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November 16, 2020 Samantha Brown0

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About 29 million people in the United States rely on community-based organizations (CBOs), which provide care to low-income and uninsured patients, often living with infectious disease including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C [9].  Since the onset of the HIV epidemic, community-based organizations have proved vital to the United States’ HIV prevention efforts, delivering the most effective HIV prevention strategies to those who need them the most and are at the greatest risk of infection [1].  As the U.S. continues to battle COVID-19, community-based organizations are facing unprecedented demands to combat COVID-19 while continuing to deliver essential HIV prevention and treatment services [2]. 

According to Kelsey Louie, GMHC, CEO:

“COVID-19 created unprecedented challenges for GMHC in ensuring that we could sustain our services for our clients during the pandemic.  We pivoted many of our programs to remote delivery using video conferencing and implemented at-home HIV testing so these vital services could continue to be accessible to our communities.  The new technologies that we have embraced during COVID-19 including telehealth and Mesmerize’s patient education platform, will continue to be vital parts of our programming well after the pandemic ends.”  

Many CBOs shared case studies demonstrating the impact of COVID-19 on their organizations at the 2020 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS (USCHA).  Here are 5 ways COVID-19 affects community-based organizations and their efforts to end the country’s HIV epidemic:

1. Testing is the only way to know if you have HIV.  If everyone knew their status, we could protect ourselves and each other, bringing us closer to ending the epidemic.  As a result of COVID-19, however, community-based organizations were forced to think outside of the box to maintain client access to essential HIV prevention and care services including HIV, Hepatitis C (HCV) and STI testing.

Community-based organizations that have been providing long-standing and proven-effective HIV, HCV and STI testing to communities at risk have had to change their standard testing procedures to continue providing these vital services while also addressing COVID-19 [6].  As a result of COVID-19, most CBOs were forced to change their traditional methods of care to continue in-person appointments while prioritizing the safety of their staff and clients and preventing the transmission of COVID-19.  Changes to care included pre-screening prior to scheduling appointments, integrating HIV screening services into existing workflows, designating exam rooms to patients who are known to be at risk of COVID-19, and disinfecting all exams rooms after each appointment [5].  While there are options for at-home HIV testing, STI testing requiring bloodwork must be done by a practitioner on-site.  CBO staff are working hard to ensure that newly diagnosed patients are immediately linked to treatment and existing patients are adhering to their medications, while simultaneously working to prevent an already vulnerable population from getting COVID-19.

2. Community-based organizations are working to address and integrate COVID-19 with their existing HIV, Hepatitis, and STI care and prevention programs.  Their deep community roots and relationships make them uniquely equipped to handle the transition from protecting vulnerable populations from infectious disease to include COVID-19 as well.

CBO staff have reported adding COVID-19 work to their scope of usual services and are calling for additional resources to address emerging COVID-19 related needs among their clients [6]. Most organizations reported some level of involvement in COVID-19 related activities, including educating clients about COVID-19 risks and protective measures, conducting COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and providing counseling and care for clients with COVID-19 [7].  Compared to the traditional doctor’s office, community-based organizations have deep community roots as well as strong expertise in addressing social supports such as mental and personal care within the communities they serve [10].  This makes CBOs uniquely positioned to transition their staff’s expertise from sexual health to general health and makes them well equipped to incorporate questions pertaining to COVID-19 concerns including mental health and wellness, social isolation and current events, into previously routine testing appointments [8].  Some organizations still reported the need for additional staff training and educational materials on COVID-19 to distribute to clients, which Mesmerize continues to provide to these organizations in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) [7].

3. Community-based organizations have adopted and executed new measures and strategies to address COVID-19 related needs among their clients.

Many community-based organizations have adopted new strategies to continue providing quality service to the communities they serve.  New strategies include digitizing client forms and medical records, as well as utilizing virtual care as an additional means for providing health education and counseling [6].  While the pace at which these organizations were able to execute such new strategies is remarkable, many reported needing additional resources to properly implement these strategies, including technical assistance to integrate COVID-19 within HIV, HCV and STI services, technology training, and structured clinical support for staff [7].  Additionally, while technology has been able to solve for some of the problems facing CBOs, there are many services these organizations provide to the community that must be addressed in-person, including STI testing, affordable housing, and meal services.  In an effort to continue providing these essential in-person services, CBOs have had to purchase additional PPE for their staff, as well as hand sanitizer and masks for community distribution, requiring significant investment from these organizations [7].

4. CBOs have a history of facing financial challenges, with many organizations having few or no financial reserves, running persistent operating deficits, and having a lack of access to capital for investment in resources and technology [8].  Community based organizations have incurred immediate expenses connected to the COVID-19 epidemic [7].

