Posts Tagged ‘mhealth’

Is Big Pharma Losing Its Innovation Brand? Not so fast…

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 tough guymobile 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.

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The Touch of an Imerman Angel.

The phone rings.

It’s your doctor with the biopsy results and the news isn’t good.


Just the word itself takes your breath away. You feel dizzy.

Amidst swirling emotions of fear and uncertainty, you place a call to a number your doctor gave you. He called them angels. Whatever.

Later that day you get a call back from a woman who identifies herself as a cancer survivor. She’s your age and gender and she had your same diagnosis and she beat it. A survivor who knows exactly what you’re going through…

Slide1Welcome to Imerman Angels, the largest network of cancer survivors who volunteer to provide high touch, one-on-one support to cancer patients.

Jonny Imerman, the founder of Imerman Angels and himself a cancer survivor, was on a panel that I moderated at the recent Point of Care Conference in Philadelphia. The other panelists included a pharma marketing executive, a mobile health entrepreneur, and a medical mobile technology investor. Together we explored how technology can improve the physician-patient relationship.

It was very refreshing to have the voice of the patient on the panel, but why was Jonny on a panel about mobile technology? Is it possible to use mobile and social media and still retain the high touch experience of a cancer survivor talking to a newly diagnosed cancer patient? Read Full Article Now »

What will make Patient Data Meaningful to Patients and Physicians?

In my last blog posting I noted that the thousands of health apps available today are beginning to generate good, accurate patient data. But just because the data is accurate doesn’t mean it’s meaningful. Especially when it collides with the real world of the healthcare professional.

There are three important issues that need to be addressed before this surfeit of personalized patient data becomes useful and meaningful to both consumers and physicians.

Data Overload
The first concern is just data overload. As patient devices become interoperable with each other and with EMR systems (a good thing), they will dump raw data, whether it’s heart rate, blood pressure, glucose level, etc. right into the physician’s office. And frankly, doctors just don’t have enough hours in a day to be able to look at and process that information.

If you follow most internists today, they’re in the office all day seeing 15, 20, even 25 patients and then in the evening they’re spending three hours reviewing their notes and lab reports or they’re logged onto their patient portal site to respond to the two dozen patient emails they received that day. We can’t ask them to now review and respond to potentially dozens of patient data streams. Read Full Article Now »

Good patient data is not always meaningful patient data

I’ve been thinking recently about some of the newer sources of health data, namely patient-generated data. My working headline is something like “Good patient data is not always meaningful patient data.”

mobile3I have the distinct sense that our rapt attention to mobile devices, mobile health, patient data, patient-generated data, etc. is all really exciting for those of us who are in technology because we love the idea of sensors and capturing data that could never be captured before and building massive databases and doing all this great regression analysis on it to look for tipping points and trends and turning it into cool graphical reports. It’s fun and exciting and sexy!

But patient-generated data often breaks down when it meets the physician. And here’s why.

There’s a tidal wave of patient generated data from apps and devices that is only increasing. When you read stats about how many tens of thousands of medical health apps there are in the Apple Store and how new devices are being launched every other week, it leads to a deluge of patient data.

Data from patient apps and devices – activity level, heart rate, blood glucose, etc. – is all “structured” within its environment, that’s good, but it’s not interoperable with any other data. This means that the data is seldom integrated with any electronic medical records system (EMR) at the physician level. That’s a problem for doctors wanting (required) to leverage these systems to interact with their patients.

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Three Key Strategies to Drive Better Patient Care

When it comes to health technology and new mobile apps, we often jump right into a discussion about cool features and social media. But the real question should be impact. What positive impact are we having on patients and their physicians, the ultimate gatekeepers?

The bottom line for most physicians is efficiency: “How can I be more productive with the time I have with my patients given the clinical load I carry?” Therefore, a good place to start in any technology impact discussion is how to enhance the physician-patient interaction to make it better and more efficient.

There are three important activities that influence physician efficiency:

 1) Precise diagnosis of ailments

 2) Patient education support

 3) After-care compliance and home monitoring

These are also three activities that can have a significant influence on patient outcomes.

All three of these are time-consuming but critical activities, and all of them can benefit greatly from technology.

1) Precise Diagnosis

Stopwatch1During the typical 15-minute office visit, in addition to collecting as much medical and family history as possible, physicians will review a patient’s symptoms. Very often they’re listening for that random clue that might influence the diagnosis, something that maybe the patient hasn’t thought of or hasn’t remembered since the last office visit.

When a patient walks in a doctor’s office, particularly if they don’t have a caregiver with them, they often are stressed and very often forget or misread symptoms that might have happened at home. It’s kind of like when you take your car into the shop and suddenly that engine knock isn’t there anymore, and the garage guy rolls his eyes and tells you to bring it back when there is a real problem.

Technology can play a supportive role here by capturing a wide range of patient symptoms as they are experienced at home, at work or socializing with friends.

One solution to this challenge is an mHealth (mobile health) iPhone-based symptom tracker. A mobile app can capture relevant patient experience data and efficiently provide it to the physician to inform the diagnosis – information that the patient might not even remember or consider important. By providing additional diagnostic clues, a symptom tracker will enhance the conversation about health between the physician and patient.

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Don’t Be Kodak

Kodak recently announced that they expect to come out of bankruptcy this year. Founded by George Eastman in 1888, Kodak became a cherished household brand name, and the “Kodak Moment” entered the American cultural lexicon.

