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Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen the slow, incremental incursion of computers (and the web) into the daily lives & workflows of both patients and healthcare providers. And drug companies. And everyone else.

Computers (and the Internet) are now ubiquitous. Just try to imagine life, and work, without them.

Watching the evolution of processor speed, interface design, enterprise apps, web technology, wireless access, and ever-shrinking form factors has been fascinating, perhaps even painful at times. Then the iPad showed up.

Two and a half years ago, when the first-generation iPad showed up, I predicted it would be a game-changer for healthcare; but frankly, the rapid adoption rate by doctors, patients, and provider companies (including pharma) has taken even me by surprise. The uptake, even in regulated industries, has been phenomenal.

Which means we now need to step back and ask a very important question: Is the mobile computing device destined to be the new (inter)face of healthcare?

My answer is a resounding “Yes” for one simple reason: smartphones and tablets are rapidly becoming the new interface of life and business. Period. End of story.

Within 2 years, portable devices will take on the mantle of “first-screen” status – that is, more people will be accessing digital-everything through mobile devices rather than through desktops. And that trend is accelerating, not slowing down. Already, about 62% of U.S. physicians are using tablets (mostly iPads, currently).

Quibble with me if you wish (you do have every right to be incorrect, after all!), but let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that personalized mobile computing devices will be the interface of life, business, and (therefore) healthcare.

If that is so – and I’m now turning to address my friends in pharma/biotech/med device companies – who is redesigning your entire business infrastructure and customer experience to reflect this inevitability? Anyone?

The “face” of your company to patients and doctors has traditionally been a human face (sales reps, for instance) – but we know where the field sales model is heading. The digital noise of broadcast TV and websites and banner ads – these models are all based on non-mobile computing approaches. The new channel is in the pockets of our customers – all of our customers.

This transcends being merely a training, or sales, or marketing, or technology issue. This is much bigger. It is fundamentally an interface issue. The entire healthcare information and delivery cycle will become “mobilized.” For the smart life sciences companies, that means at least one sure-bet avenue for competitive advantage – get ahead of this trend. Even if you have to take a go-slow approach to social media, the mobile interface is not going to be optional or off-label. It’ll be first-line.

And don’t get hung up on Apple vs Android, etc., etc. Flavors and versions are secondary. The inexorable mobile trend is primary.

Person-to-person contact will never lose its importance in healthcare (or life, or business). But when you look at how patients and doctors and administrators and caregivers and news outlets and everyone else is interfacing with information and with each other, the writing is on the wall. Or, more accurately, on the tablet. And the new “writing” is digital, multimedia, personalized, real-time, geographically aware, and mobile. It’s the new normal. Today.

As the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky put it, you need to “go to where the puck is going to be.” That place is in customers’ pockets. If you’re not in the process of thoroughly mobilizing your business, you’re already behind.

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By now, most pharma/biotech/med device companies have concluded that social media is important, is here to stay – and somehow needs to be included in future communications.

Most large companies have at least begun the process of hashing out the use of social media – how to use the various platforms, governance, internal ownership, content approval, SOP development, risk mitigation strategies, etc., etc.

If your company is looking to be in this (unavoidable) race, how do you get to the starting line?

In the early years of pharma social media (I’m only talking about 3-4 circuits around the sun, now!), typically one or two advocates emerged within a company and began the long process of evangelizing, with a lot of process development and pilot projects happening on the fly. Others leaned on digital agencies to help jump-start the process (or as an outsource partner).

Organic internal initiative, or high-priced agency intervention, each can have their place. But….

Here’s another idea – consider hiring on a Social Media Sherpa.

Sherpas, in mountaineering terms, are local guides to help people climb imposing mountains such as the Himalayas. Sherpas know the landscape, provide guidance, and can do a lot of the heavy lifting.

A Social Media Sherpa can be engaged for 3-9 months to help you get to the starting line. A sherpa knows the platforms, the tools, the regulatory environment – he or she already has experience in digital networks and can serve as the initial guide and trainer to safely move the company forward into the world of social networks.

Getting started involves a lot of collaboration and process development, and to be successful you want an experienced guide who has walked these paths beforehand. This may be one of the most valuable consulting retainers you ever invest in.

Realistically, I can work with only one client at a time doing a sherpa engagement, but there are others who have the corporate/social media experience and makeup to do this really well. If your company would benefit from this approach, let me know. I can make the right connections for you.

(Image credit)

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After numerous delays attempting to issue guidance documents regarding pharmaceutical social media, the FDA’s DDMAC division has finally thrown in the towel and decided to outsource the task.

