Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Adverse Actions and Social Media: A Look in to the Trends

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ePharma Summit 2014 sponsors Visible recently released the report Adverse Actions and Social Media.  In this report, the Visible team takes an in-depth look at one of the common problems many Pharma companies see with using social media - an abundance of adverse reports that have to be reported should patients begin discussing them on their social platforms.

What they found throughout their research - which included over 12,530 posts throughout social media across 24 brands - was that the four items needed to report an adverse event (the full name of the patient, the full name of the reporter of the adverse event, the medication they were on and the adverse event that took place) that less than 5% off the entire social population was reporting the side effects.  They found that 3.3% of these mentions were adverse effects.  How many met all of the criteria needed to report an adverse event to the FDA?  Download the report to find out.

Visible will be joining us February 10-12, 2014 in New York City for the ePharma Summit.  For more information on the program, look at the digital agenda.  Would you like meet Visible?  As a reader of this blog when you register to join us an mention code XP1906BLOG, you'll save $100 off the standard rate.*

Do the results of Visible's study surprise you?  What is the best way for this industry to approach questions about adverse events on social media knowing these results?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Making smarter us of the data we have for clinical trials

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In an effort to improve patients and clinical trial conductors make better use of ClinicalTrials.gov, the US Government has recently signed three deals with Eli Lilly, Novartis and Pfizer to make better use of the data coming in to the government to help more patients connect with clinical trials.

With the increased use of electronic health records, the goal is to better align clinical trial studies with the patients they are trying to find.  The goal is to have each trial create an electronic target health profile.  According to Fierce Biotech IT, programs will be able to find the electronic health records of those patients who may fit the profile of an ideal patient to participate in that clinical trial.  Each of the three pharma companies participating will start the effort by doing this for fifty currently running clinical trials.  The government hopes that after this, more companies will make the target profiles and software developers will develop a software system that can bring the patients to the clinical trials.

This February at ePharma, Tom McCourt, Chief Commercial Officer of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals will be on hand to discuss how his company began work with the University of Michigan and UCLA to better improve their electronic capabilities - ultimately showing how the healthcare delivery system can be improved for the better by better leveraging the capabilities we have with evolving IT and healthcare systems.  For more information on this session and the rest of the program, download the digital agenda. The ePharma Summit will take place February 10-12, 2014 in New York.  If you'd like to join Tom, as a reader of this blog when you register to join us an mention XP1906BLOG, you'll save $100 off the current rate!*  

If you could harness the power of big data to make your work at a Pharma company better or more accessible for patients, what you would you do?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Big Data is Big Business – Are You Up to the Challenge?

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Today, we feature a post from ePharma Summit Media Partner PharmaVoice.

Imagine you are standing beside a beautiful stream. Your job is to observe the salmon swimming up river to spawn. You are tasked with counting and categorizing the salmon by size, color, speed, and other variables. As you settle in with your binoculars and your notebook, 50,000 salmon swim past you in the space of a couple hours. Obviously, you are not prepared to deal with the volume. You need more resources and better technology to accurately collect and understand what is taking place. Now multiply this by several orders of magnitude, and you’ll have some understanding of how the petabytes of data now available to life science businesses is even more staggering.

Big Data permeates virtually every aspect of the life science industry. It has a presence in R & D, clinical trials, marketing, sales, strategy, and HR. Big Data exploded with the rise of the digital medium as a form factor, and the Internet as a transport mechanism. Now that all of this information is flowing freely in the digital realm, how can we use this raw information to be more competitive, make better decisions, and achieve a higher ROI?

Big Data certainly has a major presence in R & D, but it truly gushes on the consumer side. Every person with a laptop, tablet, or smartphone can contribute new data to the stream - and businesses can analyze this stream in real time. Social media is one of the latest channels for collecting Big Data, but we still have very healthy conduits in the form of email, discussion forums, surveys, web portals, and many other platforms.

Revelations that took months or even years to understand, now may only take days, or even just hours in some cases.

