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October 25, 2017 admin0

By Aimee Delorey, Ph.D., and Mark Miller of Symphony Health

It comes as no surprise that big data is being used in all aspects of human life, from where we shop, how we listen to music, how we date and more. But in healthcare analytics, it’s more than just collecting data for the sake of marketing, it’s about understanding how we as doctors treat our patients based on their everyday life habits and goals for living a healthy lifestyle.

The problem and the solution

Large scale data systems, like CRMs may not always provide a holistic, 360-degree view of the patient. They provide limited or incomplete databases in which healthcare professionals have to fill in the blanks. Gaps in data provide significant barriers in understanding patient behavior. Thus, patients receive underwhelming care. According to a 2015 study from McKinsey & Company, 95% of patient data resides outside of the care management system.[1]

Doctors need to be merging traditional data with new sources in order to identify behavior, attitudes and life circumstances. Getting to know our patient’s stress levels, job responsibilities, food and exercise routines, hours spent using technology, social lives and more with the data provided to us will help us provide individualized treatment and advice.

A 2016 study by the SAS Institute merged third party consumer data with claims data to predict healthcare utilization risk and costs.[2] As a result, researchers were able to identify TV viewing patterns, mail-order buying habits (including mail-order prescriptions) and investments in stocks and bonds. The culmination of all this information arms doctors with predictive power in helping understand a patient’s risk for particular outcomes and the related cost.

Using data to invoke change

The earlier we can detect and give our patients a diagnosis, the better their outcome will be. With more comprehensive data and information which is critical to the patient’s journey, (family history, lifestyle and comorbid conditions like diabetes or anemia) can lead to earlier detection.

For example, a main symptom of congestive heart failure is fatigue, which is not always a telling symptom to the average patient. Most patients aren’t diagnosed with this disease until the later stages, meaning most have been living with the disease for some time before diagnosis and treatment.

However, with the help of data, a physician can triangulate their historical information with current signs and symptoms to identify heart disease at an earlier time. This is significant to a patient suffering from unrecognized heart disease who can have a materially improved quality of life with the help of early detection and appropriate treatment.


It’s critical that the healthcare industry, from practitioners to pharmaceutical companies, to look to new ways to understand patients that go beyond traditional data sources, (i.e. wearable technology and the cloud). A better understanding of patients through data will vastly improve diagnosis, earlier detection, more effective treatment, aftercare, prevention and quality of care.



[1] McKinsey

[2] Statish Garla, Albert Hopping, Rock Moaco, Sarah Rittman. What Do Your Consumer Habits Say About Your Health Risk? Using Third-Party Data to Predict Individual Health Risk and Costs; SAS Institute, 2016


About the Authors

Aimee Delorey, Ph.D., senior director, Strategy & Research at Symphony Health, has spent nearly 20 years in analytics and consulting roles serving biotechnology, pharmaceutical and health plan clients. Her areas of expertise include CRM strategy, marketing effectiveness, predictive modeling, data visualization and customer journeys.

As the leader of Symphony’s Audience and Media practice, Mark Miller’s team is responsible for helping clients design, measure and optimize highly complicated media and marketing initiatives. He does this by leveraging Symphony’s unique data and analytic capabilities with an eye towards effective and nimble marketing execution. Mark is widely regarded as one of the foremost thinkers in customer experience design with a focus on groundbreaking solutions in the areas of brand planning, digital media and CRM execution.

Editor’s Note: Join Mark as he copresents with Britta Cleveland, SVP of Research with Meredith, at our DTC Forum on TV & Print, discussing the impact print ads have on Rx sales conversions and overall Return On Ad Spend (ROAS). The 2017 DTC Forum on TV & Print will be held Oct 26th in NYC.

October 13, 2017 Bob Ehrlich0

The widely reported story that Amazon is considering entering the prescription drug market has made current drug sellers nervous. Could Amazon revolutionize drug sales? Or, would they just be another mail order supplier in a crowded market? The answer is unclear.

Amazon certainly has the strength to cut deals with drug companies, insurers and major employers to supply drugs. If a major insurance company wanted to work through Amazon to try to cut costs it is likely they could shave some expense. I do not, however, understand yet how Amazon would be able to fundamentally change drug delivery or pricing.