“Look, the pharma companies all use outsourced services, right?” stated N. T. Ropee, Divisional Director and Acting Adjunct Associate Abrogator of Responsive Guidance Production. “They have CROs (Contract Research Organizations), CSOs (Contract Sales Organizations) – so why shouldn’t we use a CGO (Contract Guidance Organization)?

“We figure they’ll get some smart people in a room and hammer this thing out in about 3 weeks. That’s the FDA goal: timeliness and efficiency!”

Pharmaceutical marketing executives were initially ecstatic, but enthusiasm rapidly cooled as Ropee began to explain the process of selecting a CGO for the project.

“First, we have to do a feasibility study to analyze the potential for a needs assessment, after which we’ll require a full market landscape analysis to narrow down the potential suppliers according to specifications not yet developed by the Directorate of the Division of Specification Development, which will then be followed by a pre-publication analysis of possible public commentary paths seeking input on potential information-gathering procedures, including a full re-analysis of the unpublished data from the incomplete guidance not published in the ’90s about the Internet, which will be followed by – don’t hold me to any time frames now – a review of all current, past, and future…”

It’s business as usual. Happy first day of April!

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For years, I’ve advocated that healthcare companies gain a clear picture of the opportunities (and potential problems) presented by social networks. It’s a somewhat complicated and very fast-moving world – how does a pharmaceutical company, or a healthcare agency, get started on the right foot?

Here are three key perspectives. Start here!

1. Start small, but with a strategic, long-term plan. Don’t be “that guy”!

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2. Don’t treat social media as its own topic. It is part of a holistic business strategy.

Social Media is not a Strategy

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3. Realize that you’re not dealing with an isolated trend, or a marketing fad. Digitally-fueled networked communications is The New Normal.

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There are many particulars to learn about how social networks are impacting the healthcare space, but the most important thing you can possibly do is begin with the correct perspectives. When you understand how and why the landscape is being re-shaped by networked communications, then all the details about tools and platforms begin to line up.

One perspective to bear in mind – the usage of social networks is exploding. Check out this real-time updating table to see! And – what percentage of pharma professionals use/plan to use social media in 2011? Answer here.

Of course, everyone is (or should be) interested in current examples of how social media is used in healthcare. The absolute best resource for this is at Jonathan Richman’s Dose of Digital blog – the Pharma and Healthcare Social Media Wiki. Explore!

Roche is a leader in articulating and publishing common sense social media guidelines for its employees.

PLUS – here are some blog posts providing helpful analysis:

Social Media is NOT for Advertising Pharma Brands – Jon Richman

The Beginner’s Guide to Pharma Social Media – Jon Richman

10 Things I’d Like to Start Hearing about Pharma Social Media – Jon Richman

The Rise of the ePatient – Steve Woodruff

But Are We Communicating? – Steve Woodruff

Oh – and about those reportable adverse events

Want more? OK – Just scroll through my Impactiviti SocialRx page.

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This week, I enjoyed the opportunity to gather with a large number of professional colleagues at eXL Pharma’s 4th Annual Digital Pharma East conference.

I’ve attended this conference 3 or 4 times and it gets better every year. This year was no exception. The eXL team (Bryon Main, Jason Youner, Jayson Mercado, and others) did a great job organizing a multi-faceted event that contained far more variety than most of the ePharma conferences I’ve attended.

Instead of giving a recap of content (ably being done by several others – here, here, here, here, here, here, and including this very cool video essay by DoctorAnonymous, Mike Sevilla!), I’m going to list out some of my high-level impressions and perspectives as a veteran conference correspondent and industry networker.

1. It was great to have participation from savvy ePatients and ePhysicians. I can’t underscore enough how much it matters for pharma professionals to be exposed to “customers” on the ground, especially those emerging into thought leadership. Not only did I get to renew ties (and meet for the first time) some of my ePatient friends, but I was also privilege to have long discussions with Mike Sevilla (DoctorAnonymous online) and Bryan Vartabedian (Doctor_V online). Bryan ably served as co-host along with Shwen Gwee, the social media guru at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

2. Mobile is huge. And getting huger. If you’re not thinking about the intersection of communications and mobile devices, then you’re trying to make a faster horse-and-buggy while cars whiz by.

3. We’re finally moving past the first few years of very limited social media case studies into a variety of interesting approaches and efforts. Frankly, the ePharma conference circuit was getting a bit wearisome as industry struggled with the very basics, but now the on-line efforts are maturing, and increasingly being tied into off-line (integrated) efforts (Applause from audience). The best part is that these efforts will only increase in number and creativity.

