Thursday, March 17, 2016

Necessary Hospital Technology that is Often Overlooked

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ePharma | Health tech blog post
As technology has made its way more into healthcare, there are many parts of it that while being extremely important are often overlooked. While many people automatically assume that hospitals seemingly run themselves, the truth is that the best hospitals rely on more and more technological systems in order to run efficiently. Whether it's the latest system for electronic health records or for imaging technology, various factors such as patient safety, competition from other healthcare systems, and cost effectiveness all play a part in determining whether or not hospitals stay competitive in the ever-changing world of healthcare.

EHR Systems

EHR systems, also known as Electronic Health Records systems, play a pivotal role in today's hospitals. Considered more important than ever by most hospital administrators, EHR systems perform a number of functions that are often overlooked. For starters, as hospitals place a bigger emphasis on population health and preventive care, these systems allow hospitals to be competitive by acting as platforms of communication. With patients now using more doctors and facilities than ever for their care, EHR systems allow hospitals to easily track patient care like never before. As an added bonus, hospitals having certified EHR systems have also discovered these systems allow for easier recruitment of physicians, enabling them to maintain the highest levels of care.

Imaging Systems

Next to EHR systems, imaging systems have made hospitals better at providing patient care as well as staying abreast of the latest changes in healthcare technology. PACS system, which stands for Picture Archiving and Communication System, provides an extremely economical and efficient way for hospitals to store and retrieve images from multiple types of imaging sources, such as X-rays and MRI. In addition, ultrasound imaging devices are being used more and more in Emergency Rooms to let doctors get much more detailed images of patient injuries. Having become much more prevalent within the last decade, these systems not only lead to better patient care, but also let hospitals attract and retain the best medical personnel.

Infection Detection Technology

Considered more important than ever by hospitals everywhere, infection detection technologies are important in many ways. Not only do they keep hospitals compliant with the ever-growing number of regulatory issues they face, but they also allow facilities to have data to show patients they will be safe while staying there. Considered to be very cost-effective due to their ability to make hospitals less reliant on paying for expensive antibiotics, IDT systems such as the PCT test for sepsis have become commonplace in U.S. hospitals within the past five years. Rapidly becoming adapted by forward-thinking hospitals, they are expected to become even more common in the decade to come.

Staffing Management Technology

With staffing and labor costs accounting for more than 50 percent of a hospital's expenses, many facilities have in recent years started to implement staffing management technology systems as a way to decrease costs without sacrificing patient care. Helping hospitals walk the fine line between over or understaffing, an SMT system reduces unnecessary overtime while also keeping hospitals from relying on outside staff from healthcare staffing firms. While discussed little in the media, staffing management technology is looked upon as one of the most important advances in healthcare within the past decade by administrators.

Mobile Devices

To provide staff with the latest information, hospitals now provide mobile devices to doctors, nurses, and others to make the patient care experience more efficient and safe. Allowing doctors to translate into other languages such as Spanish, perform medical calculations, and access patient records, the use of these devices represents a cultural shift in healthcare that will become more important as the years progress.

While patients may think little about the various technologies being used during their care, hospital staff and administrators realize there are numerous technologies that are overlooked every day despite their effectiveness. However, as more becomes known about these technologies, attitudes are expected to change.

About the author: 

Greg Dastrup is a world traveler and professional writer with a passion for learning new languages. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ePharma Summit Recap on Customer-Centricity, Social Listening and Storytelling

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With the growth of social media, social listening for pharma is being more and more integrated in a marketing strategy. This year at the ePharma Summit many speakers couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of monitoring the conversations that take place online. Here are just a few reasons why social media listening is important for pharma: 

Why do you “listen”? 

Reshema Kemps-Polanco, Global Marketing Leader, GU Oncology Franchise at Johnson & Johnson:

“We do social media listening to understand our product, competitors, and our patients. We listen to the conversations to have a better idea on what the industry looks like at the moment [to help build empathetic brand.]”

Christophe Trappe, the Chief Storyteller, The Authentic Storytelling Project (@CTrappe):

"When you share the story, there's always a different perspective. Make sure you pass the message that was intended to be passed." 

Grace Soyao, Founder & CEO, Self Care Catalysts Inc.(@gracesoyao) started her session ‘Patient’s Digital Life Driving New Business Intelligence, Insights and Decisions’ from quizzing the audience: 

“Are you changing with the patients?” Approximately 50% of the room extended their hands. “Good, because once patients go out, they start going digital. They go online, research their medical conditions and address their questions in an online communities. And if you only rely on the traditional marketing, you won't know their (patients') stories.”

Be smart about doing social media listening 

ePharma Summit. Edlynne Laryea "Listening to Learn - How to Generate Insights from Social Data" slide
Social listening is extremely important but there's so much data being generated that it turns into noise. It’s becoming harder and harder to scan the internet for insights, so you have to know what you are looking for. 

Edlynne Laryea, Social Media Lead, Worldwide Digital Center of Excellence at Johnson & Johnson (@edlynne) during her talk on ‘Listening to Learn – How To Generate Insights From Social Data’ suggested: 

In order to evaluate the data driven through social listening, you need to ask yourself (and your team) the following questions: 

• What will this data tell me?
• Is it something new?
• Can I use this data?
• If my competitors had this data, how would they use it against me?
• Does someone else care for this information? And how can I make them care? 

