Latest News


Effective-Healthcare-Patient-Communication.jpg

March 29, 2022 Monique LaRocque0

Cancer is the word that no patient or family member ever wants to hear, and it is news that no clinician wants to deliver. Yet, it is the second leading cause of death in the United States and each year more than 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer and nearly 600,000 die from it.[i] In addition to the toll on life, the financial burden to the U.S. healthcare system is about $200 billion dollars, and the cost of cancer care continues to rise.[ii]

The good news is that more people are surviving cancer than ever before. There are an estimated 17 million cancer survivors alive in the United States today, and that is expected to grow to more than 22.1 million by 2030.[iii] Effective communication plays an essential role in survivorship and promoting healthy outcomes for oncology patients, and is needed to support early detection, treatment, and care planning before and after treatment.[iv]

oncology patient communication
Image source: Pexels

Several challenges to communication in oncology care exist. According to recent studies, patients may be reluctant to ask important questions about their disease and care, unless directly invited to do so.[v] In addition, some limited studies on the differences in culture and race reflect a positive or disparate impact on the interaction among patients and their healthcare practitioners, demonstrating the need for greater cultural competency.[vi] In their quest for more information, patients may seek online sources where there is a crowded array of both reputable and non-authenticated information. In addition, the number of therapeutic-focused communications have increased dramatically from the early 2000s when direct-to-consumer marketing in oncology was largely nonexistent, adding further to the information patients will be exposed to as they seek to make sense of their diagnosis and review treatment options.

To help overcome these challenges, effective oncology marketing should focus on increasing awareness about prevention, as well as the clinical trials and treatment options currently available. These communications should also drive awareness on emerging therapies and engaging with influential intermediaries who will help patients make difficult decisions about their care, including healthcare professionals and caregivers. Some suggestions for oncology marketers:

  • Leverage the work of stakeholder organizations to amplify the support needed for patients and doctors to provide effective communication tools. This can help healthcare professionals, caregivers, and patients engage with more preventative measures for early detection and to aid in the development of a care cancer plan that can greatly improve a patient’s experience, survival, and overall health outcomes. A new diagnosis can be traumatic, and patients have to navigate learning a new cancer care language, while also managing some of the most important sets of decisions in their lives. No patient should feel like they have to start from ground zero when trying to navigate the cancer care system. The American Cancer Society has a survivorship app and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship has a Cancer Care Toolbox, both resources can aid patients and their caregivers to navigate what can often be a very difficult time in their lives. Resources that help patients ask concrete questions, take home information to help them process their next steps, and choose a treatment plan, will help reduce anxiety and outline a clear path forward.
  • Consider cultural competency training and develop materials that demonstrate diversity and inclusion in cancer marketing, clinical trials, and educational materials. Mortality rates are higher among African Americans with prostate and breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute Communication in Cancer Care PDQ® notes distinct healthcare disparities in Latina patients with breast cancer who are older in age. These patients were less likely to receive interactive informational support from their doctors than younger patients who present with the same disease.[vii] In addition, therapeutic clinical trials are less likely to have included racial and ethnic minorities, which can have an impact on the understanding of how a therapeutic treatment would work in some populations. Moving toward more inclusive communications and authentic engagement that helps facilitate trust can help spur better detection, clinical trial participation, and uptake on important treatment plans.
  • Design integrated oncology communication approaches to engage patients across the spectrum of patient populations. Cancer communication must go to where the people are, where they live, work, and play and to networks and influencers they trust. Traditional ways to engage, online streaming content integration, social influencer engagement, and education on a wide variety of digital platforms can help to reach new audiences through compelling story telling by patients, as well as healthcare professionals. As oncologists are becoming even more technologically savvy, they are taking to social media to share their knowledge and garnering large followings. Real people are sharing their personal journeys and helping other patients find their way, which can lead to greater communication opportunities to help patients. Oncology professionals and marketers can help guide the way to accurate information, while also connecting patients and caregivers to resources so they don’t feel alone in the process, while leveraging the experience and expertise of others who have survived the system and their diagnosis.

Oncology communications show promise in helping to address challenges and disparities in cancer care and can help improve health outcomes for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals when effectively leveraged. Our nation’s healthcare system and the families affected by cancer deserve innovation in oncology communications to help get the right treatment or intervention to the right patient at the right time. Life depends on it.  


[i] Murphy, S. L. (2021). Mortality in the United States, 2020. NCHS Data Brief (No. 427). National Center for Health Statistics. https://doi.org/10.15620/cdc:112079

[ii] National Cancer Institute. (2021). Financial burden of cancer care. Cancer Trends Progress Report – Financial Burden of Cancer Care. Retrieved March 21, 2022. https://progressreport.cancer.gov/after/economic_burden

[iii] Miller, K., Rowland, J. H., Mariotto, A., & Nogueira, L. (2019, June 11). Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Statistics. Cancer treatment and survivorship statistics. Retrieved March 21, 2022. Accessed March 21, 2022. https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21565

[iv] PDQ® Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ Communication in Cancer Care. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Accessed March 14, 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/adjusting-to-cancer/communication-hp-pdq

[v] Ibid

[vi] Saltus, R. (2019, November 1). Study finds racial disparities in culturally competent cancer care. Racial disparities found in culturally competent cancer care. Retrieved March 21, 2022. Accessed March 21, 2022. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/11/studyfinds-racial-disparities-in-culturally-competent-cancer-care/

[vii] PDQ® Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ Communication in Cancer Care. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Accessed March 21, 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/adjusting-to-cancer/communication-hp-pdq


220420-dtc-008-1200x800.jpg

March 15, 2022 admin0

DTC Perspectives, the leading forum for direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising thought leaders names its 21st Annual list of the “Top 25 DTC Marketers of the Year.”