Bob Ehrlich
“…they are thinking of ways to shake up the supply chain…”
-Bob Ehrlich

Drug companies have established a complex supply chain with numerous levels of prices across different customer categories. Drug companies have no problem quickly supplying patients through drug stores, mail order houses, or in store pharmacies at supermarkets/big box chains. While certainly a convenient place to shop its many product categories, are there advantages for customers buying their drugs there?

I have increasingly bought more things on Amazon because I get free delivery through Prime. Their service is reliable. It is nice to be able to buy directly from them or their listed sellers. That being said, Amazon is still just a giant online market. Patients already have a vast array of options filling their prescriptions and I never heard anyone complaining how hard it is to fill a prescription. Unless Amazon can significantly lower consumer price, or save insurers lots of money, then the game changing aspect of their market entry is unclear.

I love Amazon and was lucky enough to hold on to my 200 shares bought at $35 many years ago. As big a fan as I am of their company, to change how drugs are sold is not easy. Maybe all Amazon wants to do is be another online option and grab a share of the huge market. Certainly, they have an enormous customer base who would be happy to add drugs on with other purchases.

Of course, Amazon is an innovator and maybe they will be able to add consumer value to drug purchases. Perhaps they will be able to launch retention and compliance programs using their customer research base. Alternatively, they may be able to innovate in disease and drug education. Their major asset is consumer trust and that should never be underestimated. Amazon has a team evaluating entering the market and my guess is they will enter, even if just as an ordinary supplier at the start. Long term I suspect they are thinking of ways to shake up the supply chain to offer substantial discounts to their customers.

October 10, 2017 Jennifer Kovack0

In mid-September, DTC Perspectives spoke with Alisa Lask, the VP and General Manager of Aesthetic & Corrective Business Unit from Galderma, about the evolution of their digital marketing. “Digital has had a really powerful impact on the aesthetics brands,” she noted. Galderma’s aesthetics business unit is already seeing a large usage of their various digital assets, from materials at the point of care to their digital-only ASPIRE loyalty program. Another digital victory for the company is their Facebook Restylane® page, which after launching just a few months ago, is already outperforming competitors in the space.

Lask shared that, over the past few years, another evolution they have witnessed is how many Health Care Professionals (HCPs) are now using social media and how much they are using it. Utilizing a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, HCPs are interacting both with Galderma and with patients. This uncovered a big opportunity for Galderma to invest in digital to create their own assets for their partnering HCPs, many of whom have around 10,000-15,000 patients in their databases on average. These materials not only educated the HCPs, but allowed those HCPs to share them with their staff and consumers in the office or waiting room as well.

Innovations to set a new standard

Galderma wanted to make the most of the opportunities digital affords, making one of their approaches an innovative use of video. Aesthetics products, such as Restylane®, lend themselves quite well to digital media. As the industry transitions away from still Before & After photos, Lask explained they created videos that would showcase the natural results of their treatments. “When we launched our two new products, Restylane® Refyne and Restylane® Defyne, earlier this year, the whole philosophy behind those products was that they were designed to be flexible  in animation and in expression in motion for natural-looking results.”

When sending out their first product samples to HCP offices, a video would play when the box was opened, with four different videos being included in each one. With people clamoring to obtain the sample boxes so they could view and share the videos, Galderma took their marketing to another level: text message video. If an individual, HCP or consumer, texted certain phrases to a designated number, they would receive four to five corresponding videos. Of the videos offering through the sample boxes and text message, Galderma developed real Before & After footage, digital animation of the mechanism in action, and the background and science of the XpresHAn™ technology. (XpresHAn™ is derived from the three components it comprises: X = Crosslinking; pres = Pressing gels through mesh for calibration; and HA = Hyaluronic Acid.)

Another innovative approach the aesthetics teams took was through their ASPIRE loyalty program, which is 100% digital communications. Consumers can receive educational emails, digital coupons towards products, and sweepstake offers electronically. Meanwhile, doctors can log onto a special portal within ASPIRE to obtain Galderma assets, find out which of their patients have redeemed Galderma offers or promotions, or track which of their patients may have lapsed in their treatment so they can provide necessary follow ups. Taking a digital only approach has not had a negative impact – Galderma’s response rates are just as good, if not better, according to Lask.