It’s really sad to see what happened to them. Today Kodak is merely a shell of the company it used to be.

Kodak’s Fork in the Road Moment

Kodak fork in the roadTen years ago, I happened to have a ringside seat at Kodak as they were wrestling with what to do about their future. Initially, I had been hired to create an external positioning and marketing campaign targeting Wall Street. The stock price was languishing, and they wanted to announce how they were innovating around digital.

I went to Rochester and met with their senior marketing team and the innovation group. After looking at their digital pipeline – the “naked truth” of their digital capabilities – I recommended that they not approach Wall Street at that time. They weren’t ready to go digital in an authentic and sustained way and if they made that claim, they would lose all credibility once results came out in a quarter or two.

Instead I recommended that we focus on building a comprehensive internal communication plan that would change the mindset of the organization from print to digital. Bureaucracy to innovation.

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Deeper Relationships in Pharma: The “Give To Get” Side of Marketing, Part II

Recently I wrote about the idea of “Give To Get” marketing, the premise that you need to give value to your prospective customers before you ask them for their business.

To further reinforce this topic, I want to share a compelling story that a physician friend of mine shared over breakfast:

Laughing, she said, “I had an interesting experience yesterday with a rep. As you know, I’m hardball with sales reps. I rarely give them time. I walked in the back door to my office yesterday morning, and there were eight reps standing there, waiting. The office manager had told them there would be another doctor who would sign for their samples. I walked in, waving my hand, and said hi to everybody. I told them I would not be able to talk to anybody but that I would happily sign for their samples.”

This doctor is the highest-producing physician in her practice. Just having her sign for their samples is a big deal to these pharmaceutical sales reps.

repsShe marched right through to her office – with a smile the whole time – and closed the door. A few minutes later, the office manager came in with eight different signature devices. The doctor dutifully signed for them and handed them back to the office manager. It was at that point that the office manager handed her a piece of literature from one of the reps. She had a hunch that the doctor would find it interesting. And it did catch her attention.

“Okay, I want to see this rep. She’s got 30 seconds but I’m willing to see her.”

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Stepping into Your Customers’ Shoes

Physicians are justifiably skeptical when a drug rep walks in the door. The relationship is purely transactional. The rep wants the doc to commit to writing more of whatever the rep is selling. The doctor is late for her next appointment.

There is an alternative however. It requires a great deal of patience and a willingness to take the long view, something not every sales organization is ready to do. There is the potential to create a competitive advantage in the market by stepping away from the hard sell long enough to determine, “What are the challenges facing this practice right now and how can we solve them?”

This attempt at true understanding is a great deal more effective than just trying to persuade the overworked doc to write more of your drugs. Although it may take a few months to persuade a physician of the sincerity of this question, it has the potential for changing the nature of the relationship.

Pharma needs to move beyond simple product promotion and much more towards long-term relationship building and thought leadership recognition. Brands need to position themselves as partners with physicians, not just as the manufacturer. Technology can be an enabler to help brand teams do just that.

Using Technology to Help Physicians Quickly and Effectively Diagnose a Patient

Most doctors are extremely busy. One of their biggest challenges is getting to a diagnosis as quickly as possible. Often they have only fifteen minutes with each patient…

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Getting schooled at closerlook

I’m often asked why I never went back to get my MBA. We have two of the best b-schools in the world right here in Chicago. My answer is simple – closerlook is my grad school. Everyday I have the opportunity to learn more about health, interactive marketing, and human behavior.

This is why I love our company’s tagline – Smarter marketing for pharma. It reflects our passion for learning.

It’s a subtle difference, but I appreciate that our internal branding team recommended “smarter marketing” rather than “smart marketing.” Smart is static and hard to define. Smarter is dynamic and requires progress. There is a touch of arrogance in the claim that we provide “smart marketing,” but there is a commitment to improvement in “smarter marketing.”

Smarter marketing for pharma is more than a simple tagline. First of all, it’s a real promise to our clients that they will get better marketing results. I suppose that if someone offered a dumber marketing program that got better results, we wouldn’t have a business, but our experience shows that smarter marketing will lead to better outcomes.

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When the right platform presents itself, jump on and go!

The PC and then the Internet technology revolutions disrupted nearly every industry. Sectors like travel, bookstores, and even mapmaking were turned on their heads. But one industry has been impervious to technology reengineering. Healthcare providers have been largely intransigent in their resistance to adoption of information technology solutions that could enhance care, provide transparency of information, and support better physician-patient communication. Conventional wisdom held that doctors were by nature technology laggards.

But maybe they were simply waiting for the right technology.

A new study shows that 75% of physicians now own an Apple device. Doctors who at best would hunt and peck a PC keyboard are now swiping and swishing their way through Physician using iPadmedical information databases, patient records, and therapy 3D animations for their patients. They are integrating iPads into electronic medical records to prove “meaningful use” and reviewing health apps to recommend. Apple has even announced a new section of the AppStore called Apps for Healthcare Professionals.

The latest crop of user-focused technology companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook are all providing easy-to-use application platforms. Now is a very exciting time for entrepreneurs in every industry sector to begin building new consumer and B2B solutions on top of these platforms. Unlike the past thirty years when every new application or device required a users manual or training class, these new web, mobile and social media platforms are intuitive “out of the box.” It provides a unique opportunity to once again reengineer an industry.

If doctors were slow to embrace new ideas or new solutions, perhaps they have simply been waiting for the right idea or the right technology platform.