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October 31, 2019 Linda Ruschau0


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One of my favorite things about PatientPoint is that we’re always finding innovative ways to improve patient engagement. Leading the charge on the technology side is David Guthrie, Chief Product Officer at PatientPoint and one of the most interesting and best hires we’ve ever had.

David is dedicated to developing meaningful, technology-enabled solutions designed to make life better. He’s most well-known for co-founding Medcast, the platform that became WebMD—which, like point of care, helps bring doctors and patients together. David later served as an adviser on early-stage life science and technology investments, then followed that with a 14-year stint as Chief Technology Officer for PGi, the world’s largest dedicated provider of collaboration software and services.

David’s amazing career and his work at PatientPoint recently earned him recognition as a 2019 DTC Innovator by DTC Perspectives. On the heels of that prestigious award, I wanted to share his thoughts on the value of patient engagement technology—and what we should keep our eyes on in the near future.

Q: What value does engagement technology bring to the patient experience?

A: To me, it’s education, education, education. Health education helps patients better understand their condition and treatment options, making them more prepared for the overall care management related to their condition. A more educated patient has a healthier outcome and better experience when dealing with healthcare providers.

Q: What opportunities does patient engagement technology provide pharma brands over other advertising channels?

A: The big difference patient engagement solutions offer is interactivity at the point of care. It gives brands a presence in the moment when physicians and patients are making treatment decisions together. You can get some interactivity on the web, but you’re not necessarily present in the doctor’s office, right when those decisions happen.

With a comprehensive engagement platform, brands can take an umbrella approach that puts them in the waiting room, the exam room, the back office, and even beyond the office. We’ve added technologies that allow healthcare providers to send information to patients before they arrive for the visit or after the visit, based on what the provider sees in the EMR. It’s a holistic approach to patient education that’s unique to patient engagement technology versus traditional advertising channels.

Q: What should pharma brands look for in a patient engagement technology partner?

A: Technology is changing rapidly, so pharma brands need to think about how an engagement technology partner is responding to those changes. How interactive are their solutions? Are they utilizing mobile technologies and geolocation? What are they doing as far as integrating with EMRs, with voice technologies, with multiple platforms? You want a patient engagement technology partner that’s innovating in all of those areas. If they’re extending their current offerings into these spaces, that’s a partner you can really grow with.

Q: You have a unique insider view of the medical technology industry. What’s on the horizon for patient engagement technology that you’re eager to explore?

A: I’m interested in solutions that foster more effective communications before and after the doctor visit—education and tools that are tailored specifically to the patient. Today’s engagement technology is at the point of care; I want to get us to the point of patient.

For example, I may be at an oncologist for lymphoma and seeing point-of-care education about all types of cancer, but lymphoma education is all that’s relevant to me. If we take the engagement tools available inside the physician office, extend them out and make them more precise, we can deliver only the information that’s most relevant and valuable to an individual patient.

Q: Last question: What’s the best vacation you’ve ever had?

A: Beaver Creek, Colorado with my family for the summer. Hiking, four-wheeling, horseback riding, rafting, paragliding, zip lining—it’s an outdoor summer paradise. People think of Colorado for skiing or snow sports, but we started going out there in the summer and it became one of our top places. It’s great in winter and spring, but summer in Colorado is just amazing.

October 31, 2019 Justin Grossman0

With digital pharma teams in the throes of 2020 annual planning, omnichannel marketing has risen to the top of the priority list.

As our industry rushes to keep pace with customer expectations shaped by faster-moving sectors like CPG, marketers have broadened their focus beyond the channel-based tactics of the past. “Omnichannel” is now shorthand for the ideal future state of pharma marketing: a seamless and personalized experience for all customers, and a martech ecosystem that gives brands the power to deliver it.

Still, marketers are wondering: how exactly do I achieve omnichannel success?

I recommend a methodical approach. Our experience working with hundreds of pharma marketing teams has revealed that there are three phases every brand must navigate on the path to true omnichannel marketing — each with its own considerations and requirements.

As your 2020 plans take shape, think about which phase of omnichannel transformation you’re in now. What actions you can take next year to continue the momentum?

Phase 1: Channel Optimization

How well is your brand performing in each channel? Your ability to answer this question is a good indicator of your readiness for omnichannel marketing.

Brands in Phase 1 are leveraging a standard set of digital platforms that provide data for the channels they support; email automation platforms measure open rates, CMS platforms and analytics tools track site traffic, and media platforms count ad impressions. Data exists, but it’s mostly transactional. Quarterly reports might correlate data for each channel to top-level goals, but the attribution is not precise and conclusions are not actionable.

