Posts Tagged ‘smarter marketing for pharma’

Four Unique Strategies for Data in Pharma

A significant share of our business focuses on data. We build and manage marketing data analytics and reporting platforms for pharmaceutical brand leaders. What we’ve learned is that this effort requires much more than just data wrangling. It also involves a commitment to nurturing the right kind of “data mindset” among our clients.

We’ve worked with numerous pharma marketing operations and centralized digital marketing teams over the past few years. As a result, we’ve developed a clear appreciation for the range of commitment levels to data analytics. Based on that understanding, we know what makes for a successful data engagement. And it starts with a minimal level of organizational readiness.

Organizational Readiness
When we are discussing a new data reporting or analytics initiative with a client, we’re looking for “organizational readiness.” Putting one’s commercialization organization on a data analytics platform involves considerable change. It introduces a new experience of marketing transparency and insight. That can threaten conventional assumptions about channels, messages, agency partners and targeting strategies.

Not every marketing organization is ready for these changes. We’ve experienced our share of difficult engagements when working with a client who isn’t ready.

Mindsets imageBut we also know what it’s like to work with committed leadership that is ready and willing reinvent their future.

We’ve begun to recognize patterns across these experiences. This has led us to identify four distinct strategies or “mindsets.” These mindsets often foreshadow how transformational a marketing data analytics initiative will be. Read Full Article Now »

Pharma Marketing: How We Learned to Deliver Confident Counsel

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…at the moment of truth

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

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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Making Pharma “Fit for Purpose”

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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Can Innovation Trump Consolidation in Healthcare?

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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Is Your Doctor an Endangered Species?

I recently attended the American College of Physicians’ (ACP) Internal Medicine Meeting, the annual national conference for internists and primary care physicians. It was well attended and offered a mix of clinical presentations on new advances in medicine, seminars about the practical side of running a primary care practice, and policy updates on the Affordable Care Act.

Quarterback InternistThe Internist as your Healthcare Quarterback
This group of physicians is arguably the most important in the field. Primary care physician keep our health history, coach us on healthier lifestyle choices, and they are often the first to diagnosis a life-threatening problem.

These are also the clinicians who have to triage the millions of newly insured patients while at the same time dealing with declining reimbursement rates. There is a reason why internists are considered an endangered species.

Yet there was no hand wringing or complaining at the ACP conference.

Given the challenges for this group of doctors, I expected to hear a lot of moaning and complaining, but the reality is that physicians are already moving forward with the new ground rules to build and maintain their practice. They’re embracing the changes despite more complex and tedious record keeping. Ultimately, physicians want to get everything settled so they can get back to their patients.

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The Two-Edged Sword of Healthcare Reform for Pharma

The Economist recently published a report on the cost impact of healthcare reform in the US.

Healthcare Spending TrendsThe data shows that the fundamental idea of bending the cost curve by changing the way healthcare is reimbursed — moving from a fee-for-service to a fee-for-outcomes — is actually working. Hospitals are actually doing fewer unnecessary tests than they previously did. According to the report, before Obamacare, hospitals did as many tests and procedures as they could, because that’s how they made money.

Now that the focus is on patient outcomes —  keeping patients out of the hospital and feeling better after they’ve been discharged — costs are going down. Bundled payments for procedures is limiting out-of-control expense growth.

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On Creating a (Healthcare) Whole Bigger than the Sum

platform, noun 1. A raised level surface on which people or things can stand.

When I think about a platform, especially in business, I imagine a foundation for building an integrated solution or a value proposition.

From an investor perspective, when a private equity firm looks at a market and sees an unmet need, they will develop an investment thesis. And from that, they will build a platform strategy.

Creating a Platform Strategy
The first thing a private equity firm does when executing against an investment thesis is to find and buy what they call an “anchor company.” Then they make a series of smaller, bolt-on acquisitions and integrate them to form an end-to-end solution that’s bigger than the sum of the parts. Efficiencies from the integration, synergies in the collective capabilities and the impact of strong leadership help create this impact.

We need more of this kind of thinking in healthcare.

Healthcare solutions can be more effective when companies partnerIt doesn’t all need to be acquisition-oriented like it is in the private equity world. Healthcare could focus on partnerships, which is often a more nimble approach. For example, pharma could partner with a mHealth app, a data analytics company, a disease management firm and a regional care center or ACO to create an integrated approach to supporting a diabetes or asthma population.

This would create a healthcare whole that is bigger than the sum of the individual products and services.

For example…
For example, four companies recently partnered to win a White House Ebola Grand Challenge to provide a “precision medicine” approach using wearable, wireless health sensors, a wireless vital signs monitoring platform and advanced analytics technology to monitor and analyze multiple vital signs of patients either suspected or confirmed to be infected with the Ebola virus. This wouldn’t have been possible if any of these companies had tried to do this on their own.

My only question is, why wasn’t there a pharmaceutical company in this partnership?

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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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