But also:

• Can we use the insights to get better? How can we optimize our campaign after it has been launched?

Social listening and Content Marketing

How patients search on your brand online? They don't

ePharma Summit. Presentation slides

Being just a silent observer is not enough. It is really important to listen, but then you have to engage.

“Why do you think content marketing matters?” Trish Nettleship, UCB, Inc. (@trishnet) asked the audience during the ‘How to Move from Product Talk to Content Driven Experiences’ panel at the ePharma Summit.

“It's about changing the focus of us as a brand and shifting it to our customers (patient experience.) Go online! How patients search on your brand? The answer is - They don't! Patients are looking for their symptoms and diseases.” 

Nettleship stressed on the importance of understanding the audience, their wants and needs. “Once this is established,” she followed, “the pharma businesses can start figuring out how to match the patients’ needs with the business objectives. Not the other way around.” 

In the age of patient-centricity, it is crucial to deliver relevant content; content that speaks to the consumers. But how do we know what content works? Some experts suggest to go over the patients’ houses and speak to them in person, some – to conduct focus groups and extract value from there, and others hint on social listening. There’s no right or wrong answer. We need to optimize and focus our messaging – the value proposition as we go on with a campaign. Because it's about building a long-term relationship with the audience. 

Sandra Valez, Content Strategy Leader, Customer Engagement COE, Merck couldn't have said it better:
“It is really important for you to understand What Does Your Customer Really Want in order for you to start building your patient-centric content marketing strategy.” 

Have some thoughts and would you like to share them on Twitter?

Don’t forget to mention @epharma and #ePharma16! 

About the author: Ksenia Newton, a Digital Marketing Assistant at Informa, Knowledge and Networking, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at or @ksenia_newton.

Monday, March 14, 2016

We Have Granular Data on Patients and Doctors to Move the Needle on Outcomes Today

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ePharma Summit 2016 is already two weeks in the rearview mirror but the takeaways have staying power.

I keep returning to the fact that the future isn’t in front of us, but it is now. The snail’s pace of progress in the physical realm is a reflection of the snail’s pace of progress in the healthcare mindset. But that is changing. As Millennials (read: digital natives) take over the reins, this horse is going to start galloping.

Knowledge and technology are advancing exponentially. What were plans and dreams just a few years ago are now our reality. The charge is for regulatory and traditional processes to keep pace or get out of the way.

As Matthew Zachary, founder of The Stupid Cancer Show and Millennial cancer patient social network platform Instapeer, told the ePharma Summit attendees, ”We have data now that you don’t have, and we know what it means, and we want to work with you. . .Our patients, we know where they are. They want their data known.”

With just that sentence, Zachary may have dismantled HIPAA. As I discussed in my Health System Ed blog within the last year with a nudge from a former colleague and health policy advisor in the Reagan administration, our newfound social comfort with having every aspect of our personal lives online may have the effect of challenging the boundaries of personal privacy. Certainly not everyone shares that comfort, but the generation that wrote HIPAA begat the selfie generation. Matthew Zachary’s comment is a reflection of that lack of self-consciousness that digital natives bring to the party that says: Here I am. Here is who I am, and here is what I need from you.

Delivering What Patients Need

The question for digital health, then, is how to use the personal information we have to reach individual patients and do it in a way that respects personal privacy about the most private aspects of our lives even if an individual patient is willing to be all out there about their life and their condition. They want information.

Direct-to-consumer advertising blasts on television, for example, are blanket coverage of a specific solution to an unspecific audience. Today, because we know who patients are and they want us to know who they are, we can target our messages and spend those dollars more wisely. It also changes some of the messages we send about treatments and options.

Because patients don’t get to enter the treatment realm on their own, the doctors who treat them are the conduit for discussing those options. We know who they are, too. We know who their patients are and what their treatment preferences are.

Jeff Tangney is CEO of Doximity, and he spoke about the reams of valuable data he collects on physicians. Doximity averages 28 CV items per physician in its database, which is now at about 600,000 members. The site has HIPAA-grade authentication for physician members who share a back channel of secure cell and email. Doximity is growing at 10,000 members a day, Tangey said.

Market Segmentation Beyond Prescribing Data

In a panel discussion moderated by Doximity Co-Founder Nate Gross, Pfizer Director of Multichannel Marketing, Michael Rowbotham, said, “Segmentation was easier when we just looked at prescribing data.”

Easier, maybe. But with the kind of granular data available now, you can fine-tune attributes to laser focus your treatment messages exactly when and where they are most useful to patients and the physicians who treat them.

Anthony M. Antonelli, Associate Director of Professional Marketing at Bristol Myers Squibb, said, “You need the right proxy attributes. At BMS oncology, we can segment by prescribing behavior and regional view of affordability and access. We work with staff to talk about access. . .every touch (is designed) to make sure we are crafting message.”

