Building A Master Data Vortex for Pharma

File under: Big Data, Digital Marketing, Global Pharma Marketing, Multi-Channel Marketing, Pharma innovation, Relationship Marketing

Nothing powers measurement, intelligence and insight like data.

But what kinds of data, you might ask?

In the past, the “data” that fed customer insight and marketing strategy was usually based on gut instinct, with market research used to justify the final decision.

Gut instinct
Now there’s nothing wrong with gut instinct, especially when it’s based on years of experience in a consumer category that doesn’t change much over the years. But in an industry like healthcare that’s evolving at such a rapid rate, deciding with one’s gut is as likely to lead to irritable bowels as to true customer intelligence.

Gut instinct is a poor tool for measuring success, providing customer intelligence and distilling insight.

Another typical source of customer data has been the quarterly, episodic trend reports from the usual research consulting firms. But that means that the insight is often too little too late.

VortexWhat is needed today is continuous monitoring of our market and our customers and comprehensive reporting across every customer touch point. And to do that, we need a single centralized master database. I like to think of it as a “master data vortex.” That giant sucking sound? It’s the vortex pulling in every piece of data we can – sales and marketing – so that we have the basis for doing near real-time evidence-based analytics.

Single source of truth
Having a single destination for both personal and non-personal customer communications means there will be a single “source of truth” about which channels and messages are working against which segments. This becomes a rich asset that most brand marketers still dream about.

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Pharma Data: Expose It to Understand, Embed It to Transform

File under: Digital Marketing, Multi-Channel Marketing, Relationship Marketing

In my last blog, I talked about the technical challenges of  getting customer data from multiple agencies all in one place. Oh yes, and the corporate culture challenges, too! Challenging but not impossible.

So now what? How do we go about making sense of this bolus of customer data? What’s the process for making data actionable? How can we help pharma brands change the relationship they have with their physician customers?

What we learned is that there are three steps to building a strategic framework.

First, expose the data and the underlying framework of customer behaviors. Second, build a predictive model based on that data. Finally, integrate the model back into the customer experience in a way that’s seamless and automatic.

Exposed Data1. Expose the Data
For decades, finding a link between advertising and customer impact was almost impossible. Direct response marketing offered a step in the right direction, but as soon as more than one marketing tactic was involved, it became difficult to attribute dollars spent to customers created.

This led to an industry-wide acceptance of marketing opaqueness. Very frustrating.

However, digital technology now underpins most marketing activities. With the ability to attribute responses from most marketing tactics to individual customers, true marketing analytics is possible. Making decisions based on truth is now possible.

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Pharma Marketing: How We Learned to Deliver Confident Counsel

File under: agile methodology, Big Data, Digital Marketing, Pharma innovation, Relationship Marketing

The transformation of closerlook into the firm it is today started simply enough. We realized that we had become what so many agencies strive for, the “trusted advisor” for our clients.

Trusted advisorBut that wasn’t enough.

The traditional role of an agency has long been one based on counsel. Agency heads would work hard to create a brand around the idea of a “proprietary” advisory relationship with their clients. Traditional agencies often built their reputations on the “big idea.” Success was when the client trusted you to craft a great story to dominate the media gestalt for a moment.

We started down the path of trusted advisor in earnest in 2008. That was the when we decided to focus exclusively on healthcare. We based this key decision on the realization that it wasn’t credible for a small agency to be an expert in more than one domain.
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Pharma Marketing: A Peak Behind the Curtain

File under: Digital Marketing, Healthcare innovation, Pharma innovation, Relationship Marketing

Changes in healthcare in the United States have reached the inflection point where everyone in the industry needs to reevaluate their business model and value proposition.

Full stop.

mazeThe parents of change
These changes didn’t all happen as a result of healthcare reform. Numerous environmental changes like aging demographics, poor diets and exercise habits (which lead to more chronic illness), a shrinking pool of primary care physicians, pressure to reduce the cost of care and improve outcomes and a market that’s evolving towards consumerism have all called into question traditional healthcare business models.

We’re finding that bigger isn’t always better, drugs don’t sell themselves anymore, and the respect that consumers and patients now show healthcare professionals, hospitals, pharma, and health insurance companies has never been lower.