Phase 1 organizations should focus on two areas.

  • Reporting — Look beyond transactional data to understand how well each channel is supporting KPIs. Keep in mind that KPIs are key performance indicators; there should be a limited number of meaningful outcomes that your team can accurately measure and consistently report on: prescription lift, adherence, etc. Dashboards for every team (media, web, email, others) should attempt to demonstrate how their channel is impacting KPIs. With all stakeholders reporting on the same KPIs, the brand will naturally start to align on more customer-centric goals and consider how multiple channels could work better together.
  • Segmentation — Phase 1 brands have established demographic customer segments that drive high-level messaging; for example, physicians in the same practice area all receive the same email sequence. These demographic segments are a start, but deeper behavior-based segments that align to KPIs (e.g. frequent prescribers, non-adherent patients) a valuable next step. Determine what data would help you establish segments of customers who share key behaviors, even if you don’t have access to the data just yet.

If you’re still struggling to define KPIs or to understand how demographic segments are engaging with your brand, your short-term focus should be on optimizing the core platforms you’ve put in place to support your channels today.

Phase 2: Data Centralization

With a solid understanding of how channels are performing, you’re ready to leverage cross-channel analytics. This sets the foundation for optimizing spend.

How? Suppose that prescription rates are falling within a physician target segment. The media team ramps up display spend on target networks, the brand team tests new creative, and field reps increase email frequency. Too often, these uncoordinated efforts result in overspend and do nothing to improve real-world customer experience (CX). Considering that HCPs are 2.7 times more likely to prescribe a drug when they are satisfied with their overall CX versus a single channel, orchestrated omnichannel journeys have a real impact on the bottom line.

With pharma marketing budgets historically allocated by channel, teams often default to adjusting tactics within channels to improve performance. In Phase 2, you’ll focus on centralizing data to inform smarter strategies.

  • Customer data platform (CDP) —  A CDP is software that aggregates customer data from every channel in a single database. It integrates with your existing platforms to resolve user identities, track interactions across platforms, and trigger messaging. A CDP provides a more holistic picture of how your customers are interacting with your brand in real time, replacing disconnected transactional metrics. It doesn’t replace the platforms you already have in place; it complements them.
  • Behavioral segments — In Phase 1, you identified the behavioral data you need to create segments of customers who don’t just look alike on paper, but act alike in their digital journeys. With a CDP in place, you can gather and analyze behavioral data to craft better user journeys instead of optimizing “conversions” like ad clicks that don’t correlate to KPIs. What events signal high-value behavior? What combination of touch points indicates a likelihood to convert?

Keep in mind that you may not have enough data to create omnichannel journeys for every customer group right away. Start small; our clients typically run pilot programs designed to create one behavioral segment and practice using cross-channel analytics to improve their experience. Don’t despair if Phase 2 lasts six months or more; transforming from a channel-based to customer-centric brand takes time and effort.

In this simplified example, patients are grouped according to their behavior (engagement level) and KPI (adherence). With centralized data, the marketing team can begin to understand the triggers for each group, and track what combination of touch points improves engagement and achieves KPIs. 

Phase 3: Refining the Mix

With centralized data and behavior-based customer segments in place, you’re ready to focus your investment in areas with the highest possible return.

High-performing pharma brands are using omnichannel optimization to outthink (rather than outspend) the competition; in fact, Gartner’s 2019 Digital IQ Index reported that 19% of the top 88 U.S. drug brands are generating higher site traffic with lower display impressions. If those brands had budgeted based on channel data alone, they’d be wasting valuable marketing dollars.

How will you know what combination of messaging, channels, and tactics will make the greatest impact?

  • Testing — Your CDP gives you real-time customer insight and the ability to immediately deploy changes to your campaigns; no need to set up a fixed email sequence and wait for your quarterly business review to understand the full impact. You can personalize messaging on the spot for a specific individual or group to learn how it affects engagement. Leverage your CDP capabilities to create and test hypotheses that will validate how customers respond to changes in their journey.
  • Deeper Data — Consider additional third-party data could deepen customer insight; sources may include wearable devices, claims data, electronic patient records, and more (with an eye on compliance, of course).
  • Predictive Analytics — With your technical infrastructure in place, you can begin to draw on historical data and customer behavior patterns to predict what changes could be made to drive higher conversion rates.

Phase 3 brands have the pieces in place to deliver the personalized, low-friction customer experience that is considered true omnichannel success. Then what?

Beyond Omnichannel 

In 2020, pharma marketers will prioritize omnichannel transformation to provide customers with a “consumer grade” experience. Before we know it, the very idea of “channels” will take a back seat to customer experience. Our reporting dashboards, language, team structures, and strategies will change.