Melina Leone, Digital and NPP Marketing for Oncology at Incyte said, “Prescribing behavior and access is very limited now. (There are) prognostic tools in the workflow, real-time or point-of-purchase points when they need our info. . .(there are) alerts when a physician is diagnosing patients and putting them on therapy. We know if doctor has a patient and (we can) increase frequency of messages so when patient gets to the stage (where treatment is needed), our product is top of mind.”

Peter Justason, Director of eMarketing at Perdue Pharmaceuticals, said, “From granularity, we need good databases to capture messages and know what will resonate with that doc. We need good IT and a lot of content. (We need to) get MLR (medical legal review) teams because they will want to approve messages, because we have multiple sequences. With the granularity we can provide now, we know when we have two different docs in same practice with different patient bases.”

Melina Leone of Incyte said,  “From Doximity, we know that 70% of physicians are on mobile. “Mobile is first, so we design for mobile apps before we design for anything else and add extra useful things for bigger screens. We used to start with big screen and squeeze it down.”

“Are we phone-first marketers? Is industry behind?” she asked.

Patients and physicians may be way out ahead of the industry that provides the treatments they need. As more than one attendee said from the stage during several days of discussions, large, lumbering pharma may go the way of the large, lumbering dinosaur unless they learn to be nimble and quick like the biotech startups they are acquiring. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

#ePharma16: A Patient Reflects

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Upon arriving in New York for the ePharma Summit 2016, I was extremely excited. Other patients I knew were attending and this was an opportunity to give me the ability to see what happens behind the scenes in the pharmaceutical world.

As a patient, the only time I get to see that is when I'm chosen for a focus group from a pharmaceutical company.

I knew that there would be some upsetting things, that many there may not be used to or excited about the patient engagement style that many patient leaders have adopted. The same goes for interacting with patients.

I still was taken aback and upset when I saw these things happen.

Not everyone had the experience at ePharma this year as myself and a few others. It seemed to be that many of the patients who stuck together throughout the sessions really enjoyed their experience.

Not all of my experiences were icky. The first day of ePharma made the entire trip worth it.

As a patient, here are some of my critiques from the summit as well as some suggestions for the future.

I have mobility issues. Being in New York where walking and moving fast is the norm seemed to highlight those. The breakout sessions were often so close together or running late that it made it difficult to maneuver three floors of rooms.

I also have food allergies and nutritional issues. One of the days, I ended up having to run out for lunch because all I could eat was white rice and salad sans dressing.

Obviously, the biggest concern that I had was with the lack of inclusion of - and occasional demonization or poking fun at - patients.

Don't get me wrong - patients do this towards pharma, too, but...


So far, it hasn't changed yet because...

It's something that we're all comfortable with, which means that it's easy to fall into those combative roles. You saw it if you were following the summit via social media with myself and other patients jumping into the outraged patient roles we're so used to filling.

You heard about it if you read my post about sitting with representatives from Amgen (who, as a side note, reached out and apologized for what went down).

"Thanks for highlighting the problem we already know exists," right?

Fear not! I have some solutions!

We HAVE to stop being focused on being afraid of each other.

Patients need to be more involved - pay for us to be there whether we attend as guest bloggers or with patient organizations. Cover expenses for us so that we can sit at the table with you, stay in a room on the same floor, and really be able to engage in conversations with you.

There should be an ice-breaker on the first night that brings together patients and pharma representatives to destroy the silos that everyone hates.

Pharma has to learn patient-centric language versus monetary/marketing language. We don't all want to kill ads, but make them more intuitive and relatable.

Remember that we're not just customers. We're incredibly sick, often in pretty good amounts of debt with medical bills, and can't afford to be 'compliant' with medications sometimes.

Make them affordable for us.

We need each other.

As a patient, I rely on pharma companies in order to do a number of basic functions - breathing, eating, moving, etc.

I cannot survive without you, but you cannot survive without us either.

We have to start working together to plan true transformational change.

Strategies and processes have to change.

Systems have to be built and rebuilt to be inclusive of patients.

During ePharma, companies were discussing hiring these firms to figure out what patents are actually thinking and what they want.

Us patients? We are right here. We are on social media, in support groups, working with organizations on changing the health care world.

You don't have to pay a third party to get our thoughts.


We want to help you.

We want to make your ads, your medications, your charity work more relevant to patients. 

If it doesn't help us, it might help the next person, and that is why patients like me go to conferences and summits like ePharma on our own time and dime.

And if that collaboration doesn't exist? There are patients already working on the next big things - crowdfunding or crowdsourcing for cures.

Don't get left behind.

About the author:

Kirsten Schultz is a health activist and blogger. You can read more about her life living with multiple chronic illnesses on her blog, on Creaky Joints, or follow her on Twitter.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Healthcare Industry: World’s Largest Hairball?

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Epharma Summit 2016 has been over for one week, but the ideas generated by exciting thinkers, disruptors and innovators are still burning holes in my notebook.

Upon reflection, themes that continue to reverberate are the slow pace of the healthcare industry and particularly the conservative pharmaceutical industry playing against the tension of the magnetic pull of the digital future that is dislodging old ways…one way or another.