This year’s class will be honored during a ceremony dinner on the evening of April 20th sponsored by PatientPoint, at the 2022 DTC National (part of the Xpectives.Health Summit taking place in Boston, April 19-20th). It includes representatives from more than 15 different manufacturing companies, with each marketer championing both the interests of the patient and brand.

“PatientPoint and I congratulate the Top 25 DTC Marketers of the Year. These industry experts lead by example, always putting the patient at the center of everything they do and achieving incredible outcomes as a result. We look forward to recognizing their accomplishments at the DTC National Conference,” says Linda Ruschau, Chief Client Officer of PatientPoint.

Health Marketing Awards

The Top 25 DTC Marketers of the Year for 2022 are…

Kim Abbasi, Consumer Marketing Director, Xeljanz US Marketing, Pfizer

Katie Baldwin, Director, Consumer Marketing, US COVID-19 Vaccine, Comirnaty, Pfizer

Brittany Blair, Head of Patient Strategy & Solutions, US Immunology, UCB

Kelly Bock, Director, Consumer Marketing, Urovant Sciences, Inc.

Tanya Bowstead, Marketing Director, Altreno, Ortho Dermatologics

Kevin Conway, Director US Marketing, Alexion

Julie Cosgrove, Marketing Director, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Patricia Crowell, Sr. Manager Obesity Strategy, Omnichannel Patient Experience, Novo Nordisk

Heather Gilbert, Marketing Manager, Inspire Medical Systems, Inc.

Farrah Goldsmith, Marketing Manager, GSK

Sylvie Gondouin, Associate Director, Digital Customer Engagement, IPSEN

Ashley Hallett, Group Product Director, IMBRUVICA DTC Lead, Janssen Biotech Inc.

Craig Huber, Associate Director | Patient Marketing – Mavacamten | Cardiovascular (US), Bristol Myers Squibb

Tammy A. Karas, Director, Consumer Marketing Lead for the Prostate Cancer Franchise, Pfizer

Julie Loving, Insights Director, TherapeuticsMD

Shannon Mitchell, Associate Director, US Media and Integration, Merck

Harleen Parmar, Associate Marketing Director, ILUMYA, Sun Pharmaceuticals

Mara Rastovsky, Associate Director, Global Customer Insight/Diabetes Franchise, Merck

Kaitlin Russomano, Senior Manager, Consumer Strategic Marketing, Horizon Therapeutics

Asako Sakae, Senior Director, Consumer Strategic Marketing, Teva Pharmaceuticals

Silvia Schneiders, Associate Director of Marketing, Antares Pharma

Stepheny Stordahl, Associate Marketing Director, Women’s Health, AbbVie

Alexandra Tudoran, Associate Director, Franchise Marketing & PR, Galderma

Bert Van den Hooff, Project Manager, Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Jaela Williams, Associate Director, Merck

“These elite pharmaceutical marketing professionals are this year’s top contributors to the advancement of patient outcomes via direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical education and marketing,” adds DTC Perspectives Chairman and CEO Robert Ehrlich. “We would like to recognize the faces behind prominent DTC campaigns, because their hard work and dedication to fostering the industry is often not recognized. The awardees were selected from many worthy candidates.”


Established in 2001, the Top 25 DTC Marketers of the Year award recognizes extraordinary DTC marketers from pharmaceutical companies who drive innovation and work towards better patient health outcomes. Marketers are selected based on actual accomplishments, influence on future patient launches or campaigns, or recognized contributions and service to patient communications. The Top 25 festivities include a cocktail party, followed by a special ceremony presented by PatientPoint during our DTC National Conference. Each member of the Top 25 DTC Marketers is also profiled in the annual conference guide publication.

Celebrate with the Industry’s Best

DTC Perspectives offers reserved tables with seating for 10 at the Top 25/Hall of Fame and Advertising Awards ceremonies as well as congrats ads opportunities in our DTC Perspectives Magazine/DTC National Conference Guide, on our website, and in Email announcements. Click here to view awards packages.


2022-DTC-National-Ad-Awards.jpg

March 8, 2022 admin0

DTC Perspectives, the leading forum for direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising thought leaders, honors a dynamic group of pharmaceutical companies and brands at the much-anticipated DTC National Advertising Awards. The awards are a part of the annual DTC National Conference, on April 20-21; all events are a part of the Xpectives.Health Summit in Boston.

Sponsored by Phreesia, the 2022 Advertising Awards showcase the best marketing and advertising across more than 15 categories. Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners will be announced during the Advertising Awards ceremony held on April 21st.

