

But their is something else that seems to be wanted from patients even though surveys did not mention it. Emotion is something that is wanted especially when a patient is in a bind.

The New York Times have written an article about doctors and attempting to have empathy regarding patients. There was a study conducted saying that empathy could actually be taught. And with empathy, doctors are shown that they have few medical errors, better patient outcomes, and more satisfied patients. The piece also mentions that there are fewer malpractice claims and happier doctors. The research was conducted last year with doctors where they would take different lessons. Some of the lessons conducted were videos and  having doctors go through a series of pictures of patient expressions. To see how their empathy ranked, doctors gathered patients together to test rate the doctors empathy. Two months later, the researchers brought back the doctors and had the patients rate the doctors again and after more lessons, doctors' empathetic behavior showed improvement. 

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 different 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!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Media Buying: Don't Throw Money Down A Hole

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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'd like to join me at ePharma Summit West next week in San Francisco, register today and mention code XP1756BLOG to save 10% off the current rate!

Three years ago, someone was able to estimate that most people in America saw about five thousand ads in a given day. Before most people were on Twitter and Facebook, you could anticipate that your audience was subjected to more ads in a day than your parents saw in a month. Objectively speaking, that a whole lot of ads. Let's do some very simple math. How many HCPs are on your target list? Even if you filter out your low-performing deciles, what are we talking about? Ten thousand people? Is that a safe number? That means that in a day, your targets are seeing... Carry the two... Fifty million ads. In a day. Times 365 days, that's 18.2 billion ads. And somewhere, your friendly neighborhood brand manager is hoping that they can catch their target’s eye. In fact, some might be hoping that they can buy up lots of ad space to try and blunt a competitor’s message upon launch.

What the numbers tell me is that there is a nearly infinite space in which to advertise (remember, the 5,000 number predates Facebook’s growth, which now accounts for one in every five page views in America. Let that idea sink in a little bit) which means that the job of ”simply” increasing brand awareness in so much space is a full-time job. You are, in essence, trying to get someone to see your particular star in a milky way of stars. And in a world of Pepsi and Coke, Disney and McDonald’s – the stars that can spend big cash to look as obvious as Orion’s belt – how can a non-blockbuster brand even register? Well, the answer comes down to message and placement (though I'll save a discussion of messaging strategies for another day). At its most basic, it’s about delivering what you want to say to someone who’s inclined to listen to it.

You can target “old-school-style” by buying placements on HCP-centered websites and networks (like WebMD and eHealthcare Solutions) or electronic medical records sites (like PracticeFusion or Precision Health). These kinds of sites allow you to filter even farther, focusing on specialty, condition, and sometimes even to specific people on your target list. Some companies, like PracticeFusion, can even tell you how well your ad buy is doing to increase prescription-writing (by holding back a sample of the target group and comparing the two groups at the end of the test period, they can see if seeing the ad changed the HCP’s behavior).* Or you can “kick it new-school” and focus on behavior-based placements (like when a target hits your branded site, gets cookie-ized and suddenly sees your ads on USAToday or their Google Reader).

This placement process lets you filter to a very specific group of people in places that fall far from the usual HCP-centered sites. The question remains whether unusual placements like this are useful, as your target probably isn't thinking about their patients when they are searching for a tee time or researching vacation destinations. These same placement strategies can also be applied in a competitor-blunting process without going broke in an attempt to completely ad-block them. For example, if you have a competitor launching in May, you can use old-school placement strategies to target placements during the month before and after May (they won't be able to counter before their launch and they may leave buying placements until the last minute to avoid the possibility of having to push the date back and wasting money). This is your opportunity to seize as much brand space as possible.

You can combine that with an email push which embeds a tracking cookie on their system. A re-marketing (sometimes called a re-targeting) campaign, done just before the competitor’s launch, can push a lot of placements on a variety of non-HCP locations.

