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August 28, 2019 Linda Ruschau0


At PatientPoint, we’re always looking for ways to take our approach to messaging patients to the next level. Having heard professional patient advocate Dr. Grace Cordovano speak at several conferences, I knew she could give us valuable insights from inside the care experience.

Dr. Grace Cordovano

Grace is an award-winning, board-certified patient advocate (BCPA) who specializes in fostering private, personalized patient advocacy services in the cancer arena. She gained a unique view of the patient journey by working intimately with dozens of cancer patients – including her mother – and by going through the journey herself when she was misdiagnosed with advanced lymphoma. As a result, Grace sees opportunities for brands to improve the care experience for these patients.

Q: You’ve helped many patients through their care journey. What does it take for a patient to complete that journey successfully?

A: Many things are required to be successful as a person living with a diagnosis, and some of them are not clinical. We have to be mindful of things like social determinants of health. When patients go home, do they have food in the refrigerator, transportation, and someone who can help them care for themselves?

And what about coordinating care? That’s a big unmet need people face routinely. People with a chronic, life-altering condition are often distressed and disappointed by how little is done to make sure all information is communicated seamlessly to every essential care person and caregiver.

Q: How can healthcare marketers help in that regard?

A: I would love to see brands provide a tool to guide patients. When someone’s given a life-altering diagnosis, they aren’t given a map or basic list of steps to tell them that when they get home, they need to do A, B, and C. What do I do when I leave that point of care? What do I do when I go home and I have work, family, children, and so many other obligations that don’t stop because I have this diagnosis? Lay it out for me: tell me what I need to do next and what do I do if I get stuck.

Q: What would a guide like that include?

A: Ideally, it would be a digital tool, so when a person leaves the doctor’s office, they have an app that maps exactly what they need to do for next steps. Having a to-do list is not enough because the path is never straight-forward. We need significantly more than just scheduling the next appointment or establishing medication reminders. People need to know how to request their medical records, how to navigate an insurance denial, or what to do when the medication is not covered by their pharmacy. This could be easily crowdsourced, similar to how Waze crowdsources traffic and navigation. Let’s crowdsource and navigate our diagnoses together!

Q: What is a patient story that’s really stuck with you?

A: I collaborated with a woman whose blood work indicated she might have a rare cancer. She met with a surgical oncologist who recommended a Whipple procedure, a surgery that could seriously impact her quality of life. The oncologist shared his medical expertise and his concerns, the patient and I did extensive research and, after months of work, we decided to go ahead with the procedure. Two days before the surgery, the oncologist called the patient and said, “You know, I think you should seek a third opinion.” Everyone relaxed, the patient got another opinion, the surgery was put off and she is now asymptomatic with no signs of any cancer. She’s doing great today because her oncologist was thoughtful and humble enough to get another perspective. The process was a beautiful example of shared decision-making between the patient and the doctor.

August 28, 2019 Jennifer Loga0


It’s been five years since Gartner called Prescriptive Analytics “the final frontier for Big Data, where companies can finally turn the unprecedented levels of data into powerful action.” Will prescriptive analytics be the final frontier for health marketers?

Pharma Marketers’ Analytics Adoption Curve

Let’s start by understanding where pharma marketing is on the analytics adoption curve.

  • Do you retroactively analyze what happened with your media campaigns? If YES, you’re using Descriptive Analytics.
  • Do you evaluate, in a deliberate and controlled fashion, why it happened? If YES, you’re using Diagnostic Analytics.
  • Do you have enough data and intelligence to predict what is most likely to happen? If YES, you’re using Predictive Analytics.
  • Do you use logic and math to decide how to make it happen? If YES, you’re using Prescriptive Analytics.

While almost all pharma marketers are using Descriptive and Diagnostic Analytics to a certain extent to measure and evaluate their media campaigns, no one to my knowledge is using Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics approaches with measurable success in health. The approach has been used successfully in mass brands for marketing, and in pharma for supply chain management, customer service modeling, and even clinical trial management, but not for marketing and media.

