Friday, June 27, 2014

Five Reasons to Check out ePharma West

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

We’re not ones to “toot our own horn”, but ePharma West is shaping up to be a great event.  If you were born in the ‘90s, you might describe it as “dope” or “legit”.  Chances are, you probably weren’t so we’re going to choose to call it a meeting of innovators and game-changers on modern marketing strategies.  Need some more convincing?  Maybe this list will change your mind.  Here are five reasons you should check out the event in September. 

1.    We’re bringing the FDA to you.  The FDA recently released a draft of their social media guidances on pharma and everyone wants to speculate on what that might mean for the industry.  But does anyone really know?  Mark Roh, the Pacific Region Director with the FDA, has a good idea and he’ll explain
2.    Your budget is lean. Budget is the biggest constraint on pharma marketers with 75% indicating it's the number one thing holding them back.  You might be working with a lean budget and small team, but you can still move the needle for your brand.  We’ll have discussions on doing more with less.
3.    The interactive format. You’ll get the chance to interact with some of the brightest minds in the field.  You not only get to hear from this group of innovators, you get a chance to pick their brains as well.  
4.    Content marketing. “Content is king.”  Most of us have heard that enough to make us nauseous.  However, we are at a point where content can’t be ignored and is an integrated part of almost all digital strategies.  Many are doing it, but not many do it well.  We have a full day dedicated to content marketing and improving your effortsDownload the agenda to see what’s on tap.
5.    San Francisco. The “City by the Bay” has earned a reputation as being a top spot to visit.  If that’s not enough for you, check out some of top things to do when you’re there.  You’ll notice the event site, Fisherman’s Wharf, is on that list.  

There is one more reason.  Now, you can save $100 when you register here and use code XP1956BLOG.  Sold? We’ll see you in San Francisco, September 22-24.



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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lilly Launches Online Drug Discovery Game

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

The pharma industry has been relatively mum on the topic of gamification recently.  The last time there was serious buzz was the introduction of Syrum almost two years ago and we’re still waiting for it to be launched in the U.S.  While it may not have had the same juice as Syrum, on Friday Lilly launched Destination Discovery—A game intended to educate users about the about the risks and challenges in drug discovery. 

The game is aimed at providing insight into the extensive research and regulatory efforts associated with “bringing a new medicine from molecule to medicine cabinet.” In the announcement, Lilly describes it as a way for them to “share [their] passion for the modern medical discovery process.”

The best way I could describe the game is a clinical research edition of trivial pursuit played on what looks like a digital Candy Land board.  The user is asked multiple choice questions that vary depending on what stage of drug discovery your player resides on the board.  For example, I was met in the “Research and Development” stage with a question on what percentage of drugs have the potential to become “first-in-class” medicines (the answer is 70% by the way).  

Eli Lilly's Destination Discovery
How sharp is your drug discovery trivia? 

Precisely who the game is intended for appears to be a bit convoluted.  The simplistic nature of it and the design make it suitable for children.  However, the message regarding drug discovery life-cycle is probably more suited for adults.  The same goes for most the educational pieces and content that the user is lead to upon answering a question incorrectly or completing the game.

This may be more a case of Lilly dipping their toe in the water in the field of gamification.  Their cautious, and somewhat ambiguous approach, in this case would seem to be representative of the pharma industry as a whole in this space.  Although it did take me three tries to beat the game, maybe my skeptical attitude can be attributed to that. 

Looking for more innovative strategies in the field of pharma marketing? Hear right from game changers in the field at this year’s ePharma West. Join us September 22-24 in San Francisco. Check out the agenda to see what’s on tap.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Clinical Researchers Proceeding with Caution on Social Media

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz 

The use of social media in the pharma industry got some extra attention this week as the FDA released a set of draft guidances on the use of social.  While many point to this as a reason to believe social will begin to gain prominence in pharma marketing, Tufts recently released a study that highlighted the guarded approach that many clinical researchers are currently utilizing. 

The report found that while many of these companies have guidelines in place surrounding social, it’s currently only being used on about 11% of clinical trials for recruitment.  However, according to the report, many sponsors plan to expand their use of social in global recruitment over the next 12-18 months. 

In addition, only about 20% of companies who say they are using social are doing so in a way in which interact directly with patients.  In terms of engaging patients, the majority are “using social” in other ways such as placing banner ads on social sites. 

