Jul2

FDA Social Media Draft Guidance Released June 2014

fdaLeading up to its final guidance to be released in July 2014, the FDA has released draft guidance on how pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers should interact with social media platforms with regard to fair balance and brand messaging. The first part of the recently released recommendations is focused on how companies post advertising and promotional messages to Internet and social media platforms with character space  limitations, such as Twitter and Google Sitelinks. The second part of the recommendations addresses how pharmaceutical and medical device companies may correct independent third-party misinformation about their brands online. While this guidance is recommended and not required, it will be beneficial for pharmaceutical companies to adopt the FDA recommendations going forward.

A brief review of the FDA recommendations is listed below, along with suggestions for practical implementation.

Internet and social media platforms with character space limitations

In its draft guidance Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations—Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices, the FDA outlines its recommendations for promotion of brand and product information using Twitter and other character-space-limited communications, such as Google Sitelinks. The recommendations are direct and seek to include fair balance in each individual communication.

The most salient points are as follows:

  • Reminder communications, which call attention to the name of a product but do not make claims, are exempt from this guidance
  • The full indication must be used when making claims in a communication
  • Benefit information should be accompanied by risk information within each individual communication
  • The content of risk information presented should, at a minimum, include the most serious risks associated with the product
  • A direct link to a more complete discussion of risk information about the product must be included in the communication

While a link to the ISI is adequate in such communications, the FDA further recommends that companies develop landing pages devoted exclusively to the communication of risk information about their products (e.g., www.product.com/risk). The format for the URL and landing page should clearly communicate that the destination will explain the risks associated with the product.

Many social media tools automatically use link shorteners to keep within the character space limitations of the communications. While the FDA does not directly oppose the use of shorteners, it recommends that the resulting URL denote to the user that the landing page contains risk information. (For example, prod.uct/risk clearly communicates that the destination is about risk.) Another solution to character space limitations is for the company to register shorter domain names that can then redirect to its product sites for use in social media.

One challenge that brands with black box warnings will face following this guidance, especially on Twitter, is in fully communicating risk information within a single tweet. For such brands it will be impossible to communicate all risks in the platform-restricted space; therefore, we recommend against using Twitter as a channel to communicate those products’ indications, benefits, and risks.

The FDA guidance also extends to paid search communications, such as Google Sitelinks. The Sitelinks feature displays up to 6 additional destination URLs for users to choose from when a paid search ad is displayed. In complying with the FDA’s draft guidance, most of the additional destination URLs provided by the brand would link to risk information in an attempt at fair balance, which might portray the product as riskier than it actually is. This might deter some companies from using Sitelinks to promote their products.

Correcting third-party misinformation

The second round of draft guidance from the FDA, Internet/Social Media Platforms: Correcting Independent Third-Party Misinformation About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices, seeks to improve the quality of public health information by allowing companies to correct third-party misinformation that they find online about their products. Again, these are recommendations; it is not required that a company respond to such misinformation, regardless of whether it appears on a company’s own forum or on an independent third-party forum or website.

The FDA defines misinformation as positive or negative representations or implications about a company’s product by an independent third party. There are two types of misinformation: a misrepresentation of the label, which a brand will typically want to correct, and an exaggeration of outcomes, which a brand may be tempted to leave uncorrected. The FDA recommends that companies respond to both types of misinformation.

If a company decides to correct misinformation on a third-party site, it should:

  • Provide corrective information and a link to corrective information
  • Post corrective information alongside the misinformation or refer to the misinformation in its response
  • Limit the scope of the corrective information to be specific to the misinformation, and keep it non-promotional
  • Correct positive misinformation as well as negative misinformation
  • Keep records of corrective interactions

The FDA clearly states that it will not hold a company accountable for an independent third party’s subsequent actions or lack thereof after corrective information has been supplied. Further, companies do not have to continue to monitor the third-party site after information has been corrected.

Going forward

While it is not feasible for a company to monitor all third-party sites for misinformation about its products, creating Google alerts (or similar) will help ensure that it is notified when user-generated content (UGC) about its products is trending. A company can then respond appropriately if they desire. However, consideration must be given to the level of time and effort that legal and regulatory teams must spend reviewing and filing the corrections versus the impact smaller third-party sites and individual bloggers can have on public health information.

Alternately, a company can and should focus its attention to more prominent third-party sites, such as WebMD, Wikipedia, and brand-specific hubs, in their quest to correct misinformation. This will maximize the intention of correcting the message while appropriately weighting the effort.