Many community-based organizations have limited or no financial reserves, making them extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in expected revenue and cost levels [8].  COVID-19 has resulted in immediate expenses for CBOs, including the implementation of safety measures, infrastructure enhancement, and changes to their standard provision of services [7].  While many organizations were able to quickly and creatively implement new methods to continue providing quality HIV, HCV and STI care throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, these rapid enhancements require significant investment from CBOs, including investments in Electronic Health Records (EHR), computers, and hotspots [7].  Many organizations are tapping into their funds amidst the cancelling of fundraising events [7].  Even those with unrestricted funds are concerned about the long-term sustainability of implementing safety and procedural measures to address COVID-19 while continuing to provide foundational HIV and Hepatitis prevention and care services [6].  CBOs present at USCHA also expressed concern over their ability to strategically separate funds so that money reserved for HIV and Hepatitis prevention and care is not spent fighting COVID-19 [7].  Organizations are hopeful that the next round of government funding will provide valuable support for CBOs to continue providing these valuable services, while also offsetting some of the losses they’ve incurred fighting COVID-19, and better preparing them for the future.

5. While adopting new methods and strategies to simultaneously fight both the AIDS and COVID-19 epidemics has been costly, many CBOs believe these new practices are for the better of the organization and will be adopted long-term with lasting impact.

Many CBOs invested in technology upgrades, provision of virtual services, and HIV/HVC/STI program adaptation to continue providing essential services to their clients while simultaneously navigating new measures in place to address COVID-19.  While COVID-19 has created unprecedented and numerous challenges to community-based organizations, The Stronger Together Partnership (comprised of The Black AIDS Institute, San Francisco Community Health Center and Latino Commission on AIDS) applauds these organizations for their ability to “take on the challenges by implementing team approaches to problem solving, embracing technological upgrades, and fostering innovation.  Many leadership staff have identified lessons learned from this pandemic and are doing their best to see this as an opportunity to develop new strategies and expand their service portfolio” [6].  Many organizations also reported that the new strategies and measures put in place to respond to COVID-19 will prepare them for emergency responses in the future, allowing them to better serve their community and be prepared for whatever may impact them next.


[1] CDC NCHHSTP. “CDC Awards $216 Million to Community-Based Organizations to Deliver the Most-Effective HIV Prevention Strategies to Those in Greatest Need.”, 1 July 2015,

[2] “COVID-19 and HIV.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Aug. 2020,

[3] “The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact of HIV and Hepatitis Programs.” NASTAD, NASTAD, 12 Aug. 2020,

[4] Dreyfus, Susan, and Tracy Wareing Evans. “The Importance of Community-Based Organizations in Human Services.” Independent Sector, Independent Sector, 23 Jan. 2018,

[5] Hadayia, Jennifer. “US Conference on HIV/AIDS.” Legacy Community Health, Expansion/Integration: HIV Testing & PrEP During a Pandemic, 19 Oct. 2020,!/Workshops/n820161. .

[6] Hucks-Ortiz, Christopher, et al. “COVID-19 National Rapid Assessment Preliminary Report: The Institutional Impact of COVID-19 on Organizations of Color Providing HIV/STI/HCV Services to People of Color across the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Island, and Affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions.” Institute for Latinx Health Equity, 2020,

[7] Hucks-Ortiz, Christopher, et al. “US Conference on HIV/AIDS.” Stronger Together Partnership (STP), Impact of COVID-19 on Organizations of Color Providing HIV/STI/HCV Services, 19 Oct. 2020,!/Workshops/n820161.

[8] Shaw, John, et al. “US Conference on HIV/AIDS.” The Project of Primary Healthcare, A New Normal: HIV/HCV/STI Testing during Covid-19, 20 Oct. 2020,!/Workshops/n820161.

[9] Stone, Will. “Under Financial Strain, Community Health Centers Ramp Up For Coronavirus Response.” NPR, NPR, 24 Mar. 2020,

[10] Super, Nora Mary Kaschak Elizabeth, et al. “Health Care And Community-Based Organizations Have Finally Begun Partnering To Integrate Health And Long-Term Care: Health Affairs Blog.” Health Affairs, 2 Feb. 2018,

September 25, 2019 Linda Ruschau0

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I know the pain of losing a loved one to opioid addiction. My family continues to grieve the loss of an incredible young man who, after an awful car accident, began a decade-long battle against addiction to his prescribed painkillers. Three years ago, he lost that battle.

Countless other families have experienced similar losses due to our nationwide opioid crisis. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more than 130 people die from opioid overdoses every day. It’s a devastating epidemic that impacts people of any age and from all walks of life.

To help combat opioid addiction, PatientPoint® collaborated with Shatterproof – a nonprofit organization focused on ending the stigma of addiction and improving addiction treatment – to create a powerful opioid education program at the point of care. It launched nationwide in October 2017 across the digital PatientPoint engagement platform, reaching an estimated 15 million patients and caregivers each month in waiting rooms, exam rooms, and in the physician back office. The content is designed to increase the awareness of opioid addiction and encourage doctor-patient discussions about other treatment options.