Eventually, “omnichannel” will become synonymous with “marketing” in pharma. It will sound redundant, and we’ll wonder why channels — not customers — were even a priority to begin with. Until then, identify the phase of omnichannel transformation that you’re in right now and how you’ll take it to the next level in your 2020 plan.

October 31, 2019 Sam Dolin0

You would be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn’t been affected in some way by the national epidemic of opioid addiction. Whether as an individual, or through family, friends, colleagues, neighbors—we all know, or at least know of, someone who has struggled with this growing issue.

It’s no wonder, then, during the past year many beautiful and incredibly influential disease awareness and DTC campaigns have been created to destigmatize and humanize this heartbreaking issue. These campaigns drive home the truth that people with addiction issues are not just the individuals who live questionable lifestyles, have separated from society, and are living on the streets. They are the people you see every day, the individuals who have full, successful lives—the high-powered executive, the college athlete, the church-going grandmother who is recovering from surgery. A few current ads speak to this issue; all of which are doing the important job of bringing the conversation forward and shedding light on the issue, as well as challenging the misconceptions around opioid addiction. Here are some of the best:

Prescribed to Death, National Safety Council

This robust, award-winning campaign by the National Safety Council was originally launched in 2018, and it has been evolving and growing ever since. It hits all touchpoints—from the traveling monument that personalizes the effect of loss through a display of pills carved with the faces of 20,000 real people lost to opioid addiction in just one year, to the newly implemented “Opioids: Warn Me” stickers designed for people to apply to their insurance cards to ensure doctors and pharmacists have a conversation about the benefits of, and concerns around, the drugs being prescribed to them.


Mist, Vermont Department of Health

It’s not every day that you come across great creative coming out of a state health department, but this is certainly a wonderful exception. The series, each page of which beautifully illustrates how naloxone truly does help breathe life back into people on the cusp of death from opioid overdose, captures the powerful impact of the drug and the importance of being able to save a life—all in one striking image.


Impossible Questions, Partnership for Drug Free Kids

Most public service announcements (PSAs) tend to be directed toward individuals who are immediately at risk, with the objective of raising awareness and/or changing individuals’ attitudes or actions. This one views opioid addiction with a different lens by speaking to the effect it has on the parents of an addicted child. Through the simple art of storytelling, this PSA highlights the impact of addiction on an intensely personal, relatable level, and shows how, even within the bonds of a marriage, the fight to help someone in the throes of addiction can leave people feeling isolated, afraid, and alone.


Pill Case, First Call

The stopping power of this particular campaign is significant, in part because the ads leave no room for interpretation. By transforming a familiar, everyday object into a depiction of small, powerful vignettes, First Call and VML do a masterful job of illustrating what the future likely looks like if you’re an opioid addict. The individuals shown are literally trapped in the day-to-day reality of addiction—a future that is ominous, dark, and alarming. The powerful imagery captures the incalculable human cost of this rampant epidemic.


Behind the Door, Huggies

This awareness ad comes from Huggies, an unlikely source considering the brand is universally recognized as being associated with the warm, happy feelings that babies tend to evoke. The video itself addresses the littlest and most innocent casualties of opioid addiction and shares the powerful way Huggies is looking to help effect change in the lives of newborns who are born to addicted mothers. Huggies really shows its values and commitment to its customer base in both this ad and the program the company funds.

October 31, 2019 admin0

The official Verification and Validation Guidance was released in mid-October for the Point of Care Communication Council (Poc3). The Guidance will “serve as a unified set of industry standards that will define best practices, engender trust among those who transact at the point of care, and provide a clear and standardized mechanism enabling media buyers to determine which POC media vendors are certified and adhering to the auditing requirements set by PoC3,” as per the news release.

“The PoC3 Verification and Validation Guidance is pivotal to the POC industry at large,” said PoC3 Co-Chair Larry Newman (also Chief Operating Officer of Health Media Network) in the release. “As the channel continues to grow and advance at an accelerated rate, having a unified set of checks and balances will help buyers understand POC opportunities and have confidence in program implementations and results.”

Input and insights were collected from PoC3 member companies, pharmaceutical companies, advertising agencies, and other stakeholders, as well as “public feedback collected over the summer during an open comment period” to help shape the Guidance. In addition, PoC3 will certify those in compliance with a PoC3 Certification Seal. According to the Guidance, Completed on an annual basis, the Seal “represents compliance with all areas within this document labeled as ‘requirements’ and marked with an asterisk in the Table of Contents … [and] a company’s Network Audit success at the 92.5% audit success criteria as part of the Overall Auditing Requirements within this guidance, as well as an aggregate of Campaign Audit success at the same 92.5% audit success criteria.”