Overall, the draft guidance marks a significant milestone in the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to keep pace with other industries in the social media space where consumers are increasingly seeking out health information. This guidance has been a long time coming, and now pharmaceutical companies can jump into social media knowing they will be FDA compliant when the final guidance is released.

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Jun18

How To Milk a Horse

milkIt’s not very often I find myself marveling at a brand’s attempt to “co-opt” an opportunity or marketing “tie-in” to generate awareness and grow their brand. But I’ve really got to give it to GSK and their brilliant tie-in to California Chrome and the Belmont Stakes.

They did not horse around and brilliantly seized the moment for their Breathe Right brand. June is prime allergy season, so for nasal sufferers and excessive snorers, it was a perfect time to raise brand awareness.

The Belmont Stakes, the annual thoroughbred race in New York, was expected to draw in a larger-than-normal crowd due to the media frenzy around California Chrome’s bid to win the Triple Crown. Stir in a little controversy over whether to allow the nasal strips that California Chrome wears, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful opportunity to jump in and make some noise.

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Enter GSK. They signed on as an official sponsor of both the Belmont Stakes and California Chrome.  They launched a huge PR effort, including publicity shots of the horse’s owners posing with Breathe Right strips, a new TV ad “Bed Time Stakes” featuring a jockey getting a good night’s sleep thanks to his strips, a social media campaign with tons of online chatter, and distribution of 50,000 samples at the actual event.

GSK took advantage of the 3Ms—Media, Momentum and Multichannel—so frankly whether California Chrome won the Triple Crown or not, they turned up a winner. Seriously, how often would anyone be talking this much about nasal strips? That’s how to milk a horse.

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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, Data, Efficacy, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Learning, 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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Also posted in behavior change, Content Strategy, copywriting, Creativity, Data, Efficacy, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Medicine, Pharmaceutical, Physician Communications, positioning, Science, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response
May9

How to Personalize Non-Personal Promotion—From a Medical Education Perspective

doc conferenceBy Sean Hartigan and Eileen Gutschmidt

When you think of Personal Promotion (PP) and Non-Personal Promotion (NPP), traditional channels likely come to mind such as Reps carrying iPads, online and offline media advertising, and marketing campaigns populated with a mix of branded tactics that can include print, digital, telephony, and convention booth engagement. Medical education, on the other, probably isn’t something you would automatically think of.

Yes, there are notable differences in execution between medical marketing and medical education, but the channels used in the former can also be applied to the latter—via unbranded, disease state awareness programs designed to underscore unmet needs in a category, while priming the market for a launch and all of the “traditional” branded promotion mentioned above.

NPP, as expressed through integrated multichannel, is even more critical today for both medical marketing AND medical education. Especially when you consider that it is becoming harder and harder to engage with healthcare provider audiences given evolving market conditions. Many institutions won’t permit Reps or Medical Science Liaisons the opportunity to meet with the physicians in their network for face-to-face dialogue. Fewer physicians have time to attend local and regional meetings, and national congresses. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act requires physicians to invest more time collaborating with each other and their patients to achieve improved outcomes. And many physicians would rather get their information from non-pharma sources and can easily do so online, and on their own time through their mobile devices.

Distill all of this down and it hopefully becomes clear that NPP should play a major role in medical education. But that’s not enough. NPP needs to be informed by customer needs and preferences. It needs to be all about the end user. Not us. Not our clients. Not their brands. The only way to truly connect with busy audiences is to be relevant—and personalized NPP can help!

It all comes down to a few simple steps:

  1. Know your audience: who they are, what they need, what they want, and where they go to get it (ie, research and segmentation)
  2. Provide content  that fits the bill (Content Strategy: aka, audit and assess what you have, make more based on customer interest, need, and where they are in their learning continuum)
  3. Come up with a channel plan (Integrated MCM/Digital and Media Strategy) based on your audiences’ attitudes and behaviors
  4. Launch your program, measure it, share out response data to interested stakeholders (that’s analytics and closed-loop marketing)
  5. Revise and refresh based on response (customer-centric content and channel optimization)

Of course this is a highly simplified broad brushstroke of the approach. But it can be applied to any traditional medical education initiative. And you should tap into our experts at OCHWW in these attendant disciplines to help you. A lot of effort and expertise goes into developing a smart program that drives the kinds of results you and your clients are looking for.