Clinical Research Social Media FDA
Where can social help clinical trials?
Engagement isn't the only way these companies are reporting leveraging social.  Many are using it as a vehicle to distribute information as well as for “social listening” purposes.  The report cited social listening as one of the areas getting an increasing amount of attention; however, few sponsors have a formal plan in place for collecting and leveraging that information. 

Of the twenty companies participating in the survey, none of them are currently using social for protocol design.  Interestingly enough, nearly all indicated that input from social media communities has the potential to greatly improve the feedback they receive on program planning and design feasibility. 


The FDA’s new guidelines on social are being rolled out.  What does that mean for your marketing campaign?  Get the scoop right from the FDA’s own Mark Roh at this year’s ePharma West. Join us September 22-24 in San Francisco. Check out the agenda to see what’s on tap.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

FDA Releases Long-Awaited Social Media Guidances

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz 

The pharmaceutical industry has a reputation of moving at a deliberate pace when it comes to social media.  Fittingly, the FDA proceeded at the same cautious rate in releasing a draft of their social media guidance which was published on Tuesday.  The guidelines were organized into two distinct guidances and on the surface, it appears that they’ll limit the amount of advertising companies can do on social sites with character limitations such as Twitter. 

The proposal requires companies to warn about associated risks as well as the benefits that go along with their products.  This could potentially consume valuable characters in mediums where space is limited.  But don’t expect the full laundry list of side-effects that you generally hear at the end of a TV commercial.  As part of posting these warnings, companies should also include a link to more detailed information about the risks. 

The second guidance posted by the FDA outlined direction for dealing with third party postings on sites such as Wikipedia.  The guidance states that companies should attempt to correct any misinformation by reaching out to bloggers and other authors, but are not held responsible if information remains unchanged.  In cases where a company or employee is contributing this information, they should follow normal guidelines as promoting a product. 

Tom Abrams, head of the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion, explained in a WSJ article, “The information should not be promotional and should be factually correct. This is not an opportunity for a company to tout its drugs.”  He added, “The information [being added or revised] should be consistent with the FDA-approved [product] labeling and for it to be effective, you want it posted right by the misinformation.”

With a lack of formal guidelines on social, many large drug companies have remained “gun shy” in engaging with customers and patients through these mediums.  These guidelines, once finalized, will be a first step in establishing a blue-print of how companies should leverage social.  The IMS Institute for Health Informatics reports that half of the 50 largest drug companies are not currently using social media.  If there’s something that can move the needle there, this may be it.

Want to hear more on the FDA’s social media guidance?  Hear from the FDA’s own Mark Roh as he walks through some of the new guidelines at this year’s ePharma West.  Join us September 22-24 in San Francisco. Download the agenda to see what’s on tap.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Patients Accessing Mobile Info at Pharmacies

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz 

Those asserting that “mobile has arrived” in digital pharma may have some new data to substantiate those claims.  A recent survey conducted by CDMiConnect shows that mobile may be critical for smartphone users at the point of purchase in the pharmacy.  The survey, which polled 3,000 patients, showed that over the last six months, 26% of smartphone users have used their devices at the pharmacy to gather more information about their prescription.  And that’s only within the last half year.  Not surprisingly, this figure has increased more than two fold over the last several years, jumping from 8% to 21%.

Patients using mobile to search for health information isn’t restricted to just the pharmacy.  The survey also showed that 37% of smartphone owners use their phones to help prepare for a doctor’s appointment.  Predictably, those 18-29 years old accounted for the majority of this group.  Only 6% of those 50 or older indicated that they’ve used mobile to search for information while in the waiting room over the last six months. 
 
Patients Mobile Pharmacy Point of Purchase
Source: CDMiConnect

The full report can be found here.

Digital pharma is evolving.  Modernize your marketing and prepare your 2015 campaign for success at ePharma West.  Join us September 22-24 in San Francisco. Download the agenda and see what’s in store. 

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Pharma Sales Pros See Salaries Climb

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz 

It’s not a bad time to be in pharma or specialty pharma sales according to a recent survey conducted by Medreps.com.  The survey, which collected responses from over 600 in the field, showed a 4.1% raise year over year for sales reps in pharma and specialty pharma.  This was fairly consistent with the medical sales industry as a whole, which saw about a 5.6% bump in overall salary.

While the pharma group saw a steady pay raise, there is still a significant gap in salary between sales reps in pharma and specialty pharma.  According to the survey, pharma sales reps pulled in an average of about $111K last year while specialty pharma earned about $127K.  Part of the discrepancy can be attributed to difference in commission.  While specialty pharma outperformed pharma by about 9% in base salary, the average yearly commission was almost 30% higher. 