And the best news is, it is working and we are making a difference. An independent analysis by Symphony Health revealed that each of the 20,793 physicians who had the education program in their practices distributed 142 fewer opioid prescriptions over the eight-month study period than closely matched, non-participating physicians. That adds up to nearly 3 million fewer pills prescribed. If that doesn’t prove the effectiveness of messaging to physicians and patients at the point of care, I don’t know what will.

I often talk about the power of messaging at the point of care, but the results of PatientPoint-Shatterproof campaign really drive it home. I encourage you to read the case study for more details about this fantastic campaign and its impact on the fight against opioid addiction. You can find here.

September 25, 2019 Jason Lotkowictz0

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In pharmaceutical marketing circles, we hear sporadic boasts of a successful social campaign, award-winning content marketing, or insights drawn from a patient community platform. The ambitious brand manager takes these case studies back to the conference room, ready to formulate a new playbook, only to be overwhelmed by the complexities of operating in our highly regulated industry.

Progressive brand strategies shouldn’t be devised to win awards or dominate the marketing trades, but if done well, they certainly deserve accolades. More importantly, meeting your patients wherever they are while offering them interactive content, and adapting your message to service their needs, paves the road to better patient outcomes and higher return-on-investment.

Merck’s VERSED campaign is a great example of activating the system described above, to raise awareness around HPV vaccination. VERSED combines content marketing (, with short form social posts, interactive questions, and community guidelines for adverse event reporting.

While the campaign clearly put patients first, Merck and Klick Health also won the industry recognition they deserved.

Pharmaceutical campaigns that try to combine cutting-edge marketing technologies are often derailed by the breadth of stakeholders involved in the process. To limit disruption in creativity and execution, marketers should seek out cross-discipline solution providers, who can fast track the process. In its broader framework, The Tylt has been recognized as a pioneer in this space and the applications for healthcare are inspiring.

The Tylt is the fastest growing social polling and opinion platform on the web helping marketers create conversation, understand sentiment, and activate on vote-based data. Using patented technology, The Tylt collects opinions and relative influence data from our site and social channels in real-time. In partnership with brands, The Tylt can help achieve awareness and engagement goals by creating new content or reformatting current content for maximum interaction. Informed by voting behavior, marketers can extend the impact of a Tylt campaign by messaging audiences based on the vote they made.

For healthcare campaigns, the process begins with locating the right patient and encouraging them to share their opinion on a personally meaningful health topic. Patient advocacy becomes democratized when declared sentiments, informed by supporting evidence, are shared socially. By bringing structure to health conversations as they trend across social, patient insights can be identified and addressed in the next wave of interactive content, positioning the brand as a partner in the journey to better health.

For example, a multiple sclerosis brand may want to initiate patient interactions with a simple question: “To combat cognitive fatigue, what game do you prefer to play to keep your mind active?”

Answering that question in hashtag form (#SudokuForMS or #CrosswordForMS) creates a unique campaign identifier that allows for insights collection, as votes are shared across social media. The original question reaches an MS population with standard targeting models, whether they receive the poll on social media, as a display ad, or as a polling widget on or our partnered sites. While the brand itself may display sponsorship logos or embed assets throughout the campaign, the campaign value multiplies over time, by engaging patients after they’ve provided self-reported data.

The pharmaceutical marketing industry’s reliance on traditional media has reached the point of stagnation. With TV, print, or digital display, the highest spender wins share-of-voice, and if the product is effective, it gains market share. The only way to disrupt this model is to stay focused on innovations that add value through personalization, platform agnosticism, and a relentless focus on patient interaction.

To learn more about activating The Tylt in your next pharmaceutical marketing campaign, contact Jason Lotkowictz (

May 14, 2019 Traver Hutchins0

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The last decade has witnessed the astounding growth and scale of Facebook and Google. Together these two power players command the majority of digital ad spend, and Amazon is increasingly making gains. While compelling targeting and efficiency benefits have led to a collective surge in brand spend with these major digital and social players, publishers repeatedly demonstrate that they can’t fully control where brand campaigns appear across their platforms.

Brands are routinely finding themselves appearing adjacent to content violating taste and tone guidelines or worse, on blacklisted sites. And despite publishers putting thousands of employees and AI support safeguards in place to weed out so-called “problem adjacencies,” this keeps happening.

The latest example of this unsafe brand environment was just weeks ago, when an active shooter in New Zealand took to Facebook Live to broadcast his 17-minute shooting spree. Footage remained on Facebook for an hour, with Facebook citing a failure of their AI capabilities leading to the accidental airing of the gruesome footage.

It’s no mystery that these publishers are playing catch-up and can’t guarantee brand-safe environments, and the same issue has been on the table for years.

And it’s becoming increasingly clear that brands have had enough. 

Earlier this month, P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard blasted the digital media industry for lack of transparency, fraud, privacy breaches, and a proliferation of violent and harmful content placed next to ads.

