Do we need a healthcare awards show?

Health_AwardsWith all but one or two award shows done and dusted for the year, I can honestly say that I have been delighted to see the standard of creativity in healthcare grow from strength to strength. It’s been inspiring, but at the same time it’s been frustrating.

Recently I judged at one of the major healthcare award shows along with some of the industry’s best—people I respect deeply.

We had some interesting conversations around a few of the entries. The main discussion point being, is this really health?

Saving dogs, a hashtag for mums about how amazing their child is, helping hungry people or recruiting medical staff for the armed forces—for me seems broader than health or not even health at all.

We did discuss the fact that it lifted the game in terms of thinking and execution, but it was acting as a guide stick of where we need to be rather than being a true health entry.

But do these types of entries make the interactive visual aid that has been under the red pen of medical advisors feel boring? Does it make the print ad idea that has made it through the treacherous journey of a pharmaceutical marketing department and research group feel flat? Does it make the medical education program that the regulatory body has scrutinised to the inch of its life look dull?
The answer is yes.

There is no place for pharmaceutical work in a current healthcare awards show. If it isn’t bringing you on the brink of tears or changing the world as we know it, it won’t get a real look in. It will be blindsided.

So should we have a healthcare awards show? Why not simply have a health category in the mainstream shows?

Think we know the answer to that one.

The bigger question is (and part of the reason why award shows were there in the first place), how are we going to lift pharmaceutical communications to a better standard? How are we going to inspire true healthcare agencies that live and breathe health every day?

I believe they deserve to be judged in a very different way.
The idea and great execution, without a doubt should be there. But pharmaceutical communications goes deeper than that. It’s the strategy that creatively and intelligently weaves its way through the minefield of regulations and treatment indications. The medical writing that’s taken highly scientific information and made it code-compliant yet highly persuasive to a cynical physician.

So with all this in mind, I believe we do need an awards show for healthcare, but it has to be very different from the shows we currently have. They are mostly celebrating work that’s for the good of man (or animal) kind and I believe you could tack anything to that and call it health.

Pharma is a weird and wonderful world and a very specialised one, so when it comes to judging creativity, should it not be seen through a slightly different lens?

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Infographic: Smartphone Use Among Physicians

In my first of a series of infographics on Digital Health, I look at smartphone use as a metric of digital acceptance and adoption among physicians. Like us, physicians are unquestionably connected through their smartphones, and are conditioned to receive digital content. The newest generation of physicians entering the field are digital natives, and do not know a world without the Internet or constant connectivity. These physicians will play a huge role in shaping the future of digital health. The key will be to understand how and when to best reach them, and those are topics we’ll cover in future posts.

Smartphones and the future of Healthcare

This article was originally posted on Ivan Ruiz Graphic & Web Design.

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Mobile in Healthcare: The Future?

Mobile Healthcare Blog ImageIn the past few years, mobile technology has changed the way consumers interact with their service providers. Whether ordering a cab to one’s exact location within minutes or getting groceries delivered in a matter of hours, there seems to be an app for everything. The healthcare industry is no exception to this trend. Mobile health data helps patients, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies in new and innovative ways.

Mobile technology is changing the way doctors and patients interact with both the healthcare system and with one another. The fitness wearables trend has put the power of transforming one’s health and body into the hands of the consumer. People use wearables and other mobile devices to get constant data feedback on their heart rate, steps, calories burned, etc. Many of these apps then organize and share this information in an easy-to-understand way, allowing consumers to make better decisions about their health. Patients can also use new apps, such as ZocDoc, which provide up-to-date appointment availability, enabling users to schedule visits with doctors as quickly and conveniently as possible. In fact, even more specific apps exist, such as Castlight, which compares prices of MRIs and other tests to find the most affordable options in a given location.1

Healthcare professionals also use a number of different apps to improve patient care and treatment. Indeed, there are entire sections of Apple’s App Store devoted to apps for doctors.2 Perhaps one of the most useful features in many of these apps is the ability to look up information right at the patient’s bedside. Quickly searching for certain symptoms can save crucial time for both the doctor and patient and may facilitate a more accurate diagnosis. Moreover, certain apps will soon offer on-the-go monitoring functionality, providing live feeds of patients’ vitals right to their doctors’ mobile devices. This continuous supply of information can optimize patient care and improve the healthcare system on a wider scale.

