Oct22

Epic Tales of Marketing Storytelling

Story Telling BLOGStorytelling in marketing isn’t new. In fact, brand stories have anchored some of the best marketing, advertising, and public relations campaigns since the invention of, well, brands.

Marketers love stories, and not just because stories position their brand in a positive scenario. Us marketing types are creative and want to express ideas and touch emotions. We want to motivate and inspire and engage on a level that transcends a sale. We want to be storytellers.

There’s that, and then there’s what we actually end up doing.

Look, we love our brands. Really and truly. We spend hours thinking about how to get other people to love them the way we do. We get mugs and t-shirts printed that feature our logos.

So why do we end up telling such lame marketing stories? Maybe it’s because we’re not thinking about what makes a great story.

Let’s consider two important points about storytelling, one about marketing stories, and analyze them all through the lens of a blockbuster movie.

  1. Stories are about people, not events, or objects.
  2. Stories are about people’s problems and how those problems get resolved.
  3. Marketing stories should be about solving people’s problems.

Let’s unpack these three simple points and talk about what they mean for us as healthcare communicators.

 

Stories Are About People

You can tell a story about an unsinkable ship that sinks, and it’s very interesting and ironic. Or you can tell a story about Rose and Jack and their tragic love affair, and you have Titanic.

The first one is an interesting historical story, but the second one is about storytelling. Titanic took an epic event (with an ending we already knew) and made it about people. There were 2,223 passengers on the Titanic, but in the end, we cared about two people. Two.

Titanic worked because it established the main characters as people. You cared about them deeply. And when the inevitable end approached, you hoped for their safety, since you knew that at least some people survived the Titanic.

Highly simplified? Sure, but you know that a story about a ship that sinks is only as interesting as the people who survived and those who perished. It’s a people story, not a boat story.

 

Stories Are About People’s Problems

Jack and Rose clearly have a few problems, which is important. Without conflict, there’s really no story. Conflict raises the stakes and makes a story interesting.

Once we’re invested in the characters, we’re rooting for their survival. We care about the people and want them to survive, fall in love, and share this epic story. For a while there, we think they might just make it.

We know what happens to the ship, which is historically significant. We care about the people on the ship, but not the wealthy investors who made it.

The only stories that matter are about the people trying to survive. Once the characters are established, then the conflicts and resolution matter. If you set up a character, establish what they want, and create conflict, you have the basic building blocks of a story. Your reader or viewer will want to know how they resolve the conflicts. This creates tension and interest.

 

Marketing Stories Should Be About Solving People’s Problems

Titanic could have been a fictional film about an epic rescue. A modern Hollywood version might have featured a dramatic, climactic scene where Jack and Rose escape just as the Titanic sinks to a watery grave. With explosions, a smart-aleck kid, and a dog. And more explosions.

Audiences are wired for happy endings. We want the hero to survive. We want to see the villain get proper comeuppance. We want all of the loose ends to be tied up. We like to release endorphins.

In an ultramodern version, the hero might save the day in a Dodge Hellcat. We’d be okay with that and would even forgive the product placement if it worked for the story.

 

What It Means for Pharma Marketers

If Titanic teaches us anything, it’s that you can find a compelling, relatable story almost anywhere. Great writing, acting, and directing made you care about the people and their problems. You knew exactly what happened with the Titanic voyage, and yet you stuck around for 194 minutes to see how the STORY ended.

In pharma, we are dealing with life and death and health and conflict and resolution and hope and everything else that makes a great story. It’s all right there. From the scientist who toiled in a lab to create a new molecule to the patient with an untreatable disease. The clinical trials and the brave patients with nothing to lose. It’s the doctor willing to try a new drug on a desperate patient. Every step of the process has a dramatic story about people who overcome challenges to reach a goal.

It makes that little pill sitting in the palm of your hand more than just a brand. It highlights will, determination, and effort to bring this pill to market—something of a modern miracle.

Pharma marketers who want to tell a compelling marketing story are often skipping over the really interesting parts of storytelling. We spend so much time talking about the facts that we forget sometimes to talk about what it means to people. Behind every treatment, there are hundreds of amazing human stories that will never be told.