Let’s use an example: Think about your activities at medical congresses. Are you conducting a symposium there? A product theatre? If so, how are you driving targeted audiences to your event?

This is where NPP can help. Build out an ecosystem around your congress engagement, populated with appropriate drivers such as email, direct mail, door drops at local hotels, onsite posters at the congress that trigger augmented reality video clips, onsite geo-fencing alerts that remind congress visitors about your symposia, and so on. You should also consider pull-through tactics post engagement, such as emails that can speak to attendees and non-attendees differently: “Here’s a summary of your congress experience,”  or, “Sorry you missed the symposia—here’s a synopsis of the event.”

Obviously, your event  content and activities should be informed by customer need and feedback. To make the symposium a success it should be about something that healthcare audiences would find useful and want to hear about. And, you should use your ability to connect with audiences at congresses to encourage opt-in for CRM. That is, registration for ongoing and improved customized service based on user needs and wants.

Can you use a KOL to help you get their attention in driver tactics and at the symposia? Do it. Thought-leader driven programs achieve a better success metric. Can you package your one congress meeting into a larger “umbrella program” to help frame an improved value prop and keep their interest over time? Of course you can. It all depends on whether it makes sense for your audience, your brand, and your customer (and maybe your budget).

Interested in learning more? Visit your friendly neighborhood Medical Education staffer and we’d be glad to spend time to understand your brand and customer needs to come up with a plan that works for you. Remember, we’re personalizing NPP, so this isn’t a cut and paste. But we, and our partners in the Relationship Marketing Center of Excellence, can be your glue that brings it all together!

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Also posted in content marketing, Content Strategy, CRM, Customer Relationship Marketing, Healthcare Communications, Medical Education, Multi Channel Marketing, Non-personal Promotion, positioning, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Mar27

What the WWE Taught Me About Persona Development

I grew up watching WWF (now WWE) wrestling. Every Saturday morning I would rush through my morning breakfast with excitement to see all of my larger-than-life heroes. The sights of Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat enthralled me to a point where I was lost in appearance and personality.

Years later the characters are still there—I’m still a fan, and the audience of young kids appears to be stronger than ever. But how did the WWE keep me interested for the last 20 years? I take this thought and apply it to one of my everyday on-the-job questions: why do our targets—doctors—stop engaging with us after years of product loyalty, and what can we do about it?

With the WWE, it started with there being a 1-900 number that I called. I was overly excited as a kid to dial that number and think that Hulk Hogan was actually talking to me. The data/marketing method of the 1-900 number was very simple: associate numeric to selections on your phone to what you prefer and continue marketing to the contact in the way they want to be marketed to.

For example:  the 1-900 number asked me my age group, I choose #1 for 10-15 years old (type of message to give me); for favorite wrestler, I choose #3 for Hulk Hogan (message specific to my needs); and for the key question—if I would allow them to follow up with me via phone with updates—I choose #1 for yes (continued CRM communication).

Just like that, the 1-900 number captured all my information and knew exactly how to speak to me. To the present day, the WWE still sends me information. The below text is a screen shot of my present day phone and is proof that they remember me and my likes. This was a text sent to me just this past Sunday:

AngeloCampano_WWE
They still know I like the Hulk and they know what appeals to the 30-something me.

Clearly they created a digital persona of me and through all the years of technology used what they learned from me 20 years ago to keep my interests (especially the Hulkster).

The hypothesis that is commonly thought of is that we tend to try looking at our targets in the same way, capture what they like and what they know. We as pharma marketers spend a lot of time chasing the doctor when the doctor doesn’t respond to messages we give him or her.

Looking at a standard CRM program (delivered through multi-channel), those who spend some time targeting the office staff for the first communication have 52% more success reaching the doctor in the second and third communication than those who don’t. Much like the WWE did, we need to take the time to understand our audience, who is REALLY making us money, and how.

As marketing continues to evolve, so do the exercises marketers have been doing for decades. Persona development is not exempt from this trend. Traditional persona development is still a powerful tool for marketers to use. However, targeting these personas with traditional means will prove less and less effective and profitable over time. In order to create and leverage digital persona profiles, marketers must rely on technology to both capture Big Data and use it effectively. The goal of which is to get as close to one-to-one marketing as possible by delivering the right content to the correct person at the best time with the channel they prefer.

As a result, tracking and understanding a person’s digital qualities, digital movement, click data, sales funnel and preferences are important considerations for effectively identifying and building outlying digital personas. The WWE was way ahead of its time for this process.