In a panel discussion “Pharma and The Third Wave of the Internet,” CEO of WEGO Jack Barrette told attendees,  “You are working in large organizations trying to move an industry that has been described as the world’s largest hairball.”

Panelist Steve Case, CEO Revolution and Founder of AOL, said we are entering the Third Wave of the internet. During the First Wave, the internet was being built between 1985 to 2000. From 2000 until today, we are just leaving the Second Wave where software and apps drove the growth and utility of the internet. The Third Wave will be about using the power of the internet to solve social problems and make “larger plays,” Case said.

“How do you improve food, health? It’s a broader play, a harder play, it takes more engagement from government because those industries are more highly regulated. It will be more about partnerships, policy, and perseverance. The internet wouldn’t happen without partnerships.”

Creative marketing ideas and customer-centric digital health are coming up against a highly regulated pharmaceutical industry where not just the products – but the sales and marketing of those products – are tightly monitored and controlled.

Ideas follow where the dollars are spent, and most presenters and attendees at the ePharma conference agreed that few pharma dollars are dedicated to digital health initiatives partly because of fear of a new medium but also because digital dollars are often “stolen” from budgets dedicated for traditional sales and marketing initiatives. As the value of patient engagement using all-on, all-the-time digital tools becomes clearer, those dollars will start to move into more targeted campaigns.

Case said, “Some of these things just take awhile. The transition from TV to a more digital way, it is happening. When I watch TV and see an ad for drug that seems like it has narrow appeal, I wonder if that makes sense. Budgets should shift from (TV) to (digital marketing), but it will take time to happen.”

What is Case’s advice for people advocating for forging into the future inside a large organization? “Create a sense of possibility and momentum in a balanced way. Don’t come off as a crazy person looking too far in the future but provide clarity as to where this is going. Create a culture of possibility. Startups have a culture of experimentation and taking risk and shots on goal. Companies de-risk until it’s all about process and risk mitigation. But it’s not all about keeping bad things from happening. It’s tricky. In order to get an initiative supported, you need clarity about what will happen, but it is by definition guess work.

“One step at a time, momentum begets momentum. Get some traction, some initial beachhead. Accelerate the adoption and that will facilitate partnerships. Doing it together makes more sense than doing it separately. There is an African proverb: Go quickly, go alone; but go far, go together. That is the core idea of Third Wave,” he said.

Pfizer VP Head of Digital Strategy and Data Innovation Judy Sewards echoed his optimism and caution, “If the future was easy or clear, we’d be activating it right now. But we are only just beginning the digital health revolution,”

Sunday, March 6, 2016

ePharma Summit 2016 | Lessons learned: ePharma marketers and problem-solving

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Throughout the ePharma Summit, it was reassuring to hear that all ePharma marketers were privy (and respectful) to the role of regulatory and their customer’s privacy and rights. 

However, being knowledgeable of limitations does not deter an ePharma marketer: as Peter Dannenfelser put it during Deploying Digital Strategy general session regarding executing marketing ideas: 

"If you’re blaming regulatory, you’re being lazy. Work around it. Be creative." 

This does not mean that regulatory won’t be taken into consideration, it means that ePharma marketers will find a way to get you to their product. 

As a health-researcher, this kind of ingenuity at the face of red-tape means that there is a roadmap to follow in order to facilitate the ways in which we connect vulnerable populations to healthcare regardless of bureaucratic or regulatory policies. 

As a take away point from the summit, I’ve unsurprisingly come to realize that we have a lot to learn from e-marketers when it come to research and development. Garnering the bravado and can-do attitude or ePharma marketers would only be beneficial for those of us in health care and health care policy. 

Just Do It, after all, was the title of the panel and the general mantra of the general session on day two of the ePharma Summit. You know you were part of a powerful meeting of the minds when you leave motivated to execute your goals, work around problems (like red-tape and regulatory policies), and just do your part to improve health.

Sonia Mendoza, a contributing blogger at the ePharma Summit 2016
Sonia Mendoza is a research coordinator at the New York University Medical Center and a contributing writer at the ePharma Summit 2016. You can follow her on Twitter at @SM_23_NYC

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Talking Past Each Other: Patient Engagement is More than a Slogan

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The future is here. We just need to recognize it and start using it for the good of patients. The technology available today allows the healthcare industry to stop talking at patients, or talking past patients, and engage them in meaningful conversations.

It is at the intersection of patients, the providers who care for them and the payers who have to manage the finances to pay for it all where technology will integrate these powerful forces. There was a fundamental frustration you could feel from the futurists at ePharma Summit 2016 that they are dragging a reluctant healthcare sector along to make this future that is now, actually fulfill its promise now.

Vendors had exciting innovations. More on a few of those in the next blog. The issue that calls out for immediate attention, though, is the nexus of and reason for all the efforts and stakeholders at the table – the patients we need to engage. Those patients are us.

Co-founder and CEO of StartUp Health Steven Krein said, “We are all part of this in a way no other industry is. If we aren’t personally, somebody in our family is a patient.”

As an industry, how quickly those of us in pharma can get caught up in the sales numbers, the marketing strategy and the fun techie gadgets and forget that the patient is the whole point of why we are in this industry. When you scratch a healthcare professional – no matter whether a doctor, nurse, marketing executive or pharma sales rep – they will tell you they are in it because they care about a disease, a patient, a cure.

