Posts Tagged 'twitter'

I Tweet Your Weight

The nature of communication today means that we are almost always connected to each other in some form or other, whether wired or wireless. We use a variety of methods to communicate about our ‘status’ to our circles, be it through Facebook, Twitter or even good old voice calling. When it comes to communicating about our health, this has traditionally been very personal and private, but increasingly as the barriers to privacy erode through social media, we find companies such as Microsoft and Google want to help us store our health information online (although, interestingly, Google recently halted their Google Health service due to lack of uptake).

So what’s next? Companies are starting to manufacture connected devices that can communicate our health status automatically. I recently saw a demo of bathroom scales that tweeted the user’s weight every day, and a blood pressure cuff that connected to iPhone and transmitted a daily reading over the internet. Of course, we can debate whether people want others to know if they have grown ‘vacation handles’ (or if they trust companies like Microsoft with their personal health information), but this at least illustrates that we need to consider the interfaces and devices with which we share information, and understand that it’s not just our fingers that do the talking when it comes to health status updates.

Balloon animals

A quick apology to readers of this blog. I really enjoy writing here, but the past month has thrown up a number of challenges.

One of these challenges is actually finding something interesting and, importantly, new, to write about. There are so many bloggers out there that I feel I would be doing you a disservice if I wrote basically the same stuff that others have already covered.

Social media is no longer new and exciting, and in the pharmaceutical sector at least, little has changed with regards to its use, other than the fact that pharma companies know more about it than before. Especially in Europe, where regulatory guidance is a long way off; don’t get me wrong, there have been excellent examples of innovative use of social media, however all the signs show that we are ‘over the hump’ of social media hype and are now, quite rightly, looking at it as a channel to be considered and utilised in an appropriate manner as part of an integrated plan. Not so much a bursting of the social media bubble, more a slight deflation so that we can make balloon animals (to overextend my mixed metaphor for appropriate consideration and usage of social media). Essentially in 2011, it is necessary for Pharma to bring social media into the Venn diagram and start using it appropriately.

What about the rise and rise of mobile and tablet healthcare with native apps (and in my opinion this is also something that is still overhyped and not rationally used as a tactic in an integrated plan, but I expect that to continue for the moment). I think Android will play a much larger part in healthcare as a platform with some major players bringing out Android-based tablets in 2011 (with implications in terms of enterprise, cost and accessibility).

Let’s not forget the possibilities of near-field communications (NFCs), especially now that mobile handsets are starting to integrate this technology (notably Google’s upcoming Nexus S made by Samsung, which also inexplicably has no LED indicator or SD card expansion slot). This is something that will gain momentum in 2011, with possibly some good use coming of it either late in 2011 or more likely in 2012.

Now to a topic I’ve also been banging on in this blog about recently: integration, and I think actually this will be a key theme for the focus of my commentary in 2011 – integration of digital into overall healthcare strategy. We need to be savvy that digital must fit within our offerings in an integrated manner, and that we shouldn’t get overexcited about ‘the shiny’ (be it platforms or gadgets). I expect 2011 to be the year where the ‘bedding in’ of digital occurs, where we all go back from being ‘digital strategists’ to just ‘communication strategists’, because this is where the benefits for patients, HCPs and Industry lie.

I’m excited by the prospect of 2011 in digital. Happy holidays to you all.

Paul

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 7

Here’s my final post on the #DigiPharm narrative. Part 7! Again, I am reporting on selected sessions from Day 2, ones that I found of note or interest. You can read the twitterstream for more information on the presentations not covered here.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Still friends
First up after lunch was John Mack of Pharma Marketing News detailing to us Europeans the new rules for new media: a funny thing happened while waiting for FDA guidance. Waiting on the FDA is ‘Waiting for Goduidance‘; apt, considering the FDA hearing was October 2009. 70 presentations at the FDA hearings came from stakeholders, and interestingly the stats show that industry service providers made a large proportion of those presentations. Mack thinks that they are ‘pushing Pharma outside of the social media envelope‘. In addition, because of the first-come first-served basis, the share of voice for patients and HCPs was much reduced from previous hearings (1997).