We are fortunate to be in a business where we actually get to help people. The products and solutions that we represent can change lives or even save lives. You are part of a chain of important people who are aligned to get the right treatments in the hands of someone very important. Every patient matters to someone, and we’re part of a treatment that matters deeply to them personally.

We have a responsibility to accurately explain how our drugs work, how they are dosed, and what kinds of side effects patients can expect. We’re very good at fact-based communications. There’s always a need for clear articulation of features and benefits, and we’ll never stop doing that.

But we are in the health-behavior business. We’re in an industry where early diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. We can tell stories that will help motivate people to talk to a healthcare professional, learn about their treatments, and be compliant with their doctors’ recommendations. Facts and figures may work for some patients, but for others, not so much. If straight ol’ facts motivated people, we’d have 100% compliance.

Storytelling is the bridge from understanding to motivation. It’s the missing link between feeling a lump and seeing a doctor. It’s the difference between taking medication as prescribed and taking a drug holiday.

We know great stories and can learn how to be more effective storytellers. But we need to go beyond the label…to dig deeper to show how real people with real problems are being helped by our brands. We don’t even need to create fictional characters. We have patients, caregivers, doctors, researchers right in front of us, ready to tell their story.

Not too long ago, our team had the opportunity to interview the scientists who have dedicated their careers to cure cancer. These are top researchers with multiple degrees, and they could work anywhere in the world. Yet, they have devoted their considerable brain power to looking for a cure to cancer. It was amazing to sit with them and hear their personal stories. These scientists could do almost anything with their careers, yet something deeply personal brought them to the research bench in an attempt to cure cancer.

Every one of those scientists has a fascinating personal story that fuels their professional passion. As readers and viewers, we love stories about dedication, focus, and vision. We devour these “genius who changed the world” stories, yet we rarely articulate them as part of the brand story. These behind-the-scenes stories should be part of the unique brand narrative.

If you love your brand, and you know that you do, find the stories that matter. There are amazing, true stories on both sides of the exam table. Introduce the world to these people and help them tell their stories. If they are alive today because of your brand, let them tell their own story. We will care, we will be motivated, and we will take action.

Great stories have started revolutions and toppled governments. Stories have inspired people to take action, to pursue their dreams, or to just improve their own lives. Storytelling is at the root of our human experience.

Behavior is not static. It can be changed, but we need to give people motivation. Great storytellers know how to create characters, articulate their motivation, and put them into a conflict where they must make a decision.

Health behavior is not static either. We can find the stories that will touch people on an emotional level, engage them, and get them to take action. And that may be something as simple as taking your prescription every day.

It’s time to start telling better stories. Lives depend on it.

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Also posted in Branding, content marketing, Content Strategy, Creativity, Culture, Healthcare Communications | Tagged | 1 Response
Jul23

Curiosity Taught the Cat

6568523“An endless trail of ideas floats in the ether. You will only see them if you are curious.” I read this in The Eternal Pursuit of Unhappiness book all Ogilvy employees know and love. It got me thinking about curiosity—one of David Ogilvy’s eight habits. Is curiosity an important skill to have in the healthcare communications field?

They say curiosity killed the cat, but I believe curiosity taught the cat (plus, don’t cats have nine lives?). From interning at Ogilvy CommonHealth in the summer of 2014, I can see why curiosity is a must skill to have. In the rapidly changing healthcare field, there are so many aspects to be familiar with. For starters, healthcare reform is constantly changing with new laws and regulations. The pharma market is always evolving with new drugs and medications for patients. Also, the aging population is causing shifts in the demand for certain drugs, devices, and medications. There is always something new you have to keep your eye on in this field, so unless you have the curiosity, you are likely to miss current trends in the healthcare field.

Curiosity as a student

Curiosity helps people grow. In college, I’ve learned that curiosity is best practiced by taking chances. Each semester I believe it is important to take a course that is unrelated to a major or minor. It helps students think outside of the box and get a different understanding about various topics. I’ve noticed that the students who take chances like this in college are the ones who build a well-rounded background.