But how quickly we can forget, even temporarily. And it was one of those lapses that particularly dinged our reputation with patients who were present at ePharma Summit 2016.

Patient blogger Kristin Coppens brought all our attention snapping back to the reason we are all in business. She reminds us why we care. She blogged about some insensitivity to patients at the event, and it is something we all need to be aware of as we make sure that when we talk about Patient Engagement, Patient Experience and The Patient Journey, we remember what it means.

As founder of The Stupid Cancer Show, Matthew Zacchary, said in his powerful presentation to the industry, “The humanity you stand for can’t get lost in this. You guys and your kids get cancer too. We’re all patients, we’re all humans.”

Yes, we’re all human and we're all patients. And technology can help us make those personal connections that drive our industry and our reason for being.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Future of Healthcare is Digital yet Many Lag Behind

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The ePharma Summit successfully gathers together the best innovation, research, and development in pharmaceutical marketing but their audiences/customers/consumers are mostly the tech savvy, the proactive and the involved. 

I would love to see in the future ePharma Summits the type of efforts made in order to bridge the gap between those who are less digitally connected or tech savvy. 

I see great openings for these efforts in Dr. Ahmed’s work at eHAP and the work Merck has embarked on in Africa. And while those efforts are alluring because they are abroad, there are many markets in the United States that are “digitally handicapped.” 

I personally work with underserved populations with chronic disease in the U.S. that often live in unstable conditions. Individuals in this population often do not have telephones (let along smart phones), and are not computer literate, but would benefit the most from very immersive pharmaceutical and medical involvement. I’m very sure efforts to connect these populations exist currently, but I am sure not aware of them. 

This is the official request for such efforts: it would be a win-win for the tech company, ePharma marketing, and population health. 

Sonya Mendoza, the ePharma Summit contributing blogger
Sonia Mendoza is a research coordinator at the New York University Medical Center and a contributing writer at the ePharma Summit 2016. You can follow her on Twitter at @SM_23_NYC

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Virtual doctors and patients, roleplaying the patient experience

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(HCP) Healthcare provider is talking to a patientWith the shift to value and the elevation of the patient experience as one arm of the Triple Aim, we’re seeing the emergence of a burgeoning marketplace for tools and services that address this critical piece of the healthcare puzzle. Health systems and providers are scrambling to meet new qualitative objectives and foster patient engagement, and need all the help they can get on these fronts. Drug and device manufacturers are eagerly looking for pill-plus solutions that can help differentiate their products by improving adherence and patient outcomes. Ideas that might have languished in a lab a few years back are finding their footing (and funding!). 

Kognito is a great example of this. This New York outfit, which has the energy of a startup but started up in 2003, develops simulations designed to coach providers, patients and caregivers on behavioral intervention strategies. Their platform uses “emotionally responsive virtual humans” - simulated doctors and patients, for example - to engage users in a typical conversation, highlighting key moments and prodding them to delve deeper into a patient’s seemingly offhanded remark, or to validate the patient’s experience by summarizing what they’ve told them. The user is then prompted to choose from a menu of possible responses and given feedback on their choices. It’s a “Choose Your Own Adventure” roleplay approach to improving patient dialogue around specific topics, some of which have included substance use, overuse of antibiotics, PTSD among veterans, and childhood obesity. “There might be shame, there might be family issues,” said CEO Ron Goldman, “These are tough conversations. A lot of people don’t have them, or they don’t know where they’re going to go. We help build skills and confidence to motivate the patient to get the help they need.”

Kognito partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop Change Talk, a mobile and online app that aims to help pediatricians and other healthcare professionals work through family resistance to behavior change around pediatric obesity. “

Healthcare provider is talking to a patient in a hospital
We used motivational interviewing and robust storytelling to address risks around childhood obesity,” said Lois Drapin, SVP, New Health Markets at Kognito. “These conversations are based on a methodology using principles of neuroscience, social cognition and learning theories designed to address barriers and provide opportunities to encourage and motivate,” said Drapin, who notes that Kognito’s are the only simulations listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices kept by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Change Talk is engaging – and even kind of fun, with engrossing dialogue and game elements that make the experience feel more play than work. As you try different approaches to motivate an overweight mother and child to work on his obesity, a “virtual coach” dispenses personalized feedback, and a user dashboard tells you how well (or poorly) you’re doing at breaking through their resistance to change. An “Undo” button lets you try an alternate approach when a conversational stratagem backfires. 

The company’s client base in healthcare has so far consisted mainly of government agencies, research institutions and non-profits – they recently partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, for example, on a simulation aimed at curbing overprescribing of antibiotics – but they are beginning to explore partnerships with pharmas and other commercial healthcare entities. 

With mounting expectations for beyond the pill tools from pharmas – three-in-five physicians say pharmas must provide more services alongside treatments to stay relevant in the emerging healthcare system – you can see the value of offerings like Kognito’s. With the patient experience and outcomes now paramount in the minds of providers and payers, the need for solutions addressing the tricky business of behavior change is clear. We expect that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these sorts of offerings on the market, and pharmas looking for bolt-on tools and services that add value to their products will take a keen interest in them.