These mobile technologies are not just changing the way healthcare works in developed countries. Mobile has been incredibly helpful in transforming and improving the healthcare systems of many third world countries. This technology helps serve underprivileged societies by “addressing challenges such as reducing material and infant mortality rates, combatting infectious disease, creating awareness of HIV and delivering nutritional health and treatment for a variety of health conditions remotely.”3 CliniPAK360 is one app that has transformed treatment in Africa. The app works by allowing healthcare workers to input symptoms and information about a patient, which is then used to analyze and diagnose serious conditions. Other hospitals in Africa are using phones or tablets with preloaded medical information, which can be critical for saving time and effort in diagnosing and treating patients.

Mobile is also changing the way that healthcare marketers target consumers. Instead of simply “pushing pills,” companies now make their brands interactive and interesting to consumers, helping to change their brand image. Mobile apps help patients track their own health and progress and supply pharma companies with more data to effectively target consumers. Merck created MerckEngage, which provides health tracking services and has over 100,000 users from whom Merck can collect new insights and information. Geisinger Health System also launched an app on a small scale that studied “metrics like patient acceptance and treatment adherence to decide which solutions to these issues could be deployed on a broader scale” based on data they received from the app. Additionally, mobile apps can also help with medicine adherence by understanding which patients do not follow their prescription instructions and targeting them with more precise reminders. Pharma companies can leverage this data revolution to obtain the most accurate and useful marketing information yet.4

I have seen this mobile technology in my short time here at Ogilvy CommonHealth. In the past few weeks, I have helped work on an app which tracks a user’s sleep habits through either manual input or syncing up with a wearable device like Jawbone or Fitbit. This app is mutually beneficial as it helps the owners collect data on sleep habits nationwide, and helps users achieve greater awareness of their sleeping behaviors.

The central theme among all of these healthcare apps is optimization, data collection, and a better understanding of disease perception. Large databases of patient and consumer information now exist, which can be analyzed to streamline and improve patient experience, outcome, and overall health.5 It remains unclear how far these apps can take us, or if a piece of technology will ever be as good as a doctor’s intuition, but the continuing innovations provide a glimpse into the future of healthcare.

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Immunotherapy: Has the Answer to Cancer Been Inside Us All Along?

Immunology Blog Image EDThis year over 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and nearly 600,000 people will die from the disease. That’s over 1600 people each day. The need for innovative therapeutic approaches to treat cancer has never been higher. To help fight the tumor, oncologists are literally looking within at new immunotherapeutic approaches aimed at unleashing the body’s own natural defenses.

The idea of immunotherapy isn’t a new one. Since the first studies of antibodies began in 1891, researchers have continued to investigate the potential of the immune system. But the idea held little more than promise.

But all that has changed.

Numerous breakthrough advancements in immunotherapy, with unprecedented results, have propelled the entire class forward. At this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Society of Oncology (ASCO), immunotherapy took front and center. Thousands upon thousands of oncologists crammed the educational sessions for just a glimpse of some of the new data being presented, CNN ran headline news stories from the congress, and even patients are aware and asking their physicians about the new therapies being researched.

Across the board, the pharmaceutical industry has started to mobilize behind the potential of immunotherapy unlike anything else seen before. Most of the major pharmaceutical companies already have one or more new drug candidates in development—and if they don’t, they are aggressively exploring opportunities to catch up.

Over 800 Clinical Trials With Immunotherapy Products
At present there are 844 ongoing or completed clinical trials with immunotherapy drugs across a wide range of tumor types. These trials include some of the most challenging cancers associated with the worst prognoses, like lung, stomach, brain, and melanoma. And new trials with new products and new regimens are added almost daily.