“Phreesia Life Sciences is excited to participate in DTC National as a Platinum sponsor and to present this year’s Advertising Awards,” said David Linetsky, SVP of Phreesia Life Sciences. “As a leading digital point-of-care company focused on engaging patients in their health, we believe in the power of DTC to activate patients, enhance the HCP-patient dialogue, and improve health outcomes. We applaud this year’s finalists for their innovation and creativity.”

Some media for judging provided in association with MediaRadar.



January 30, 2022 Carly Helfand0

Pharma companies don’t typically market directly to caregivers of patients with chronic conditions. But they might want to consider it, new data from Phreesia Life Sciences suggests.

More than half of chronically ill patients rely on their caregivers to make healthcare decisions for them, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 caregivers conducted while they checked in for doctors’ appointments, either for themselves or for their patients. In addition, another 30% of patients always discuss their treatment options with their caregivers before making a decision.

In fact, a combined 92% of caregivers say they typically take a leading or active role in doctor-patient discussions, and nearly 9 in 10 (87%) are involved in those discussions all or most of the time.

Source: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

These statistics point to a largely unexplored avenue for pharma marketers: directly engaging caregivers. The pharma industry’s current messaging and imagery overwhelmingly focus on patients and their experience, but with so many caregivers so deeply involved in their patients’ treatment planning, drugmakers may find success targeting communications specifically to this group—especially in disease areas where patients rely heavily on their caregivers.

So what should those communications look like? If pharma wants to connect meaningfully with caregivers, it’s important to understand the caregiver experience and the many struggles they face.

For starters, 75% of caregivers report moderate-to-extreme stress related to their caregiving duties—no surprise, considering the myriad tasks they juggle, often without pay and/or on top of another job. In addition to accompanying patients to appointments and discussing their care with their providers, many caregivers also are responsible for monitoring their patients’ health symptoms (70%), coordinating appointments (73%), making pharmacy trips (69%), managing medications (64%) and more.

Caregivers also grapple with feeling ill-equipped for their responsibilities. In fact, 2 out of 5 caregivers (40%) say they don’t have the resources they need to provide optimal care for their patients, even after many years in the role—65% of those surveyed had been providing patient care for three years or more.

To broaden their medical knowledge, caregivers frequently turn to the web, piling up hours of research on top of their long list of duties. Indeed, 69% of caregivers say the internet is the first place they go to look for information that can help them provide better care, followed by their patient’s doctor (53%) and the doctor’s office staff (43%). Overall, 73% of caregivers go online for health-condition-specific information at least once a month, and 20% search online a few times a week.

Pharma marketers need to take this timely data under consideration and create messaging that specifically engages caregivers in authentic, empathetic ways. Reaching caregivers where they’re already searching for information—online and at the point of care—with educational materials, training, medication information and other resources can go a long way toward easing their many burdens, ultimately better supporting both caregivers and the patients they serve.



December 10, 2021 Carly Helfand0

Since May 2018, several calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors have entered the migraine field, with no fewer than seven gaining U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval for acute migraine treatment and/or prevention. Thanks to this influx of new prescription therapies, the global migraine market is expanding, with some analysts expecting to see its value soar as high as $13 billion by 2027. But if drugmakers want to realize the market’s full potential, they’re going to have to double down on raising public and provider awareness, new data shows.

Only about half of migraine sufferers (52%) have tried acute therapy, and only 37% have used preventive therapy, according to research from Phreesia Life Sciences, which surveyed more than 4,000 migraine patients when they checked in for their doctors’ appointments. What’s more, many patients aren’t even talking to their doctors about new migraine drugs: Among patients who have discussed migraine with their doctor, 36% have not discussed acute migraine medications, and 46% have not discussed preventive treatment options.

Those numbers point to a need for more provider education—particularly for primary care providers, many of whom may not be up to speed on the many new treatment options. Since migraine patients far outnumber headache specialists in the U.S.—in 2020, there were just 700 specialists for 39 million migraine sufferers, according to the Migraine Research Foundation—that’s an audience pharma needs to take into greater consideration.

But pharma marketers also need to get the word out and improve brand recognition among patients. Nearly half (47%) of surveyed patients couldn’t recall a single brand name in the preventive migraine category, and the only brand that came to mind for more than 10% of patients was Topamax, an older drug that gained approval for migraine back in 2004.

Source: Mohamed_Hassan via Pixabay

So what can CGRP drugmakers do to convert more patients to brand? For starters, they can strengthen their messaging aimed at prescription-naïve patients, many of whom don’t think their condition is serious enough to warrant prescription treatment—and, in some cases, to even discuss with their doctors. Nearly one-fifth of surveyed patients (19%) said they had never talked to their doctors about their migraine symptoms, and among those who hadn’t brought up migraine with their doctors in the past year, 45% said their headaches weren’t serious enough to discuss, and 38% said they were using over-the-counter medications to control their symptoms.

Pharma also can supply the tools and resources that migraine patients want and need to make treatment decisions. When asked what types of information would increase their interest in a new preventive migraine medication, 36% of patients said they wanted information about its side effects, and 28% requested cost information. Separately, when asked what migraine-care resources would be helpful to them, 36% of patients said they could use more information about how a medication works, and 25% said they would find doctor discussion guides helpful.

