May29

A Patient is a Virtue

sales reps and docsIn the age of WebMD, Everyday Health, and Facebook, consumers are more informed and involved in their health than ever before.  And with social media infiltrating every aspect of their lives, they are now more vocal than ever.  Patients can – and in most cases are willing to – tell you what you want to know about your brand.  Just ask…and listen.  So why is it that some brands fail to take full advantage of tapping into their own customers for insight, ideas, and even inspiration?

We’ve all heard the phrase “typical pharma ad” and as an industry we are guilty of producing far too much of it.  Sometimes it’s driven by regulatory conservatism.  Often it’s a stubborn client who is afraid to push the envelope, while at other times there just isn’t enough budget to upset the status quo.  So we’re forced to pick up some stock photography, reach into our bag of preapproved claims, slap the all-important “pharma swoosh” on the piece, and call it a day.

But is the work resonating with patients?  Is it even being noticed by patients?  In order to make a connection with patients, the marketing needs to tap into what drives them, what worries them, and what will help them take the desired action.  Put simply, they need to see themselves in the marketing.

Market research and reports can obviously give you broad-stroke generalizations about your audience.  But how can you dive deeper into the psyche of your patients?  There are numerous ways you can do this and they don’t require significant investments:

·         Develop and leverage a standing Patient Advisory Board – Recruit patients to participate in an advisory board…and use it!  This is a great channel for bouncing ideas off patients and hearing first-hand about the challenges they face with their condition every day.  These boards can be conducted virtually (although at least one face-to-face meeting a year helps build camaraderie).  Also, be sure to refresh the participants so that you continually get the latest perspectives.

·         Seek input from stakeholders outside of the Brand Team – The Brand Team can sometimes be the furthest removed from the patient base, as they can get bogged down with sales reports and budget meetings; so try to engage those on the front line.  Sales reps often can provide direct feedback from HCPs and office staff on what they see in patients.  Is there an 800 number for you brand?  If so, speak with the customer service reps who field those calls.  What issues do they hear about most often and what questions are they asked most frequently?

·         Establish a patient eCRM program – A CRM program can be simple or complex – but in order to be useful, it must be trackable.  From that you can see firsthand what content is looked at most often and therefore assumed to be of most relevance.  You can also conduct quick surveys or online polls to get insight about your target.

·         Attend events and conferences – Again, this is another opportunity to hear from those on the front line: sales reps, patients, and HCPs.  You can also see, in one fell swoop, what the competition is doing to market themselves.

Nothing I’ve suggested is earth-shattering or groundbreaking, but I do find that these often get overlooked in favor of more complicated (and costly) research.  I happen to work on a well-established drug that was first-to-market in a category that is now undergoing seismic changes.  We needed to defend our turf from new therapies, new dosing formulations, and new administration devices, and we needed to do it with a limited budget.  “Gaining new patients was going to be increasingly difficult,” we thought, “so let’s at least be sure to hold on to the ones we have.”

So we set out last year to develop a campaign unlike anything this brand has seen in its 20+ years of existence.  We needed to reinvent ourselves while remaining true to our heritage and what kept us successful all these years.  We employed all of the tactics I mentioned above to help us paint a clear and vibrant picture of who our patients – our very lifeline – were.  What we learned was that our old marketing reflected misconceptions about what people with this condition were “supposed” to be like.  In no way did we reflect their vibrancy, defiance, and zest for living.  And because of that, our patients felt like the brand was letting them down.  How could we expect them to be advocates for the brand if we weren’t living up to our end of the deal?

The new campaign has just recently launched, so I can’t tell you yet how successful we’ve been at defending our turf.  But what I can say is that the feedback from patients, sales reps and HCPs alike has been overwhelmingly positive.  It is bold and defiant, and goes beyond the standard “talk to your doctor about…” with a rallying cry that conveys our patients’ inner strength.  In other words, it is a clear reflection of them.

So if your brand feels like it’s stagnating or worse yet, losing relevance, don’t panic.  Put your ear to the ground and listen for the voice of the patient – and then make sure it comes through in the work.

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Also posted in Branding, Creativity, CRM, Efficacy, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
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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May1

Oncologists to Initiate Discussion Around Value

money stethoscopeEarlier this month a new initiative was announced to encourage oncologists to discuss the price and relative value of cancer medicines with their patients. No, this was not driven by executive fiat as part of the ACA, nor is it the brainchild of an insurance carrier. Instead, it comes from the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, or ASCO, the professional organization for oncologists and publisher of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, among other titles.

