Posts Tagged ‘personalized medicine’

Three pharma trends from the 2015 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference

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.”)

JPMThe Solvadi Effect
As I was listening to the executive presentations, I began to pick up on three important trends. First and perhaps most importantly, I sensed that the industry is really committed to finding cures. Call it the Solvadi Effect.

Historically, the objective has always been to delay death, but now everyone seems inspired by the power of Gilead Science’s new product to cure hepatitis C. This is a much better clinical outcome than the generic alternatives with their nasty side-effects. Pharma leadership, particularly biotech executives, used the conference venue to declare their commitment to finding cures for diseases, with special attention placed on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS and hepatitis.

Business Model Flip
One reimbursement policy implication is that over the next 5 to 10 years we could potentially see the pharma/healthcare business model flip from delivering moderately priced drugs that chronically-ill patients take for the rest of their life to a new model in which therapies might cure a disease in a short period of time, but with a very high price tag. For example, the business and social contract is already changing from supplying a generic drug that someone with hepatitis C would take for the rest of their life to a drug can cure the patient in 12 weeks, but will cost $86,000.

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The Land of Oz

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.

OzThe 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.

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Bold Leadership in Healthcare

What’s happening at CVS Caremark is an emerging business case study in visionary leadership.

CVS made headlines for its decision to discontinue selling cigarettes, capturing the gratitude of many people, including the White House.
cvs logoThere was chatter among analysts that this move will trim $2 billion from the company’s revenue, a fact that only seemed to add to the feelings of goodwill among current and potential customers. The widespread response from consumers was, “This is a wonderful thing that CVS did. They didn’t have to do it. They’re doing it not in the best interest of the business, they’re just doing the right thing.”

From a PR perspective, it created a real sense of warm fuzzies towards CVS, increasing pressure on other chains like Walgreens and Rite Aid to follow suit. It has been assumed that management calculated that goodwill towards CVS would result in more customers and more foot traffic, and eventually these new customers will replace the lost revenue. (In fact, trimming $2 billion in revenue, while meaningful, likely will have a modest effect on the stock price. It reflects less than 2% of total revenue, and its contribution to net income is roughly $70 million. Given that the new policy won’t even take effect until October, it will have negligible impact on 2014 company performance.) Read Full Article Now »

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 »

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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Empathy: Why Good Physicians Will Always Matter

In the comments section of a recent blog post, a reader commented:

The idea of using a computer to aid in making a diagnosis is not new. When hand held PDAs came out in the 90′s, I was one of the first to download Epocrates to mine to aid me in making the most informed diagnosis if a particular patient’s symptoms or problems were complex, or hadn’t responded to my treatment. It is an expected outcome that as more and more data and information has become available in the ‘cloud’ that we as physicians will utilize it more often… But will a computer or cloud computing ever replace the value of face-to-face contact with a real physician or mid-level care provider. Patients are all so different and 90% of the art of medicine is taking an accurate history, which frequently requires getting patients to open up or share that one last symptom that they either forgot or were afraid to share for a variety of reasons. It can actually make the difference between life and death in some cases. I fully embrace the future of what cloud sharing offers all of us in any business or occupation. But there will still be no way to improve on the Marcus Welby, MD “model of medical practice.”

Despite my belief in the value of technology to support better patient care (The Avatar Will See You Now), I agree wholeheartedly with the central role of the internist. When I talk to physicians and inquire about their methods, I’m always fascinated by their intake process and the central role of patient history. As the writer says, “90% of the art of medicine is taking an accurate history.”

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2011 Outlook

2011 will be the year of the healthcare mash-up. Healthcare reform meets empowered patients, pharmaceutical firms stumble off the patent cliff, and everyone confronts the immediacy and transparency of digital and mobile communications. It actually should be good for patients if healthcare companies embrace the change and provide clear leadership. If.

Digital marketing is not just another channel

Digital marketing has been evolving from an afterthought to an important element of brand strategy. In 2011, marketers will begin to recognize that digital is actually not just another channel. It’s a new paradigm of thinking and communicating that threatens the entire advertising model. Professionals and patients are looking for tools that help them (apps), not stories that distract them. They prefer support that continuously evolves, not packaged solutions that are only updated annually. Digital opens up the possibility of personalized communication and customized transactions, and as people experience this level of interactivity in others areas of their lives (travel, ecommerce, social networks) they will demand it from the healthcare system. If pharma marketers can’t deliver, professionals and consumers will turn to their peers and independent sources for content and context.

Share of voice is less important?

Fragmented consumer attention and fragmented media channels mean it’s even harder to connect with audiences. Pharmaceutical marketers will learn to their chagrin that share of voice is less important than share of mobile memory and screen real estate. The remarkable speed at which health care professionals have adopted smart phones (72% penetration, with 95% of smartphone docs using them to download medical info) is inversely correlated to their desire to meet with sales representatives, and the traditional office visit will continue to be challenged. A new focus on account service and flashy iPad sales presentations will slow but not stop the slide in office access.

Who is eating whose lunch?

Warren Buffett’s famous quote that “it’s only when the tide goes out that you find out who’s been swimming naked” will be relevant to traditional agencies as they see more and more assignments lost to small niche agencies they’ve never heard of before. As one global agency president said to me, “they are eating our lunch and we can’t do anything about it.” Agencies that try overnight extreme makeovers into digital agencies will be hard pressed to convince brands that they really know social media and mobile, while small digital start-ups will learn how hard it is to convince risk adverse brand managers to trust them with their strategy. Niche agencies will move quickly in 2011 to hire away seasoned account executives to manage the client relationships so their 20-something digital savants can continue to create the future in healthcare advertising.

Participatory Medicine is not coming. It’s here.

When 78% of consumers report they are interested in mobile health solutions including communicating with their healthcare professionals via mobile or wireless monitoring devices and Kaiser Permanente patients send 2.6mm emails per quarter to their doctors, you can be sure that participatory medicine isn’t just coming, it has arrived. According to Manhattan Research, 80% of nurses direct their patients to trusted health-related online sources. Look for patients to increase their confidence and engagement in managing their own health care, leading to more blending of traditional and alternative medical solutions. Opportunities still lie with those who are able to create trusted online and mobile sources of content and community in which people recognize “patients like me.”

(Portions originally published in Med Ad News, January 2011,