From a survey taken by his readership, Mack explains that Pharma parses into different categories what they are accountable for and what they are not according to the way the funds have been given/spent (grants, paid content, display ads). Interestingly, around 45% of Pharma responders said that Pharma should be accountable for the content even on sites they do not have direct control of (funded by grants). There are also mixed views on accountability with regards to correcting third-party misinformation, with 12% of Pharma suggesting that all off-label information should be corrected by Pharma and 49% of Pharma opining that no corrections should be mandated on third-party sites.

Regarding space limitations, most responders to the survey did not know if space limitation is a problem in Pharma online communication, and therein lies the challenge: how do we make 140-character messages meaningful to the patients in addition to fair and balanced? Mack focused one of his infamous ‘Mack Attacks’ on the Race With Insulin Twitter page featuring promotional Tweets from Race driver Charlie Kimball on behalf of Novo Nordisk (although a picture of the two smiling together may indicate they are still buddies – not sure where Kimball’s hands are though!). A big thing for Pharma are Adwords and search results (around 40% of US Pharma’s online spending budget says Mack), and because Google was losing the Pharma revenue, they piloted and presented a solution for prescription drugs that included a fixed warning of 60 characters, a link to more information and a fixed landing page in the headline.

So where is the draft guidance? Mack predicted that we will get guidance by the end of October, but the FDA will produce and roll out draft mini-guidance documents over time, the first of which, he predicts, will be concerning space limitations. However, he says, that hasn’t stopped Pharma diving into social media, although there have been problems around mishandling (citing sanofi-aventis’ VOICES page being assaulted by a patient who suffered permanent hair loss from the chemotherapy Taxotere, resulting in the comments being turned off). He concludes by suggesting that the greatest mistake for an online pharma initiative is to not have a crisis plan.

Following the presentation, Mack sat down for a panel debate with Chandler Chicco’s Sam Walmsey, taking questions from the floor. Walmsey asks why he is so critical of the industry, and he admits that he “…doesn’t make a living by telling people what they are doing well, he leaves that up to awards ceremonies (it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it?). But do ‘Mack Attacks’ help Pharma? Responses from the floor suggest that they do, but it does involve a headache of lawyers (I believe that is the collective noun), Gary Monk recalls individuals who received a Mack Attack and this significantly increased their Twitter following.

The right measurement
A quick note about the presentation from Preston Hennington of PR Newswire on building your brand using multimedia. I didn’t really take much away from this, but when he was talking about using free online tools to track sentiment, buzz and influencers (such as Social Mention, Twitority and Twitalyser), it rang alarm bells. I feel strongly that these free social media tools should be used with caution, especially when interpreting the results. You are better off spending some money and getting it right!

I expect in 2040 we will all have cell towers grafted on at birth
A brief mention here of the Mobile presentation from Hedwig Scheck of GSK. Frankly I found there is nothing new here (considering my avid interest in mobile), but of note some responses from the floor from questions: most of the room are thinking about launching an iPhone app, but only a handful actually have done so. Also of note is that sanofi-aventis has unveiled an iPad and iPhone app glucometer with add-on hardware and GSK have developed an iPhone app for the German market to help allergy patients. She predicts that by 2011, more than half of brands are expected to use between 5 and 25% of their marketing budget for mobile marketing. My thoughts are that Pharma should be careful of focussing too hard on iPhone specifically to the detriment of Android – consider that Gartner predict by the end of the year it will become the number 2 mobile operating system (after Symbian and above BlackBerry and Apple). There are, of course costs associated with Android, considering the breadth of handsets and the fragmentation of the operating system. We should also be mindful of the new operating systems due: Windows Mobile 7, MeeGo (Nokia’s new smartphone OS) and Bada (Samsung), plus the launch of a number of app stores.

Microchips and pills
Next up is connecting patients and physicians to treatment outcomes in the digital era presented by Todd Stephens of Merck Serono. He starts by asking: ‘Which of these three can you do well?

  • Product leadership
  • Operational excellence
  • Or customer intimacy?’

It is difficult to move focus from one to the other, or indeed to get a balance. He says the problem currently is that Pharma needs to choose the technology they invest in three to four years in advance. There is a displacement in timelines between technology development, application of that technology, legal and regulations and roll out. Indeed, the choice of technology is relatively redundant to payors, as they are focused on outcomes, not technology: ‘Drugs are not reimbursed if they are not proven to improve treatment outcomes‘ A question: will we be looking for reimbursement of medical apps? Interestingly, Stephens implies that Merck Serono are working on a mobile compliance tool in endocrinology.