ASCO has formed working groups that will weigh efficacy, side effects and price to help better define the value of oncology medicines. Initially these groups will look at treatments for advanced lung and prostate cancer and for multiple myeloma, said Richard Schilsky, the group’s chief medical officer.

This comes a little less than a year after Scott Ramsey from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle published a study suggesting that individuals with a cancer diagnosis were 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy compared to a matched control group.

Not unlike hepatitis C, the price of therapy in oncology is a hot topic, as 11 of the 12 cancer drugs approved by the FDA in 2012 were priced at more than $100,000 per year.

To date, ASCO and another group, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), have published treatment guidelines that payers use as the basis for reimbursement coverage of cancer drugs, but these guidelines have been value-agnostic, meaning the price of the drug has had little or nothing to do with strong category recommendations. ASCO’s move could change this.

So how could this impact our clients’ business?

·         Pharma has traditionally had to defend ultra-premium pricing only to payers, who, in many cases, were/are legally obligated to cover the costs, at least for Medicare/Medicaid patients.  Broadening this conversation to include HCPs and patients could affect overall product positioning, messaging and channel strategy.

·         Manufacturers need to rethink how they approach the value section of the AMCP dossier as they submit these to payers as the way payers (public or private) are assessing value will change.  The dossier must also be consistent with value messages to non-payer audiences.

·         With compensation models for oncologists already shifting from “buy and bill” to “pay for quality,” these ASCO value ratings could further aid in the rapid adoption of biosimilars and generic targeted small molecules that will begin hitting the market in the next few years.

·         To the ire of many payers, pharma has been able to mitigate some financial barriers to obtaining therapy through the use of co-pay cards and other assistance programs. If the conversation turns from out-of-pocket costs to “costs to society,” demonstrating meaningful value will be of paramount importance to brands.

·         Dialogue studies in this category suggest sometimes broken dialogue between HCPs, cancer patients, and their caregivers. Layering on a discussion about the value of a drug could add to the confusion. As oncologists experiment with this new value lexicon, it could create an opportunity for brands to take a leadership role in framing the value discussion.

Historically in the US, positioning a drug on “value” has been akin to admitting your brand does not offer a meaningful advantage over existing therapy options. Will this nascent movement result in opportunities for value-based oncology brands? Only time will tell, but in the meantime rethinking how we articulate value is more important than ever.

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Apr29

Are Banner Ads Banner Advertising?

doc writing“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” – John Wanamaker[1]

John Wanamaker was a successful U.S. Postmaster General, as well as an effective merchant who owned many retail stores throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Wanamaker died in 1922, over 90 years ago.[2]

The question that plagued Wanamaker almost 100 years ago still afflicts many marketers today. Some progress has been made as current technology and data platforms, such as Site Catalyst and Google Analytics, help marketers understand who is receiving non-personal promotions (NPP) like email or direct mail. These platforms even help marketers understand who is clicking to a particular website through emails, and further actions taken after clicking through. However, these platforms cannot aid marketers in understanding the reach and actions from all different kinds of channels.

Tactics such as direct mail, email, fax, postcards, etc., are all targeted tactics. A company can deploy all of these tactics to reach a specified audience of physicians through knowing the HCP’s email, address, and name. This same company deploying these tactics may even divide their target audience into different groups through segmentation of a specialty, age, geographic region, past behavior, number of field rep visits, etc. This company can then understand which tactics are most effective for each segment. For example, direct mail can include a vanity URL, which hematologists may take the most action on. Likewise, pulmonologists may have the most website downloads after clicking through an email. These realizations can help a company specify future marketing communication so that HCPs are individually receiving the NPP that is most appropriate for them.

Targeted tactics can help us understand a lot about an audience, but how does a marketer understand promotions such as banners? Or actions taken on a website if the website does not require registration? How does a marketer attribute these non-targeted tactics back to specific physicians in their target audience? Most healthcare brands cannot currently attribute the money spent on banners and website content to specific HCPs. Companies can engage in cookies or fingerprinting software tracking, but this tracking technology can prove costly and comes with a privacy controversy.[3]

While most healthcare brands are not at an advanced tracking level, marketers can estimate which HCPs in their target audience are viewing which banners. This means we can estimate who these banners are reaching, and who is taking further action on these banners.

