I attended the J.P. Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference a few weeks ago. Think of it as the CEO version of SXSW for all things big pharma, biotech, health insurance, health tech and large healthcare providers. In four days you drink a fire hose of 30-minute reports from CEOs and their CFOs that together paint a detailed portrait of the financial and scientific outlook of the industry. (i.e., many “forward-looking statements.”)
Mar 18, 2015
Feb 9, 2015
“The home is ultimately going to be the major site of care for all but the sickest patients.”
Essentially, he’s saying that we will move from the traditional office-centric model to a new approach using technology like e-visits, e-connectivity, remote patient monitoring and smart phone apps to support home-based healthcare. Technology will be the backbone of patient care in a world in which more people are covered by health insurance and there is a shrinking population of primary care physicians
Technology and Patient Empowerment
Halvorson’s remarks suggest that the trends we’re seeing in patient empowerment, like The Quantified Self and websites like Patients Like Me, are all part of a future in which we won’t spend time in a hospital unless we are really sick. And we may actually be spending less time in a doctor’s office, too.
This brings up many questions. What does this mean for prevention? For treatment? How do we use technology to enable people to live healthier lives so that they don’t even need to use the healthcare system? And, ultimately, when we do need the healthcare system, how do we support the home environment to provide for effective treatment?
And what role will pharma play in an integrated healthcare delivery model?
The New Reality for Pharma
This comes back to a theme that I’ve talked about in the past. There is an important role for pharma in this new reality, but it means a change in identity from product manufacturer to healthcare services. Pharma has an opportunity to play a larger role in health services that enhance the value of the products it already provides.
Examples of Products + Services
For example, Google’s basic product, online advertising, provides most of its revenue. But they’ve surrounded it with all kinds of free and interesting analytical, coaching and survey tools. Google offers many of these services for free, like Google Analytics. These aren’t simple “freemium” products, however. They are serious tools. But Google knows that offering them for free enables adoption by the very people they want as customers, thus enhancing the value of their core business.
Brokerage firms make their money on investment products and trading. But they often offer free advisory services and retirement counseling to help clients build retirement models.
Banks are another example. I had a meeting a few weeks ago with a banker who was an also expert in health insurance plans. He had been hired specifically to advise the bank’s clients on innovative health insurance plans and models – advice that I would have had to pay for had I gone to a consultant. But the bank felt this was a service that they should offer their customers, wrapped around the core banking products where they make most of their money.
Dec 19, 2014
In the last blog post, I covered the first two Cs of Customer-Centric Marketing for pharma, Commitment and Courage. We need to make a Commitment to building a data and insight culture. This begins to build the foundation of customer understanding. But as we soon discover, not everyone appreciates this level of transparency, even in your own company. We need Courage to counter the various hurdles and vested interests that stand in the way of an open and transparent marketing culture.
The next step in building customer-centric marketing is to build the technology platform to integrate every customer touch point and marketing tactic. The project involves integrating every sales and marketing tactics into a Relationship Marketing (RM) platform. We call it “RM-enabling” each tactic. This is hard work and requires an investment in new Capabilities.
The job of RM-enabling every tactic to bring customer data and insight back to a centralized database is a simple idea to articulate but it’s complex to execute.
Moving to outside-in, customer-centric marketing will need new RM capabilities. Capabilities is the third C.
Seldom are marketing organizations or traditional agencies equipped to RM-enable every tactic to capture that outside-in insight, and they will need to develop or hire new capabilities to do it.
Dec 9, 2014
I recently participated in the Digital Pharma East conference in Philadelphia. At this annual event, 200 to 300 pharma marketers and their agencies gather to talk about digital pharma and trade important questions. Questions like, what’s the next big thing around the corner? What should our priorities be? Is anyone doing anything interesting or effective?
Half of the attendees are new to digital marketing and were sent by their boss to learn, the other half are experienced digital marketers looking to commiserate once a year with colleagues on how challenging it is to do marketing in a regulated industry!