$35 Billion in Projected Sales
Analysts believe that annual sales for immunotherapy products in oncology will reach $35 billion a year.

60% of Cancers Will be Treated With Immunotherapy

Researchers believe that immunotherapy may become the dominant form of treatment in oncology, with nearly two out of every three cancer patients receiving some form of immuno-based therapy within the next decade.

While these numbers are staggering, the greatest benefit may be for the patients diagnosed with cancer. The early results from the emerging next-generation immunotherapy agents have rightfully captured the hopes of both patients and oncologists. With continued research and a little luck, these treatments may provide more than a treatment for a cancer, they may offer a cure.

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The Next Phase of Pharmaceutical Value Propositions Needs to Include the Real Meaning of Synergy

Synergy Blog ImageExpress Scripts recently issued a report on drug spending that made some headlines in the business press.[1,2] This compelling report shows that, from the perspective of a pharmacy benefit manager (and its pharmacy claims database), evidence confirms the trends of increased drug spending, particularly in the subset of patients that consumes at least $100,000 worth of drugs annually:

• The population of patients that takes at least $100,000 worth of drugs has almost tripled from 2013 to 2014
• Compounded drugs were the 3rd highest driver of the trend, behind HCV antivirals and oncolytics
• 9 out of 10 patients with drug costs over $50,0000 used specialty medications
• Men and baby boomers (those aged 51-70) make up the majority of those with high drug costs
• Comorbidities and polypharmacy were prevalent among patients with high drug costs

Glenn Stettin, MD, the SVP of Clinical, Research, and New Solutions, outlines in this report implications and recommendations, most of which are feasible for a PBM to consider:

• Eliminate wasteful spending and improve medication adherence
• Manage specialty and traditional medications together
• Pioneer new approaches in cancer care that both offers patient access and sustains payer affordability

While these are important recommendations, there is an opportunity for pharmaceutical manufacturers to consider extending and enhancing the value propositions of their drugs, and it relates to the “comorbidities and polypharmacy” finding in this report, which is pretty remarkable. The report shows that:

• Among patients whose drug costs reached $100,000, more than one-third were treated for more than 10 conditions
• More than 60% were taking more than 10 medications
• One in four patients had prescriptions from at least 4 different prescribers
• More than half of patients with $100,000 in drug costs were prescribed medications by physicians from at least 4 difference specialty areas

Now, as we read daily in the business press, the drug industry is facing pushback about its pricing of newer agents (specifically HCV antivirals and oncolytics). This resistance from customers is normal, and has taken various forms of stricter precertifications and/or formulary requirements.[3] Recently, legal patent challenges have surfaced; in some countries, various advocates are asking that patents on drugs be voided, so that generic competitors can appear earlier.[4] Nonetheless, evolving industry forces, such as comparative effectiveness research, constrained health care budgets of some payers, and new competitors have started to create a new equilibrium between sellers and buyers, and these forces are helping to more quickly vet winners and losers. It is encouraging to see the manufacturers (particularly of HCV and cancer drugs) refine the value propositions of their drugs, which now include cures for some patients.[3]

But disease is multifactorial (and, as the ESI report shows, multiple diseases are, too), and treatments often need multiple approaches. Manufacturers may need to extend the current value proposition of “one drug that treats one disease at one time” and add it to the complicated heath care mix that includes other variables, for example:

• Combination therapies (with other drugs, including competitors and/or generics, and with other modalities such as devices, diet, surgery, etc.)
• Timing or sequence of treatments (ie, phase of the disease)
• All of the factors in “care coordination” (ie, different physicians, different specialties, different settings)