We’ve never had as many opportunities to examine all of this data as we have now. We’ve never had as much brainpower creating tools and working on implementing programs as we have today. But the new way of business is not without its share of major hurdles.

Three Key Big Data Challenges
  1. Transitioning from data to insight
  2. Systems cannot process large volumes of data from different sources
  3. Lacking the talent to undertake deep analysis of big data
Source: PwC’s 5th Annual Digital IQ Survey

Much like salmon in spawn, Big Data is largely untamed. Fortunately it is tamable. We’re developing better tools and technologies to understand this data, but the amount of effort and resources required is substantial. Once a good infrastructure is in place, the ROI can be massive. In fact, if you aren’t deep into Big Data yet, you are falling behind your competitors.

The volume of data will continue to grow, as well as the number and diversity of channels it flows through. Companies need the plan, the tools, and the talent to understand the data and use the findings to make the best decisions for all stakeholders.

We’d like to know your thoughts. Please tweet your ideas using hashtag #bigdata. Feel free to leave your comment under this blog post as well.

Data Management: Getting Value from Big Data, PharmaVOICE September 2013
Big Data to Transform R & D, PharmaVOICE November/December 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Making Health Addictive

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Today's post comes from Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, is the Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health. He will be presenting at one of the Technologies to Watch Now sessions at the 2014 ePharma Summit.

I first posed the question, “Could Mobile Health Become Addictive?” a few months ago. Since then I’ve done more thinking and I’m warming to the concept.

To start with, addiction is a word laden with negative meaning. When we hear the word, we think of opiates, street drugs, cigarettes, or possibly gambling. In fact, Wikipedia defines addiction as, “the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences.” So, with that definition as backdrop, is there any way health can really be addictive? Probably not.

What I’m really talking about is the juxtaposition of motivational health messaging with some other addictive behavior, specifically checking your smartphone.

New evidence shows that people are in love with these devices, checking them more than 100 times per day! I’ve heard people are tapping in 110, even 150 times a day. Of course this varies, but let’s face it, we check our smartphones a lot and it’s hard to stop. A somewhat disturbing video makes the case well. It’s easy to build a case that smartphones are addictive. Recent research shows that checking your phone results in a small release of the neurochemical dopamine. Dopamine release has long been associated with ingestion of addictive substances such as heroin and tobacco. In fact, once the pattern of ingestion and dopamine release is established, even thinking about the ingestion triggers the dopamine release, the biochemical explanation for cravings.

For the time being, I choose not to question whether this compulsive relationship with smartphones is good or bad, but simply to acknowledge that it is common, almost universal among smartphone users and to ask if we can exploit it as tool to improve your health.

What makes smartphones so addictive? The evolution of mobile apps has made them the proverbial Swiss army knife of electronic devices. We communicate with them and the need to communicate is a profound human instinct. We can capture and share our lives through the camera and other sensors. We can get instant access to all kinds of important information such as news, weather and maps. They’ve been designed for bite-sized consumption of information. Thus whenever a smartphone user comes upon idle time, say waiting for an elevator or the bus, she will inevitably pull out her smartphone to check on what is new in the last five minutes. The curiosity is too much. Each one of these logins leads to a small reward, and that leads to the small release of dopamine setting up the ‘addiction’ and craving.

Many have talked about the transformational possibilities of mobile health including: the opportunity to use an always on, always connected device to message you in-the-moment about health; to capture health-related information about you via the camera and through connected sensors; and, of course, the ability to display relevant information in context. All of these are exciting, but if we can exploit the addictive quality of smartphones, it will be the most important characteristic of mobile health as we move forward.

So how can we take advantage of this phenomenon to improve your health? I believe there are three strategies and three tactics to make health addictive
Strategy #1: Make it about life. Patronizing conversations with folks — threatening them with worsening chronic illness if they do not comply — are really old school and largely ineffective. If we can get inside your head and learn what your aspirations are (find a mate, look 10 years younger, get into a swimsuit, etc.) and tie our health-related messaging to those aspirations, we have a better chance of long-term health improvement.