What Prescriptive Analytics Could Look Like

And yet we talk about prescriptive analytics because the promise is extraordinary. Let’s imagine the possibility.

For example, every month nearly 100 million people visit Healthline. With big data models, we would be able to predict the condition profiles of our readers, what content they’re going to read, what ads they’re going to click on, and what brands they will ultimately buy. With that information, we could use AI in real time to individualize and personalize the experience for each reader and determine which ad unit(s) to show them, in which platform (site, social network, newsletter), and in what order, to influence specific behaviors such as visiting a particular website page, and delivering a specific outcome like a new brand start.

Sponsoring brands could manage the reach of their ad campaigns and forecast the increased demand generated by their ad spend far more accurately. The prospect is enticing.

Limitations of Prescriptive Analytics in Health Marketing

Before we fully embrace the allure, let’s recognize some of the limitations of predictive analytics in health marketing.

  • The scale of the data just doesn’t exist. Sure, if we’re talking about a condition like flu, which affects large swaths of the world’s population, we may be able to build models that work. But what about advanced metastatic breast cancer? Or ankylosing spondylitis? The numbers of cases of these conditions are small, so the predictive power is far from confident and the models fall apart.
  • Media campaigns don’t really relate to each other. To get the historical learning at scale, we’d need to combine the learning across all media campaigns, across all brands, even across all conditions. But brands are different. Insights are different. Messages and levers are different. The experience from one campaign doesn’t apply to another, even though the holistic experience can yield powerful insights.
  • The patient journey is truly individual. Perhaps, with really big data sets, we can find demographic or behavioral markers that correlate with condition profiles, advertising sensitivity, or likelihood to get on brand. But the correlation won’t be high, and won’t necessarily portend future behavior. It’s because health is multifactorial and every person is truly unique. Not everyone with advanced metastatic breast cancer is the same. They live under different economic conditions, social determinants, value systems, and risk curves. There may exist a handful of people who mimic similar behaviors, but never segments large enough to truly validate the effort.
  • Last but not least, patient privacy protection limits widespread use of patient data. Industries leveraging prescriptive analytics with machine learning and artificial intelligence have significantly fewer barriers than health and pharma marketers. HIPAA makes data matching and outcomes-based analysis extremely challenging. Add to that the data loss now with GDPR and CCPA, further diminishing the sample sizes available for testing and optimizing, and making universal recommendations impossible.

How Pharma Can Be Data-Driven

Instead of chasing big data models, marketers can be predictive and prescriptive with their media campaigns by using descriptive and diagnostic data combined with human computing: human discernment, sensitivity, and gumption.

Here are our four principles:

  1. Live by the data. Continue to invest in machines to run the decision rules behind your dashboard, alerting you when a campaign is in the “red” or “green” zone. But make sure you have empathetic humans available to receive those alerts and act on them.
  2. Surround yourself with a team of competitive hard-core analysts. They’re hard-wired to go beyond current standards. They’re your human engine, to fine-tune future results and predict future results.
  3. Be smarter about how you use historical data. Ask “What worked?” Also, scenario plan by asking “What could work better?” to understand and perfect campaign effectiveness. Be strategic. Start with the end goal in mind, test and experiment, and deftly piece together the answers to “how” and “why.”
  4. Optimize actively, not passively. When your agency or partner presents their optimization approach, don’t gloss over that section. Approach optimization as a critical strategic lever. Build rapid review cycles, and learn and codify that learning everyday.

Prescriptive analytics gives us an ideal to aspire to, but not something we can realistically participate in today. However, we can take the key principles from that ideal and incorporate them in the way we run our campaigns. We can adhere to scientific rigor, transparency, and connecting humans to the numbers to rethink and refine campaigns. For now, it may not be a golden goose, but it’s not an empty promise either.