In other words, manufacturers need to demonstrate the synergy produced by their drugs. “Synergy” is often misused, but I like the Merriam-Webster definition of synergy as “a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts).”[5] Certainly some treatment guidelines, pathways, and medical policies attempt to address these multiple variables in health care. But manufacturers can bring their significant credibility in clinical research and patient experience to identify, define, and demonstrate the specific opportunities that optimize their drugs’ performance. They are best-suited to do so, and the customers are receptive to that type of message. (Note: as this heads to posting, 2 manufacturers are reported to have taken this approach and are studying their oncology drugs in combination.[6])

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1. Super Spending: US trends in high-cost medication use. May 2015. http://lab.express-scripts.com/insights/drug-options/super-spending-US-trends-in-high-cost-medication-use. Accessed May 19, 2015.

2. Growth of patients with $50K annual drug tabs skyrockets. Fierce HealthFinance. May 17, 2015. http://www.fiercehealthfinance.com/story/growth-patients-50k-annual-drug-tabs-skyrockets/2015-05-17). Accessed May 19, 2015.

3. Gilead’s $1,000 Pill Is Hard for States to Swallow. The Wall Street Journal. April 8, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/gileads-1-000-hep-c-pill-is-hard-for-states-to-swallow-1428525426. Accessed May 21, 2015.

4. High Cost of Sovaldi Hepatitis C Drug Prompts a Call to Void Its Patents. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/business/high-cost-of-hepatitis-c-drug-prompts-a-call-to-void-its-patents.html. Accessed May 20, 2015.

5. Merriam-Webster Online. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/synergy. Accessed May 21, 2015.

6. AstraZeneca and Lilly to test new cancer drug combination. Reuters. May 29, 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/29/us-astrazeneca-eli-lilly-cancer-idUSKBN0OE0HU20150529. Accessed May 29, 2015.

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At Face Value

At Face Value ImageThe recent 60 Minutes episode on the “eye popping” cost of cancer drugs painted pharmaceutical manufacturers and community oncologists as greedy scoundrels only interested in making huge profits at the expense of desperate cancer patients.

Reporter Lesley Stahl keyed in on a common target in the debate over rising healthcare costs—drug price, and a new term being used by oncologists: “financial toxicity.”  The program singled out ziv-aflibercept (Sanofi-Aventis) as a high-priced agent for metastatic colorectal cancer that cut its price in half only after three doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering wrote a negative op-ed article in the New York Times suggesting that manufacturers determine drug prices similar to how one shops in a Turkish bizarre.

To emphasize the industry’s greed, the producers highlighted imatinib (Novartis), and although they acknowledged it was indeed a true advance in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia when it was approved, they chose to focus only on how the price has more than tripled over the past decade despite the availability of several newer, more effective treatment options.

Media coverage like this, along with ongoing policy discussions, continue to focus on whether the cost of new cancer therapies is putting urgently needed, life-saving therapy out of the reach of patients.

The Personal Side

Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide supports a number of organizations, including a number focused on cancer and oncology patients. One such nonprofit is the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), an organization founded in 1953 and dedicated to harnessing the power of the body’s own immune system to conquer cancer. Through their efforts, and the efforts of other institutions like them, a promising new class of therapy called immune-oncology (IO) has emerged.

Think about that—over six decades of research, funding, clinical trials, and education has led to some of today’s most promising IO agents. I imagine there are a lot of lost bets along the way; despite the millions of dollars that go into the research and development of new cancer treatments, only 13% of all compounds in development are ever approved for use in patients.1

But through the perseverance, commitment and investment of many, including the pharmaceutical manufacturers, what today is a reality would not have been possible.

I had the opportunity to attend CRI’s annual event and had the pleasure of meeting many post doc fellows and researchers, and I can assure you the value they saw in their work was not the profit their research would have for their companies, but the life-saving impact it would have for patients urgently awaiting new treatments.

One such person I met at the CRI event was “Sue,” a young woman recently married and living with a rare form of cancer (angiosarcoma) diagnosed in less than 300 people per year. She told me about how appreciative she was of the funding from CRI, manufacturers, and industry to the work she was doing and the hope that she’ll one day play a role in helping cure people like herself living with a deadly form of cancer.