Curiosity at Ogilvy CommonHealth

I believe being curious is important at Ogilvy CommonHealth too. However, instead of just giving my reasoning, I will share the viewpoints of two others here at Ogilvy:

Jamie Fishman, senior account executive in Payer Marketing, believes we can’t be proactive in this evolving market or even provide value to our clients if we are not curious. There is a difference, however, between being proactive and being curious. Jamie states that questioning or looking into what is known is being proactive, while questioning or looking into what is unknown… that is true curiosity. When we research our clients and understand their industry, we are able to be ahead of the game to serve our clients the best. Jamie stays curious by reading about the work she is involved in and sharing articles with others in order to spark their curiosity. It is no surprise that she believes it is an important skill as well.

Jenita McDaniel, EVP director of operations in Payer Marketing, takes the importance of curiosity a step further. “The people that are curious change the world,” she said, “if our ancestors were not curious, we would not even be here.” It goes to show how brilliant minds are curious. In fact, if our ancestors were not curious, would they have taken risks to explore new life? Would they expand their knowledge to explore the world? Jenita also believes great ideas stem from curiosity; it helps us understand our clients and serve them to the best of our ability. Additionally, Jenita went on to say that curiosity is about taking chances, and those who are curious constantly push the envelope.

I’ll end by sharing a few tips I’ve learned from Jamie and Jenita to help you be more curious:

  1. Read. A lot.
  2. Share what you read with others. Including clients!
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Learn (from any opportunity).
  5. Teach.

I’m sure the more these five tips are practiced, the more curious you’ll become, thus achieving greater results, enhancing intellectual growth, and practicing professionalism.

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Also posted in agency life, Blogging, Culture, Education, Healthcare Communications, Work-life | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response
Jul16

“It’s not a tumor!” Cyberchondria and the Diagnoses That Spawn From It

2287994It’s 7 am; I’ve just awoken. My eyes are adjusting and I’m sprawled in my bed. My mind is not coordinated enough to move my body. Man, I am exhausted, I think. How is it only Thursday? My head kinda hurts. Good God I have to pee. I could probably snooze for like fifteen more minutes, if I shower quickly. Seriously, my head hurts. Right in my left temple. I must have slept wrong. I don’t remember hitting my head or anything. I sit up abruptly. Oh Lord now I’m dizzy. I’m dizzy and I have a sharp pain in my temple. Holy crap what if it’s a tumor, or an aneurism. When I did those brain cancer interviews last year they all said they woke up with headaches. This is that exact same situation. Where’s my iPhone? How do you spell meningioma, two “n”s? No, one “n.” Thanks Google. Okay WebMD…signs and symptoms…yup, here it is. Headache: check. Dizziness: check. Weakness in arms and legs: now that you mention it, I can barely hold this phone it feels so heavy. Blurred vision: that one’s probably next. Yup. It’s definitely a meningioma. I should call my dad. Just tell him I love him.

But just as Arnold said, it’s not a tumor. And while that example might be a tad exaggerated, I’ve certainly had this type of half-awake, neurotic, cyberchondria once or twice in my life. Though the above situation was more likely caused by one too many glasses of wine and a refusal to admit to a hangover.

Nevertheless, the concept of self-diagnosis is an ever-growing phenomenon in this digital age. According to a survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, over 35% of Americans in 2012 had gone online to diagnose themselves, and more than a third never confirmed that diagnosis with a doctor. What’s worse: some 30% of self-diagnosed women have admitted to purchasing and consuming medication for their supposed illness, without a consultation. That’s the part that shocks me. Sure, I might convince myself I have a pet-dander allergy, but that does not mean I trust my diagnostic abilities enough to assault my leg up with an EpiPen.

But it does happen. And those working in the healthcare industry appear to be the worst culprits—after all, we live and breathe this stuff; it shouldn’t be hard to tell if we have chronic migraines, or insomnia, or endocarditis, right? Our increased level of knowledge mixed with a splash of arrogance is just enough to convince us that there is little a PCP’s gonna tell us that we don’t already know.