By Monique Levy, VP Research, and Matthew Arnold, Principal Analyst, DRG

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Stop Waiting For Us, We're Already Waiting On You

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Before the 2016 ePharma Summit even started, and throughout the past three days, I have been most excited about one particular session. Lo and behold, that session was slated for the very last session of the conference before closing remarks. Keeping me on my toes, ePharma!

The last session topic is: "2025: Where Will We Be?" Speakers include: Burt Kann from Healthgrades, Mary Ann Belliveau from Twitter, Stefani Klaskow from Google, and Justin Weigold from Facebook. Talk about speaking to this digital communications and social media nerd's heart.

Talking about the future of healthcare and digital is almost comical. We aren't looking at the future necessarily (I mean, we should), but it's more about the future being now. We have to stop waiting for the future to begin. Stop saying: "In the future, we will..." No. What will you do today? Right now.

The landscape is fundamentally changing, and not just in healthcare. We're digital, folks. Without the iPhone, we wouldn't have Twitter, and Facebook, and Uber, and so on. In healthcare, physicians are utilizing digital for records, for appointment scheduling, for patient portals. For me, the patient portal is a huge advantage in my overall health maintenance: I message back and forth with my providers, I see my lab results and radiology results far sooner than the physician office calls me, and more.

Regardless, even Mary Ann Belliveau agrees we have a long place to go. She stated in her session: "I haven't been to this conference in a few years, and I'm disappointed to see that we're still talking about the same things." There you go. Why are we still just TALKING about it? What is keeping us from DOING?

Justin Weigold emphasizes this even further. In his words, we're all frustrated: patients, providers, healthcare professionals, marketing. We're frustrated on why more progress hasn't been made in the digital healthcare space. We have the guidelines, in fact we have had the guidelines. It's up to the internal forces to put the guidelines to work and see how that forms the perceived value of the company's digital voice.

Needless to say, we have made progress in the digital space; 10 years ago we could not have predicted the success and amplification of social media, for example. I'm sure that 10 years from now, we will be singing a similar tune. However, most of the highly regulated industries are still so fearful that they are arguably 6-8 years behind.

And that's what I believe is the main issue: those regulations were put in place, but they were not supposed to stifle all of the innovation and technology. I understand the privacy and legal aspects of these industries, however, doing nothing is not an acceptable response. What is happening today is not acceptable.

My favorite part of the panel: our table full of patients. Give me the mic: here's what I had to say. Pharma and business keep talking about what they can do to bring patients to the table or talk to the patients and gain their feedback. Guess what? Stop waiting for us. We're already at the table. We're already figuring out how to advance healthcare and transform our experiences.

We're just waiting for you. And we've been waiting for far too long.

Make sure to follow along live with this year's ePharma Summit. Read about sessions and experiences on the ePharma blog here. Follow along on social media with @ePharma and #ePharma16. If you'd like to follow my thoughts and experience specifically, find me at @KristinMCoppens.

About the author: 
Kristin Coppens is a social media and digital communications professional, a health activist, an ePatient, and a multiple chronic diseases fighter and blogger. You can read more about her chronic illness journey on her blog, Chronically Kristin, or follow her on Twitter. 
She will also be joining us this year at ePharma as an official guest blogger sharing insights from the event.

Just Do It: Innovations in Healthcare

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Just as attending ePharma as a patient has been very eye-opening, attending as someone who works for a healthcare organization has had just as much of an impact.

One of the frustrations where I am currently employed surrounds the issue of implementing an after-hours system that allows better compensation for physicians and more convenient locations and hours for patients.

This conversation has been ongoing for several years, involving a large and often revolving door of people working on this project.

I have to mention that all of these conversations are going on without any updated data on how patients in our system might feel about this change - no surveys, no patients in meetings, nothing.

I can help somewhat, but I also am not the target patient group.

Through listening to the various presentations on day three of #epharma16, the key message I took away on this subject was...


There are points in time where information needs to be gathered, so I'm not saying to stop that.

Once that information is gathered, stop trying to be perfect. That holds up the process, as I've seen personally in my job.

Innovation needs to be thought through and worked on but, at some point, the one thing holding back innovation is simply inaction.

Listen to Shia Labeouf and Nike -


About the author:

Kirsten Schultz is a health activist and blogger. You can read more about her life living with multiple chronic illnesses on her blog, on Creaky Joints, or follow her on Twitter.  

She will also be joining us this year at ePharma as an official guest blogger sharing insights from the event. 

How To Be A Good Drug Company

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Welcome to the third and final day of the 2016 ePharma Summit. I look forward to providing you a full conference recap and reaction later on. As we come close to breaking for lunch and ending our morning sessions, I can say that it has been an eye-opening morning. An eye-opening morning, but a roller-coaster of emotions.

Steve Klasko of Jefferson University kicked us off with an amazing session this morning. Founding a medical school that focuses its recruitment on self-acceptance and empathy, along with high test scores, is how to change healthcare in this country. We have vehemently ignored the concept of looking at how physicians are educated in this country. Change and innovation in healthcare professionals has to start at the very beginning: the training, the education.