Which made me think… If manufacturers and nonprofit organizations like CRI did not sustain the commitment and investment (in the billions) in search of new therapies, including areas of rare disease, what would become of patients like Sue, without the combined efforts and commitment of these institutions?

The Flip Side

So today, patients are being asked to absorb a larger portion of their prescription costs as a result of more aggressive payer cost management and growing pressure on healthcare budgets overall.

However, it’s important to recognize the overall savings to the system cannot be recognized in terms of savings for a patient individually. And the true value of cancer medicines goes well beyond the cost of a particular drug.

R&D of novel treatments has the potential to not only help patients today, but also provide longer-term value by investing in therapies for tomorrow. By limiting our view to a short-term cost savings approach, the potential to develop new, innovative treatment approaches, like IO, may never occur.

So when considering the price of drugs, remember this reflects the cost and risk of medicine development, the complexity inherent in treating cancer, as well as value to the patient, the healthcare system, and to society. So don’t take price at face value!

The Rest of the Story

So while the producers of 60 Minutes focused solely on the “devastating” side effect of cancer (the bill), a far worse side effect would be if manufacturers chose to cut the amount (billions) they now invest at risk to commercialize new therapies. This would be especially detrimental in rare disease areas like angiosarcoma, where the investment will outweigh the profit—and ultimately the patient would have the most to lose.

Through an environment and policy framework incentivizing and rewarding research, a healthy competitive environment will pave the way for new advances so desperately needed, and everyone benefits.

One thing is for certain, the path forward should focus on continued (albeit targeted) investments, improving access to these important oncolytic advances, development of biosimilars, and for crying out loud, doing a better job communicating the value proposition (aka, demonstrate product value) of emerging therapies to providers, payers AND patients.

Reference: 1. DiMasi A, Reichert JM, Feldman L, Malins A. Clinical approval success rates for investigational cancer drugs. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2013;9(13):329-335.

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“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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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, Marketing, Multi Channel Marketing, Non-personal Promotion, positioning, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let the Sunshine (Act) In

5116469For many of us in the healthcare industry, the advent of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act has loomed large and ominous. The mere mention conjures up visions of significant changes in the way we work with healthcare providers (HCPs), in addition to endless data collection and reporting. On March 31, 2014, healthcare manufacturers are required to submit their first annual federal reports; these reports will include data captured from August 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013. By September 30, 2014, CMS will publically disclose the information on their website. This regulation is associated with the Affordable Care Act, and as we have come to learn, there may be changes, revisions, or postponements to current guidance on reporting and timing of data review and corrections. Nevertheless, the industry needs to be prepared and many of our clients have been adapting for some time.

So to date, do we really know how this regulation will transform our corner of the healthcare geography? Are we prepared to adapt and innovate?

From a medical education and scientific publication perspective, we have already seen substantial changes in the way our clients collaborate with HCPs.  For example, in December of 2013, GSK announced that the company will begin a process that will effectively stop direct payments to HCPs for speaking engagements and for attendance at medical conferences. To fill this gap, it appears the company may expand its focus on developing multichannel capability to support the dissemination of information about its products and relevant disease states to healthcare professionals.

The effects of the Sunshine Act are also noticeable in the scientific publication realm. Due to the transparency requirements, academic research institutions are once again modifying their guidelines and tightening their restrictions on working with industry on clinical trials and subsequent data publication to avoid the perception of and potential for conflicts of interest. These restrictions also pertain to the development of disease-state articles that update standards of care and provide best practice approaches for HCPs and allied health professionals.

Clearly the Sunshine Act is meant to shine the light of transparency and public disclosure. But it also has the potential to hamper scientific exchange, which is the lifeblood of effective medical communications.

How do we as an industry respond? My vote is to adapt along with our clients and lead and encourage the innovation and continued delivery of robust scientific exchange. How will you respond?

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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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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