And while the hyperbolic, often terminal, self-diagnoses are more my style, physicians say they are more concerned with the prevalence of under-diagnosis among systematic Googlers—as we all know, convincing oneself that a rash is just a rash, or numbness is just an innocent side effect can have irreparable effects.

Now, I’m a huge proponent of self-education and using today’s technology to our advantage—in fact, I think it sparks productive dialogue when information is brought into the doctor’s office—but as cliché as it sounds, I cannot emphasize enough the need for a professional diagnostic assessment. Trust me; the $15 copay is worth it.

Think of it this way: your doctor is your agency of record, but for some reason, you’ve decided to do your own brand website, aka diagnosis. We all know from AOR experience that your doctor is going to take one look at that diagnosis and say, “Damn, this is a mess; I wish they’d just paid me to do it.”

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Also posted in Digital, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Medical Education, Medicine, Patient Communications, Self-monitoring, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment
May23

The Art of Self-Reflection

reflectionsOne of the many benefits of having my great-grandmother well into my adulthood was the opportunity to learn many tidbits about what was important in life and how to assess and improve character. Of all the gifts she imparted, one in particular really stuck with me, and I have tried to apply her advice daily in both my professional and personal life.

Whenever hearing her great-grandchildren complain about something or someone, she’d say (as she danced at age 96 with an imaginary partner after having a brandy or two), “When you point those fingers, take a good, hard look at them. You have three fingers pointing back at you!

I’m sure it’s a phrase that many of us have heard through the years. The lesson, of course, is to own it, whatever it may be. To grow and learn from our mistakes means investing time to look within, objectively assess situations, and determine “How did I contribute to that?” and “What can I do to make sure it does not happen again?” It’s easier said than done, of course, and it’s always easier to point a finger in another direction. Admitting to one’s mistakes takes quite a bit of courage. But while difficult, self-reflection leads to a very satisfying place, a peaceful place. It assures growth in only the best and most productive way.

So why not apply the same principle in the workplace. If our goal is to find the balance between being client-centric and company-centric, it means not only delivering quality work in a timely fashion and being efficient, but also holding our company principles to heart and ensuring our staff does not burn out in the process. To achieve this in our fast-paced agency world, self-reflection must be an ongoing and open process. It requires each of us to have the hard conversations with ourselves and our colleagues and commit to being part of the solution. It means letting our teammates know that “I know I could have done some things better and this is what I promise to do in the future to ensure success”; or “…this is what I will change in my behavior to help us get to a better place.”

Some things are in our control, others are not. But for those that are, the art of self-reflection and recommitment to change will land us in a good and positive place. If you don’t already do it, give it a try. My guess is it will be infectious and feel good, not to mention result in a truly collaborative, collective effort in the workplace.

So then, what’s your promise?

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May20

Bringing Sexy Back…to Science

disease managementThank God for The Big Bang Theory. They’ve made it cool to be a nerd again.

While traditional brand attributes (efficacy, safety, dosing, etc) will always be of key importance, the last few years have seen a renaissance of scientific enlightenment as physicians across disciplines take a closer look at not only how well a drug works, but why it works.

With the advent of new targeted agents in oncology and virology, mechanism of action quickly went from a dirty little secret buried in the PI to front page news. There are now numerous products that have built their entire value proposition on mechanism of action.

In oncology in particular, where clinical improvement between new and old drugs is often measured in teaspoons, the science behind the brand can often stand as a key differentiator. Avastin—one of the most successful drugs in oncology—created a simple scientific rationale for its use: stop cancer cells from creating new blood vessels and “starve the tumor.” With three simple words they took a complex process of tumor growth and development and created a unique opportunity in oncology that they have effectively owned since its launch in 2004.

Science Sells

The ongoing race toward “scientific innovation” is redefining how we market specialty brands.