Interestingly enough, the gender gap in salaries was much closer for pharma compared to medical sales as a whole.  For the entire medical sales industry, men out earned women by an average of $148,908 to $120,879.  When it comes to pharma specifically, that gap is much closer at about $124K to $111K.  Still, the contrast in salaries is significant and can largely be attributed to the difference in number of men in sales management positions.  According to the report, men make up almost 80% of those in sales management for pharma. 

Travel also appeared to be a solid indicator of salary.  Those that traveled 50% or 75% of the time tend to earn more than the rest of the field.  However, the field as whole doesn’t appear to spend much time on the road.  The average travel time among respondents was only 17% with almost three quarters indicating they travel less than 10% of the time.

Pharma Sales Income by Gender
Pharma sales: Income by gender
Pharma Sales Income Year over Year
Pharma sales: Year over year income 
 Source: Medreps.com


The full survey from Medreps.com can be found here.

Are your sales reps effectively reaching small and large pharma? We’ll have more on some of the latest innovations in pharma marketing at ePharma West.  Join us September 22-24 in San Francisco.  Download the agenda and see what’s in store. 

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Wait A Sec." Three Questions on Apple's HealthKit

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

Apple’s HealthKit has been a favorite topic of bloggers since the company unveiled plans for its digital health tracking platform last week.  John Noseworthy, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, referred to it as “revolutionary”, however, you’ll not be hard-pressed to find a group that is skeptical of that notion.  The brief nature of the announcement itself left many questions unanswered and invited those in the field to poke holes at the plans for HealthKit.  

Apple also opened themselves up to some to additional abuse by incorrectly displaying the units for blood sugar measurements during the presentation.  And while this oversight may not have any real implications on the future of HealthKit, some other concerns seemingly hold more water.

Is this even the right data?
The group of apps with some of the highest adoption rates are of the exercise and fitness variety.  One study found that of users of health apps, almost half (48%) of them use a fitness app-- The second highest of any category.  However, the users of these apps are an inherently active bunch that as a group, does not necessarily need real-time feedback from physicians.

In addition, exercise and fitness activity account for the biggest chunk of health data available.  While the information no doubt has some value, other measurements that are often more valuable, such as heart rate and blood pressure, are absent.  When looking at the information at our disposal, how useful is a lot of it in practice?  Is the core data from MyFitnessPal and Nike+ going to fuel “revolutionary” breakthroughs?  Probably not.   

How willing are users going to be to participate?
A study shows that only 16% of smart phone users access health apps regularly.  In addition, another survey shows that 60% of smart phone users never use a health app.  Obviously, adoption would need to pick up in order for HealthKit to truly be revolutionary, but one must wonder what it’s going to take for that to happen.  One school of thought would be that those who truly need the real time feedback from physicians will be willing to assume usage of these apps.  Data suggests otherwise as those with a chronic condition are only 11% more likely to adopt. 

Buy in from providers and their willingness to flip the bill for accompanying devices is another factor.  Many of these devices are beginning to move towards the more affordable side and become more practical for the masses.  For example, iHealth now sells a glucometer for around $30 that tracks measurements in real time with its free app.  However, payers still must be convinced of the value of such apps before we see them covered. 

Could privacy concerns become an obstacle?
How will HealthKit impact digital pharma?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could prove to be a tricky issue to navigate.  Although the regulations are complicated, the two fundamental question’s developers need to consider according to Adam Greene are who will be using the app and what information will be on it.  When the app is being used by an HCP, often times it will fall under HIPAA.  When it’s being used by a patient, it will generally not fall under those restrictions. As far as the types of information, according to Jason Wang, any of the data on your phone classified as “protected health information” may fall under HIPPA when it is transmitted from your phone or tablet.  

Even so, users have shown an aversion to sharing much of this information.  According to Health IT Security, most (56%) of patients are either “concerned” or “very concerned” about the theft of health related personal information.  When it comes to transmitting this data, privacy could be a concern in terms of both user sentiment and federal regulations. 

With the release of HealthKit coming later this year, there’s still plenty of time left to speculate on the implications of Apple’s platform.  That said, the above probably warrant some consideration in any future conjecture. 