What I loved about Steve's session was his stance that it's not an us vs. them world out there. It's time for every player to join the healthcare revolution. He channeled Yoda when saying: Do or Do Not; There Is No Try. And it's true. We aren't going to TRY to make change in healthcare; we aren't going to TRY to include patients. We have to just DO it.

One of the panel discussions of the morning was something I was so excited to hear: a full patient led panel. We had Jack Barrette from WEGO Health, Casey Quinlan from The Mighty, Julie Cerrone from It's Just A Bad Day, Not A Bad Life, and Randi Redmond Oster from Help Me Health. All patients or a caregiver, all advocates, all honest, all real. My kind of panel!

In terms of the panel, they were fantastic talking about pharma tv ads. Though the topic was killing pharma tv ads, I actually think they serve a purpose, but we just need to change them. As Julie said, don't show us people running in a meadow in your ads. By the way: most of us aren't mobile enough to be able to do that! Show us REAL patients! Additionally, pharma needs to stop talking about including patients, and saying that they are talking about what patients need. Ask the patients what we need. In case we haven't already made it clear for you: we want to help! Let us show you how our lives and our conditions and our experiences can help bolster your business and help you grow.

Here's the negative, you know I had to keep to real. In a general sense, it took almost the majority of the patient-driven session for the audience to even stop talking and pay attention. Even that didn't completely occur. Hey pharma: if you're talking about moving your brand to being patient-focused, maybe don't leave the session when the real patients start talking. You want to help us? Then understand that patients are everywhere.

Specifically, however, I was so disappointed, and infuriated in hearing the conversations from audience members sitting at my table or next to me (Cough, cough, Amgen representatives). Calling the patient on stage bitter shouldn't happen in the first place. However, when it inevitably and disappointingly does, make sure the people sitting right next to you aren't also patients. While you laugh and joke with your colleagues, we're trying to show you what it's like to be a patient and what we really want. Does pharma actually think they would survive without patients? Does healthcare has a whole think it would survive?

I think not, folks.

Patients aren't bitter. We're just trying to survive, persevere, and maintain a relatively positive quality of life in YOUR world. Let us live here too.

Make sure to follow along live with this year's ePharma Summit. Read about sessions and experience on the ePharma blog here. Follow along on social media with @ePharma and #ePharma16. If you'd like to follow my thoughts and experience specifically, find me at @KristinMCoppens.

About the author: 
Kristin Coppens is a social media and digital communications professional, a health activist, an ePatient, and a multiple chronic diseases fighter and blogger. You can read more about her chronic illness journey on her blog, Chronically Kristin, or follow her on Twitter. 
She will also be joining us this year at ePharma as an official guest blogger sharing insights from the event.

Dear Amgen - Patients are Everywhere

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After yesterday's fun time, I was excited to watch a patient panel this morning about pharmaceutical ads.

I came in excited about it, hopeful.

A group of three people from Amgen who work on a specific drug sat next to me, including a Senior Marketing Manager.

I didn't call him out directly, but what went down with his group at our table was very difficult.

He introduced himself to me as I was visibly trying to do something, which was frustrating. When I introduced myself as a patient, I got a bit of a stink face.

I expected this would happen if I really interacted with anyone in pharma while here.

I was not surprised.

Later on, the panel I was stoked for began. I was taken back by how many people in the audience were not paying attention to the patients on stage.

Again, though, I was not surprised.

I was surprised by comments being made by the people in pharma at our table. One even got to the point where he said he liked one of the panelists more because she wasn't as bitter and scary as the first patient speaking.

I so wish I was kidding.

I came here hoping that there would be a coming together, that pharma reps here would, at least, keep an open mind about patient wants and needs.

I wanted to learn more, to be pleasantly surprised at how positively pharma may see us...

I let myself hope that the reality patients already know of - the negative viewpoints about patients from pharma.

I wanted so much for that to be a lie.

Like yesterday, I was disappointed.

Amgen, if you'd like to make amends with patients, we would love to work with you to educate you about what is going on in the minds of patients and why we might be so upset sometimes.

Until then, remember patients are everywhere.

About the author:

Kirsten Schultz is a health activist and blogger. You can read more about her life living with multiple chronic illnesses on her blog, on Creaky Joints, or follow her on Twitter.  

She will also be joining us this year at ePharma as an official guest blogger sharing insights from the event.

Partnering Pharma Marketing and Non-Profit Public Health

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As a health researcher, it was interesting to me that pharma marketers noted during different presentations today that they were “listening” to client (or potential client) online activity and not yet actively participating or interacting with it (aka not acting on the data quite yet). To me, this means that the presentations reporting on patient, HCP, or client data during the summit are really just the tip of the iceberg, that there are rich stocks of digital data marketers have available and are still gathering.

As a non-profit researcher, this means that there is tons of valuable data out there, already gathered and profiled. Unlike pharma marketers, publically funded researchers like me do not have the capital to invest on data collection on the same level that private pharmaceutical marketers do. So while most of the presentations today say that gathering web-based data is “less expensive” than alternatives, for us publically funded researchers, that level of data collection would often be unattainable despite having the training and expertise to make sense of it.