With an obvious expected increase in spending in digital and social media in the future, she said, “Having a social and digital strategy is status quo. I think the real focus is more on how digital and social are going to change, so we have to evolve our spending and budget.” With the challenge being adjusting investments, Lask added, “we all have to learn how to be a lot more nimble so we’re allowed to pivot quickly as the digital and social channels change.”

Ensuring relevance

Infographic shared with consumers, depicting the ‘Natural Expression in Motion’ theme.

Historically, pharma has often lagged behind other industries when incorporating digital or social media into their marketing due to a lack of clear FDA guidance. “There is no doubt that digital is changing faster than any of these regulations can keep up,” Lask noted, so they make sure to partner closely with their legal and regulatory teams from start and every step along the way. Consumers expect brands today to be “honest and candid, but [also] relevant to them.” Balancing such expectations with “the very important fact that we want safe and effective usage of our products … can be challenging and we’re learning as we go in many instances,” she said. Thus, they make sure their assets center on the important safety information, but present it in a consumerized way that people find engaging.

Lask stressed the importance of relevance when developing their educational and branded efforts: “We make sure first that it is relevant for the consumer. There is just so much noise out there, and if we are creating irrelevant material, you can almost guarantee that it is going to be skipped or not used. Then we put our focus on, what is the brand’s essence of our Galderma aesthetic product? It goes back to being honest, candid, and really being true to what we stand for.”

Galderma’s aesthetics brands employ both educational and branded tactics, depending on what is more appropriate at the time. “It’s a combination between education and branded marketing; we feel like you can’t do one without the other,” she said. With these treatments being elective, getting patients to be inspired by outcomes and addressing their primary concern – looking natural – is step one, she explained. Here, educational marketing leads the way. Branded marketing comes into play next to ensure the patient chooses their products, not a competitor’s.

Looking ahead

When preparing future plans, Lask has spotlighted three strategic areas, each one connected in a different way to improving access to education and information. One of the first things Galderma is keeping an eye on are websites such as Yelp or HCP reviews – anywhere that consumers can get engaged with how they find HCPs. She explained that, in the aesthetics market, those are very important to how consumers can figure out where they go for a treatment. Another area of watch for the team is around platforms such as, which is a community-driven website providing information and research, reviews, and rankings for aesthetic medicines and cosmetic treatments. Lask likened it to the Trip Advisory of aesthetics.

The last key concentration is around retail pop up clinics, she said. It is empowering for consumers to have such access to information and freedom from scheduling appointments. But as a marketer, it provides other challenges – primarily, how do marketers find these places and then also ensure consumers are receiving their materials and relevant messages? Another barrier Lask found is that many of these retail pop up clinics, which are often owned by large corporations now, don’t usually want company branding or materials. She identifies this as a problem that will need to be solved in the future: “how to make sure that we’re able to touch the consumer in those offices as well?”

“The landscape is always changing, but that’s what is fun and exciting about it,” she stated. With more than two million women using aesthetic products currently and another 15 – 20 million more in the US alone who are interested in them, Lask said it is educating and providing them with information so they “really understand outcomes, what they can look like, and what’s possible.”


October 10, 2017 Linda Ruschau0

“What’s the ultimate call to action?”

This question was raised in a recent meeting, and I thought it a good one to discuss since we’re in the midst of planning season. Many would say the answer depends on the brand’s end goal. For pharma marketers, however, I say the ultimate action that brands need to focus on is getting patients to ask their doctor for a prescription for their treatment.

Script volume is the be-all and end-all measurement of the effectiveness of pharma marketing. Make no mistake: impressions and click-throughs are important metrics and help drive patients to the doctor’s office. But, ultimately, if those patients aren’t asking their doctors about your brand, your marketing efforts haven’t worked to their full potential.