So will adherence/compliance be the next important topic in digital? I say this is one part of the patient story. With the rise of mobile help or hinder this? Will Mobile compliance apps be the way forward or, as Stephens alluded to, will ‘intelligent medicines’ as being trialled by the NHS be the way forward? More questions to debate.

The end? Not by a long run
Here endeth the narrative from DigiPharm Europe 2010, but looking back at the presentations, data, case studies, demonstrations and discussions, I can’t help but think that these are challenging and exciting times in the Pharma industry. I for one am encouraged by the growing effective use of digital technology and channels, and at the same time worried about the potential direction this could take. I think two things have become very clear from this conference:

  • There should be some discussion and agreement on regulatory issues with regards to digital and to social media in particular, and this discussion should focus on the global nature of the internet and therefore consider the cross-boundary nature of how the drug industry should be regulated.
  • To survive in this landscape, Pharma must make inroads into developing a digital strategy – and by that I mean integrate your digital tactics into your overall strategic plan, and at the same time, generate and maintain internal buy-in by developing a corporate digital strategy that integrates digital into the fabric of your organization’s culture and operations.

Thanks for reading!

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 5

Once more unto the DigiPharm breach.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 6
Part 7

Building up to reportable adverse events
When last we spoke, I covered patient community discussions. We now turn our attention to reportable adverse events and the Internet presented by Daniel Ghinn and Paul Grant. They start by re-stating the Nielsen report that suggested one in 500 adverse events were reportable, whereas Patientslikeme.com found that 7 in 500 were reportable within their own forums (Link to Pharma marketing Blog’s analysis). When Grant and Ghinn question attendees, a Boehringer employee mentioned that they had received three adverse event reports in the past 12 months and Sam Walmsley from Chandler Chicco PR agency found less than five associated with campaigns that she had worked on.

The presenters made it clear that content in context is very important in adverse event reporting. They hypothesise that in conversations, the volume of reportable adverse events are likely to vary by therapeutic area, channel and language. The duo picked a week in July and focused on 10 different therapy areas, looked at brand name variance and generic noise. They started with the brand, saw if a side effect was mentioned and then checked if personal pronouns were used (inferring a conversation). These filters created the conditions of possibility for identifying potentially reportable adverse events.

The results showed that spam, especially on Twitter, can make up a high percentage of results, and in fact, over 90% of product mentions in social media is spam in the US, 99% in Brazil and 93% in the UK, dropping to only 50% in France. From their analysis, by therapy area, potentially reportable adverse events range from 5% plus and if a brand or disease is in mainstream media, the incidence of potentially reportable adverse events spikes (the LiLo effect).

Ghinn and Grant point out that there are a large range of mentions of adverse events across therapy areas, so one-fit measurement is not a good idea and we also need to consider how many adverse event reports originate from counterfeit drugs or due to direct to consumer marketing. The point is made (in Twitter discussions) that many parameters to take into account analysing online data, so a global vision is essential to limit bias (@thibaudguymard) and that we should look to define and analyse adverse events from two angles: the formal regulatory one and the one as a nuisance to patients (@rohal).

Back on the stage, Ghinn and Grant show how a series of tweets could build up into a conversation that can exhibit all the requirements for a reportable adverse event (where individual tweets would not qualify), with a strong response from the floor. They ask questions in conclusion:

  • Will you monitor real-time engagement?
  • Will you take a global, national or regional view?
  • How will you collaborate with colleagues across marketing, corporate communications and pharmacovigilance?

140 characters or less
next to the stage are Silja Chouquet and Andrew Spong with a rather unique silent presentation on Healthcare Social Media Europe (#hcsmeu). They demonstrate the power of the hashtag on twitter to provide a story. Rather than reproduce this, I’ll just point you towards the tweetstream between 3:51pm and 4:12pm (be warned that there is much joviality surrounding a certain risqué comment…).

HCPs do not like reps. At all.
The final event of the day is a panel discussion featuring Dr Ameet Bakhai, Consultant Cardiologist, Barnet General Hospital, UK on reaching key decision makers – the challenges. The panel discuss iPhone apps for measurement and assistance of patient care. They say that, even within the British National Health Service (which is thought to be old-fashioned technically), physicians are very tech-savvy and mention that the top-selling iPhone app for physicians is a stethoscope (although I could find data to corroborate this). A word of caution from the panel: social media can be a quick and efficient way of killing people, but Pharma cannot live ‘in backward days‘.