What will happen to this data? Will we, the monetarily-and-resource-deficient public health researchers ever be able to use it? It was encouraging to hear that most pharma marketers are open to partnerships, but I wholeheartedly hope that this means they are open to partnerships that do not result in revenue but do have a potential to improve health. Sharing data and partnering with public and government funded researchers -- to help supplement or kickstart our own endeavors for health improvement—would be the ultimate partnership. The great potential this volume and quality of data (in its rawest form) has for public health can revolutionize our efforts. In short, my message to pharma as a grant-funded public health researcher would be: let’s partner, let’s share.

Sonia Mendoza is a research coordinator at the New York University Medical Center. You can follow her on Twitter at @SM_23_NYC

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How To Have A Patient-Focused Conference: Thoughts On Day Two

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The kick-off of day two of the ePharma Summit started an inspiring dialogue about peer support for patients and having mindful and intentional impact. Matthew Zachary spoke about his "Stupid Cancer Story" and how patient/peer support groups saved his life. Judy Sewards spoke on how getting too focused on our numbers and technology can distract us from providing meaningful impact to the industry and to patients. I was excited to extend my enthusiasm from day one onto the agenda for day two.

As we moved forward throughout the day, I became attuned to a few missing pieces and, unfortunately, a few disappointing factors of the event. Patient Included was mentioned at the opening remarks for day two, with a fantastic emphasis on the fact that ePharma and WEGO Health invited patients on scholarship to attend the conference and provide coverage of their experiences and perspective in real time (like me!). This year was the first year that ePharma brought the patients to the table. 

It's important to note what it means to be Patients Included™. If you review their website, you will find specific criteria and clauses that makes an event or conference Patients Included™. There is also accreditation that comes along with that. For example, 

  1. Patients or caregivers with experience relevant to the conference’s central theme actively participate in the design and planning of the event, including the selection of themes, topics and speakers.
  2. Patients or caregivers with experience of the issues addressed by the event participate in its delivery, and appear in its physical audience.
  3. Travel and accommodation expenses for patients or carers participating in the advertised program are paid in full, in advance. Scholarships are provided by the conference organizers to allow patients or carers affected by the relevant issues to attend as delegates.
  4. The disability requirements of participants are accommodated. All applicable sessions, breakouts, ancillary meetings, and other program elements are open to patient delegates.
  5. Access for virtual participants is facilitated, with free streaming video provided online wherever possible.
I understand this can be unintentional, but we need to be clear and concise if we are to claim a patient is welcome and collaborating at a conference.

A good friend of mine who was also invited to attend the conference on behalf of ePharma had similar experiences on day two of the conference: one of the worst being the fact there was nothing for her to eat during the served lunch due to the fact she is Gluten Free. Another production aspect that I experienced was a photographer present, taking hundreds of photos, with an attached flash facing towards the audience, and additional flash bulbs lined up on the perimeter of the room. It was so strong and strobe-like that I was literally on the verge of a migraine. This is not patient-friendly. And this patient wanted to focus on the sessions, but could not ignore the flashes.

One of the largest factors about the day two agenda that left me uneasy and with mixed feelings over the day was a session on bringing pharma into the social media space. I was excited about this session because I work in social media for a major health system, but I am also a patient and health activist. The session started off so well showing data on patient experience and the patient journey; I was nodding my head along with the speakers: YES!

The disappointment surfaced when the conversation between speakers and audience shifted towards mental health. Mental health is such an integral part of a patient's life and it's a topic that is not yet successfully covered by the healthcare industry. Here's the word that flipped the patients upside-down: crazy. When we're talking about mental health or we're talking about the patient voice in healthcare, we can't consider some patients as "crazies." As a wholly empowered and involved patient, I'm not okay with crazy talk.

Here is where I would like to recommend certain aspects of a conference be present if it is going to be patient-friendly and focused. Think about the conversations to be had: are we asking the right players? Are the right players even at the table? Patients should not only attend healthcare conferences but they should speak and present at them as well.

Let's also think about the practicality issues. Patient mobility: up and down different floors between sessions. Attendee access: chargers, outlets, a technology station. Dietary restrictions: have attendees fill out any medical dietary needs during registration. And so on.

All of the above is not to say that I'm not impressed and enjoying ePharma Summit 2016. I am inspired, excited, and ready to collaborate at the same table with pharma, healthcare professionals, providers, and marketers. Day two left me with mixed emotions, but it's with trial and error and constructive criticism that real progress is made.

I look forward to day three and the ideas to be shared!

Make sure to follow along live with this year's ePharma Summit. Read about sessions and experience on the ePharma blog here. Follow along on social media with @ePharma and #ePharma16. If you'd like to follow my thoughts and experience specifically, find me at @KristinMCoppens.

About the author: 
Kristin Coppens is a social media and digital communications professional, a health activist, an ePatient, and a multiple chronic diseases fighter and blogger. You can read more about her chronic illness journey on her blog, Chronically Kristin, or follow her on Twitter. 
She will also be joining us this year at ePharma as an official guest blogger sharing insights from the event.