Drugmakers who can successfully help migraine patients understand that they don’t need to suffer through their symptoms, encourage doctor-patient conversations and empower patients to actively participate in their migraine treatment will benefit as the CGRP market grows increasingly crowded.



December 9, 2021 Kathryn Ticknor Robinson0

For years, the DTC National Conference has showcased the best in direct-to-consumer Rx marketing. At the heart of DTC is the “Patient Experience,” essentially the sum total of each person’s unique journey from illness to treatment and, if the experience is successful, back to some kind of health or “new normal.”

Companies use various metrics to characterize what a good patient experience is like. Many of them are similar to a personalized eCommerce experience where buyers’ needs are met, expectations exceeded. Today’s end-users demand convenience, responsiveness, and ongoing support.

For patients, the stakes are even higher because their health and often their very lives are at risk. Healthcare brands understand this urgency, and they devote significant resources to market research with the hope of understanding patients and optimizing their healthcare experience.

Market research at its best helps pharma brands thrive by providing actionable insights into unmet needs, personal attitudes, treatment options, audience behaviors and triggers, and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. To accomplish these goals, research agencies traditionally use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. But challenges persist, and hybrid approaches often fall short of the insights brands need to succeed.

Recent advances in digital technology have revolutionized market research, and healthcare brands are taking notice. Many of the techniques used by Big Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon are now part of our DTC market research toolkit.

The global pandemic has accelerated progress in digital health, exemplified by increased telehealth adoption and the digitization of market research for pharma brands. From data collection to analysis and reporting, let’s take a look at how digital is changing the game.

Image courtesy of inVibe Labs

The Digitization of Data Collection

A challenge of traditional market research is similar to that facing the health system itself: How do you collect biometrically rich and accurate data to best inform diagnostic and treatment decision making? The human body is speaking to us through data, but are we able to listen?

Patients are speaking, too, and the time has come for market research to do better than fill-in-the-blank surveys and questionnaire bubbles, unnatural interviews and focus groups, and other self-limiting formats. Even rigorous observational studies are subject to bias.

In contrast, consider the power of a patient voice recording compared to a written response from a survey or questionnaire. Patients are already sharing their thoughts and feelings about their experience with a disease state, vaccine, or treatment from their own smartphones.

Not only does a voice recording contain 100x or more data than the written word, but no data is lost or filtered during the input process. The data is also acquired conveniently, candidly, and efficiently, and in a manner that can seamlessly and relatively rapidly scale to need.

Unlike eye-tracking widgets, heat mapping, and other tech, voice offers a comprehensive window into the thoughts and feelings of your patients. By letting them speak for themselves, researchers can listen to the unfiltered essence of what’s on patients’ minds.

Image courtesy of inVibe Labs

A Human & Machine Approach to Data Analysis

After market research data is collected, the information must be analyzed to extract actionable insights. For quantitative research, the application of complex mathematical algorithms is usually involved; for quantitative, human researchers take a much more subjective, and often laborious, approach.

Given these differences between quant and qual data analysis, brands again feel tradeoffs are necessary: mountains of quant data is anonymized and statistically processed for generalized insights, while more dimensional, deeper data sets from smaller qual samples are extrapolated for more nuanced analysis of smaller sample sizes.

Innovative voice technologies offer a better way: trained language scientists conducting qualitative analysis assisted by an AI-powered processing interface that utilizes machine learning tools. Such a hybrid approach reveals insights lost or never inputted in the first place through mere checkbox surveys.

Layering advanced sentiment analysis on top of transcribed textual responses reveals added dimensions of subtle nuance and behavioral indicators. These emotional responses reveal the why behind patient behaviors, providing pharma brands unique insights.

Learning from the likes of Big Tech, a combination of sophisticated software and human-powered analytics can reveal the underlying needs of patients and fulfil unmet expectations for an ideal experience with your pharma brand.

Image courtesy of inVibe Labs

The Digitization of Market Research Reporting

The whole point of conducting market research is to better understand and hopefully improve their experience. Extracting key insights are just the first step – brand teams need effective recommendations to translate data into action.

From Google AdWords and Analytics to Microsoft Azure, Big Tech again leads the way. The presentation of data results in a visual, intuitive, and compelling way is the hallmark of digital supremacy, as PowerPoint decks are replaced by visual, interactive, and intuitive digital interfaces that tell stories.

Layered, dimensional output is another benefit of collecting voice data as opposed to text or other limited inputs. Voice data lends itself well to a dynamic dashboard with insights that drive action, from study design structure to endpoint recommendations to a health-literate lexicon.

The more patient biometric data you collect and analyze, the more nuanced your reporting opportunities. Being able to play original source audio files instantly connects brand teams back to their key stakeholders; hearing the subjects speaking for themselves infuses the output with transparency, credibility, and passion, which gives the research unparalleled credibility.

“Without data,” W. Edwards Deming once said, “you’re just another person with an opinion.” And without a visual, intuitive, and KPI-driven way to dynamically report actionable recommendations back to brand teams, your market research results could get lost in the noise.

Image courtesy of inVibe Labs

Bringing the Patient Experience to Life

Adept brand stewards identify research opportunities across functional teams and the product life cycle, from clinical trials and R&D to primary and health economics and outcomes research, et al. Tailored combinations of quant and qual are the norm – now enhanced with digital.