Bringing the Outside In
I was part of a panel that addressed customer-centricity. I called my introductory talk “Bringing the Outside In.” I discussed moving pharma from inside-out thinking to outside-in thinking. This means bringing the customer into every aspect of our business. This will impact decision-making, define success, affect what user-centered creativity looks like, and influence what it means to develop relevant content. Simply put, it’s about making the customer – physicians and patients – the central focus of all that we do.
Oct 28, 2014
The list of leading consumer electronics and telecom companies that have embraced digital health this year are all household brands: Apple, Qualcomm, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Verizon and AT&T. Funded startups in the mobile health sector number in the hundreds.
We’re seeing a phenomenon in which the tech industry, specifically tech entrepreneurs, are spearheading health innovation, replacing the traditional players like biotech, pharma and medical device companies. And pharma seems to be acquiescing to these newcomers, despite the fact that there is no other industry player as intrinsically linked to both innovation and the delivery of healthcare as pharma.
Health tech leadership evolving
Pharma has always been a health tech player. But in just the last few months as health tech has been redefined as digital, it’s become blatantly obvious that health technology leadership is now in the hands of big brand consumer electronics companies. And while the focus of companies like Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung has initially been the largely unregulated health and wellness sector, there’s nothing inherently limiting them from moving to the clinical side.
Oct 14, 2014
Dr. Oz and celebrity doctors like him have stirred up the medical community. Regardless of what you think about the accuracy of Dr. Oz’s claims and advice, he has created a huge audience of four million viewers who look to him for medical, health and nutrition advice.
While I don’t have the clinical background to judge the truthfulness of Dr. Oz’s advice, I do know that he’s leveraging media and technology in a very fresh and powerful way to enable and support patient empowerment. His platform puts medical and health information into the hands of millions of consumers. Dr. Oz’s approach is filling an unmet need in the medical community: helping patients to truly learn and understand their health.
The Perfect Storm
It really is a perfect storm of trend, technology and media. Patients really want to understand how to live healthier, and cable television and digital media and apps have made access to fresh content cheap, convenient and ubiquitous. But this shift has upset the natural order of traditional patient-doctor relationships.
Physicians working in the traditional health care system are often overburdened and don’t really have the bandwidth to create new ways of doing things. So along comes a physician, Dr. Oz, who is able to break down health, healthcare and medicine in very simple ways that make it accessible to the population – and consumers are embracing that. The magic of Dr. Oz’s approach is that it’s engaging, accessible, simple and motivating.
What can we learn from Dr. Oz?
While there has been negative press about Dr. Oz’s endorsements of weight-loss products, there are people, particularly those who may not have a primary care physician, who use his advice to make decisions about their health. So before we attempt to silence or disparage him, I think it is better for us to look at what Dr. Oz is doing right and what we can learn from his success, especially at the physician level. What can physicians learn from Dr. Oz’s simple, clear explanations of what’s happening in the body, and how can they incorporate that into their patient relationships?
The patient empowerment movement isn’t going away, and we shouldn’t want it to, so it is important for physicians to embrace the patient’s willingness to learn and understand medicine and how it affects their bodies.
Sep 30, 2014
A recent conversation with a friend in the pharma industry validated my thoughts and concerns about the systemic challenges that pharma is facing. The pivotal insight came from my friend’s comment that he wants his next job to be “not just about pills,” but a job that takes on a broader role in healthcare, one that’s more focused on patient outcomes.
This personal revelation was a bit surprising given the fact that my friend’s entire career has been pharma marketing. Promoting drugs is his area of expertise. So why did it take a career “transition” phase to bring about this personal commitment to the need to broaden pharma’s mandate?
Why not innovation?