Marketers who can best leverage digital persona development, content personalization, context marketing and Big Data will be best suited to thrive in the near future. The newer the generation, the greater the expectation is for one-on-one marketing. We can all learn a thing or two from the WWE; their model works and isn’t hard to duplicate (we have already come close to mastering it).

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Mar6

The Power of Payer: Prescribe All You Want…We Can Block You!

6808124Remember the Doritos slogan, “Crunch all you want, we’ll make more!”? What a mantra, supply and demand. So simple. So obvious.

Sure, prescriber demand plays a role in how available some drugs are, but at the end of the day health plans and formulary P&T committees within hospitals and large practices make category decisions that effect drug availability for patients and directly impact prescribing behavior. These formulary decisions aren’t made in a vacuum, and they can impact your brands, your marketing goals, and play a huge role in getting a leg up in today’s market.

So what do you know about all this? If your client came to you tomorrow in a competitive market situation—multiple new branded entrants, generic domination, or patient abandonment at the pharmacy—and they couldn’t get a foothold, what would you tell them? How would you break that wall? How do you partner with your clients to fulfill your brand’s true market destiny?

Consider what the payer marketing unit can bring to the table for you and your clients. More and more we hear our clients talk about access challenges broadly, issues with patient co-pays, or prior authorizations and step edits getting in the way of reaching marketing goals. In this changing healthcare environment there is so much to consider that plays a role in prescriber decision making, it goes well beyond the clinical profile of your brand. The smarter we all are regarding the holistic considerations of a brand, the better we can show our value as a marketing partner and offer uniquely impactful solutions to our clients.insurances

This is where the Power of Payer comes in. The payer marketing units at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide want to help provide you with a strong background on health plan and environmental issues to more effectively reach your client’s marketing goals. We are actively working towards open house events for Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide in NJ and NY where we can share information specific to two hot topics:

  • Emerging healthcare models: What are they? How do they hold the keys to success in the market? What should we know about them? Better understand how they act and what these actions mean to our clients and their brands.
  • Payer for newbies: An overview of what a payer is. Who are payer customers and manufacturer clients? How do payer decisions impact overall market sales goals and category usage? Why do we need to consider them when building brand plans and overcoming marketing hurdles?

"Open House” Posting. Part of our “Create a Sign” Series.As part of the Power of Payer open houses, we will also showcase some of the unique work we have done to achieve market success as well as answer any questions you may have about the payer customer, unique challenges your brand may be facing, or just have a fun discussion around environmental trends!

Watch for more information and then mark your calendars to join us for the Power of Payer open houses.

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Also posted in Access, Branding, Clients, Healthcare Communications, Managed Care, Reimbursement | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Feb26

Digital Trends Impacting US Healthcare – Infographic

In the past year, digital innovations have brought about new markets and channels for digital health interactions. This infographic is a visual mapping of the technologies and innovations which are already playing a key role in shaping the future of healthcare and the experiences and journeys which surround it.

Of course the ACA is affecting healthcare coverage, but it is also affecting our healthcare experiences by placing increased importance on and driving more frequent interactions with NPs, PAs, and Pharmacists. Additionally, more priority has shifted to consumers to educate themselves and take responsibility for their own health, especially when combined with our growing culture of social media and trust networks, and recent draft guidance from the FDA. Video remains hot, but the trending has shifted to the length of videos patients are consuming, increasing its relevance to pharmaceutical marketers. Mobile and tablets continue to grow rapidly, with and quantified self driving deeper engagement though apps, not just web. Last, but certainly not least, EHR is poised to enter the next phase of meaningful use, setting the stage for a platform shake-out as certification requirements evolve to provide more and deeper data sets to systems of connected health as providers continue to on-board.

Infographic of important technologies that impact digital healthcare marketing.

Infographic of important technologies that impact digital healthcare marketing.

Technology is evolving fast, and healthcare, believe it or not, is keeping pace and even leading the charge on many fronts. Spurred on by government mandates and initiatives, innovative organizations ranging from Google and Apple to Silicon Valley startups like Practice Fusion are quickly carrying the ball forward, sometimes struggling to keep pace with consumer expectations of today’s technology. It’s these digital healthcare innovations which have set the trends affecting us today, and will carry us forward to tomorrow.

