Posts Tagged 'facebook'

SXSW Interactive 2012: Health-related start-up roundup.

In 2012 at SXSW, health and healthcare put on a good showing in terms of the panels, talks and companies present and promoting themselves. This document provides a short roundup of start-ups that I saw presenting during the “start-up accelerator” portion of the conference. Here are some thoughts on some of these companies.


Medify claim to be a better way for patients to discover medical research, using an interactive layer over data from clinical trials and making the result interactive and approachable. Medify claim to enable the average consumer to make sense of big data in health, but I wonder how robust the dataset is and how they compare datasets from different trials and avoid data bias. Medify could be seen as a competitor to Medline Plus (, which already has great consumer search outputs. Medify provides an added social layer to the data that Medline Plus doesn’t have by integration of Facebook, which is interesting, but may amplify the issues with data.


Jiff claims to be the “Facebook of Health”, but reminds me more of the “Google+ of health” with its “Circle of Health”. This is essentially a private social network for health and medicine and is currently in private beta. Jiff claim to be addressing the future of health collaboration, but it will fail or succeed on adoption by healthcare professionals and there is little evidence it will be of value to them. The question that springs to mind is why wouldn’t I just use Facebook or Google+ to connect with my family about my health? Personally, I just don’t understand Jiff’s value proposition. That being said, Jiff is HIPAA-compliant (see and was a finalist at TechCrunch Disrupt, so does have some backing.


CellScope make smartphone attachments for home use. The attachments produce high-quality images for physicians to use for remote diagnosis of ear infections and skin problems. This is a nice solution to avoid the need to take a child to see a physician. More and more we are seeing attachments to smartphones that make them viable as diagnostic instruments. The company claims that the costs of the attachments are “very low” and the trade-off between the cost of the attachment and the need to make a physician appointment means that this is a very viable option.


BodiMojo claims to be a healthy social network for teen girls to promote healthy choices. They want to build a ‘tribe’ for young girls and promote positive body image through social story and rewards. I think BodiMojo will be successful only if they can get the incentive right for their target demographic and I wonder if an education or advice component would add greater value. One main query would be the approach of a complete platform – why not build out an app within Facebook?

Another “Big Data” start-up that has been getting quite a bit of traction. provides a mobile app for patients to track their health – much like a patient diary. In addition, they can converse with physicians through the app and end alerts to their care team. On the physician side, the platform claims to allow “effortless” monitoring of the patient and identification of high-risk patients. In addition, has a dashboard for researchers that collate data both from patient-reported outcomes and “passive” data from mobile sensors. It’s quite a compelling offer and they are clear that the patient owns their own data and that all shared data is aggregated and anonymised.


Simplee is a way to manage your health bills and save money (if you are US-based). For me, it seems to be a Mint ( for medical finance. Simplee tracks healthcare expenses and suggest possible health plans to suit patients. I don’t really have much knowledge of this area, so can’t really comment further.

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 Androidbased 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.


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…

Over the falls

So I’ll begin my first blog post to say that, ashamedly, I have been a voracious consumer of content surrounding digital and social media in the pharmaceuticals industry, but never really one to engage.

For example, I have accounts on all the major networking tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc, but I primarily use them (along with a number of blogs) to monitor trends, viewpoints and discussion surrounding the digital arena. I don’t really get involved in the wall-posting and virtual-turnip-growing interactions that occur between my friends on Facebook. I do, however find myself having to monitor my events and message inbox, as this is the forum that many of my friends use as their primary form of communication.

It’s only really now, after a long while observing how others interact within these media, that I have been able to decide for myself that I have a contribution to make to the debate, that my input into the discussion may be valuable to others, and that maybe I should put myself out there into these ongoing discussion in order reap the benefits of engaging.

As I see it, this is also a lesson that needs to be learned by pharma marketers who might view the social media environment with the air of a barrel-clad lady looking out at the Horse-shoe falls. There may come a time where you exhaust all the passive ways that you might push out your messaging to your audience of HCPs (no matter how innovative your conference booth touch screens are), and where do you go from there?


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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