  • Have a good pick-up line: In specialty marketing an entirely new nomenclature has spawned, significantly impacting our ability to change physicians’ perceptions of our brand. Simple terms to describe the science have now become synonymous with clinical attributes we could otherwise never say in a branded way. “Targeted” or “selective” now means safe and well-tolerated, “multi-functional” equals efficacious. Understanding how one simple word can affect how physicians view your brand is now key, requiring comprehensive research and knowledge of the market.
  • Be yourself and if that doesn’t work be someone better: No longer content to be classified under traditional terms, products have been using science to create entire “new” drug classes. Avastin rebranded themselves from a VEGF inhibitor to an “anti-angiogenic,” and DDP-4 was redefined as an “incretin degradation inhibitor” in type 2 diabetes.
  • Dress to impress: Where once MOA materials were simply required to be informative, now visually dynamic and digitally distinct tactical initiatives have quickly become a cost of entry for products seeking to separate themselves from the competition.

And while I can say with absolute certainty that an in-depth knowledge of molecular drivers of cancer will not help you talk to girls at parties, understanding the science behind the brands and their competitors is now crucial to opening up new doors for creative exploration, messaging and differentiation in specialty marketing.

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Also posted in Content Strategy, copywriting, Creativity, Data, Efficacy, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Marketing, Medicine, Pharmaceutical, Physician Communications, positioning, Science, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response
Apr15

Mindfulness: An Age-Old Concept in a Bright, Shiny New World

yoga officeIf you asked others to define mindfulness, you’d likely hear a variety of responses, the most common of which might be relating the term to a Buddhist concept. Mindfulness indeed originated thousands of years ago, and for those who conceptualize it this way, a quote from the well-known author Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates the point well. He said, “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” Too esoteric? This is far from the only interpretation of the word.

A more practical and relevant definition for business is simply: awareness. We all know full well the challenges in today’s environment, particularly within the rapidly evolving healthcare space. The digital age isn’t coming, it’s here, but all of its obstacles and opportunities are still being pulsed out over time as we answer some questions and then inevitably raise more. As if our own world isn’t changing quickly enough, that of our clients is right there beside it, equaling if not outpacing the transformation we’re experiencing. One of the keys to all of this—to recognizing the hurdles and also to overcoming them—is mindfulness (yes, that 2,000+ year old practice).

Mindfulness facilitates a more complete view of what’s around us. It compels us to consider our immediate and long-term challenges, and the resources we have available to address them. But it also encourages us to put ourselves in the shoes of our clients, to become more connected to (in other words, aware of) their work climate, and that always makes for better, more creative and insightful work.

But it is more than just awareness. Going back to the more obscure definitions, it’s about being supremely present, the result of which is the ability to recognize beauty and connectedness in the world. The more of that we see, the more impassioned we become and the more driven we are to contribute to it—through our work, but also through our hobbies, our families and our friends.

So let’s make a pact to be more mindful and to reap the rewards, personally and professionally. Become more familiar with and aware of your working environment and that of your clients, work after hours at home and even monitor those devices as needed, and you will be a better, more valuable professional for it. But when the job is done, continue to practice that mindfulness by being fully present and invested in whatever you’re doing after work. It helps us all, even those who love every waking second of their job, to unplug and recharge. There are few things that clients love—and need, especially in today’s healthcare landscape—more than an eager and fresh perspective ready to confront their most formidable challenges.

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Also posted in agency life, Creativity, Health & Wellness, Mental Health, Personal Reflections | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
Mar21

The Future of Wearables at SXSW 2014

SXSW_Logo_2013_BlackBG_CSAs you might have imagined, the conversation around wearables was booming at SXSW this year.  But they weren’t talking about FitBit or Fuelband as you might expect.  They were talking about what comes next, after we’ve quantified our surface vitals.

“I got bored with how many steps I walked every day and quickly got used to the idea that I was never doing enough,” said Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, in a conversation-style session held with Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab.  “The amount we are starting to wear to track our vital signs is crazy, but we are moving beyond vitals very quickly,” Brown went on.

The Affective Computing group at MIT is now taking wearables deeper into ourselves than ever before with conductive skin technologies that can detect stress and, paired with complex algorithms, intuit emotions. In aggregate, Joi explained, this will grant us the ability to curate our lives in ways we couldn’t before.  Historically, our environment and circumstances were akin to a series of accidents and coincidences. The future will be much more intentional.