Best of all, re-marketing costs are a small fraction of those on HCP-centered sites. In the last year, we’ve seen a huge upswing in the places and ways in which you can target your users. Are you up-to-date on all of them, or are you trying to negotiate banner ads on

*Full disclosure: I have placed Insertion Orders (the industry term for buying ad space) with PracticeFusion and EHS, and have had conversations with many reps from the companies mentioned in this post. I am not attempting to recommend any of them, just trying to show you that there are a lot of options out there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Look Who’s Attending ePharma Summit West next week!

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With the ePharma Summit West just around the corner, we wanted to give you one last chance to register online – with a 10% discount as a reader of this blog- prior to the event next week. With new engagement channels appearing almost every day, not only do you need to know what to do now, you also need to know how to evaluate new channels as they become available. We invite you to join us at the ePharma Summit West, taking place on July 17 – 19 in San Francisco.

Don’t let your company fall behind. Join top executives from the following companies as you learn how to better engage your audiences online. More people are registered to attend than ever before, so space is limited. Make sure you reserve your spot today!

2012 Attending Companies:
5th Finger * Amgen * Amylin Pharmaceuticals * Bang Albino * Beyond the Obvious * Boehringer Ingelheim * Closerlook Incorporated * Daiichi Sankyo * Digitas Health * DNA Health * Eli Lilly * ELPRO Services * Epocrates * Facebook * Galderma * Genentech * Gilead Sciences * Harte-Hanks * HealthDay * HealthSTAR Communications * Heartbeat Ideas * Heartbeat West * Impatient Science * Johnson & Johnson * Juice Pharma Worldwide * Kaiser Permanente * Life Technologies * M2 Worldwide * Mayo Clinic * MCM Strategy Group * Medical Marketing Services * Medivo * Medtronic * Merck * NorthBay Health System * Novo Nordisk * QualityHealth * QuantiaMD * Rock Health * Roska Healthcare * Sanofi Aventis * Sdix * Seamless Medical Systems * Sermo * Slingshot SEO * Taisho * Takeda * Telerx * The Coca Cola Company * Viscira * WEGO Health * WellnessFx

Click here to download the conference agenda and learn more about the program.

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.

Social Media influencing Marketing

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The use of Twitter and Facebook have not only changed the way people communicate with each other but it is now coming into the world of marketing. More and more companies are starting to incorporate social media to attract potential consumers.

Eweek wrote about the impact social media is having on small businesses. In a survey conducted with over a thousand small businesses, it is reported that 39% say that their marketing strategy is a quarter or more social media, where as 26% say that social media is used half or more in their marketing strategy. The survey even found variation in usage based on each company. YouTube is the top choice among technology firms whereas consulting firms prefer LinkedIn. 

And now orthodontists are now beginning to do the same thing. Yes, remember the days of dreading hearing that you need braces, that this would forever end whatever chance you had at being cool? Well in an ironic twist, now they are utilizing social media to attract patients, making themselves seem up-to-date and with the times.

A social media consulting firm called Maximize Social Media announced that they were going to provide support to orthodontist practice nationwide. The firm will provide complete management that includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus in an effort to attract potential patients. The use of social media will help in generating qualified leads in seeing who's in need of their services by targeting specific demographics of prospective patients. The firm will also have applications in Facebook to try and bring patients to an orthodontists. One of the interesting features will be putting a coupon on Facebook. But of course there is a catch.  In order for the coupon to be activated, their Facebook fans need to share it with their other Facebook friends.

This can not yet be done with Pharma products.  But how can this outside-of-the-box marketing inspire Pharma to think differently?

This year at ePharma Summit West, Christy Cooper of Facebook will be presenting "How Do YOU Make Social Media Work for Pharma?". She works daily with Pharma companies to help them use Facebook as a platform to openly connect with their patients.  For more information about Christy's presentation download the brochure here.  If you're interested in joining Christy this July 17-19, 2012 in San Francisco, register today and mention XP1756BLOG to save an additional 10% off the standard rate!