August 28, 2019 admin0

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) filed a notice of appeal on August 21st in response to the July ruling that blocked price disclosure in TV drug advertising. Handed down by Judge Amit Mehta of the US District Court, he ruled against the measure, stating: “HHS lacks the statutory authority under the Social Security Act to adopt the WAC [wholesale acquisition cost] Disclosure Rule.” At the time of his decision, HHS seemed to hint that they were going to file an appeal, saying they would “work with the Department of Justice on next steps related to the litigation.”

In May of this year, HHS outlined their plan for the WAC Disclosure Rule. Amgen, Merck, and Eli Lilly, joined by the Association of National Advertisers, filed a lawsuit in mid-June to prevent it from going into effect. Judge Mehta sided with the plaintiffs in early July. The price disclosure rule for TV advertising would apply to drugs with a list price of $35 or higher for a 30-day supply.

August 28, 2019 admin0

Ogilvy Health, a part of Ogilvy, has promoted seven creative team members in the agency’s New Jersey and New York offices. Expressing her excitement for the department’s growth was Ogilvy Health North America’s Chief Creative Officer, Samantha Dolin: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to see this group acknowledged for their respective talents and collective leadership. Their brilliant contributions every day help to elevate the entire Ogilvy Health team and the new roles they are taking on will allow their impact to be felt more broadly across so many of our key accounts. As they continue to drive meaningful results and delight our clients, I am looking forward to building our next creative chapter with this group of tremendously talented individuals.”

The new advancements are:

  • Mike Brune and Deborah Ciauro have been promoted to the positions of Executive Creative Directors.
  • Larry Hannon has been elevated to Senior Vice President, Creative Director.
  • Beth Elkis and George Giunta have advanced to the posts of Group Creative Directors.
  • Anita Caruso has moved to Vice President, Associate Creative Director.
  • Agnes Topor has advanced to Associate Creative Director.
Mike Brune
Deborah Ciauro
Larry Hannon
Beth Elkis
George Giunta
Anita Caruso
Agnes Topor

August 28, 2019 admin0

HCB Health announced the hiring of ten new team members under its BioPharma division and an additional four to support the agency across all groups. Of the new hires, three will take on roles in senior management: Gabriel Cangiano, Mark Davis, and Travis Waggoner.

New BioPharma team members:

  • Denise Byrne joins as Senior Project Manager in HCB Health’s Chicago location. Denise was previously a Senior Project Manager at Havas Life Metro.
  • Leslie Calabrese joins as Assistant Account Executive in Chicago. Leslie was a Social Engagement Associate at Golin prior to this role.
  • Gabriel Cangiano serves as VP, Group Account Supervisor in Chicago. Gabriel joins from GC Healthcare Consulting, having been a Consulting Director, and InTouch Solutions, where he was a Group Account Director, HCP and Market Access.
  • Brooke Claussen is an Associate Creative Director in Chicago. Brooke was with InTouch Solutions previously as an Associate Creative Director.
  • Nick D’Amore serves as Medical Editor in West New York / New Jersey. Nick was with FCB Health as a Senior Medical Editor previously.
  • Ethan Stickle joins as Account Supervisor in Chicago. Most recently, he work for The Sandbox Agency as Account Supervisor.
  • Pooja Desai holds the role of Senior Account Executive in Chicago. Pooja was a Senior Account Executive with EVERSANA previously.
  • Christine Mavridis (Chris Mav) is an Associate Creative Director in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina office. Most recently, Chris was a Group Copy Supervisor with McCann Health.
  • Julyna Moore is a Senior Art Director in Chicago, having previously held the Senior Art Director role at AbelsonTaylor.
  • Ruth Nobile joins as an Account Executive in the Austin location. Most recently, Ruth, a postdoctoral marketing fellow, was with Bayer Pharmaceuticals in US Oncology Marketing.