To best understand patients and their unique needs, you need a market research approach with agility and power. The current opportunity demands a capability with the fluidity and speed of quant and the depth and dimensionality of qual. Digital innovation fills that gap.

Opportunities abound for innovative approaches, such as when patient recruitment is time consuming or tricky; you have more questions and need another layer of insights but have minimal ramp up time; or campaign stimuli need to be tested during the creative development cycle.

By harnessing the natural power of the patient’s own voice, a fresh approach to market research gives additional flexibility and strength to the arsenal of tools already at a brand’s disposal. By embracing the potential of voice for market research, the patient experience is revitalized.

When done with empathy, personalization, and innovation, market research helps explain what the optimal patient experience should be like, and it recommends how healthcare brands can assist in creating it. The digitization of market research adds to the arsenal of digital health and maximizes the power of DTC marketing.



December 9, 2021 Jessica Obriot0

Social media users respond to voice and human connection. People like people. This makes working with influencers an excellent way to impact your target audience.

When the words “social media influencer” are thrown around, it can sometimes trigger thoughts of makeup brands, clothing companies, or even beauty supplements. However, the vast world of social media changes every day, and one of the more recent changes is that anyone can be an influencer. If an online user has followers that hit your target audience, and their content is “brand friendly,” you have the perfect pairing for an influencer partnership that will get you ROI. Healthcare marketing is no exception.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen doctors become even more interested in being connected to brands they love and to their fellow health care professionals. Doctors are open to sponsoring products and devices they’re passionate about, just as a beauty influencer would promote a mascara they love.

Finding the Right Influencer

A lot of brands focus on the number of followers a person has and want to select influencers just based on this number. Don’t get me wrong, having a lot of followers is a great start, but it’s not everything. Influence isn’t just about follower count. Micro-influencers can actually have the biggest impact if they’re the ones who are engaging with the audience you most want to reach.

We are looking for KOLs – Key Opinion Leaders. Whether you’re on the hunt for patient or physician influencers for your brand, you want to ensure that their followers (no matter the number) are within your target audience and are engaging with the potential influencer’s posts.

You also want to make sure the influencer is “brand friendly.” Are they putting out relevant content that aligns with the brand’s message? Are they posting competitor products? Are they using profanity or language that the brand doesn’t want to be associated with?

Analyze an influencer’s profile and feed to determine who fits the brand’s bill. It’s important to establish with the brand’s marketing team that these points are what’s important when choosing influencers. Create a checklist with the marketing team that everyone signs off on. This way, once scouts are sent in to hunt down potential influencers, you are working off a consistent, agreed-upon standard that aligns with the brand strategy.

Choosing the Best Channel

Sometimes there will be questions about which platform to use for influencer programs. I’ve found that researching hashtags is the best way to find out whether a platform is appropriate. For example, if we’re looking for an influencer for a diabetic macular edema drug, we’ll search “DME” or “diabeticmacularedema” in hashtags across platforms. This not only helps give a sense of the conversation but also may provide insight into who is talking about your product or disease state the most.

At the moment, we’re running campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. That’s where the influencers are. But there’s always new players, right?

Enter TikTok. The channel is still new territory in terms of the medical field, but we’re keeping our ear to the ground because of the number of our target audience members that use it. More physicians are moving to TikTok to talk about procedures and patients’ stories. Patients are also going viral with their own stories. This is the kind of platform that can make a campaign go viral.

Image source: Shutterstock

Content That Matters

When it comes to building the content, we put a lot of focus on staying within FTC and FDA guidelines for distributing information for sponsored content. However, we also try to cultivate a strong, trusting relationship with the influencers.

Get an understanding of their aesthetic on Instagram and how they speak in their posts. Content development is much more of a collaboration than a plug and play. Don’t say, “Okay, we’re going to make this post for you. Here it is. We’re paying you to put it on there.” It’s more that you are getting the influencers’ true thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

It’s important that the posts are in the influencer’s voice. Their audience needs to feel the person behind the post, and the influencer needs to feel they are being properly represented. This is why the working relationship with the influencer is so important.

Encourage influencers to follow along with prompts that are given to them to best align their posts with the goals of the campaign. For example, say, “Tell us about the first time you prescribed X to a patient.” Then take their answer and create a post for them, ensuring that all FTC and FDA language is incorporated. A copywriting team will ensure that you are retaining the influencer’s voice, while also staying compliant. Designers can then add the brand’s logo or important safety information as needed.

Legal Review Can Be a Breeze

To some, especially your MLRC or legal teams, it can be daunting to consider having influencers as branded partners who are not tied to the brand in the way an agency would be. Working with a team member experienced in social media marketing helps marketing teams approach their internal and the legal teams to communicate both the importance of social media influencers and the safeguards put in place to meet FDA and FTC requirements.

A good way to frame it is that this influencer is a kind of contractor. They are working with the brand, they signed a contract, and they are being compensated accordingly. Be careful about who you select. Once that person is on board, they should be trained and monitored the way an agency would be, and their duty to comply with company standards is included in their contracts. It’s important to make these teams comfortable with the idea of influencers and to reiterate that the risk is low and the potential ROI is high.