We can estimate the effects that banner clicks are having on total response rate, and even the effect of banners on script writing.

We calculate this estimated reach attribution through first breaking up the United States into 212 different designated marketing areas (DMAs). With simple banner tracking, we can then look at which DMAs are receiving the highest number of impressions, and which are receiving the lowest. Then, we can look at each DMA at the HCP level. As long as we understand who exists in a brand’s target audience, we will have each HCP’s address, and can then tell which DMA an HCP lives/works in.

Next, we develop a reach threshold to begin to estimate who each non-targeted tactic is reaching. We take the average number of impressions per HCP in a DMA to develop the reach threshold. If the number of impressions in a DMA were over a predetermined amount, then we would assume that all of the physicians in that DMA have seen the banner. Likewise, if the number of impressions in a DMA were below a certain amount, we would estimate that none of the targeted physicians in that particular DMA have seen the banner.

While our understanding of non-targeted tactic reach is only at the estimation level, this can help us increase our understanding of total reached HCPs, and what channels have reached these HCPs. One healthcare drug in particular, before this estimated reach was analyzed, showed a 93.9% reach certainty through targeted tactics. With the estimated reach analysis added, the brand saw that banner impressions increased their overall reach to 99.7%, and 95.6% of HCPs were estimated to have been touched with banner impressions. This brand had invested a big portion of their budget in banner impressions, and they were ecstatic to find out that banners had reached over 95% of their targeted audience.

This idea of estimated reach could be rolled out to several industries beyond healthcare as a way to fully understand the impact of all tactics without extensive tracking methods. After all, the most important thing that marketers want to know is which half of their advertising budget is money well spent.

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Apr17

Multi-Screen Is the New “Mobile First”

screensFor the past few years, “Mobile first!” has been the rally cry of marketers. The idea was to design websites and ads to work on mobile devices first to account for the growing smartphone- and tablet-using audience. But mobile first is already obsolete; if your strategy doesn’t have multiple screens in mind, then your strategy is out-of-date.

Time spent on mobile devices is steadily increasing. Throughout the day, consumers are moving seamlessly back and forth between many devices, from laptops to smartphones to tablets to TVs. In fact, 90% of consumers start a task on one device and finish it on another. Oftentimes consumers are using more than one device at a time, fluidly flipping back and forth between screens.

This complexity in user behavior makes it imperative for marketers to embrace a multi-device strategy, not just a mobile-first one.

You must now develop ads that work across these multiple devices. The ads should seamlessly leverage the characteristics of each device for optimal user experience. Additionally, where consumers used to be focused on one device at a time, now they are on multiple devices simultaneously, so messaging needs to adapt to the multi-device paradigm as well.

Consumer search trends support the need for multi-screen advertising. According to eMarketer, U.S. mobile search ad spending grew 120.8% in 2013, contributing to an overall gain of 122.0% for all mobile ads. Meanwhile, overall desktop ad spending increased just 2.3% last year. Marketers should not only develop ads for multiple platforms, they should optimize their spending across platforms as well.

Ad targeting also becomes paramount in the multi-screen world. Targeting ads to specific devices and operating systems is the most basic method of mobile ad targeting. But much like the desktop environment, user insights can be culled from the type of content consumed on tablets and smartphones. These insights can then be used to further target mobile audiences.

As consumers continue to access content across multiple devices, marketers must continue to grow and change with them to meet their needs no matter which device(s) they are using.

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Apr3

Benefits of Rich Media

The digital pharmaceutical advertising market is proving to be a growing and changing market.  Gradually over the past couple of years, more innovative tactics have become more relevant. Rich media is one tactic that has become more widely accepted not only by pharma companies and advertisers, but also by publishers. Some of you may be asking, what is rich media and why is it becoming more popular?

Rich Media Banner—This is an ad that can contain images and/or video and involves some kind of user interaction which can elicit strong user response. The ads can include multiple levels of content in one placement.

what_is_rich_media_small

 

 

The benefits of using rich media:

Ads Expand—The creative expands when the user interacts with the main image (for example, by clicking or mousing over it). This allows for a larger area to display more robust information, creative artwork and messaging while still being able to include a scrolling ISI and creative assets (videos, clinical data, polls/surveys, etc).