In the healthcare delivery space, these new technologies will help us treat and understand emotional conditions like anxiety, stress, autism, and others. “Devices like Neumitra will transform the way we think about mental health,” said Scott Stropkay, co-founder of Essential. “Mental health is about brain health, which is analogous to physical health, which can be measured and improved.”

Technologies like Neuma, a bio-sensing watch, help measure stress in real time so we can start to manage it.  Linked to a dashboard and combined with calendars or locations, we can begin to figure out what stresses us out—and what calms us. On a larger scale, we can aggregate that data to help make our communities, societies, and world an altogether less-stressful place.

But there is a moral question to all this measurement and quantification. Sometimes there are evolutionary and societal reasons for the need to deceive ourselves. After a less-than-savory meal at a friend’s house, we are conditioned to say, “dinner was great,” so as not to offend. And we are conditioned to believe it. “What’s interesting,” says Ito, “is that the subconscious always knows, we just don’t always rationalize. In a controlled, unemotional study, we can pick out the liar.”

Emotion- and stress-tracking wearables bring the sub-conscious truth about ourselves to the surface.  And how will these affect things like healthcare?  We are all familiar with the placebo affect, which works both ways. This, in fact, is the basis for the FDA ordering 23andMe, an online genetic testing service that provides ancestry-related genetic reports, to cease providing health-related reports until the FDA works through the implications and figures out how to regulate this new kind of service. “Nine out of 10 cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented. But we spend more money treating than we do preventing,” said Ann Wojcicki, founder of 23andMe. “Everyone makes money when I am sick, but who makes money when I am healthy?”

“Twenty-seven percent of us are wearing some sort of sensor,” explained Dr. Leslie Saxon while speaking on Body Computing. “A new person—from birth until the time they are two—will have more medical record data stored in the cloud than any person who came before them.”

All of this is leading to a new kind of personalized healthcare. The kind of healthcare in which delivery mechanisms happen in real-time and enable informed decision-making.  At an aggregate level, data can aid, inform, and expedite research.

Today’s quantified wearables are a great start, but the future of wearables is contextual, environmental shaping, and behavior changing.

SXSW Series:

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Also posted in Data, Digital, Healthcare Communications, SXSW, Wearable Health Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses
Feb28

How Can Self-monitoring Best Support Behaviour Change?

3907691Some of today’s biggest public health challenges, such as obesity and  heart disease, can be linked to personal lifestyle decisions. Governments have tried tackling these issues with smoking bans and taxes on high-fat foods, with moderate success. However, personal health behaviour change is needed to make a significant, lasting impact. Can self-monitoring of health information be the answer?

Studies in diabetes, hypertension, medication compliance and weight loss have shown that patients who successfully self-monitor their activities and set personal goals enjoy improved health outcomes and better adherence to treatment 1-6. We now have an abundance of apps and wearable technology at our fingertips to comprehensively track numerous aspects of our lifestyle, analyse results and observe improvements over time. These self-monitoring tools can then be easily integrated into social health networks so that we can share experiences, track our progress against that of our peers, and give and receive advice on how to succeed.

It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 health and fitness apps available. But with this bewildering variety of choice, how can we know which ones will encourage lasting behaviour change?

Easy does it

The apps which make the process of data upload as effortless as possible for the end user are the ones most likely to catch on in the long-term. Devices that automatically record data and synchronise it with online analysis programmes in real time provide a seamless transition and are not hampered by general forgetfulness or lack of time.

Keep it simple

Health information needs to be engaging, and simple enough to be universally accessible. The average person is likely to find sorting the data that matters from what doesn’t time-consuming and intellectually daunting—in fact, many patients who have to actively monitor a condition like type II diabetes don’t always fully engage with self-monitoring for these very reasons.7

Be realistic

Establishing aspirational but realistic goals and providing reinforcing feedback can help bring self-monitoring systems to life and make them personally meaningful.  A recent study into self-monitoring to improve diabetes treatment found that the main concerns patients had with the system were disappointment with unmet expectations and difficulty fitting the programme into the demands of daily life. 1

Collaborate

Ideally, fitness or health tracking app developers should collaborate closely with specialist healthcare providers and device makers as well as social scientists who understand how to bring about behaviour change. Such cross-fertilisation could result in truly useful tools that track fitness alongside other health metrics, such as blood sugar levels or medication adherence.