Once you have the influencer’s posts compiled and the influencer has signed off on them, put the post through internal or MLRC review. Any changes made from this point forward are communicated to the influencer, and work with them to ensure that the post is still in their voice.

After the MLRC team approves the post, provide a post distribution schedule to the influencer with the dates and times their post should go out. They’re given all the assets they need to post it on social media and be successful in doing so.

Ensuring Compliance

On the date a post is scheduled to go live, check that the post is live, that everything looks compliant, and that everything is posted as it was approved.

All branded language in these posts is tied to compliance the same way it would be in a normal post that goes out on a brand channel. FTC requirements have become very direct over the years and their requirements are easy to incorporate. For example, at the top of the post, you need to have “#ad” or you need to disclose that this is a paid partnership.

The biggest question for brands is always about how influencers interact with the community once they have distributed these posts. The post goes live and people are commenting on the post. How is the influencer going to interact under that post? How are they going to interact in direct messages? There’s always a big question about adverse events (AE), too. How is this person going to report an AE?

Consider creating a training document that can be molded to your brand. It can include approved responses that the influencer agrees to use under all sponsored content, and also a full briefing and overview on AE reporting and the steps an influencer needs to take to ensure an AE is reported to the brand.

If the brand prefers, the influencer can turn off Instagram comments under their posts so that all interaction on the post is restricted to direct messages. This isn’t ideal as we WANT engagement under the influencer posts, but it’s a compromise we’ve seen in order to push programs through approval.

Brand Impact

Working with social media influencers is new to many pharmaceutical and medical device brands. I’ve found that a key to success is having clear, strategic steps that not only help retain control over the outcome, but also make all internal brand teams comfortable with the process.

It is vital for the brand to be properly represented and for regulatory authorities to be satisfied. It is also important for the influencer to feel authentic, which should happen naturally when you select doctors who truly love the brand.

To take full advantage of the potential in these campaigns, the personal voice must stay in the posts. People respond to specific, relatable facets of other human beings.

Again, I think it is important to emphasize that for these campaigns the reward is so much higher than the risk. We’ve seen amazing responses to influencers and from my POV, HCP and patient influencer campaigns deserve to be a standard part of brand planning moving forward for pharmaceutical and med device companies.



December 9, 2021 Eric Peacock0

For the six in 10 Americans living with a chronic health condition, the COVID-19 pandemic took an especially difficult toll. 69% of people living with chronic disease report the pandemic has made it more difficult to manage their condition, and one in three say the symptoms of their condition worsened during the pandemic. Just as they were beginning to venture back out to in-person appointments with their doctors and to pre-pandemic exercise regimens and social engagements – the Delta variant swept in and put a damper on returning to life as normal.

(Image courtesy of MyHealthTeams)

There is a huge opportunity to engage and help patients with chronic conditions right now by giving them the content and information they need and want, in the setting where they feel safe and comfortable. Follow these six strategies to get an unfair advantage in engaging patients in Q4 and 2022 (all while feeling good knowing you are helping patients).

1. Answer the questions they have – not the questions you want them to have

On the surface this may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how often the healthcare system and pharmaceutical companies fail to address the most important, pressing questions on the minds of the patients they are trying to reach. Case in point – COVID vaccine recommendations. Exactly nobody with Crohn’s disease, or Multiple Sclerosis, or leukemia, or multiple myeloma were comfortable following the CDC’s general guidance about getting the COVID vaccine. They wanted to know whether it was safe for them, given their diagnosis, and their current medication (often an immunosuppressant). If you spend all your time marketing to people with leukemia, then get in their heads. Understand the pressing questions and figure out a way to get them to content that has trusted answers. Doing so will show that
you are on their side and interested in helping them achieve better outcomes – not to mention catch their eye, get them to stop what they are doing, and engage with the content you are sponsoring.

2. Bring the experts to the masses

The number of people utilizing telehealth services surged during the pandemic, and while that is a good thing, it is still one patient at a time and reliant on everyone having access to good specialists via telehealth. But now is a great time to bring the specialist, leading experts in a disease, to the masses. Not every patient with vitiligo has access to a dermatologist involved in clinical trials and research in that condition, for instance. So why not do a Live Q&A with the vitiligo expert and make it available to thousands of people with vitiligo (or whatever condition you are serving)? In one hour or less, a doctor can address about 10 hot topics that are top of mind for thousands of people facing the same disease and grappling with similar day-to-day challenges. And for those who can’t make the live event you can always record it for later viewing. Here’s the thing – hospitals don’t typically do this. Insurance companies don’t typically do this. Pharma companies absolutely should do this to engage patients – just make sure you do it with a partner, in a way that is at arms-length, so you don’t have to spend half of your life in MLR review.

3. Empower patients with virtual rehab sessions

Sheltering in place for months on end drove many people living with a chronic condition to try ondemand, at-home opportunities to care for their health – and it worked. The Home Rehab Network, for example, created virtual pulmonary rehabilitation sessions for COPD patients when the pandemic stopped all in-person sessions with respiratory patients. Short, two-minute video tutorials proved especially effective, with 71% of patients who regularly practiced the techniques reporting improvement in their shortness of breath. The content was engaging. Two-thirds of those who tried the techniques made them a daily habit. This type of approach opens up opportunities across many chronic conditions, serving patients who are seeking tips for how to incorporate simple condition-specific rehab exercises into their daily routines.