The claims are that HealthKit could be game changing.  We’ll have more on game changing strategies and innovation at ePharma West, September 22-24, San Francisco, CA.  Check out what’s in store, and download the agenda here

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Friday, June 6, 2014

82% of Young Adults Favor Mobile Access to Doctors

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz of the Institute of International Research

A recent study from MDLIVE indicates young adults (ages 18-34) are the most likely group to cancel a medical appointment with over 71% conceding that they had done so.  It turns out the best solution may be to eliminate the visit from the equation.  Of this group, 82% say consultations through mobile are the best option for them. 

In theory, this would eliminate some of the popular excuses cited for postponing a visit:
  • Cannot take a day off from work - 30%
  • High costs (co-pays, co-insurance) - 25%
  • Takes too long to get an appointment - 16%
  • Don’t want to sit too long in the waiting room - 12%
  • Too many germs at healthcare provider’s location - 6%
  • Not comfortable discussing personal medical issues in person - 4%

So where would patients prefer to take these appointments?  The number one choice was on vacation with 35% of respondents indicating that they would be willing.  Other top choices include:
  • In bed- 33%
  • While at work- 23%
  • While riding in a car - 20%
  • While walking down the street - 12%
  • While in the bathroom - 12%
  • From a child’s sporting event - 8%



Said Randy Parker, CEO of MDLIVE, “The study demonstrates that telehealth is not just seeing a demand for access to quality patient care anywhere, anytime but that the industry is at an inflection point where adoption among the younger generations will drive demand among both consumers and young professionals entering the workforce.”

The study was conducted in March of this year among 2,061 adults aged 18 and older.  The complete press release from MDLIVE can be found here.

We’ve got more on the latest in pharma marketing. Check out ePharma West, September 22-24, San Francisco, CA. SAVE $100 as a reader of this blog*. Register here and use code XP1956BLOG.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Digital Patient Journey and Applications for Emotional Analysis in Pharma Marketing

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This post was contributed by Genevieve Walsh of BehaviorMatrix

Our perception of a health system, brand or HCP’s quality comes from inferences and attributions we form based upon what we see, hear or read about them online or in the news. The majority of that perception is influenced by friends and peers.  Seventy two percent of internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year and twenty six percent of internet users have read or watched someone else’s experience about health or medical issues during that time. Pharmaceutical companies and health systems must have a digital program in place to track and monitor consumer and stakeholder perception, their competitors and the success of their external outreach.   

Are emotional analytics the missing
piece to the pharma marketing puzzle?
Unfortunately, due to heavy regulation, digital marketing represents an atypical opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry when compared to other sectors.  Still, pharma marketers are under growing pressure to develop creative and innovative ways to establish brands and gauge consumer marketing success. Not only is the marketplace rigorously regulated, fierce competition for HCP’s time and the growing strength of other influencers including patient associations, pharmacists, health regulators, institutional partners and private insurance companies makes innovation even more challenging.

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with a disease, an emotional journey begins. Social media, blogs, forums and portals become an outlet for patients and caregivers to express their fears, concerns and opinions but also to learn about other’s experiences. These sources provide a rich abundance of behavioral and emotional data. With the right analytical modeling and techniques, this data can be tapped for insights that go beyond the market research and focus groups traditionally utilized by pharma companies. 

Emotional analytics represent an advanced form of psycho-graphic profiling for digital marketers from all sectors. This technique can be used to help brand managers and analysts develop more “patient centered” communication, more effective product positioning and segmentation, near real-time competitive analysis and can help improve upon subsequent health and medical care utilization.

How a patient feels towards their doctor, their drug regimen and their treatment plan influences their overall outlook and may increase or decrease their behavioral risk of noncompliance. Key emotions that impact patient behavior and outlook include: sadness, anger, acceptance, admiration and optimism.  Behavioral indicators such as trust, engagement, interest, and loyalty may also be metrics of significant value to pharmaceutical including tracking competitor’s launches in the eye of the public, tracking market penetration, segmentation of messaging based on people’s psychographic profiles, brand equity studies and understanding the patient journey.  

BehaviorMatrix, a behavioral analytics company in the Philadelphia area, has patented the process of extracting and quantifying emotional meta-data from textual conversation and tracking the impact of external stimuli (ads, social commentary, KOL’s) on behavior. To achieve this requires using a combination of computational linguistics, big data algorithms, signal processing statistics, machine learning and quantitative information theory. Unlike many other companies, BehaviorMatrix sources agnostically; utilizing basically any textual data for analysis.

BehaviorMatrix was recently featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and PhillyTechNews.and has partnered with The Smart Cities Council to help increase global sustainability and the promotion of citizen engagement. They serve clients in industries including: Political, Government Agency, Energy, Transportation, CPG and Pharma. Some Pharma clients include Boehringer Ingelhiem, Abbvie, and Daiichi Sankyo.