“We’ve been tolerant for too long,” Pritchard said in remarks to the Association of National Advertisers’ annual media conference. “It’s not acceptable to have brands showing up where opioids are being offered, where illegal drugs are promoted, where abhorrent behavior is present, or where violence is seen. The apologies are heartfelt and appreciated, but that’s not good enough.”

Prichard’s comments beg the question: With brand equity and corporate reputation at risk, are these platforms worthy of the major investments they enjoy?

How valuable is a media buy that promises hyper targeting, yet carries a tremendous risk of deviations from brand advertiser content guidelines and subsequent public relations efforts to correct and repair a maligned reputation?

At the end of the day, every dollar spent in the digital and social sector represents a dollar that isn’t going to “traditional” media. And yet traditional media channels such as TV, print, and point of care (POC) guarantee brand-safe ad placement and have a solid track record of delivering on agreed-to adjacencies.

POC media in particular allows brands to enjoy the halo effect of an implied endorsement of a healthcare professional. Offering custom, curated content alongside prestigious medical and patient advocacy organizations and award-winning education also presents an important opportunity.

Simply put, POC media plans can be targeted without the risk.

Time is running out for digital and social publishers to make amends, and advertisers are beginning to put their money where their mouth is. In 2017, P&G ceased all YouTube ad spending until the publisher could guarantee safe adjacency for P&G brands. Perhaps this time marketers will join to pull back their marketing spends to demand safe adjacencies.

In the meantime, “traditional” media such as POC will continue to deliver the right adjacency at the right time with definable results. Shifting the media channel allocation mix to include POC for health brand marketing spend is an easy case to make.

See the value that POC can bring to your channel mix in our new whitepaper.

April 30, 2019 Kim Carpenter0

Health and wellness, pharmaceutical, and medical-device providers must navigate an ever-evolving and consistently complicated healthcare landscape. Agencies (and corporate marketers) serve a key role in helping their clients problem solve, understand their challenges, and identify critical success factors.

How is this best accomplished? Through the power of thorough, intuitive and intentional listening, and strong engagement – with both the client and consumer.

It’s critical to tap into that certain something that bridges the gap between what agencies (and corporate marketers) think they know and what a client (or brand manager) needs to understand. The reverse is equally true. What does the client (or brand manager) and consumer know and what do we as agencies need to understand? It can only be arrived at through intentional, deep listening. And from that, valuable insights result. Answers rise to the top. Incredible ideas and campaigns are born. If you’re an in-house marketer, this means listening to your team and to your end consumers.

I’d argue that much of the best creative work and constituent engagement is accomplished by listening to, understanding, addressing, and integrating human emotion. You need to know what consumers feel to know how to reach them. It’s critical in today’s competitive marketing landscape, a chilly land of technology and data.

Listening Builds Communication

Communication builds patient, caregiver, and healthcare professional engagement. Engagement is the new currency for building sustainable brands.

Good communication, brought by attuned engagement, is a giant step away from frequently asked questions and data-driven answers. It is not time-consuming, but rather a deal closer. It is what sets you apart from the competition and, ultimately, what builds the bottom line.

Listening Builds Trust

Trust is as important as price for today’s patients. When we understand that today’s patient is motivated by trust and that it is just as important as price, we see a level playing field. We understand that, when all things are equal, the deal breaker could be due to a lack of trust resulting from our own inability to effectively tune in.

“The Art and Value of Good Listening” – an article published in Psychology Today – declares that listening is an art, but that good listening also depends on gauging the mood (and mindset) of your audience. Is the patient / caregiver upset? Are they fearful? If tapping into human emotion requires listening, it also requires compassion and understanding.

Beyond Listening: Emotional Branding

Effectively listening to our audiences on an emotional level involves knowing what to listen to. We need to identify the aspect of the consumer’s life that requires a solution. Then we need to understand the emotion behind this and link the product or service in a way that is emotionally relatable.

Emotional branding insists on forging an emotional connection between products or services and the consumer. Those connections can create brand loyalty among consumers. The emotional connection has to be positive and it always has to be relevant. It is either identifiable to consumers or represents something they believe in.

  • “This medication helps migraines,” for example, is not as emotionally connected as, “This medication will help your migraine, so you will be able to spend more time doing the things you love.”
  • UPS does not simply deliver packages. They deliver happiness and dependability.
  • Nike insists that we aspire to greatness – that we just do it. We may not always see greatness in ourselves, but it is something most of us would like to aspire to. Therefore, we identify. With health and wellness, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, we are inviting people to regain health, to take back their livelihood, and to feel better.

A medical device may keep a patient out of the hospital, which falls in line with the new, value-based care initiatives and the merit-based incentive payment system. And a physician or medical office manager may have an emotional response to this type of marketing – better patient care and adhering to government regulations in a single move.

Branding: What Science Says About Engaging People

According to research and information gathered by The New York Times and Content Marketing Institute, 92% of consumers respond to advertising that feels like a story. Additionally, the human brain can process images or graphics 60 times faster than words. Taken together, this information suggests that a story with disruptive images is our best bet when marketing to potential customers. If we can tap into human emotion using these two mechanisms, we have an excellent starting point.