A question from the floor: What’s the future of the pharmaceutical representative? The answer: The rep is only useful as a local conduit, as HCPs can find connection quicker than rep. In fact, some UK practises have banned sales reps, who will have no access to physicians in those clinics. One panel member opines that if a sales representative does not send the presentation in advance, they will not be seen. If they do send one in advance and it does not interest the HCP, they will not be seen. Dr Bakhai says that there is no need for Pharma reps, unless they are knowledgable, add value and are working with med/marketing colleagues. My guess is that he is really focusing on the value of field-based Scientific Advisors (Some companies call these Medical Speciality Managers [MSMs] or Scientific Managers [SMs]), who focus more energy on the data rather than relying on sales aids that use a specific story flow. Additionally, we need to consider that this is the opinion of a small panel and may not necessarily reflect the views of the thousands of HCPs in the UK.

When asked if the panel have an example of where digital-pharma oriented companies can work with HCPs to benefit the patient? Dr Bakhai responds that a Pharma company has helped build a website & provide a telemonitoring resource for cardiology patients in the UK. In the future, Pharma need to help physicians use technology effectively, such as help develop ECG on mobile phones. He also likes accredited CME he can use on a smartphone and share with his expert patient panel (he demonstrates an app to teach CPR). My position – this is hard in Europe right now, fragmentation of differing national CME/CPD systems and requirements notwithstanding, EACCME are evolving and in flux with respect to how to proceed with CME, and currently (unless you are a UK physician, as the Royal College of Physicians allows sponsored CPD events) there needs to be a hands-off approach (you can’t use your promotional medical education agency for CME activities in Europe).

Another question to the panel: have you ever been to any Pharma sites to find drug information? The answer is a simple no, but they do use Wikipedia as a point of care decision-making resource. The problem may be that Pharma is very slow to approve and update content – it means that these sites are much less relevant and behind and disengages ‘customers’. Parting shots to Pharma: ‘spend time in the front line. Spend one day in the field. You (Pharma), we (HCPs) and patients will all get something out of it‘.

Thanks for your time, that concludes today’s post and Day 1 of DigiPharm Europe 2010. I’m planning to cover Day 2 in two posts, so you’ll be pleased to know I’ll be finished on Friday!

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 4

And to the next instalment of this series on DigiPharm Europe 2010.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

When is a community not a community?
The session entitled “Community management in Pharma” was presented by René Vvan den Bos and Erik Van der Zijden. They focused on mythical ailment for gamers: nintendonitus, but created little (relevant) residual Twitter activity from their presentations, other than the need for transparency when creating an online community and to make sure you have buy-in from internal stakeholders. Also, make sure that the community you are targeting actually want a place online to call a community. And who will moderate? Patients? Are they objective enough? Do they get incentives? (my response: absolutely not, they should want to be involved to better further the community).

Net of physicians
Carwyn Jones of doctors.net.uk outlines doctors.net.uk’s work with international doctors’ networks. He says that the number one use of the internet by doctors is for professional use. Interestingly, they are sharing customer segmentation with Apple and Blackberry to assist doctors.net.uk to understand personal lives/interests. Indeed, Jones mentions 12.5% of doctors are accessing the site from iPhone, with 15,000 downloads of the iPhone application.

Jones asks: ‘How do you engage with a doctor online?’ – he says UK doctors do not have time to view webcasts, they are notoriously time-poor, but their commute is dead time – podcasts are a good solution. He also mentions that they trust Pharma to give them quality educational products (apparently Roche tops these in the survey) and that they only like to see reps if they are of high quality (my perception here is different – and this is discussed later in the programme).

Online, ‘engagement’ is considered 20% more important than content and there are five potential mistakes to building an online asset:
1. Not working out how to promote to your target market
2. Being seduced by technology (iPad anyone?)
3. Overestimate the importance of your brand
4. Measuring the wrong things (‘Time on page’ doesn’t necessarily relate to ‘impact’)
5. Not identifying the target audience

The mother of all dashboards
We now have Judith von Gordon-Weichelt, Head of Media & PR, Boehringer Ingelheim talking about social media monitoring. She demonstrates the dashboard that they use internally to track sentiment, buzz, news, press and other activity surrounding their brands and corporate communications, it’s very comprehensive! They are monitoring English and German social media in-depth and the next challenge is working out how to engage and develop specific guidelines for 44,000 employees. Not much else to say about this other than everyone was very impressed indeed.