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Also posted in adherence, advertising, Data, Digital, Digital Advertising, Healthcare Communications, Infographics, Managed Care, Media, Medical Education, Multi Channel Marketing, Patient Communications, Physician Communications, Research, Social Media, Strategy, Technology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
Feb21

Choosing Your Road—Transitioning From Bench Science to Specialty Healthcare Communications

road

 

 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by…  – Robert Frost

A common question floating around the brains of many researchers is, “Where do I see myself in the future?” It was one that I faced many times throughout my scientific training. The well-travelled path of continuing in academic research is the one that is traditionally followed. But if that’s not for you, what is it like transitioning away from research and into medical/healthcare communications? After years of being a “bench scientist,” the transition to working in an alternative career can be a little scary. As researchers, it may feel like we’re not prepared for a career outside of what we know, but our training actually provides us with a thorough, deep understanding of science and a lot of transferable skills. These skills, including the abilities to learn quickly, problem-solve, integrate information from varied and disparate sources, and communicate and advocate concepts and ideas, can be assets for both the company we work for and the clients we work with. Additionally, it can be really exciting to work on the “other side” of the biomedical industry—taking highly complex scientific information and communicating it to stakeholders in simple and meaningful ways. When working in research, as a natural function of the job we tend to focus very specifically on a disease state and even on a particular pathway or phenomenon within that disease state. As a member of Science and Health Strategy within Specialty Marketing at Ogilvy CommonHealth, I have had the opportunity to touch many aspects of a product’s lifecycle, including brand identity and development, HCP marketing, direct-to-patient marketing, medical advertising and promotion, and scientific communications. Through this career path, I have been able to expand my scientific expertise from a background in virology and immunology to one that encompasses a wide array of therapeutic areas, including oncology. Additionally, through this career path, I’ve been learning more about the multiple channels of communicating scientific/medical information. If you realize that you want to move away from academia or research but don’t know how you can transition, here are some ways the skills we learned as scientists, combined with our scientific knowledge, can apply in the medical/healthcare communications field: 1. Problem solving: As researchers, at some point or another we’ve had to MacGyver our way into how to do an experiment for the all-consuming paper or thesis. It may have involved trying to trouble-shoot an experiment, figuring out how to borrow and extend reagents because research funding was low, or convincing a company that their product was faulty and they needed to return the thousands of dollars you wasted (not to mention time) because of said product. (Yes this has happened, and it was definitely a “no really, it’s not me, it’s you” and “I need a DeLorean” type of situation). When it comes to alternative careers, problems will still be a fact of life. Your ability to recognize the issue, assess the situation, and come up with a solution will be a great asset. 2. Communicating and advocating concepts and ideas: With the number of times we’ve had to give seminars, poster presentations, write papers and abstracts, and present our data at meetings, you’d think we’d have the communication thing down cold. While we have a lot of experience in the art of communicating our ideas and research to a high-science audience, we often forget that they actually aren’t our only audience. An important piece of advice I received when I was a second-year graduate student was to learn to be able to tell people what you do in just a few sentences. Nobody knows what you do better than you do, so this is the best and sometimes most complicated place to start. In a career in healthcare communications, it’s important to be able to communicate high-science information in an easy-to-understand manner. In this career, you’re writing messages for doctors, nurses, patients, and caregivers, so you have a very varied audience in terms of scientific knowledge and expertise. Don’t underestimate the importance of communication and public speaking skills. 3. Integrating information from disparate sources and critically analyzing data: These two skills (which actually encompass many other skills as well) are particularly important for medical/healthcare communications. In this field, one of your jobs is to pick out useful nuggets of information that can help promote your client’s product and position it appropriately in the market, while remembering that fair balance and ethics are critical. Being able to critically analyze data and integrate information can also be useful when strategically comparing your product against the others in the marketplace. When looking for the right opportunity, make sure you find a position and company whose goals and mission match your skills and passions. It’s also important to look for an employer that values its employees having diverse backgrounds so that it can develop solid teams capable of different points of view with a high degree of depth in their respective fields. Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide is one such company that embraces this, and as a result is able to develop unique solutions based on a strong scientific platform communicated across various channels. As a scientist who previously worked with other scientists, it’s been an incredible learning and working experience to be able to function on teams comprised of people of all different backgrounds—from art to copy to project management—and converge all of our talents to provide our clients with marketing, advertising and strategic solutions that are unique and smart. Knowing yourself and what you can offer are the first steps to choosing a path that is beyond the traditional…don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled. CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION: Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com. Please allow 24 hours for response.

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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:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

 

 

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