Monday, July 9, 2012

How Social Can Pharma Truly Be?

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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.

It wasn't that long ago that my mother got all of her email on paper. Once a week, she would check her email, by which she meant she would have my dad log in, delete the junk mail and print out anything that was relevant, interesting, or useful. Then, she would call people back. She was proud to tell people that she was up on new technology like email and would give out her address to anyone who seemed interested. Since most people didn't get a response for almost a week via a completely different medium, eventually everyone learned to just call. This begs the question: was my mother really on email? (is “on” the right preposition? Whatever.) She had an email address, and she got information through it, but wouldn't you say that she was just bending the medium against its inherent... “emailness?” You might cover yourself in feathers, but that doesn’t make you a bird, does it?

 I have a similar (mostly internal) conversation about pharma and social media. We all know that social media is mainstream. Does anyone reading this not have their own personal Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn accounts? I didn't think so. We’re social, and the numbers tell us that pretty much everyone else is, too. When you post to Facebook, have you ever thought about turning off comments? No, of course not. You might think about blocking your brother-in-law because he’s obnoxious and won't stop posting political rants, but you would love it if everyone you knew commented on that photo of yourself, especially if they comment how good you look. In return for comments, you’re more likely to comment on other people’s posts, maybe even share videos of babies giggling or helicopters made of stuffed animals. The funny thing is that you might have done stuff like that even before Facebook. You might have had a blog of great links, a LiveJournal, or maybe you just passed emails around with your friends and family. You were “social” online long before you were on Facebook.

 We can't mistake the platform from the intention. Facebook the “social” platform merely facilitates your intention, which means that simply being on Facebook doesn't mean you are being social – you're just leveraging a social platform. Being on a social platform doesn't mean you’re social. To return t the bird analogy, it just means you're covered in feathers. So many pharma brands are patting themselves on the back by claiming to be social, when they are really just on Facebook, furiously fighting to turn off all the functions and features that make Facebook social.

To pharma, Facebook is just a blogging platform with a lot of unnecessary (and risky) opportunities for people to talk back. However, it is the conversational features that make Facebook social, and what made it popular in the first place. No one wants to get messages from Pepsi and Doritos and the new Batman movie. What they really want is to be social, either with other fans, or to the brand itself. For example, if you “friend” the TV show Archer (it's a cartoon for adults) on Facebook, you will get posts from the character Archer himself. You can reply. You can be social. Now, I appreciate that there are rules and guidelines and all sorts of medical, legal and regulatory concerns that keep you from making your brand more social. Maybe that means you shouldn't be spending all this time and money trying to pretend to be social.

The same resources, if dedicated to smart emailing and texting (tech that’s more than 30 years old, now) would reap far more benefits without having to pretend that your Facebook page’s seventy friends (almost all of whom work for the brand in some form or another) are worth the money it takes to post. It's very possible that pharma brands’ trying to be social is as valuable as attempting to email people without a computer. Sure, you could create email accounts for all of them, allowing you to claim some great innovation, but since your targets can't actually access them, what’ the point? I'm not anti-social. I love social media (my twitter accounts attest to that). But we need to use it right, or else use it not at all. Pretending to be social in the pharma sector is just a great way to spend money. And get covered in feathers.

ePharma Summit West will take place July 17-19, 2012 in San Francisco, CA.  For more information on the event, download the agenda here.  If you'd like to join James, register today and mention code XP1756BLOG to save 10% off the current rate!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bringing innovation and Pharma marketing together

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Coming up with an original idea can be exhilarating. A work that you devised, something that you can say with pride you innovated. But the problem you may have now is how I market this effectively. Coming up with new innovations is fantastic but without the right amount of marketing precision to get the product out there, then your great idea to inspire the world will fall by the wayside.

Ford is now taking the next step in trying to bring about new changes to their company. 