We’ll have more on the latest innovation in digital pharma at ePharma West, September 22-24, San Francisco, CA. Check out what’s in store, click here to download the agenda.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Digital Pharma: Is There Reason to Worry?

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In the pharma industry, solid intelligence about anticipated trends gives you the chance to make your business strategy a real working tool. But guesswork isn’t the answer and assumptions do not make intel, so we conducted a survey of 119 players from pharma to find out what they believe are the top issues digital pharma will face in 2014. Here’s what we found out:

Implementing Digital Technology
The majority of respondents (92%) are unsatisfied with their companies’ current level of digital technology implementation, and many don’t seem to be sure how to go about changing that. The majority (83%) find it challenging to adopt digital technologies in their company, and given that the most of the respondents were in marketing-related positions, this seems to be a marketing issue more than an operational one. That stands to reason; operations have steadily become more automated and digitized over the years, but only since inbound marketing grew in popularity has technology begun to make inroads into the promotional arena. This needs to change—fast—if we as an industry are to reap the benefits offered by the Internet in the coming years.

What Are the Main Challenges?
Respondents to the survey generally had some knowledge about where they needed to start.  75% identified budget as the biggest challenge facing the incorporation of digital into their overall marketing strategy. Other major issues were, in order of frequency:

Issues in digital pharma

Looking at each of these in turn, the first is something the pharma industry is plagued with as a matter of course. However, the restrictions aren't as extensive as you might think, and it’s worth looking into exactly what you can and can’t do before discounting the opportunity.

Expertise, innovations and creativity are all points that can be resolved any number of ways, including outsourcing to agencies, using consultants, employing part-time staff until there are funds for full-timers or using freelance/contract workers. These areas are where we see significant opportunity for progress during the next 12 months, because the capabilities exist—you just have to find the right one for your company.

Main Focus Areas for 2014
Some of the questions we asked in the survey included “What digital activities do you plan for your company in 2014” and “Does your strategy include mobile?” Respondents confirmed that the main focus areas were going to be:

Focuses in digital pharma

Website: If 95% of pharma companies are aware of the importance of a website, why is it that so many don’t yet have sites? Or are they planning to redevelop the site to make it responsive across all devices, more interactive or to include an online commerce option? Whatever the answer, it shows increased recognition that an online presence is an absolute necessity going forward, and we’re fully in agreement with that.

Closed Loop Marketing relies on data to connect every lead and customer back to the marketing bucks spent to capture them. This helps you to understand the value of your marketing activities and determine the return on investment you get for each penny, as well as adjust your efforts according to positive and negative feedback to maximize your returns.

eTools for Sales include a range of options, such as customer relationship management (CRM), e-detailing programs, lead nurturing applications that track the prospect through the sales process to keep him warm until he’s ready to see your representative.

Mobile, of course, is huge across retail industries but has yet to find its space in pharma. The fact that 50% of respondents recognized the need for it is huge, though, and it’s a matter of figuring out how it needs to be used to get the best ROI from its implementation.

BUT….
73% of respondents did not have a digital strategy in place and only 14% of respondents stated they measure their activities on a weekly to monthly basis. These statistics are deeply worrying. Pharma are literally wasting money and opportunities to engage with their consumers effectively. Without a strategy and without measurement, how do they know what is working, what is not working?
The most telling statistic we can see from the results of the survey is that very few marketers in the pharma industry believe digital technology is unnecessary, unimportant or impossible.

This survey indicates that pharma understand what they need to do, they are trying it, but they are getting it so wrong.  

Want to learn more about multichannel marketing in pharma?

We’ll have more on the latest innovation in digital pharma at ePharma West, September 22-24, San Francisco, CA. Click here to check out what’s in store.

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About the author
Ash Rishi is Co-founder and Co-managing director of COUCH. Based in London, COUCH is an integrated digital marketing and creative healthcare communications agency focusing on the pharmaceutical, healthcare and life sciences industry. Ash has over 9 years experience in pharma marketing and has delivered activities across UK, Europe, US, Canada and Latin America. His area of expertise include: mobile, marketing tech, branding, communications, stakeholder development and digital engagement strategies. Ash is also the founder of a digital engagement group on LinkedIn. You can reach Ash at ash@wearecouch.com or follow him on Twitter @We_Are_Couch and @Ash_Rishi


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