Strengthening communities
We then had a really interesting presentation from Paul Wicks of Patientslikeme on data-driven partnerships between social media and Pharma. He says that good data is getting easier to obtain. At this point (on Twitter) John Mack shares his interview with UCB Pharma and Patientslikeme. Wicks says that Patientslikeme collect reports about treatment from opted-in members and share with all members and partners. He asks Pharma not to create an account to see the user data, but to view the 20% of data that is available publicly.

Wicks says that the more patients engage in Patientslikeme, the more they benefit from it. He uses UCB as an example partner regarding epileptic patients’ unmet needs: providing tools to record seizures: ‘I am not my seizures’ and show how the disease can affect someone’s whole life. Patientslikeme help connect that patients with others in similar positions. He states: “We build communities by helping [patients] manage their condition” and make ‘better decisions through listening to the patient voice‘.

Wicks moves on to the partnership with Novartis on the organ transplant community, where quality of life tracking over the long term reveals rich insight into transplant patients’ experiences, and how to support them. he makes a good point: The keys to maximizing data-driven partnerships is to partner with organisations whose goals align with yours, and, of course, measure something important ‘look for the win-win-win, but always putting the patients’ interests first … always imagine there is a patient in the room with you every time you make a decision’.

Questions from the floor: What is the future for Patientslikeme? Wicks responds that it is to focus on symptom management tools and predictive modelling for a disease. They want to have 3,000+ different communities for patients. And are they planning to provide support to caregivers? Currently caregivers can interact on Patientslikeme on behalf of under-13s, but they are interested in investigating issues with privacy rules to expand this to carers of other communities.

here’s a link to a relevant Patientslikeme study: Sharing health data for better outcomes on PatientsLikeMe

I hope this roundup is a useful resource for readers. Coming soon in part 5: Reportable adverse events and the internet.

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 3

Third in the series of posts about the proceedings from DigiPharm Europe 2010.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Mixing print and digtal
So on to the second presentation of the day, where Mark Prince presented on integration of online and offline strategy. Prince rejects the practice of using microsites as conference websites, as these become redundant and are one-use only. I agree and partially disagree: I agree with both these points, but if the meeting is carefully and specifically branded, or if it is an educational event, you may want to use a microsite to separate this out from your product or corporate branding. Prince also recommends building a content management system (CMS) into an event website so that you are not at the whim of your IT people. I always think this is a great idea, as it allows for timely updates and allows for meeting materials to be provided on the site. I also agree with that providing as many slides or materials on the site post-meeting will go down very well with the audience (and those who were unable to make the meeting itself). On Twitter, the point is made that delegates also want to access the site via a mobile interface, so optimizing for that is also a good idea.

In terms of resources, Prince says to invest the Rep’s £40 worth of journal articles and redeploy that resource. He recommends a USB Webkey as a link between digital and print – giving away a USB key within a print ad that allows a physician to enter a protected website. There are some reservations about this, although it seems a good idea in principle. For example, what percentage of physicians will even get to the stage of inserting a webkey into their PC (that’s after the assistant has opened the mail and already selected what the physician will view)? It seems to me a rep-led campaign with webkey would be more effective. On Twitter, it is pointed out that search engine optimization for a specific keyword may be more effective (e.g. in a print ad “search for pharmaconference 2010″ and typing this phrase in google would show the registration page for the event). On the other side of the coin, an online campaign may actually be the right option but fail due to poor implementation.