The challenges and obstacles that senior-level pharma executives face are extraordinary, especially when it comes to innovation and moving the industry forward. Pressure from Wall Street, business partners and investors who are focused on revenue growth and short-term profitability makes it incredibly difficult for top executives to think outside the box or consider what’s next for the industry or their company.
Every day, pharmaceutical companies large and small are managed to meet performance and revenue expectations. My friend observed first hand how even the long-term planning process (5 to 10 year horizon) doesn’t give senior executives the flexibility to discover and engage in innovative opportunities that might allow them to consider new offerings or business models.
Sep 17, 2014
A recent report from ZS Associates affirms a decade-long decline in pharmaceutical rep access to physicians. The reasons are well known: doctors have busier schedules, they’re joining large practices or hospitals with “no-see” policies that prevent reps from coming in, and in many cases doctors simply don’t think it’s worth seeing reps.
Although physicians don’t have time for reps, they do need their content. It’s just that now they would rather get it through digital channels.
There has been an evolution in the role of reps from someone who delivers a promotional reminder to someone who is more experienced and savvy and who serves as an account executive helping to provide doctors with the resources and content they need and want.
It’s no longer just an evolution
But what was once a gradual change is now accelerating. According to ZS, in 2008, 23% of doctors put restrictions on reps; now it’s 49%. Basically, half of the doctors in the United States now have moderate to severe restrictions on rep visits.
What we’re beginning to see is a business model evolution. Driven by technology and economics, the role of the traditional manufacturer’s rep is dying.
How fast will this happen?
Diffusion of Innovation
We have a tool that can predict what will likely happen. It’s called the Diffusion of Innovation theory. The theory, first published in 1962, outlines how a new idea, innovation or technology becomes diffused throughout society.
The theory addresses the questions around how innovation spreads. How connected is the social system into which this innovation is being introduced? How tightly knit is the social system of users, and how much do they talk to each other?
Aug 11, 2014
In a recent article about the future of pharma, Craig DeLarge was quoted extensively about how to organize a “center of excellence” within a pharma company to ensure it is taking advantage of digital tactics and multi-channel marketing. He sees this as the first step in the process of digital transformation for pharma.
What his remarks drive home is the fact that digital and marketing aren’t separate disciplines. “We are marketing in the digital age,” says Craig. This means that marketing and digital marketing shouldn’t be seen as two separate initiatives or even act in a parent-child relationship. Yet very often that’s what happens as evidenced by the typical marketing budget process.
Marketing in the digital age is still marketing, but technology now enables a custom marketing mix that’s appropriate for our product and our audience. It’s not simply a case of adding a few new online or mobile tactics to the marketing mix. That’s just a recipe for adding more promotional noise, without the benefits that we can get from digital.
Jul 28, 2014
A recent article identified four basic skills that new leadership in pharma needs to be successful in the arena of consumer health. The author, Michael Winter, addresses the topic from his perspective as an executive headhunter, with the expertise and obvious vested interest in helping to find, source and
Winter observes that the capabilities, talents and skills that built pharma into the very successful industry sector it has been aren’t necessarily the same attributes that will make pharma successful over the next 5, 10 or 20 years.
“What got us here won’t get us there,” has never been truer than it is in pharma today.
The Skills Needed
The clinical research and development skills needed to produce new drugs will always be critical to pharma’s success, but our approach to the marketplace needs to be rethought and adjusted. The kind of marketing expertise needed in today’s environment has more common with successful consumer goods companies than traditional pharma.
This realization has spawned a growing contest for talent between pharma and consumer goods companies. In some cases pharma is trying to poach senior consumer executives. To be successful, however, pharma needs to first make itself an attractive destination for this type of experienced hire.
Most consumer executives look at an industry like pharma and say, “I don’t know… It looks complicated. It’s a highly regulated industry. They’ve got business model challenges. They’ve got brand issues. I’ve done well on the direct consumer side. Why would I ever leave my successful career here and move over into health? That just seems like a recipe for disaster.” Read Full Article Now »