We gain trust by listening and good communication. We learn where consumers are on their respective journeys, and we deliver what they have asked for or what they need to go forward.

We learn to bring consumers in by allowing our brand to tap into human emotion.

Businesses that effectively engage also do so through value creation, rather than revenue extraction. They provide their audience with something meaningful beyond a sales pitch – an emotional appeal, a smart end-to-end experience, great content that is relatable on an emotional or real-time support level.

Six Strategies to Help Build Trust & Engagement

Relating to your audience begins with understanding them and how they differ from each other. Take the time to see the differences in your audiences, segment them, consider what drives each of them to “raise their hand,” customize your message, and take action. Then engage with them. Our marketing must be organic and customizable to reflect a personalized approach.

Remember, we no longer live in a business-to-consumer world. Given today’s digital landscape, it is a consumers’ market, and they hold all the power through engagement.

Here are six basic strategies to help you improve engagement:

  1. Understand your audience through segmentation and persona development to gauge where they are in their journey. Customization is key. We cannot merely market a package. We have to market customized solutions. Further, we need to make it obvious to the patient, caregiver, or healthcare provider that we are tuned in to their specific requests. We understand that their goals or needs are unique and deserving of our laser-focused attention. Remember, no broad strokes! Segmentation is probably as broad as we can go. In other words, optimal marketing strategies must categorize patients, influencers, or clinicians by demographics and behaviors.
  2. Create educational value as defined by each audience; there is no such thing as a successful “one-size-fits-all” approach. Education means it is our turn to speak. We have heard what the patient, caregiver, or healthcare provider has to say. We understand the need. We are not merely providing a customized solution. We are educating on how this solution will work and how it will propel them forward and closer to their goal(s). Clients and product managers – AND CONSUMERS – want solutions. They also want to understand how things work. They demand one-on-one connection, and each connection will be customized to run parallel with their need.
  3. Become trusted advisers by looking out for our audience’s needs. When we accurately and consistently address our audience’s needs, not just the product or service’s attributes, we do a better job of reaching consumers. Take the time to draw strong connections between a patient’s or healthcare provider’s needs and desires and your product’s or service’s offerings. Act in their best interests by providing quality information. Your communications will resonate better and be more appreciated.
  4. Develop content that anticipates questions and be in many places. Develop branded and unbranded communication, including non-personal promotions through an omnichannel approach. This affords audiences multiple opportunities to connect and communicate with your brand and the people behind it. We are easy to find. We are everywhere. Try to make sure your solutions fall before the consumer’s eyes. Analyzing your segmentation demographics is an excellent way to anticipate potential inquiries and put forth the information before it is asked for.
  5. Identify, engage, and connect with consumers via social media. Do not be afraid to reach out. Do not be afraid to study a patient’s or healthcare provider’s journey from the beginning and meet them where they are (both in their lifecycle and online) with real solutions. At the same time, we must make our presence known and our solutions easy to find. Stand out by standing everywhere – including on social.
  6. Keep asking what consumers need, including how you can improve. We should be on a continual journey to better understand what consumers want and how to improve the solutions we offer. We can never improve if we do not engage and ask our respective audience how we’re doing.

Through surveys and tuning in, we may discover that a service or product is confusing or that our campaign’s messaging is lost. When we are very close to an idea – from the drawing board on – we may think that our understanding is translating well to the audience when it is not. By asking, learning, and adjusting our communications, we also improve our consumer relationships.

The Bottom Line

Everything comes back to listening, understanding, and effective communications. To discover what consumers need most, you must fire up your listening skills and pay attention to their requests and concerns. Understand where they are on their journey and what is preventing them from reaching the next level.

Through attuned engagement and understanding, we can address consumers’ needs in more effective ways and bring our brands greater success. By carefully listening, we can tap into human emotion and imbue our marketing solutions with a greater chance of penetrating.

It is incumbent on us as marketers to help each healthcare practitioner, patient, or caregiver feel like we are speaking directly to them. Through smart segmentation and marketing customization, we can improve our ability to establish emotional connections and drive engagement.

April 30, 2019 Eric Peacock0

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Personalized Smart Recommendations in social networks

What if Amazon was in charge of patient activation? Personalized, data-driven healthcare solutions would up-end patient activation as we know it. Some biopharma marketers are already doing this today, leveraging social networks to anticipate and address patient needs proactively. Here’s the formula for how they are doing it.

First, think about what Amazon does right after you’ve put something in your cart — like, for instance, band-aids. You see this message: “Customers who bought this item also bought… Neosporin, Children’s Tylenol” etc.. We at MyHealthTeams do something similar in chronic health.

For example, when one of our MyMSTeam members posts about her frustration with memory loss and concentration problems, we automatically surface relevant information that has proven popular among other members facing similar challenges.

First, a member — “SuzanneM from San Jose” — posts about the fact that she’s having a hard time remembering things, finding the right words or concentrating.