Wikipedia editing
I very much enjoyed Kay Wesley‘s series of videos about ‘how can pharma drive a creative commons in healthcare’. She suggests we are not using Wikipedia effectively. At this point I should add that there were wireless access problems at the event, so there was not much Twitter activity during this presentation, which didn’t help as Kay was using vote by tweet to try to gain opinion. From the “stand-up/sitdown” voting mechanism (therefore non-voters are counted as “no”) plus those who were able to get on-line, 83% of respondents hadn’t edited a relevant Wikipedia page and 89% of Pharma companies polled don’t have policy to keep Wikipedia up to date. John Mack quips: ‘The only use of wikipedia by Pharma I’ve seen has been MIS-use!’. Interestingly, 26% of responders say Pharma updating of Wikipedia is a breach of regulations, but on Twitter, there is some consensus that clause 24 of the ABPI code of practice in the UK (pdf) would allow this (even if this is not within the spirit of the Wikipedia editing guidelines). Indeed the representative of PMCPA in the room (who produce the ABPI guidelines) confirmed that so far, there have been no breaches of ABPI code with respect to Wikipedia page editing. Regardless, I think editing your own company or brand articles on Wikipedia can be dangerous, as this is a bit of a taboo topic, so Pharma needs to be careful of the negative PR this may generate – even if it is updating for accuracy, but on the other side of the coin, it is important to correct inaccuracies. One omission: there was no discussion on needing a neutral point of view.

Edit: I would like to draw your attention to the comment made by Paul Wicks that there have been discussions on Wikipedia about Pharma editing. It seems that the way forward is to use the ‘talk’ channels in Wikipedia and suggest where changes should be made (with full disclosure, natch), but allow independent editors decide whether to make those changes.

Be accountable in social media
Next, a Q&A with Sabine Kostevc of Roche about the Roche social media guidelines (PDF) that were made available to the public and downloaded more than 5,000 times since publication on August 10 2010. Sabine says they took 3-4 months to develop from existing old documentation by 8-10 senior stakeholders and they allowed grass-roots comment to filter up via senior functional group representatives with the support of internal project sponsors (legal counsel) to make the guidelines public. This is a brilliant move by Roche and it has, in some ways, set the tone for all Pharma and very smart to bring on-side people who could potentially block the process. Sabine mentions that an internal communications campaign was undertaken within Roche and that the guidelines have delivered clarity across the organisation.

Post-publication, it is too early to see the impact of the guidelines, but there has been positive feedback from employees, according to Sabine, and will reviewed annually. In addition, the principles set out in the guidelines are not being ‘policed’ and rely on employee adherence, it remains to be seen if Roche expect providers and partners to adhere. Comments from the floor allude to Pfizer planning similar guidance.

Talk… and also listen
Alex Butler (Janssen, but speaking his own views) took to the stage to talk about building two-way relationships. Butler says social media is only one component of an integrated strategy. Going forward, it won’t be viable to keep social media elements separate (again this recurring theme of integration running throughout the conference). He mentions that Pharma is not trusted (says between tobacco and oil!) and thinks that social media is a way to improve trust between the public and Pharma. However, social media interactions, like people, are imperfect, and any social media engagement by Pharma will be imperfect due to Pharma’s conflicting obligations, however we should, where possible, follow the etiquette of each social media platform.

Butler turns his attention to outcomes measurement, he states that we are data rich but insight poor. Obsessing over measures and metrics robs the data of the value of its key insight. Quoting Einstein: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Jannsen conducted a Twitter poll where 55% answered no to the question of “Do you trust inform from pharma companies?” (75% if you count neutral responses). He says, and I very much agree with this statement, that Pharma companies need to build up their presence in social media now – you cannot pay your way in later and after publishing and control, the next stage is curation of content – Pharma has to engage and it is not all about pushing messages. He also says that people don’t use websites – they are driven to pages via social media links.

Questions from the floor – How do you allocate resources? Butler spends around an hour to an hour-and-a-half a day on Jannsen UK social media.

That’s it from me right now! There’s still quite a bit more to come (I’ve barely reached lunch on the first day!).

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 2

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Here I continue the commentary on the discussions surrounding topics from DigiPharm Europe 2010. We left off around halfway through Kai Gait’s presentation on business organisation for a digital future in Part 1, which can be found here. Gait says that fear of losing control is a real inhibitor with respect to social media in some organisations and that Pharma must invest in buy-in internally from all stakeholders. This is a theme that actually repeats a number of times throughout the conference, and one that I personally think is key to a successful implementation of any tactic in the social media space.

Gait lists five steps to drive digital internally:

  • Be helpful
  • Be present (or available for questions)
  • Be social – in real life! (are we losing social skills because of social media?)
  • Share the love – make it about them and their brand
  • Pay it forward – show value

There is some discussion about this, questions about whether the meaning of ‘social’ has changed, and whether the 5 steps are really principles rather than a plan. I think they are ideals to work towards within our current reality.