Image courtesy of MyHealthTeams

4. Think beyond the pill to serve the whole person

When surveyed, chronic condition patients consistently point to two factors that most influence their satisfaction with doctors: “Listens to me and understands me” and “Spends enough time with me.” In most cases, what they’re really seeking is recognition and practical advice for some of the things they are facing due to their chronic condition such as stress, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, bladder issues, sleeping issues – or – tips on how to eat healthy and workout safely while living with their specific disease. Filling this gap is a valuable patient engagement opportunity. Resources such as condition-specific nutrition recommendations, recipes and shopping guides, and even destigmatizing topics around mental or sexual health for example, can go a long way toward serving the whole person.

5. Foster strong social connections

There’s a growing body of evidence that strong social connections improve health outcomes. Finding ways to foster communication among people who share the same chronic disease diagnosis helps them share their unfiltered truth – firsthand experiences with treatments and side effects, practical tips for navigating challenges at work or home, emotional support for getting through the tough days, guidance for questions to ask at the next doctor’s appointment. This can happen through traditional patient support groups, of course. But in today’s digitally-driven world, it increasingly happens online – especially in condition-specific patient social networks.

6. Prioritize direct relationships with diagnosed patients

For marketers tasked with reaching diagnosed patients, it’s more important than ever before to prioritize audience quality when evaluating media partners. As Google phases out third-party cookies in a couple of years, these partnerships will be key to reaching and engaging target consumers. First-party data will be king, and the time is now to start building those trusted relationships. Connecting with patients when and where they are actively discussing and seeking information about their health will be essential to patient engagement success in 2022 and beyond.

Ultimately, following these strategies will not only get you strong results, they will also help improve health outcomes by empowering people to make informed health decisions and take the actions that are right for them.



November 18, 2021 admin0

Sponsored Content

Our networks, connecting with patients, and our measurement capabilities set us apart from other media partners. InStep Health is the only fully integrated marketing platform combining the power of digital activation programs with a proprietary network of over 250,000 HCPs and 24,000 pharmacies.

At InStep Health, partnerships throughout the life sciences have created 1000+ successful campaigns for over 200 brands in 92 therapeutic categories. The key to success is an innovative philosophy based on solutions encompassing the entire continuum of care with a lens on targeting, exemplary execution, and accurate, meaningful prescription pull-through. This means our massive scale for health marketers and the industry as hyper-targeted initiatives reached more relevant HCPs and their patients.

Services and Offerings: Completely Connected

InStep Health has created an exclusive digital-to-physical continuum that spans patient visits to their physician, local pharmacy, home, and workplace in the ordinary course of maintaining their health. Our approach starts with custom audience models and geolocation data to locate a campaign’s footprint using advanced digital tactics. InStep Health Arrivals provide just-in-time impact, allowing clients to reach their target audience as they enter our network physician offices and pharmacies.

We know engaged HCPs are critical to any program’s success. InStep Health Emails provide a day-to-day connection with HCPs who opt-in to our in-office programs, reaching them in their email boxes throughout campaigns. Added to this is our ability to target opted-in HCPs on a 1:1 basis as they access the internet on work and personal devices.

Pharmacy

InStep Health was the first to recognize the pharmacy’s extraordinary effectiveness as a media channel. Our Pharmacy Displays, placed at the shelf in targeted health and personal care aisles of the retail pharmacy, engage consumers as they seek health information. Our aisle-by-aisle targeting approach leverages patient behaviors related to their health conditions.

The Pharmacy in 2020: Reliable, Essential, More Valuable than Ever

The stay-at-home orders from COVID-19 response nationwide interrupted many typical doctor-patient relationships as access to clinics and hospitals were curtailed or discouraged for non-emergency, nonessential concerns, and public transportation was interrupted. So pharmacies became an even more natural and logical healthcare destination. And pharmacies leaned into that responsibility.

As CVS CEO Larry Merlo said in the company’s second-quarter earnings report, “The environment surrounding COVID-19 is accelerating our transformation, giving us new opportunities to demonstrate the power of our integrated offerings and the ability to deliver care to consumers in the community, in the home and in the palm of their hand which has never been more important.”

Pharmacies opened thousands of on-site COVID-19 testing centers and became de facto leaders in transmission reduction for retail stores. In concert with the Department of Health and Human Services, pharmacies expanded vaccine services by broadening the range of vaccinations approved for administration by a trained pharmacist. In hard-hit communities, pharmacies stepped up their telemedicine and delivery options, even launching drone services to minimize contact and spread. Some locations even opened customers’ eyes to the full scope of services for the first time when they applied their compounding skills to make hand sanitizer during shortages.

Healthcare Providers

Our network of 250,000+ HCPs is the largest in the industry and includes all provider types in virtually every medical specialty nationwide. InStep Health’s Professional Education Kits and Patient Activation Bags, delivered throughout network offices, are ideal for educating HCPs, staff, and patients about new or established treatments. They are also a strategic solution for supporting pharma sales forces and overcoming reduced personal interactions with providers.