Strategy #2: Make it personal. The more context we know about you, the more we can message you in a very relevant way. The days of public health-related, widespread messaging are going away in favor of personalized medicine. Mobile health must follow.

Strategy #3: Reinforce Social Connections. There are many motivational tools showing up in products on the market these days – incentives, games and coaching to name some — but those with a social component tend to have a greater impact. While not universal, the desire for affiliation runs deep and none of us wants to appear unhealthy to our friends or family. Social networks will be a powerful tool to increase accountability and adherence to care, and wellness plans and mobile phones make social interactions that much more convenient.

So, I’ve given you a glimpse of the strategies, now a sneak peak at the tactics:

Tactic #1: Employ Subliminal Messaging. My favorite example of this phenomenon is the terrifically successful truth campaign from the American Legacy Foundation. They have employed every trendy teen movement you can think of – from texting, to social media to concerts to online voting all in the name of educating teens about how the tobacco industry manipulates their products. It’s a fascinating tact. There is no admonishment about using tobacco per se, only lots of fun ways to bring teens into the conversation about how bad it is for you. Imagine if every time you checked your phone, an unobtrusive brief message appeared on YOUR health issue and how to improve it.

Tactic #2: Use Unpredictable Rewards. B.F. Skinner proved that operant conditioning is more effective when the stimulus and reward are tied only some of the time. The transportation company Uber does this. From time to time, when you open the app you get a surprise (coupon, offer, etc.). That leads people to open the app even when they are not looking for a ride!

Tactic #3: Use the Sentinel Effect. Patients in our connected health programs tell us they are diligent about sticking to the program because their doctor or nurse is watching. This effect of having an authority figure look in on your life is a really powerful tool that can be used to effectively promote good health through mobility.

Is this all nonsense? I don’t think so. Recently Facebook released Facebook Home, an app for android phone users that takes over the phone’s login screen and offers the user access to all of their Facebook updates every time she looks at the phone before turning to whatever she was actually looking for on the phone. What if your health plan or your Accountable Care Organization (ACO) offered you an app like this, designed to message you about your health, in exchange for a lower premium cost?

Throughout this post I’ve made analogies from the advertising industry. I saw a great quote recently that advertising is moving from the Mad Med generation to the Mr. Spock generation. From billboards and print ads that we all see regardless of relevance (Mad Men style) to personalized, contextual highly segmented messages informed by your last few days of digital behavior (Mr. Spock style). This is where we need to go with health messaging. As we get there, we need to slip these messages in front of you while you’re indulging in that oh, so delicious activity of checking your phone.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thought Leader Panels Revealed for ePharma Summit 2014

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Over the past 13 years at the ePharma Summit, you’ve come to expect presentations and perspectives that go beyond just digital marketing. ePharma is the only digital marketing event for pharmaceutical executives that gives you the big picture and the insight into what it means for you—the marketer.

Building off the success of the Annual Thought Leader Panel, we’ve expanded this feature to satisfy your overwhelming need to understand overarching trends and how they directly relate to your company.

What panels can you look forward to?

How Will Marketing Innovation Help Pharma Adapt to the Massive Changes in Healthcare?
Led by 10-year ePharma Chairman Paul Ivans, this annual thought leader panel kicks off the ePharma Summit by providing you with an overview of the overarching trends affecting you this year.

Hello, Your Customers Have Changed: Do You Know Who They Are, What They Need and How to Get Their Attention?
Back by popular demand, this thought provoking panel provides you with insight into who your new customers are, what they want from you, and how they want to receive information.

Pharma's New Value Proposition and How Marketing Innovators Need to Evolve to Drive Value in the New Paradigm.
With an increased focus on value and providing “pill plus” services, this panel highlights how to go beyond traditional marketing outreach to support your brands and demonstrate additional value.

To find out the speakers and moderators of these panels, download the agenda.

ePharma Summit 2014 will take place February 10-12, 2014 in New York City. When you register to join us early, you can save up to $700! As a reader of this blog, you’re eligible for maximum savings when you register to join us and mention priority code XP1806LINK.