He says something that resonates with the audience: ‘People aren’t afraid of change, they are afraid of being changed‘ and describes three ‘lightbulb’ moments: 1) chose a positive theme; 2) simplify complex and challenging theories; 3) share awe-inspiring stories. Gait also mentions six drivers of influence: reciprocation; consistency; social proof; liking; authority; scarcity. On Twitter, Paul Grant points us towards The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cianaldi

Further discussion focused on the global nature of digital – Pharma must look at engagement at this level and try to solve the regulatory issues with a global mechanism of sharing information. This is another theme that rears its head several times during the conference. Daniel Ghinn points us towards his call for international debate about this issue.

That’s it from the first presentation. I wanted to cover that in details as it is an important topic of discussion. In the next post, I’ll start with Mark Prince with his presentation: Paper – scissors – digital! (integration of online and offline strategy).

DigiPharm Europe 2010

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

I attended the DigiPharm Europe 2010 conference this week (29 to 30 September) and there was quite a bit to digest and discuss. I’m collating how I followed the presentations and the discussions here, along with my personal thoughts and commentary. Why? I’m of the opinion that much of the time we are all very good at talking, but due to various reasons (lack of regulation/guidance, Luddite tendency, old-fashioned thinking and a basic misunderstanding of the digital environment) that’s all that seems to be done within Pharma and healthcare in the digital arena and especially on the social web. Hopefully just by laying it all down here I can cause pause and thought and encourage progress.

So this is the first in a series of posts. I certainly can’t put it all down in one go, and knowing the nature of web readership, you’ll probably get to a short way through before those eyes glaze over.

Firstly, to see the source material, here is the Twitter transcript and here are the stats generated on Twitter.

I’d also very much like to thank the people who have contributed to the Twitter stream, obviously I can’t name them all here, but I can list the most frequent contributors: Andrew Spong, Daniel Ghinn, Dave N Clarke, Michelle Petersen, Rob Halkes, Arnold Breukhoven, Henry Gazay, Paul Grant and Silja Chouquet

Also thanks obviously go to the organisers and the Chair, Paul Dixey

Day 1: Welcome

A call to action
Paul Dixey introduces the day, ‘Something has been happening in the last year‘, he says. Andrew Spong agrees in his STweM blog: ‘The pace of change within the health conversation is picking up, but not just in isolated pockets. There are more good things going on than we seem to have time to keep track of.’ This precedes what I take to be a strongly-worded call to action from Andrew for Pharma and healthcare to start working with the collaborative channels and tactics that are available before it is too late.

I certainly agree with the sentiment, but I think the reality here is that we need to find a balance in the interim before Pharma can truly start a collaboration with patients. Using Andrew’s ‘live to work’ analogy, we need a bit of work-life balance before we can decide how to commit the rest of our lives.

Future Shock
This segues nicely into the first presentation of the day by Kai Grant on business organisation for a digital future: Faster speed, smarter markets – faster customers, slower companies. He say’s it isn’t rocket science, but 65% of Pharma marketers find it hard to stay on top of technology and if executives can’t understand technological change, it’s very difficult to get buy-in. Campaigns are different now, we need to be moving from large campaigns to continuous engagement and from ‘hard to reach’ to an ‘available everywhere’ approach, all with a need for transparency in all activities. Paul Grant illustrates with a link to ‘future shock’ by Alvin Toffler.

Gait illustrates the problems within corporate Pharma with upper management struggling to understand social media. He wonders if there are residual dot.com bubble ROI memories. Gait uses an example of the SVP trialling a blog that is a spectacular failure, with complaints that it is vanity project, no-one reads it and it’s aimed at the wrong people. I agree with this and I’ve experienced difficulties myself with barriers to innovation thrown up through an individual’s bad experience of a simple web project – not because the implementation was bad, but because it was the wrong choice of medium to satisfy the strategic imperatives. I see it happening now and brand managers need to temper their enthusiasm for a specific channel (Facebook, iPad etc, Gait calls this ‘channel blindness’) and start looking at the appropriate way to deliver the information and communicate with their appropriate audience. As Gait says (and I am paraphrasing), education internally is the key to buy-in, which is the gateway to communication.