In an attempt to combine new innovations in their cars and to have a stronger push towards marketing, Ford has decided to open a new lab in Silicon Valley. In accordance with the Wall Street Journal, the company collects data from 4 million vehicles that use in car sensing and remote app management to create a cycle of information. With that information, the engineers at Ford will translate that into helpful information pertaining to fuel economy and safety. And this is what Ford is attempting to do. 

Bill Ford Jr. and company are trying to figure out exactly how to make the data they are receiving into something usable for the consumers.  So how do you go about doing such a thing? Change locations and see what the Valley has to offer. Much different from the aura of grit and steel in Detroit, Silicon Valley offers up just what Ford needs in order to successfully complete their mission in building stronger innovation and building stronger marketing campaigns. 

We know that guidance haven't been issued for social marketing when it comes to Pharma.  But are there more than just the traditional methods that can be used to connect and educate our patients?   Bill Ford Jr went outside of the box to find a way to innovate for his customers.  What can Pharam do?

At the ePharma Summit West, Mark Bard, Co-Founder, Digital Health Coalition, will be presenting "How do you innovate quickly and work well with your MLR team ?"  With a passion that includes social media and customer service and knowledge of marketing, Mark is highly qualified to discuss the matter of innovation and marketing. For more information on Mark'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.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How can you personalize communication with consumers?

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Personalization of mass communication is becoming part of the process for marketers. Explained here by Hubspot they outline sixty ways that the new wave of personalization is changing the landscape of marketing such as personalizing searches to become visible and relevant to the consumer, and that there are three steps to personalization: listen, educate and engage. 

It’s also evident that recommendations are sent to you off of products recently purchased, but when is it too much for the consumers? Won’t they just become irritated with the bombardment of recommendations based on an item bought on a certain occasion?

Forbes decided to touch base on such a claim, specifically pertaining to this past father’s day. The article mentions that Choicestream, a marketing firm, decided to take a look at what marketers are doing wrong. By studying the results not only from Father’s Day but from Mother’s Day as well, the marketers generalize customers with gift suggestions. They also point out the timing target ads displayed on screen was not as effective.

Echoing a similar message is an article on CIO. In the piece, it describes how companies are using data such as the consumers’ name in an attempt to become personal. Something as basic as using the consumers’ name can have such a response that the consumer would be more likely to open the email. But a warning is mentioned throughout the piece, you must be careful, tread waters lightly so to speak. It goes on to talk about a possible way of handling the bulk of data coming into the company like getting the data correct and having a purpose in contacting the consumer.

At ePharma Summit West, Peter Dannenfelser, Director, Pharmaceutical Digital Marketing North America, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, will be presenting “How Can YOU Personalize Mass Communication?” Since the beginning of Google, Peter has been working with digital marketing from the very beginning, which puts him in the upper echelon in digital marketing. For more information on Peter'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!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Doctors in Today's Health Industry

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With the rapid involvement of technology in our daily lives, it was only a matter of time before it crept into the world of medicine. Consumers wants convenience whenever they can get it, which includes healthcare.

The use of mHealth, a provision of healthcare or health related information through the use of mobile devices, is the call to action consumers want. In a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), mHealth is seen as a improving convenience and cost of healthcare.

Physicians are slowly listening to them, moving toward integrating phones and computers, even robots, to become more accessible to the patients and to be up to date in the ever growing society.

Bostinno writes that patients are starting to use their mobile phones for a diagnosis to their doctors instead of heading towards the emergency room. It also mentions that few startups are beginning to incorporate this element into the healthcare industry. One of those startups is called Sherpaa and according to Triage 2.0 , they are attempting to keep patients out of the doctors office as much as possible and to save the rush to emergency rooms. But they also want to promote a healthy doctor-patient relationship while in the process of keeping costs down for the company.

Now, the use of emails and picture messages has it limitations however. Someone with a chronic condition will obviously not take a snapshot and decide whether or not they should travel to an emergency room.