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1.  Barlow J, et al. Self management approaches for people with chronic conditions: a review. Patient Education Counseling 2002;48:177–87.

2.  Benhamou PY. Improving diabetes management with electronic health records and patients’ health records. Diabetes Metab 2011;37(Suppl 4):S53–6.

3.  Dennis EA, et al. Weight gain prevention for college freshmen: comparing two social cognitive theory-based interventions with and without explicit self-regulation training. J Obes 2012;2012:803769.

4.  Parker R, et al. An electronic medication reminder, supported by a monitoring service, to improve medication compliance for elderly people living independently. J Telemed Telecare 2012;18:156–8.

5.  Ralston JD, et al. Patients’ experience with a diabetes support programme based on an interactive electronic medical record: qualitative study. BMJ 2004;328:1159.

6.  Wagner PJ, et al. Personal health records and hypertension control: a randomized trial. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2012;19:626–34.

7.  Choose Control Survey. Choosing to take control in type 2 diabetes. Available at: http://www.diabetes. org.uk/Documents/Reports/Choose_Control_report.pdf (Last accessed May 2013).

Also posted in adherence, Apps, Data, Digital, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Patient Communications, Self-monitoring, Technology, Wearable Health Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Feb18

Taking the Pulse…Tuning In to the New Patient Network

1741356 sA guest blog post from Craig Martin – Chief Executive Officer of Feinstein Kean Healthcare, an Ogilvy & Mather Company

Most of us are far too young to remember the early days of television. What I do recall from my childhood is that three networks owned the airwaves, large numbers of people followed a small number of notable programs, and the screen turned to fuzz at midnight. You made note of the TV Guide schedule, and you adjusted your schedule to the TV shows that interested you. The networks and the stars were in charge.

A lot has changed since then, obviously. There are now countless networks, and seemingly limitless numbers of shows. Reality television has made stars of “ordinary” people. And the digital age has made scheduled programming obsolete—the content follows you and adjusts to your life and device of choice, not the other way around.

Why wax nostalgic about the evolution of broadcast television? Because I believe a similarly dramatic transformation is under way in our field. The old channels and choices are fading to fuzz. A new era is dawning.

For years, healthcare PR relied on a few channels and reliable choices to reach, inform, and market to patients. On behalf of our clients, we used traditional media (earned and paid), events, celebrities and big disease education programs to build awareness and get patients to “talk to their doctors about…”

Today—as more of the burden of choice, comparison, and cost gets shifted to patients, as diseases become more and more categorized via genomic analysis and molecular diagnostics, as medical practice and health become more universally digitized, and physicians and pharma become more responsible for outcomes vs. treatments—the traditional big, broad-channel approaches are becoming less relevant and effective as a means of reaching more and more narrowly defined populations of patients.

These trends are leading to the establishment of entirely new channels and networks, made of up patients identified and aggregated virtually through the sharing of personal medical information and data. In other words, the audience is creating the network, and continually informing the programming through the data they share. Now, rather than casting a wide net via mass media and hoping a narrow audience will be watching, we will have ready-made networks, open 24/7, waiting if not demanding to be engaged. This opens up new frontiers for micro-targeted, real-time communication and measurable engagement, based almost exclusively on digital content and social influence.

Not long before the holidays we learned that Feinstein Kean Healthcare (FKH) and a select group of partners won a million-dollar government grant to develop a “patient-powered research network” for the multiple sclerosis community. This is an exciting development, but not because of the money. This new kind of network represents the leading edge of the transformation I’ve described, and we’re now right at the forefront as well.

In the days and months ahead, we’ll continue to evaluate the pace and progress of change, and work to assure that our thinking and services are aligned with where the world is headed. Naturally, we don’t want to get too far out ahead of the trend, but we must be informed and equipped to lead when the market is ready.

I believe, as this new era unfolds, we will find there are many exciting opportunities ahead for us to engage differently and far more meaningfully with patients.