Supporting the entire agency:

  • Cody Morris is now an Associate UX (user experience) Designer, working in the Austin location. He was previously a contract / freelance graphic designer.
  • Mark Davis holds the role of SVP Multichannel Delivery in New Jersey. Prior to that, he was a healthcare digital marketing consultant, and was with Sudler & Hennessey as a SVP, Digital Strategist.
  • Travis Waggoner serves as IT Director in Austin. Travis was previously with TeamLogicIT as a Solutions Engineer / Technical Delivery.
  • Kelsi Brown joins as Director of Employee Engagement in Austin. Previously, Kelsi was a Senior HR Manager at T3.

August 2, 2019 Bob Ehrlich0
The Trump administration wants to allow Canadian drugs to be imported to give consumers lower prices. This is also supported by almost every Congressional Democrat and many Republicans. It sounds great to allow American consumers to buy cheaper drugs from Canada and is already happening somewhat through online Canadian pharmacies. Consumers can generally save 30-50% and in some cases by a lot more.
So why is this tactic going to fail? First, drug makers do not want to sell to Canadian distributors just to have those lower priced drugs come back to the United States. They happily will sell what Canadian consumers need but will not allow much more than that to be sold into Canada. Drug companies know some Americans buy Canadian drugs but that is a relatively small amount. Once that reimportation gets to be a big business drug companies will restrict what Canadians can buy.
Bob Ehrlich
“The American people will demand a price solution…”
-Bob Ehrlich
Second, the Canadian government has already said they have experienced drug shortages and will not allow Canada to become an exporter of drugs if their own citizens face problems filling prescriptions. Drug makers will not allow their golden goose US market to be destroyed by a Canadian end run. Drug makers always have the option of not selling a drug in Canada if the approved price is too low. That could deprive Canadians of getting access which is not a good scenario.
Unfortunately for drug makers it looks like there will be some system of price indexing or outright price controls in the future. There is no strong support from either party for drug makers charging US consumers more than other developed countries. While Republicans are more friendly to drug makers, they cannot convince their constituents that it is fair to pay significantly more than the French, Canadians or Germans. While they know innovation is funded by US profits, that is a hard sell for voters having trouble affording rising health care costs.
What is the solution? Drug companies must self regulate their desire to raise prices beyond inflation. Any increase beyond that is difficult to defend. American consumers need to get a tangible benefit paying a premium price. That could be faster access to new drugs, and more price support during the introductory period to prove the value of the premium drug. While the industry’s ad campaign explaining the wonders of drug research is good, I am afraid it is insufficient to assuage concerns that Americans pay too much.
The best solution is to have one developed market price for a drug with Canadians and Europeans paying more and Americans paying less. Why would other governments agree to that? There would have to be some benefit in allowing drug companies higher prices in price-controlled markets. That could be through trade concessions in other categories. Any fair price system would take a massive negotiating effort between the drug industry and multi government regulators. Perhaps over time an index system could work as long as the drug industry could make substantially the same returns.
Another solution is to extend patent expirations in exchange for lower prices. Also, any system that speeds approval can be leveraged against high drug prices. What needs to be done is a pragmatic approach that balances need for innovation with lower prices. Saying that drug companies are greedy will not get to a workable long-term drug strategy. American consumers will not benefit if mandating lower prices leads to a cut in vital research.
What I do predict is the drug price issue cannot be successfully fought much longer by lobbyists. That can no longer be the main strategy of drug makers. The American people will demand a price solution as this ire is being stoked in every political debate. Unfortunately, the proposed solutions will not be favorable to drug maker profits. One of the ways to mitigate profit impact is to increase demand. DTC could be a beneficiary of that demand-based strategy. If drug prices are forced down, I would expect drug companies to increase marketing budgets to grow their user base and retain those users.
After so many years of drug prices debates, 2020 looks like the time action will be a reality. Of course, the extent of price action depends on who gets elected. The Sanders/Harris/Warren plan is highly punitive for drug makers while Biden and other moderates will go softer. Trump is not far from moderate Dems on his plans so drug makers will get hurt whoever wins in 2020.