4. Including speakers who are not embedded in the industry is very smart. We enjoyed hearing from Doc Searls (one of the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto), Bob Garfield (Advertising Age columnist), and futurist Ian Morrison. Getting high-level perspectives about cultural and technological trends definitely stirs up more creative thinking and discussion. As we all know, pharma can be very insular, and we need fresh infusions from the outside to keep us from being boxed in by our own self-made ruts.

5. There is no substitute for face-to-face networking. Attaching names to faces to feelings to ideas to potential collaboration…you cannot replace human networking with technology. This came up several times in talks as well, about the potential for pharma to be overly enamored with e-solutions such that human contact with physicians gets lost. And for me, it was a welcome chance to rub shoulders with old and new friends like Shwen Gwee (credit for photo above), John Mack, Eileen O’Brien, Gilles Frydman, Phil Baumann, Daphne Swancutt, Bruce Grant, Faruk Capan, Jess Seilheimer, Mike Myers, Ellen Hoenig, Jeff Greene, Len Starnes, Christiane Truelove, Cheryl Ann Borne, Hannah McDonald, Allison Blass, Mark Senak, Gigi Peterkin, DJ Edgerton, Cynthia North, Zoe Dunn, Kelly Dane, Chris Campbell, Quang Pham, Lance Hill, Carly Kuper, Alex Butler (who, for being an industry pioneer, won the Hawaiian shirt off of John Mack’s back!) and many others – these are the people that are shaping the future of pharma digital. And many have become good friends, both on- and off-line!

6. Having tracks and unconference sessions is a really good idea. The problem, of course, with tracks is that you want to be in more than one session at a time – but I think it’s great for drawing a more diverse set of attendees, and open discussions during unconference sessions can be very lively and invigorating (note: successful unconference sessions rely on a skillful moderator who knows how to draw others out, and at least a few people who don’t mind sharing opinions and being a bit provocative!)

Three years ago, live-tweeting a pharma conference was brand new territory. Now it’s becoming common practice. If you want dig deeper into the content, quotes, impressions, and resources shared, do a Twitter search under the hashtag #digpharm. This is also a great way to discover some of the most active folks involved in pharma social networking.

There is much more that could be said, but I can’t close without thanking the many sponsors who helped make the event possible, especially PixelsandPills, HealthCentral, and HealthEd, who sponsored social events in the evening.

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TODAY’S NEWS

Great news for hepatitis C treatment (and Vertex) – Adding the investigational drug telaprevir to standard treatment for hepatitis C infection cures about half the patients willing to give therapy a second try. That compares to a cure rate of just 14 percent among those who were retreated with the standard regimen, according to researchers at the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI)more

Teva gets approval to market generic versions of two key Merck cardio drugs (Cozaar and Hyzaar).

Sanofi makes a long-term investment into a cool-sounding diabetes treatment (pre-Phase 1).

Is Nuvaring a pinata for plaintiff’s attorneys? – Merck’s Nuvaring contraceptive appears to be headed for the same fate as Bayer’s Yaz pill and Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho Evra contraceptive patch: It’s becoming a pinata for plaintiffs’ lawyers who allege the device is more dangerous than older, equally effective products on the marketmore

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eMarketing/PR– We can recommend best-in-class partners/agencies for your needs.  Contact us (stevew at impactiviti dot com, or phone at 973-947-7429) for recommendations.

PLUS

Social Media – Nine things Pharma should learn about Social Media from Dennis Urbaniak (of Sanofi-Aventis US). And, the finalists for the first Dosie Awards are announced.

JUST FOR FUN

Did you know that Niagara Falls once ran dry? True!

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TODAY’S NEWS

Little Pricey Pill: A BusinessWeek slam on the Nexium approach to me-too drug marketing.

Pfizer and the Neurontin marketing fraud: $142M please.

Head-to-head MS drug effectiveness studies coming. This should be interesting.

RECOMMENDED

Video storytelling – Impactiviti’s vendor/partners have just what you need for directing and producing corporate videos.  Contact us (stevew at impactiviti dot com, or phone at 973-947-7429) for recommendations.

The latest Impactiviti Connection e-newsletter is up! You can subscribe here.

PLUS

But Are We Communicating? My rant on pharma communications, regulations, and social media.

JUST FOR FUN

Top 100 April Fools Pranks. ‘Cause it’s about that time…

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