Breaks Through Banner Blindness—Banner blindness is a phenomenon in web usability where visitors to a website consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like information, which can also be called ad blindness or banner noise. Rich media ads are more attention-grabbing and interactive, which helps separate them from being banner-like. Rich media banners also have proven to outperform standard display banners in key metrics such as time spent and interaction rate.

Information—Rich media banners can contain a significant amount of information, especially compared to standard display ads. This information can consist of videos, charts, clinical data, polls/surveys, or multiple creative messages. This allows advertisers to reach a larger target audience while also providing more options for multi-indication brands in one banner ad.

Metrics—The metrics in rich media banners are also greatly improved. Rich media offers standard metrics and also custom metrics. Standard metrics are more commonly known and consist of metrics like total display time, number of expansions, interactive impressions, and interactive rate. Custom metrics are added to components within a rich media banner, and only three different types are used: exits, counters and timer. These custom metrics can actually track a variety of calls to action within a rich media banner, like links within the banner, time spent on certain screens or data, and of course any click-through calls to action. These robust metrics offer a huge advantage over standard display banners which rely heavily on impressions and clicks.

User Experience—Overall user experience is improved through the use of rich media. The creative messaging can be so robust within a rich media banner that a call to action such as a click-through is not required. This actually allows users to stay on the same page where they saw the rich media banner, as opposed to clicking on a non-rich media banner that takes them to an entirely new page.

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Apr1

Knowledge Management

knowledge is powerIgnoring the fact that Australia is a very long way from the UK and that I have an intense fear of spiders, snakes and sharks, I recently took a trip Down Under.  My Aussie mates (actually mostly British ex-pats but all of whom have developed that distinct accent of turning every statement into a question) persuaded me I was due a visit. Admittedly, I hadn’t needed much convincing, with the reminder that the food is delicious, the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines.

My first few days in Sydney were easily occupied with zipping around the city on the superb ferry network, photographing sharks in the impressive aquarium, and seizing the opportunity to swim in the ocean. Having left behind a rather soggy Britain, it was heavenly to be in the sunshine with flip-flops (or “thongs” to our Australia colleagues) on my feet and no need for a warm coat or an umbrella.

Midway through my trip, I had arranged to visit Ogilvy CommonHealth in Sydney to meet with Muriel Wang. Along with David Chapman, Muriel and I form a global team dedicated to the management of knowledge, called Global Knowledge Management.

What is knowledge management and why is it important? Knowledge is a key asset for any organisation, but in our knowledge-intensive world, it is necessary to be able to cut through the noise. Knowledge management is the process of capturing, organising, sharing and effectively using organisational knowledge.

Obviously the starting point for knowledge is data. Whilst data can be easily stored, knowledge, intelligence, learning and wisdom reside in the heads of people. A sustainable knowledge management strategy creates an organisational memory, reducing the loss of know-how.

The value of knowledge management is better and faster decisions; by tapping into the experience of your colleagues around the world, you can avoid their mistakes, apply their solutions and make the right decision the first time. This is evidenced in our support of new business efforts, and as Muriel explained, “This is particularly relevant in Asia Pac, where products often launch later than in the US and Europe. Being able to learn from the experience of our global colleagues helps us to get a leg up on our competition, so to speak.”

In addition to improved decisions from facilitated access to expertise, knowledge management reduces “reinventing the wheel” and prevents loss of knowledge from changes in organisational structure and staff turnover. Client, brand and therapy experience can easily be forgotten if not documented, and our capture of this data into databases is proving invaluable in responding quickly to internal and external requests.

Knowledge management requires a collaborative culture and a shift from “I know” and “knowledge is owned” to “we know” and “knowledge is shared.” Global Knowledge Management meets regularly to share insights from each of our regions, and taking a brief interlude from my trip to Oz to pop into the Sydney office and meet with Muriel will no doubt enhance our global knowledge management collaboration going forward.

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Mar25

SXSW 2014: True Potential of Social Media in Healthcare Is Still Ahead of Us

sxsw logoOver a single-week period, SXSW Interactive hosts hundreds of presentations and panels. What was interesting to note this year, compared to the last few, is that a large percentage of healthcare discussions were now hosted on the stages of the two main convention centers, alongside all major celebrity keynotes.