We then automatically surface for her relevant information that other members facing similar cognitive challenges have found useful. We call this a “Smart Recommendation.”

Which makes it easy for her to quickly get to content that addresses her concern and is likely to inspire action. In this example, that content is from the “MS & Cognition” Resource Center we created in partnership with Biogen after research among MyMSTeam members revealed that cognitive dysfunction is a top symptom impacting quality of life and often starts early in the progression of the disease.

We introduced Smart Recommendations with select partners in our social networks earlier this year to personalize patient education and inspire action. They are “smart” in that they are served up contextually based on what a member shares in her post or profile. They are “recommendations” in that we are surfacing information (not medical advice) that others going through the same thing have found helpful. It’s the power of community at work. This is a new way to drive activation.

Fueled by natural language processing and machine learning, Smart Recommendations are possible because our members share information, resources and support every day — for 7 years now. With millions of members, 90% of whom are diagnosed patients, across our 32 growing social networks, we see both the challenges people living with a chronic condition face and the information that proves most useful to them — at a personal level and at scale.

This enables our pharma partners to approach Patient Activation differently and truly empower diagnosed patients with timely and useful information.

The click-through rates on Smart Recommendations are through the roof — north of 20%! This shows how hungry patients are for directly relevant, objective information to help them manage their condition. Today’s healthcare consumer is empowered and motivated to play an active role in managing her health. Pharma companies looking to activate patients don’t have to rely on just the doctor channel anymore — in fact, they can’t. By engaging patients where they are in social networks, these companies have started to deliver more of an Amazon-like consumer experience.

April 30, 2019 Scott Sameroff0

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Many people associate weather conditions with their health and wellbeing. Perhaps you have family members claim to be able to sense changes in the weather because they feel a migraine coming on, friends who swear they can forecast rainfall better than the meteorologists due to increases in pain levels within their joints, or even co-workers who claim to be allergic to certain types of weather. Observations about the interactions between weather and health are not a modern phenomenon. People have been making them for almost 2,500 years—since the writings of Greek physician Hippocrates—and correlations between weather and wellness, if proven, are potentially valuable information for organizations and companies across the healthcare economy.

Today, researchers are working to validate observations about the weather and health, like those above, in novel ways. Biometeorology is a fast-evolving interdisciplinary science that studies the interactions between living organisms, including humans, and atmospheric conditions such as temperature, humidity and rainfall on a seasonal basis. This emerging discipline joins meteorologists with epidemiologists, biologists, computer scientists, and technologists to approach these persistent but difficult to verify connections in new and interesting ways.

Studying the impact of weather on human health and wellbeing is a challenging endeavor. Modern researchers are using data collection and technological tools that weren’t available in the past, including smartphones, cheap and plentiful sensors, complex computer simulations, and platforms that make aggregated data available to the general public as well as researchers.

Arthritis patients very frequently cite the weather as a factor in their condition. But joint pain, morning stiffness, fatigue and mood are very subjective factors, making it difficult to gather large-scale, standardized data about them. This is why the Cloudy With a Chance of Pain study conducted by the University of Manchester in conjunction with other arthritis and governmental organizations in the United Kingdom, is so fascinating. The researchers asked 13,000 participants, all of whom had long-term pain conditions, to record symptoms via a smartphone app each day. Using participant’s phone GPS signals and time stamps, researchers are evaluating correlations between participants’ symptoms and weather conditions. As if that weren’t cool enough, the researchers have made the aggregated data available to anyone online, via an analytics module on their website that allows people to see symptom levels by day and weather condition. You can bet that patients and biometeorologists alike will be paying attention when the University of Manchester researchers release their results this spring at

Mobile technology and cheap, ubiquitous sensors are enabling similar advances in the study of how weather conditions affect asthma and respiratory health. Companies including Propeller Health have developed sensors that attach to asthma inhalers and gather data on dosage, inhaler type, and time and location of usage, which can be synced with corresponding weather conditions. Once sufficient data is available, analysis may reveal how different weather conditions worsen or relieve asthma symptoms. The ultimate goal of such research is to reduce the risk of individual asthma attacks though proactive engagement and intervention with patients.

The flu is another illness impacted by the weather being studied in a novel manner. Researchers at leading institutions including University of Virginia’s BioComplexity Institute and Initiative are developing unique flu forecasting methods that use advanced computer simulations to assess flu risk at a highly granular level across the United States. The BioComplexity Institute’s innovative flu forecasting methodology uses a simulated population to model interactions that may lead to the spread of flu. Their model factors in census population data, mobility data (including commuter data and airline travel data), and historical vaccine coverage and efficacy data. When combined with AccuWeather’s weather forecasting expertise and data, these AccuWeather derived localized flu forecasts provide powerful insights at the US county level. To date, the researchers have seen evidence that low humidity and low temperatures allow the flu virus to survive longer, which promotes its transmission. However, more people stay inside during cold and/or inclement weather, which suggests a reduced risk of flu transmission—unless you happen to be stuck inside within someone who is already suffering from the flu.