“Ensuring that all industry stakeholders had the opportunity to contribute and provide input was critically important in developing this guidance. Our hope is that all POC media companies will strive to become PoC3 Certified. It’s a high bar requiring substantial investment in external independent auditing, improved operational processes and IT reporting systems. This collective effort continues to elevate the industry, and we’ve been seeing ongoing momentum and energy as a result,” added PoC3 Co-Chair Mike Collette (Founder and CEO of PatientPoint).

October 31, 2019 admin0

More than 200 influencers attended Chronicon, a first of its kind day-long event co-produced by Healthline Media and Nitika Chopra, a healthcare advocate living with psoriasis. Held this past Tuesday in Union Park East in NYC, Chronicon served as an “open forum to address the needs of those living with chronic conditions and their support communities,” stated the news release. Healthline readers, Healthline’s and Chopra’s community members, as well as the general public were invited to hear sessions throughout the day – which ranged from personal stories to advice and recommendations on self-care, advocating for yourself, and coping with the emotions of a chronic condition. The agenda included a number of informative and engaging panels, a keynote interview with TV host/style icon Stacy London (conducted by Chopra), musical performances, and fun networking events.

Through her own struggles with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis since she was 10 years old, Chopra was inspired to create Chronicon to help sufferers seeking support and community. “People with chronic conditions – regardless of their condition, ethnic background, or gender – often feel isolated and without any community,” Chopra said. “Through Chronicon, we’re showing them that they are not alone. We’re changing lives by spreading the power of self-care, creating communities, and engendering support for people with chronic conditions.”

“The most important aspect of Chronicon has been to hear from those on the front lines of the vibrant communities of those living with chronic health conditions,” said Healthline Media Senior Vice President of Marketing Tracy Rosecrans. “The next phase is to bring these deeper understandings and learnings to healthcare marketers and pharmaceutical executives to help improve support resources, treatment and health outcomes.”

October 31, 2019 admin0

Ethan Lindenberger made headlines this past year when, at the age of 18, he went against his parents’ wishes and chose to get vaccinations. According to the news release, “Ethan grew up being told that vaccines cause autism, brain damage, and do not benefit the health and safety of society despite the fact such opinions have been debunked numerous times by the scientific community.” Through his own research, he learned about the benefits of vaccines and was able to debunk myths and misinformation. The now 19-year old has become an activist know for his “opposition to vaccine misinformation efforts” and has thus joined Unity Consortium to be featured as a member of their Voice of AYA (Adolescents and Young Adults) campaign.

Unity’s Voices of AYA encourages young adults and teens to get and stay up-to-date with recommended vaccinations and helps them identify misinformation online. Outcome Health has partnered up with the non-profit organization to produce video spots featuring Ethan and Dr. Laura Offutt, an expert source and teen health advocate. Outcome Health has worked with Unity since 2018, but this is their first collaboration on a joint video campaign (video spots can be seen here and here). As part of the initiative, the videos will run on Outcome Health’s doctor office screens nationwide and Unity’s advocacy network, be shared through social media, and Ethan will post a number of blogs over the coming months.

According to the news announcement: “With new outbreaks in diseases, such as the measles epidemics that have hit multiple states in the US, it’s important to spread the word about the importance of vaccinations. A Unity survey conducted by Harris poll found that 4 in 10 parents and nearly 6 in 10 teens believe teens should only see a doctor for an illness, which likely reduces opportunities for physicians to discuss preventive health measures, such as vaccination. Similarly, the survey showed that 1 in 4 parents and teens believe that vaccines are for babies and not as important for teens.”

October 31, 2019 admin0

PatientConnect Video was launched by Healthgrades earlier this month to provide not only education video programming about specific health conditions, but to then connect patients with qualified, local specialists. According to the news release, “PatientConnect Video eliminates the uncertainty for patients who don’t know where to access care.”

Coupling proprietary AI technology with their innovative solution suite, this online video solution provides content along with relevant healthcare provider information. “For example, patients watching video content about rheumatoid arthritis are dynamically provided with listings of rheumatologists closest to their location along with the physicians’ accepted insurance, patient reviews, contact information and more.”

According to John Mangano, Senior Vice President, Business Intelligence for Healthgrades, this takes things a step further than the usual ‘ask your doctor for more information’ instruction typically found in ads by actually “helping the patient find their doctor. After viewing an ad online, Healthgrades delivers individually localized contact information, along with patient reviews of the provider, so each patient can connect with the right practitioner.”