Have any questions or want to get involved? Feel free to email Jennifer Pereira.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teaching vs. Preaching – How Content-based Marketing is Conquering eMarketing

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Today, we feature a post from ePharma Summit Media Partner PharmaVoice.

95% of most marketing out there is a waste of time and money. The hard truth is your prospects are tuning out much of the marketing they are being bombarded by today. Many companies, including some of your competitors, are simply increasing their marketing spend, attempting to win the arms race for attention. That’s lazy marketing. Do you have the budget to compete with their brute force strategy? I didn’t think so.

Smart companies are shifting gears. They are moving away from traditional marketing, such as ads, brochures, and expensive trade show booths, and are embracing content-based marketing on the web. Banner ads, print ads, and 30 second spots are being replaced by digital white papers, web seminars, podcasts, and blogs.

Here are 5 tips you should follow for a content-based marketing campaign.

1) Thought leadership is the best way to build trust and relationships

Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.

In the highly regulated, highly competitive arena of pharma, biotech, and medical devices, the challenges are massive and plentiful. The days of the faceless corporation are over. People are seeking answers to their toughest challenges. They look to people they trust and respect. Experts are becoming Internet stars as they blog, conduct web seminars, record podcasts, and publish white papers on a regular basis. The web is a publishing platform that is more efficient, less expensive, and provides better analytics than traditional marketing platforms.

2) Your message better be about the prospect

Content-based marketing is not about how great your product, service, or company is. It’s about connecting with prospects in a way that will build trust. Lose the sales pitch and focus on the prospect’s needs.

Statements to avoid:
  • Our best-in-class proprietary blah blah blah
  • We’re the industry leader in blah blah blah
  • We [almost anything] blah blah blah

The number of sentences that start with “You” should outnumber those that start with “We” by a wide margin, especially in the beginning of your content.

3) Tell stories for maximum impact

Here’s the only place where you get to use the first person narrative. Be authentic. Your prospects can smell dishonesty, pandering, and an ulterior motive. So keep it real, as they say. Your story should resolve some issue, solve a problem. Hopefully, a problem the prospect can relate to in a meaningful way.

If you think marketing your product or service is difficult, try marketing a commodity like rice.


A great story can work for any product or service. If rice can be the glue that binds a story together, then imagine how a life science product or service can change minds and lives. Tuning into the emotional side of the viewer is extremely powerful. Emotion always trumps logic. It doesn’t matter whether your business is on the clinical side, or the marketing side of the industry – you have powerful stories to tell.

4) Save humor for the professionals

Humor is incredibly difficult to pull off. When it works, it is a home run.

When it flops, it really flops. I love humor in marketing, but unless you have access to the Conan O’Brien staff, or are willing to hire professionals with the chops to pull it off without wrecking your brand, I believe the risk-reward ratio is way too skewed toward risk. You want to make every dollar count. Blowing up a humorous piece because it falls flat, and starting from scratch, can be very expensive. And before you note about how funny stuff often goes viral, know that you have a better chance becoming president than creating a viral success story.

5) End your message with a call to action

You’ve done everything right. Your message is all about the prospect. You grabbed them from the start and stuck the landing. The prospect is feeling good about you. You won’t have a better time to ask them to take things to the next level.

Here is a sample of calls to action that can create a deeper relationship with your prospect, generate leads, and help you measure the success of your campaign. Your prospects can:
  • Subscribe to your email list to be notified when more great content is available
  • Fill out a form to download other related content
  • Register for your next web seminar
  • Follow, like, +1, comment, and tweet about your content and/or your company on social media channels
  • Visit a specific landing page on your web site (used only for this campaign)
  • Call or email you for additional information or to schedule a meeting

There are certainly distinct differences between B2C and B2B marketing, but a content-based approach works for both types.

Find a marketing company who understands these issues, and soon you’ll be on your way to building a legion of followers looking to you to help solve their problems.

We’d like to know your thoughts. Please tweet your ideas using hashtag #contentmarketing. Feel free to leave your comment under this blog post as well.