Measurement

We employ a flexible platform that utilizes best-in-class data and third-party partners to deliver metrics and insights for every program across whatever channel we execute with our clients. For example, prescription lift and ROI, changes in prescribing at the physician level, physician recommendations and awareness, response to digital ads, and digital audience composition are among the performance indicators measured.

Learnings from a time of uncertainty

Today, we can see clearly that although COVID has accelerated the rate of change in healthcare, many of the essential priorities have remained the same. The role of technology will expand to reach more patients faster to achieve better outcomes. The pharmacy played a distinct role in the pandemic response and emerged as the quintessential essential business. Across all disciplines, health care professionals will require new ways of reaching patients–with a better ability to serve them ondemand and in any setting. Consumer appetite for convenient access to trusted providers will only grow.

We recommend creating adaptive plans using your answers to these questions as a guideline:

Learn more about the InStep Health platform and marketing solutions. A continuum of care. Meet with an InStep Health team member at DTC National or visit completelyconnected.life.



November 18, 2021 admin0

Sponsored Content

It’s clearer than ever — health inequities exist, and they need to be addressed. So how can we, as marketers and content creators, help bridge the gap? Which methods and strategies are most impactful?

In this Q&A, Verywell’s Chief Medical Officer, Jessica Shepherd, MD, shares her thoughts on creating positive change and evolving our thinking around how health content is created and disseminated to be inclusive for all audiences.

Verywell: What has happened over the past 18 months to bring health inequities to center stage?

Jessica Shepherd, MD: The COVID-19 pandemic shined a strong light on American health disparities — we saw firsthand differences in access to testing, care, treatment, and more across communities and populations.

At the same time, we saw the mighty power of information in narrowing the existing gap. We needed technology and reassuring messaging to empower people and drive them to take action, whether it was getting tested, staying home, wearing masks, getting vaccinated, or seeking help.

These events were eye-opening in these regards. They highlighted existing health inequities and the power — and responsibility — that we, as health information disseminators, have to address them.

At Verywell, we did our part by providing information that was credible, easy-to-understand, empathetic, and relevant — pillars that KR&I, in research sponsored by Verywell, found matter to people in their moments of need.

Verywell: As both a physician and CMO, you have unique insight into this topic. Where do you think publishers and advertisers have the most opportunity to create positive change?

Jessica Shepherd, MD: As a physician, I have countless opportunities to give my patients information that is understandable and relatable, and as CMO I see that opportunity extended to the online publishing space. Over the years I’ve seen changes to where people are getting information and how they’re interpreting it, and unfortunately what they’re finding is not always as relevant as it can be, which makes it less impactful. That is the gap we need to fill.

When we think about “equity,” we know it refers to fairness and justice. Addressing “equity” means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and adjusting our content accordingly. The process is ongoing, requiring us to identify and address intentional and unintentional barriers arising from bias or system structures, including health-specific barriers like cost of care, lack of culturally competent care, socioeconomic status, race, location, and more. This is how we can create resources that are relevant to everyone.

Verywell’s Anti-Racism pledge, shared publicly, outlines the goal best — we offer a detailed promise to all who visit Verywell, so they may see themselves in the voices and content that are shared. We took this commitment as a first step to driving positive change, to ensure that anyone and everyone feels represented.

Verywell: What steps can publishers and advertisers take to ensure they are properly representing all communities? In other words, what does “getting it right” look like?

Jessica Shepherd, MD: To accurately address the problem, you first need to understand the problem, so it’s important to ask questions and lay the foundation for why this work needs to be done. At Verywell, our first step is always research. We evaluate the existing literature, asking questions like “what is the prevalence” and “who is affected, and why?” We also partner with our Anti-Bias Review Board — a group of physicians, DEI experts, psychologists, and more. They help us gain a deeper understanding of what we don’t know and how we can best address it.

This base-level understanding often naturally leads to solutions that support the real people who are experiencing a health-related issue and seeking answers in their moment of need. For example, if lack of education and awareness are in play, we make sure new and existing content fills that gap. If resources are an issue, we help connect people with leading organizations who are there to help. And if representation is lacking in clinical materials, we’ll make sure to offer specific imagery, voices, and more.

The most important aspect of “getting it right” — the outcome you want to achieve — is making sure that every reader who visits your resources easily finds the credible, relevant, and empathetic information they’re looking for. KR&I, in the same study sponsored by Verywell, found that users are more likely to feel better and take a positive health action when they encounter content that embodies these four factors.

Verywell: What are some of the challenges in making sure everyone is represented in online health content?

Jessica Shepherd, MD: Most challenges relate to one simple truth — we don’t always know what we don’t know. Representing “everyone” is a complex task, which is why research, partnership, and highlighting diverse voices is so important to “getting it right.” The health inequities affecting different communities require attention and detail and collectively we are stronger, can learn from one another, and can all help each other live healthier lives.

Related to that, we’re working towards changing how content has been written for a long time. As with any change, it’s important to maintain a caliber of curiosity and openness to learning what matters to different groups of people. The more we can put a human lens on our users’ needs, the better we can meet them where they are and humanize their health experience.

Verywell has one specific purpose—to help others feel better and more empowered about their health. To learn more about Verywell’s approach to addressing health inequities online, or for more information on partnership opportunities, contact us at sales@verywell.com.