Adding to the realization of technology becoming the future for medicine writes David Lee Scher, MD on KevinMD, about how the new and younger generation of physicians have the knowledge of technology, leading towards new ways of engaging in patient care. The piece explains that because there are so many people, especially the younger generation exploring devices and new innovations, the healthcare industry will have to take note and evolve around the technology to bring about better patient care and more effective diagnosis. The piece goes on to mention Electronic Health Records (EHR) are being implemented in medicine, not necessarily through physicians but by initiatives and mandates. But it goes on to mention that younger physicians are implementing them more than their elder statesmen.

At ePharma Summit West, Justin Graham, MD, MS, Chief Medical Information Officer, North Bay Healthcare, will be presenting "What Do Physicians Need in Today's Healthcare Delivery System?" As someone who's been changing healthcare with the use of IT and EHR, he will be able to identify what physicians need to understand in today's ever changing healthcare industry. 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!

Monday, July 2, 2012

How Useful Is Your Hoarded Data?

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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.

I am a hoarder. Not the "I'll be appearing on an A&E series next month, buried in my belongings" type of hoarder. I’m more the "Oooo, that book looks interesting! I'll buy it and probably never actually read it" type of hoarder. I used to have shelves and shelves of books, but then I started paring them down to the point where I bet there aren't 50 books in my house. However, I have hundreds of electronic books that I hoard like an old lady with cats. I hoard them because they make me feel as if I have access to new things. Every new book is the opportunity to learn something new and amazing (though, in reality, it's really like there's a 4.7% chance the book will be worth getting past the first few pages). I collect them in some vain hope that having them on my iPad will make me more likely to be smarter by some sort of mental osmosis.

Alas, it doesn’t work for college kids who buy their textbooks but never crack them open, and it doesn't work for me, either. I'm guessing you have collected a lot of data lately. A lot of sales numbers. Geographic distribution data. Attitudinal data. Behavior data. Data about how many and who opened that last email, and the one before that, and the one before that. You know who is registered on your site, who watched the last eLearning, requested a rep, requested samples and requested patient sales cards. You know their specialty, probably where they practice, probably how old they are, where they went to school and if they ate lunch you paid for. That’s a lot of data. What good is it doing you? 

Ostensibly, you're going to use that data one day. You're going to hire a bunch of geeks who did their own math homework and probably majored in mathematical modeling. They are going to unlock that data and turn it into something called "usable insights." You are going to apply those insights, increase brand awareness by 17% per annum without spending any more money, and get that promotion and corner office you always wanted. That's a great story, but are you really ever going to use that data? How much did you spend on your data in the last month? The last year? The last five years? How much do you spend to maintain all that data every month? What could you spend that same amount of money on to make the needle move right now? Let’s explore a simple “what if” scenario. If I told you right now that female PCPs over the age of 45 are prescribing your brand 20% more than the average (a fairly interesting and important finding), what could you do with that information? How long would it take you to design a campaign that focused on that segment and got it approved and launched? Three months? Six? Would the insight I just gave you still be useful in six months? To that point, how hard would it be for you to turn off existing messaging to that audience? Could you do it in a week? A month? The ability to respond to data insights is as important as the data itself.

Just as the ability to leverage the knowledge in your books is predicated on reading and digesting them, getting value out of your data is a function of being able to change course. The CRM that holds all of that data is worthless without the system in place to leverage it. Now, I'm a known fan of CRM strategies. But if you can't commit to one – if you can't commit to building a system that can respond to new information – stop what you're doing right now. Those nice reports they give you are pretty and interesting, but if you haven’t used one to make a business decision in the last couple of months, or if you simply can’t change anything based on the data, you should stop looking at them. They will only stress you out. Stop being a data hoarder. Data is only as good as its ability to influence your decisions. Keeping it around in the hopes that magic springs out of it is as silly as sleeping on your textbook.

ePharma Summit West will take place July 17-19, 2012 in San Francisco, CA.  For more information on the event, download the agenda here.  If you'd like to join James, register today and mention code XP1756BLOG to save 10% off the current rate!