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Feb13

You Might Not Realize It, But You Can Be Working For The MI6

MI6What interested me most about James Bond’s career, and, most importantly, that of his support staff, is the development and implementation of a unique and highly versatile arsenal of innovative technology. Starting with Bond’s pager in From Russia With Love, followed by that pen-sized-underwater-oxygen-recycling-breather-thing in Thunderball, or the way-ahead-of-its-time GPS tracker in Goldfinger—all these are examples of an unmet need in spymanship being filled by technology: well researched, well developed, well implemented, and well working.

While recently sitting in a conference room at one of our healthcare client’s headquarters, going through scenario after scenario of possible ways technology can minimize barriers to patients’ prescribed treatment regimen adherence, it was Mr. Bond that my mind turned to.

On a scale from zero to life-changing, healthcare is one of the areas where technology can play a crucial role and provide life-impacting value.

I think back to that scene in Casino Royale where Bond drinks the poisoned Vesper Martini and finds himself staggering back to the car to find a solution to his newly acquired ailment. But which vial from the glove compartment should he inject himself with—blue or red? One will cure him on the spot, the other, of course, will immediately kill him. And here is where technology comes in. He takes a blood sample. The results sync up with the poisons directory back at MI6. On the other side of the globe, Bond’s team reviews the reading in real time and points him to the correct vial.

Oh, and unlike the mini-rocket-launcher cigarette from You Only Live Twice or the bagpipe flamethrower from The World Is Not Enough, this blood-sample transmitter and reader are now out in the market, available for purchase.

In the days where Astounding Innovation greets Cost Efficiency over a bottle of Realistic Possibility for Implementation, the internet of things continues to blossom all around us. Your carbon monoxide detector can now know when you started cooking and tell your thermostat to turn down the heat by 6 degrees; or dim your lights when you walk out of the room; or your door can unlock itself when it senses you down the street. Your FitBit, by linking up with your blood-glucose monitor, can adjust your Seamless menu selection and choice of restaurants for the day (unless you run around the block a few times, that is…). You can start your car with a simple wink. Or, write a script, shoot the footage, do all the post-production work, and distribute the content globally—all from the palm of your hand! Sound familiar?

As this intelligent-device-fueled ecosystem continues to expand, more and more possible hooks arise that are able to feed and empower one another. A chain of monitoring devices, all in constant communication, adjusting themselves and providing information before we even know to ask for it, set the stage for a tremendous opportunity for our healthcare clients.

Spanning over all spectrums of monitoring one’s health habits, from improving existing treatment to preventing a need for a possible treatment a few years down the line, we now have an opportunity to help our clients efficiently channel their investments. If it so happens that after years of R&D, clinical trials and FDA reviews, patients neglect to adhere to their prescribed treatment, the years of innovation and investment lead to questionable marginal benefit, at best! The cost compared to eventual benefit comes out to be quite high. By enlisting connected and innovative technology, we can open the door for researchers, physicians and caretakers to finally close that loop on a number of treatment barriers.

As “Agency” people, with passion and insight into the latest tech innovations, as well as equally deep insight and understanding of our clients’ brands, we have an opportunity to guide our clients into this new area of possibility.

We can now pave a highway between our clients’ amazing potential and this new ecosystem.

We are at a unique crossroads where amazing technology is very much within our reach. The only limit, it seems, is our imagination.

Big ideas often come to us on those “regular days”—on commutes back from work, or walks, late evenings, or days at the beach. So too with our clients, the opportunity to introduce that big tech idea for their brand can arise at any moment—during a casual conversation on a drive back from market research, or after a day-long workshop. We should be well versed and ready to fuel inspiration.

The research team back at MI6 doesn’t wait to prototype a glidesuit-equipped-tuxedo until Bond is jumping off a plane to infiltrate a high-profile cocktail party at some off-the-map nuclear power plant. The research is done in advance. And so is the development and testing. Before the next international crisis even has a chance to escalate, the prototype is out of dry cleaning and ready for action.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
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Please allow 24 hours for response.

 

 

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