Archive for July, 2011

The internet as intelligence

In most of my conversations with health care marketers, campaign strategy is not complete unless it includes an internet strategy. Everyone wants and needs an internet strategy (and now a mobile strategy, too) to stay relevant.

Usually when people talk about using the internet for marketing, they are thinking of it as a promotional channel. Call it digital marketing, non-personal promotion, or online communication, it doesn’t matter. The point is that for a truly integrated marketing plan these days, there needs to be a set of online tactics to make it complete.

But there is something missing from this picture. Yes the internet is a convenient, cost-effective promotional channel. It doesn’t require sales reps or postage or expensive TV buys. It’s the internet, and everyone is connected. So there you go, right?


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Proxies will have to do

During a recent planning call for a patient disease management program the discussion turned to metrics. Key to any program design is agreement on what outcomes will be measured and what will be deemed success. It makes no sense to launch a program without developing goals about levels of engagement, target clinical results, and ultimately financial payback.

So far so good, right?

Until we moved beyond vague generalities about impact and tried to identify the actual sources of patient data that would validate the program.

  • “We only get about 10% of the patient lab results we request.”
  • “We attempt to get physicians to attest to patient check-ups in writing, and you know how that goes.”
  • “Legal has deep concerns about merging patient data sources.”

So how then do these brands continue to sell expensive patient programs without validated outcomes?

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Cryptos Unite! Lock down those iPad patient data leaks!

You know all those shiny iPads in the hands of doctors? The ones that are used during office visits, replacing the old paper charts? Now that doctors are embracing Electronic Health Records and working overtime to ensure that they can prove Meaningful Use, we’ve introduced a new unintended consequence. We’ve introduced another opportunity for the compromise of sensitive patient records.

In the last two years, HHS reports that there have been 116 data leaks of 500 records or more, compromising more than 1.9 million patients’ personal health information. Was there are break-in at a hospital data center? No, nothing that exciting. All these security breaches were the result of a lost or stolen mobile device that stored patient medical records… So in these cases it didn’t matter how secure the hospital or physician practice server was. Mobile devices have the ability to extend the enterprise beyond the office or hospital, and this is where data vulnerability is introduced… Read Full Article Now »

Mobile Health developers, meet the FDA

During the last SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, we saw many exciting mobile health applications touting functionality that could monitor vital signs, remind patients when to take their meds, and give caregivers remote access to their loved ones. Many of these health apps were coming out of the same digital shops and start-up incubators that spawned mobile games and popular iPhone tools. What was missing, however, was an appreciation for the fact that the target consumers were also somebody’s patients. Mobile apps that could somehow influence care are no longer discretionary diversions, they are medical devices.

At least that’s what the FDA declared this morning. “The use of mobile medical apps on smart phones and tablets is revolutionizing health care delivery,” Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices & Radiological Health, said in a prepared release. “Our draft approach calls for oversight of only those mobile medical apps that present the greatest risk to patients when they don’t work as intended.”

Mobile apps that turn a smartphone into an ECG machine to detect abnormal heart rhythms, for example, Read Full Article Now »

Dark Night of the Pharmaceutical Soul

Tolstoy’s observation that while happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way describes the pharmaceutical selling environment today. No standard go-to-market strategy will work for every unhappy brand and every disaffected doctor.

A new focus on flashy iPad sales presentations will slow but not stop the slide in office access. Technology should enable marketers to learn about and serve the customer better and faster than the competition, not simply be a new shade of lipstick on the traditional sales pig.

Relationship Marketing, or “treating different customers differently” is finally getting the attention it deserves. Contrast RM with the more typical marketing approach of “shouting” at the audience with a single message and betting that a brand will get its fair share of the audience. Now with the perfect storm of declining physician access, pricing pressure from private and government payers and the looming patent cliff on many blockbusters, marketers are finally seriously considering the benefits of building long-term relationships with their customers.

This year, brand teams will begin to invest in physician databases and predictive analytics and digital channel integration and will start learning how to treat different customers differently.

There is a day of reckoning approaching when it will become painfully obvious which brands have created meaningful, value-based relationships with healthcare professionals and patients. Pharmaceutical companies are starting to be scrutinized by a new wave of tech-enabled professionals, empowered patients and enlightened bureaucrats intent on holding suppliers to higher standards of value and engagement. And depending on what they find, they will vote with their pocketbook.

The essence of strategy is to be ready before you need to be. This year, from brand teams to board members, there will need to be a new focus on customer strategy and on recalibrating what it means to serve our different customers differently. The way they need to be served and the way they prefer to be served.