Among many trends and ideas that were discussed, two concepts mentioned at the “What Happens When Tech and Healthcare Meet” panel were quite memorable. Although these are just mere single examples, each testified to a number of current trends in healthcare.

Concept: DermLink—a social network-based platform that allows patients to digitally share skin conditions with dermatologists and receive real-time responses.

Why this is important: This is especially relevant to those outside major metropolitan areas, where a wait to see the local dermatologist can exceed a few weeks. We’ve all heard success stories of doctors tapping into a broad pool of peers via Twitter and Facebook. But this platform is among the first controlled, social, care-specific environments that could potentially redefine the approach and expectations for doctor-patient interaction.

Bottom line: Regardless of the success of this platform, the mere fact that this platform is gaining momentum is an indicator that the true potential of social media in healthcare is still ahead of us.

Concept: Covered—a platform that helps applicants select the most appropriate health insurance by posing a series of qualifying questions in a standard, conversational language.

Why this is important: Although standard applications have been around for quite some time, we’re starting to see a shift in the way even insurance companies need to structure their communications. Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed a similar shift in practically every single aspect of marketing communication etiquette due to social media. A simple, well-timed response to a tweet can gain greater consumer loyalty than a multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad.

Bottom line: Consumers no longer want to be talked at. They want to be spoken with. This is no longer breaking news…rather, a well-known fact. But at last it is finally beginning to change the insurance companies’ tone of interaction with potential applicants.

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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.

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Mar13

SXSW 2014: Technology and Society

sxsw logoIn Part 2 of his SXSW blog series, Robert Egert recaps some of the SXSW themes that are transforming the way the world looks at technology and society.

THE GREAT MERGE
The Idea: Society and technology are now one.

Ubiquitous mobile access combined with digitization of every aspect of our lives means that what happens online is no longer a reflection of our society but it is society itself.

The implication here is that we need to look at the way we govern the Internet no differently than the way we look at governing our nation. You can’t have a free society without having a free Internet.

One example of how this can play out is apparent in the attempts by autocratic regimes to limit access to the Internet by creating firewalled, state-sponsored Internets. Iran, North Korea and Cuba are just a few countries that have major censorship programs in place, but it is also worth noting that many large nations— most notably China—have pervasive censorship mechanisms in place.

Why this is important: As society continues to migrate social behavior (commercial, interpersonal, financial, etc.) to the digital space, unrestricted access will be a political, social, and commercial issue with substantial impacts to business, human rights, education, and social stability.

SURVEILLANCE AND PRIVACY
The Idea: Big data brings with it the threat of totalitarianism.

Everything we do online leaves an indelible record. Our searches, browsing history, comments, Facebook likes, text messages, tweets, and shopping carts are all recorded, stored, and subject to analysis by companies and scrutiny by governments. Taken together, this data can paint a detailed picture of almost every aspect of our lives.

In a live streaming interview from his embassy refuge in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke of the inherent dangers this data poses to a free society. He suggests that the extensive collection of personal data by the NSA, for example, provides the government the ability to use personal information to control elected officials and by extension is moving toward the establishment of a total surveillance society.

Why this is important: Systems are currently in place to monitor and record our online behavior in painful detail. These systems can be abused. We may be entering a world without the options of privacy or anonymity. This brings significant threats to democratic values and a free society. For those of us in the healthcare industry, we can expect privacy to continue to be a hot button topic, and initiatives that require collection of personal data will require careful consideration for protection and privacy.

ROBOTICS, DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES, AND UNEMPLOYMENT
The Idea: Technology and robotics reduce the need for workers.

When WhatsApp was purchased for $19 billion, they only had about 50 employees. Like many new social and tech businesses, WhatsApp relies on the aggregated social activities of its many users to produce value. But unlike traditional employees, users of apps and social networks are not compensated for their efforts.

Similarly, while manufacturing is on the rise in the US, many of the manufacturing operations that used to be performed by humans are now performed faster and more accurately through robotics.

Another example is self-driving cars. Though still predicted about ten years from widespread commercialization, self-driving cars promise the benefits of safety, speed, and fuel economy, but will also put every taxi, truck, and bus driver out of work forever.

Viewed at a macroeconomic scale, technology produces value and wealth but not necessarily jobs.

Why this is important: Without robust employment, the consumer economy will suffer. We may need to seriously think about implementing models of compensation for user-generated content.

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