AccuWeather provides historical, current and forecasted weather data and weather data insights to leading brands, agencies, retailers, medical device companies, analytics firms, and research institutes to help them understand important connections between the weather and wellness. This includes providing weather data and insights to:

  • Research institutes and medical device companies, which want to understand how weather impacts the development and spread of illness and disease;
  • Brands, agencies and retailers, which want to understand how weather influences the demand for products such as cold medicine, tissues and orange juice;
  • Distributors of critical healthcare goods, which need to anticipate logistical disruptions caused by weather events such as snow, hurricanes, and flooding; and
  • Advertisers, which want to boost awareness of products and services at contextually relevant moments to consumers, either on AccuWeather’s digital platforms or their own, e.g, showing ads for hand sanitizer and throat lozenges to consumers located in areas with higher than average flu risk.

Every day, researchers are enhancing our understanding of how weather impacts our health and wellbeing. AccuWeather is proud to work with companies across the entire health care spectrum to ensure that the world’s most accurate weather data can be used to make peoples’ lives better, whether it’s helping a manufacturer develop more effective medical devices or helping advertisers reach AccuWeather users with products and services suited to the health issues associated with the weather they’re experiencing.


About AccuWeather: AccuWeather is the largest and fasted-growing weather media company and global leader in weather-related date, business and predictive analytics.


Disclaimer: AccuWeather is not affiliated in any way with the University of Manchester, Cohero or Propeller Health.  The views expressed by AccuWeather are its own and the studies referenced in this article are solely offered as examples of how weather and wellness are being researched; AccuWeather in no way endorses the outcome of any study.

April 26, 2019 Ingrid Eberly0

Sponsored Content

Healthline Insider Q and A: A series of conversations with experts from the digital, health and marketing industries. Why? Because different perspectives enrich us and make us smarter, stronger, and more aware.

Healthline Insider’s Ingrid Eberly sat down for a conversation with our SVP of Media Strategy & Revenue, Dante Gaudio, on the topic of narrative and the power of narrative in health. In his role, Dante spends a lot of time thinking about ways he can help health brands build powerful stories to change people’s lives.

1. What do you mean by narrative? How is narrative different from “brand”?

While “brand” refers to how a product is represented in a person’s brain, “narrative” is the series of connected events, experiences, and stories that get it there. If brand is the destination, narrative is the pathway to it. Narratives are usually about the people who use brands and are communicated in spoken or written words or visuals.

An example of a brand with strong narrative is Whole Foods. What’s your experience with Whole Foods? I’m pretty sure you all have consistent responses: “helps me live more naturally,” “brings the local community together,” “happy and helpful employees.” Even your negative responses are likely consistent: “expensive” and probably “crowded parking lot.” It is these experiences that form the Whole Foods narrative, which feeds the Whole Foods brand.

2. Why is narrative important in healthcare?

Healthcare is at its core science, which can be dense, complicated, and full of unfamiliar language. Narrative helps make healthcare more understandable, approachable, and human.

Whenever I speak to someone who is anti-vaccine, instead of talking about the public health benefits of vaccines, I tell them about my grandfather who had polio: how he struggled every day and lived in an almost constant state of pain and discomfort. I may not convince the anti-vaxxer to change their convictions, but through my personal narrative, I’ve probably opened their eyes to the benefits of vaccines and how they can far outweigh the risks.

And I’ve learned a lot from the editorial team at Healthline about using narrative in healthcare. In a world where health is full of misinformation, isolation, and stigma, we stand against needless complexity, approach the whole person using human stories, and empower transparency. So, instead of genericizing parenting advice for new parents, they show a day in the life of a new parent in all its chaos and confusion. And readers “get it” and connect to it.

3. How does narrative drive consumer behavior?

There’s a ton of research that shows that the human brain interacts with the world via narrative. Think about how you dream: Do you envision bullet points? Or statistics? Probably not. When you dream, your subconscious brain creates a narrative… sometimes really weird narratives, but a series of connected events nonetheless! So, I don’t think narrative drives human behavior… I think it IS human behavior. It’s literally our operating system for interacting with the world around us.


4. What’s an example of narrative driving a product or category?

The best examples are brands that build their narrative around a shared purpose with their customers. So, for example, if you’re a pharmaceutical drug, you don’t just talk about the efficacy, safety, duration, speed of onset, etc. of the drug. You also show how the condition doesn’t allow patients to be there for life’s important moments. You compile real-world coping mechanisms and share them with compassion. You facilitate social support, maybe even humor if appropriate. You show people that you are living the same reality as them, a shift from what a product can do FOR someone to what a brand can do WITH someone. That’s the power of narrative.

5. How does one build a narrative around a health topic or a health brand?

First, you have to be grounded in facts: who is affected, what obstacles they face, and how you can be an ally. You need to bring empathy and understanding to this knowledge. And if you can, personalize it. Think about how to adjust or update your narrative based on the experiences and expectations of the different audiences you’re engaging with.