Those of us in marketing face similar business challenges in our role as communicators and brand stewards. Just like our pharma clients, we are rethinking our role and value in the healthcare supply chain. Read Full Article Now »

Pharma…at the moment of truth

File under: Digital Marketing, Global Pharma Marketing, Multi-Channel Marketing, Patient Engagement, Pharma innovation, Relationship Marketing

There is a moment of truth between a doctor and patient when a diagnosis is made and a treatment regimen is determined. It might be a routine ailment with a simple standard of care protocol. Or it could be a complex or difficult diagnosis that leads to referrals, more testing, and life-changing decisions about life style and treatment options.

But in either case, it’s a moment of truth that summons the best analysis from the professional and the most transparency from the patient.

Given how complicated and busy the typical physician’s schedule has become, it’s unlikely that most doctors will have convenient and timely access to the latest in clinical research or knowledge of the newest therapies. There are valuable tools for quick reference of drug interactions, but getting access to relevant content like the pathophysiology or mechanism of action behind a new class of drugs takes more time.

Could pharma be a resource? Manifesto 4

Could pharma help HCPs help patients at the moment of truth?

Yes, but only if pharma rethinks its brand and value proposition.

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Digital Marketing for Pharma: Just Do It

File under: Global Pharma Marketing, Multi-Channel Marketing, Pharma innovation, Relationship Marketing

I don’t want to be overly skeptical about the role of innovation in pharma, particularly in the digital marketing space. But a couple of experiences in the last few weeks have led me to wonder whether, a few outstanding individuals and companies notwithstanding, most of pharma will never really build that capability in-house.

Increasingly, what I’m hearing from pharma is, “I just need someone to do it for me.”

bell curve 3aA simple bell curve helps to paint the picture.

Where do you fall on the curve?
On the left hand side of the curve is a very small minority of digitally savvy marketers who know what they’re doing. That’s labeled, “I’ll do it.” The big hump of the curve, where most pharma marketers are, is labeled, “You do it.” At the trailing end of the curve is the “Do what?” segment, the laggards – those who haven’t even figured out the impact of digital marketing. They’ve heard about it, maybe they’ve done a couple of one-off projects, but they still don’t recognize that digital needs to be core to their strategy.

Most of the digital pharma marketing conferences and trade magazines champion those on the left hand side of the bell curve – the minority of marketers who get digital and are willing to experiment and try things. They have been given a budget to prove out digital – senior management has given them some rope to see if they will either make something happen or hang themselves.

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Drug Pricing Goes Political

File under: Global Pharma Marketing, Healthcare Business, Healthcare innovation

It was a cold February 2010. The winter of Obamacare. There was active opposition from Republicans, the Democrats had lost a pivotal Senate seat in Massachusetts after the death of Edward Kennedy, and there was increasing ambivalence by the general public around President Obama’s healthcare proposal.

Even within the administration itself, people were saying, “Let’s move on, let’s move on, healthcare reform is dead, dead DEAD.”

Then, WellPoint happened.
In early February, WellPoint’s subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it was raising insurance premiums on individual policies in California and Indiana by 39%, with price increases expected in nine other states as well.

There was a firestorm of reactions. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to the president of Anthem voicing serious concerns about the increases. Wellpoint’s CEO Angela Braly was forced to testify before Congress.

And suddenly, healthcare reform was back on the front burner. WellPoint couldn’t have chosen a worse time to raise its prices. If it had waited even six more months, it’s very possible that healthcare reform would have faded away for lack of interest and urgency.

But instead, WellPoint handed Obama a public relations coup. Very quickly, WellPoint became exhibit A in the court of public opinion arguing that the health insurance industry was unfairly profiteering.

It was a watershed moment. A WellPoint Moment.

Overnight, media outlets, editorial boards, social media, and politicians were demanding health insurance reform. Republicans were back on their heels. Democrats were able to seize the moral high ground and they passed the reform bill on March 21, 2010 which was then signed into law by the President late that night.

Barely a month after it seemed like healthcare reform was dead, WellPoint’s move on pricing became the political catalyst for historic changes that are still being felt today.

Drug PricingIs this pharma’s WellPoint Moment?
Last year there was an uproar over Gilead’s pricing on Sovaldi for Hepatitis C. Economic pushback from insurance companies and PBMs along with new competitive alternatives, however, forced Gilead to negotiate discounts. The issue slipped off the front page.