That’s why Point of Care (POC) is so crucial for brand marketers. It’s the only tactic that puts your brand at the point of script, at the exact moments doctors and patients are thinking about and discussing treatment options. From the waiting room, to the exam room, to the back office, and now to beyond the office, thanks to mobile technologies, POC provides a connection point between your brand, the doctor, and patient. And it’s proven to drive desired behavior (1):
• 84% of patients who saw an ad at the POC are more likely to discuss the ad with their physician
• 77% are more likely to ask their doctor for a sample
• 68% are more likely to ask a doctor to prescribe a specific product

Many brands already realize the value of POC. Reaching $440 million in 2015, POC ad spend is growing faster than overall DTC advertising(2). Zion Market Research’s recent findings indicate that today’s $23 billion POC market will reach $40.5 billion by 2022.

But why do so many brands still find it challenging to choose between their tried-and-true digital tactics and POC? It shouldn’t be one or the other: digital and POC go hand in hand. For you Trekkies out there, I like to make this analogy: POC is the Montgomery Scott to your Captain Kirk. POC takes your digital ad and transports it to the exact locations you want, placing it in front of the exact audience you want, at the exact time they, and you, need them to hear your message—compelling the ultimate action of asking their doctor about your treatment. Then, it gives you clear insight into how that message changed doctors’ prescription-writing behaviors—and how much revenue was generated as a result. It doesn’t get much more impactful than that.

It’s planning season. You’re analyzing the risk versus reward of your tactics to determine a marketing mix that’s going to bring in the biggest buck. Why not include a tactic that delivers direct revenue—guaranteed. Be confident. Invest in POC and know you’re entering 2018 with a clear understanding of the impact your brand will have.



(1) Kantar Media for the Point of Care Communications Council, “Point of Care: Why Care?” 2017
(2) ZS Associates, “Right Place, Right Time: How Health and Wellness Companies Are Capitalizing on the Rapidly Growing Point of Care Communication Channel,” 2014

October 6, 2017 Bob Ehrlich0

My question to the DTC community is why can’t we come together with FDA and make DTC advertising more understandable.

I am not talking just about risks but also benefits and indications. We are all letting the approved label dictate how we say what we say. That label information is generally not consumer friendly. Consumers see advertising, not as a whole sales pitch, but merely the start of a buying process. DTC, because of regulations, seems to be treated as requiring an entire pitch where virtually everything must be discussed. Look at cancer advertising for example on non small cell lung cancer. I’ll use Keytruda as an example which is required to say it is indicated if PD-L1 is positive and there are tumors with no abnormal EGFR or ALK gene. Huh? Merck has to say it but does any consumer know what any of that means? I doubt it.

Bob Ehrlich
“Surely there is a better way.”
-Bob Ehrlich

What we have are technically oriented government regulatory bureaucrats in a non-technical DTC world. They should spend their time making sure everything said is true but also understandable. Instead of forcing Merck to discuss abstract qualifications on who might benefit, consumers would be better served knowing more about clinical results. Wouldn’t it be better to say Keytruda only benefits a segment of lung cancer patients and only your doctor can say if you might benefit? After all, patients do not self diagnose PD-L1 or their gene abnormalities.

FDA can make the 60 or 90 second ads much more consumer friendly and increase comprehension if they acted more like common sense regulators. They know many ads are data crammed and difficult to follow but it is their view that the label is like the Ten Commandments. Thou shall not deviate. So we get required language that is just wasting valuable air time that might be redirected towards giving consumers information they need and more importantly understand. I know Merck would probably like to do that. I also think OPDP would like it that way because I know the people there are trying to do right. Do we really think Congress intended consumer confusion in the 1970s when they wrote the regs never contemplating DTC?

Has OPDP pushed back on the Congressional committee regulating drug promotion that we need new promotional regulations? We can recognize that consumers just want mass media advertising to inform them that something might help them. They do not need the whole story rather just enough information to ask their doctor or search the Internet. Using the excuse that the regulations require all this complexity is abdicating the role FDA should have. We want drug DTC claim ads to be accurate and disclose serious risks. Surely, there is a better way. It will take FDA, Congress and drug makers to collaborate to determine how to improve. This is simple really and FDA should lead that effort.

Does anyone feel that we have done the proper job educating consumers when arcane medical terms are dominating DTC? Regulators tick off required boxes on their label checklist for DTC knowing full well consumers are often left clueless. My suggestion is OPDP have hearings on how to completely over haul DTC communication for today’s media environment, instead of using the excuse that they are captive to regulations written almost 50 years ago.