That’s enough for today. I’ll continue with the second half of Kai Gate’s presentation and associated commentary tomorrow, as all this thinking has given me a headache!

Check-in to your GP?

Personally, I don’t hold much truck with Facebook on a social level (maybe I shouldn’t say that considering that technology, digital and social media is my day job!) and I prefer LinkedIn for business networking and Twitter for status updates and to quick-share information.

And when I am mobile, on the go? SMS and again Twitter. Maybe because Facebook is too feature-rich, maybe I am distrustful of Zuckerberg and co with their frankly poor privacy record. It’s quite apparent that I am in an minority of the mobile-internet-using world, as the BBC reported back in February that Facebook accounts for nearly half the time spent on mobile internet in the UK, equating to 2.2 billion browsing minutes in December 2009 alone. That is a great number of lols and a huge number of inane updates about what people had for breakfast.

These musing were triggered by Facebook’s launch of it’s location-based services (with the moniker of Facebook Places) this week. Now, these types of services are not new, the most popular such as Foursquare, Gowalla (both of whom have teamed up with Facebook), Britekite, or Google’s Latitiude offer a variety of location-based social features from identifying where your friends are (Britekite and Latitude), to “checking-in” at shops, bars, places of work and other communal areas to show that you have frequented them (Gowalla, Foursquare). In fact, this has become popular with the consumer marketing brigade to offer benefits to those who check-in frequently at a store (Starbucks being the most high-profile).

So what can Facebook offer that these other services can’t? The obvious answer is that it brings location-based services to the mainstream, and offers a combination of services including those offered by the services mentioned above. In addition, Facebook are publishing an API for Facebook Places, which throws up some interesting uses of the service in the healthcare sector. There’s a ‘Read API’ for reading check-ins and learning more about check-in pages. There’s a ‘Search and Write API’ for making check-ins and searching through them.

And for the healthcare industry? If we can overcome and manage the obvious privacy issues, if the Facebook Places features take off, would it allow clinics, hospitals, surgeries and pharmacies to promote their services to patients in the local area, possibly encourage patients to attend their appointment and remind them where to pick up their prescription?

I think there is potential. Let’s see if it catches on…

Inspirations and aspirations

I’d hate to misrepresent myself on this blog. To be clear, I’ve been working in the medical communications/education industry for nine years – which is (just about) enough time to understand the industry, the challenges those in the industry face, and the pitfalls/opportunities a brand may encounter.

I also have an eclectic mix of experience in terms of disciplines, ranging from print creative, editorial, client services and now digital (I’ve been in my digital-specific role for exactly three months and one week).

What am I getting at here? although I have delivered many digital tactics throughout my career, I can categorically say that I have learned more about the digital space in those three months than the rest of the eight years and seven months put together.

Much of this has been through the support systems at my workplace (we have a great digital strategist in our Group who I go to for advice and chat to every week), but other than my own passion and drive for all things digital, mobile and social, I have found that there is a brilliant community of experts out in internetland who are leading the field. These people very much inspire me to lofty aspirations – to grow as a digital specialist, to try my damnedest in the search for innovation, engagement and, most importantly, to understand the digital space, how it works, how we manoeuvre in it and how it can reap rewards on so many levels for all stakeholders in this industry: patients, healthcare providers, pharma companies, medical societies, charities, health authorities, agencies and individuals.

So thank you to all those who share their knowledge, advice and opinions. I’d like to list out here some of these people, many of whose blogs I have been an avid reader for a long while:

Jonathan Richman (@jonmrichman) – Dose of Digital (and thanks Jonathan for pointing me towards a reference for some stats I was having trouble backing up)
John Mack (@pharmaguy) – Pharma Marketing Blog
Wendy Blackburn (@WendyBlackburn) – epharma Rx
Andrew Spong (@andrewspong) – STweM
Schwen Gwee (@schwen) – med20.com (glad to see you updating the blog again!)
Plus many, many others!


About me

Hi, my name is Paul Jacobs and I write the Medigital blog, as well as being the Director, Digital Strategy at Sonic Boom, a digital and social agency. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about the digital domain in pharma and medical communications/education.
Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are my very own and do not necessarily reflect those my employer, family or pets. Twitter: @PJ_Medigital
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