Then the young and brash Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, jacked up the price of a generic drug by over 5,000%. Shkreli couldn’t have chosen a worse time.

Election cycle candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, began calling for price reforms and/or pricing limits. Reporters began looking at other recent drug price increases. Valeant was served two federal subpoenas related to its pricing.

For those in pharma who may have hoped this issue would fade away like last time, their hopes were in vain. It was a hot topic in the recent primary debates, and Hillary Clinton has recently called on the FDA to accelerate approval of generic competitors and asked the FTC to investigate what she called “anti-competitive price gouging.”

This may be a WellPoint Moment for pharma.

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Making Pharma “Fit for Purpose”

File under: Healthcare Business, Patient Engagement, Pharma innovation

While in London recently for a series of meetings, I repeatedly heard the English phrase “fit for purpose.” It’s become a cliche for many in England, but I was struck by its syllabic crispness and brevity.

DarwinThe idea of “fit” makes me think of Charles Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest.” The fittest are those who are best able to adapt to changing environments, or in the case of a business, a changing market. Successful companies survive, transition, evolve, exploit and pivot over time. They are fit for purpose.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent. It is the one that is most responsive to change.

Motorola as a cautionary tale
Recently, there was media coverage about how Motorola has essentially died. It was slowly broken into pieces and sold off to various other companies. Google bought its cellphone business, Motorola Motions, for $12 billion a few years ago, and just unloaded it to Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo for $2 billion. Ouch.

At one point in time, Motorola owned 60-70% of the cellphone market, had 150,000 employees and was one of the leading tech innovators in the world. They’re the ones who brought the mobile phone to the masses. They invented the police radio. They invented the car radio. They commercialized independent satellite communication.

There was a lengthy period of time during which everyone would have assumed that Motorola would be around forever. Until they weren’t.

There was an era when Motorola was fit for purpose. Until it wasn’t.

Motorola was a product company with a legacy of good R&D and solid commercialization, but they lost touch with what customers wanted. It’s an important cautionary tale for all of us.

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Pharma: Build “Around the Pill” not “Beyond the Pill”

File under: Healthcare Business, Patient Engagement, Pharma innovation

For several years, pharma has attempted to move “beyond the pill” to offset declining product pipelines. The dream is to find new revenue opportunities. New business models.

But as we’ve seen, these new products and service experiments are rarely commercialized. If you study the revenue mix on any pharma P&L statement, you’d be hard pressed to find any real revenue beyond pills.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, it’s not just pharma. Successful new businesses that launch in the shadow of large legacy product portfolios are rare in any industry.

$100 Million or Bust
A few years ago, I was working with a global CPG company with a vibrant innovation team. But the success bar for moving a new idea or business model out of the lab was having visibility to least $100 million a year in revenue. Soon.

This meant that only the most obvious, non-risky ideas got the capital needed to grow. Promising but speculative projects were left to die on the vine.

So the challenge of commercializing innovation is not unique to pharma, but that doesn’t let us off the hook. There is an urgency to figuring this out.Around the pill

The Urgency has Changed
A few years ago the focus was on finding new ways to backfill declining revenue from the patent cliff. But now the product pipelines for biologics and new orphan drugs for rare diseases could not be more robust. Revenue is growing again.

The real reason for today’s urgency is not revenue, it’s the changing customer environment. We now have the need to not only prove outcomes but to improve the patient experience. Soon.

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Can Innovation Trump Consolidation in Healthcare?

File under: Healthcare Business, Healthcare innovation, Pharma innovation

At the ACA party, there are 15 pharma companies standing around a room with only 10 chairs. Which means that when the music stops, five of them are SOL.Party!

That’s the future for pharma in a world in which all providers are at-risk and outcomes data are more important than volume discount pricing when it comes to therapy decisions.

Right now, the most common business strategy for healthcare companies managing the changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act has been consolidation. Everywhere in the system, players are merging. PBMs are consolidating and health systems are gobbling up every type of healthcare service, from physician practices to labs, urgent care to long-term care facilities and community hospitals in an effort to become large, integrated health networks (IDNs).

And, why? Why are they doing this?

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