With these insights, be deliberate about developing the narrative with key stakeholders. Commit to what you stand for, how you want people to feel, and what change you want to make (be) in this world. Then train your advocates, partners, employees, and agencies to stay consistent.

Once you’ve created your narrative, you need a plan to disseminate your stories internally and externally. Tell them in many ways — on your website, in your ads, through your brand advocates and partners. Put them out there, and let them build their own momentum.

Pharma marketers probably get nervous when they hear things like “put them out there” and “build their own momentum.” Sure, pharma brands can’t go organic with their brands, but they can around conditions or patient situations. And if they can’t do it themselves, they can rely on partners to build the narrative on their behalf.

6. How do you distinguish good content from not-so-good content?

My criteria are simple. Did it engage or inspire me? Did it surprise me? What did I learn? And what am I going to do after engaging with it? Hint: Content grounded in a really good narrative is likely to hit on all of the above!

I’ll close by stating an old PR and communications adage, “If you don’t tell your story… then someone else will.”


Are you tasked with sparking real conversation and brand stories? Come talk to us about leveraging narratives to build brands. Contact us at

About Healthline
As the fastest growing health information source, the Healthline property engages 77 million unique visitors per month (comScore, January 2019). We provide real health information with a real human approach.

April 26, 2019 Craig Mait0

Sponsored Content

A varied media mix that includes effective print tactics, is fundamental to unlock the full value of a Point of Care sponsorship program.

Like numerous other media environments in recent years, the Point of Care landscape has become increasingly focused on digital platforms.  From televisions to touchscreens, providers have created a wealth of technology for marketers to engage patients and consumers.  Yet most doctors’ offices continue to welcome a variety of magazines, posters, wallboards, and brochures throughout their locations.  By capitalizing on these diverse engagement tools, marketers can unlock significant consumer action.  In fact, Nielsen cites that a media mix that incorporates print and digital assets can drive as much as 30% higher ROI[1] – meaning that your campaign can play a vital role in the patient journey. With the ability to “own” platforms that are more transportable and offer distinct take-away value, brands can diversify their POC messaging through print materials, all while gaining 100% share-of-voice.

Reinforcing your brand message with a dynamic media mix

Since its origin, the Point of Care industry has worked diligently to develop its venues to be turn-key marketing environments that offer valuable information to a wide array of consumers and caregivers.  Its channels prioritize efficiency for advertisers by eliminating costly, time-consuming creative versioning through standardized adverting units.  This uniform approach also allows a simplified, multi-channel strategy to engage consumers through multiple touchpoints with only a few required assets.  Waiting room video messaging can be easily reinforced through condition guide sponsorship placed in examination rooms.  Examination room tablet interstitials can boost click-through rates by introducing the brand through a waiting room wallboard before the doctor discussion.  In each case, the brand can boost exposure with static tools by leveraging traditional magazine advertising spreads.  These reinforced campaigns have proven to be incredibly powerful with consumers.  In recent Mesmerize programs, sponsorships that utilized a waiting room wallboard and a hyper-targeted mobile ad unit drove three times greater ROI than standard print programs alone.  Furthermore, those programs prompted nearly five times the national click-through average for mobile banners[2].  Indeed, brand reinforcement across multiple platforms offers a powerful boost, especially for targeted campaigns – and all with cost and time efficiency.

Target your customers by venue and by platform

Targeting remains the consistent recipe for success with all POC tactics – and where the true value of marketing lies in this channel.  Segmentation through client-supplied list matching, medical specialty selection, or audience demographics can curate venue lists to ensure maximum exposure to the appropriate audience.  Since the start of Point of Care promotion, marketers have created media mix strategies that utilized the space for its hypertargeting abilities.  Now that the industry has matured, it is imperative that brands utilize a varied approach within their POC plans as well.

As CMI recently noted, the strategic benefits from print-based tactics complement and reinforce digital messaging and significantly impact consumer engagement.  Furthermore, by understanding the specific audience target, marketers can segment a venue to reach various factions through the tactics they relate to best.  For example, physicians who are accustomed to reading printed materials will likely respond more strongly to a customized guide, while digital tactics in the waiting room can occupy time for patients anticipating their physician visit.[3]

Digital media has a solidified place in healthcare marketing and Point of Care remains a powerful proving ground for those tactics.  However, by adopting a diversified strategy that employs a variety of tools – including static media – marketers can optimize their POC spending to ensure maximum engagement, all with superior targeting and access that has offered repeated success in this channel.



[1] Tsvetkov, Tsventan. (2018, August 8). “Perspectives: The Easier Way To Drive Higher Marketing ROI,” Retrieved from

[2] Mesmerize, (2019, January 21). “Consumer Packaged Goods 2019 Mobile Case Study”.

[3] Marvel, Darcy, Cooper. (2019, 14 March). “The Importance of Print Media in Today’s NPP Channel Mix,” Retrieved from