Thursday, November 24, 2011

M cubed - Mobile Medical Marketing

mHealth is a term used for the practice of medicine and public health, supported by mobile devices. The term is most commonly used in reference to using mobile communication devices.  Several recent research surveys cite the rise in the number of physicians using smartphones; sources reporting that number is approximately 80%.  Physicians are using their mobile devices to access electronic health records, look up drug interactions, view diagnostic reports, and communicate with patients. We also know that nearly 9 out of 10 Americans own a moblile phone; over 10 million U.S. adults currently use their cell phones and PDA/smartphones to look up health and medical information.

Biotech/pharma marketers are in the early phases of fully capitalizing on this opportunity.  The road is unpaved as the mobile landscape is highly fragmented and there continues to be a lack of established standards from regulatory bodies.  However, challenge your marketing approach and embark into this space.  Here are some points to consider.

Determine your overall objectives of your mobile marketing programs.  Are you trying to get patients to try your product? to repeat usage? to refer a friend?

How will you enroll/engage your customer? Will you utilize your ground sales reps to sell the program to physicians? Will you sign physicians up at your conference booth?

How will you identify your target physicians? Conduct market research to understand physician segmentation based on their mobile device attitudes and usage. Identify physicians that are more likely to prescribe based on their mobile information sources.

Based on your product, is there a high usage of mobile devices among patients with this condition/diagnosis? For example, patients looking for depression medications tend to be high users of mHealth.

Before you begin, it's important to always consider the your overall brand strategies and your mHealth programs should be a tactical execution of your brand strategies, not the other way around

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Segmentation of Physicians - "Connected or Not Connected"

Biotech/Pharma marketers create physician segmentation in order to provide direction to the sales team and to optimize their marketing messages.  I've seen different types of segmentation of physicians in our field: 1) volume of prescriptions, 2) geography, 3) willingness to try new products, 4) setting of practice, 5) brand loyalty, etc. 

As we move toward a digital world where nearly 90% of physicians use at least one social media site for personal use, while over 65% have used at least one to support their professional practice, do we consider a new type of physician segmentation.  Care Continuum Alliance suggests that there is a segment of physicians, "Connected Clinicians" who are on the forefront of social media.  They also tend to participate in online patient communities and believe in those communities' impact on patient care.  They are also more likely to communicate with patients electronically.

Biotech/pharma marketers - let's re-evaluate how we segment our physicians.  Is there an opportunity here to segment by how the physician is connected?  If yes, then how might we re-allocate our sales reps on the ground?  Do we identify alternate marketing tactics for those more connected physicans?  Perhaps we even cut sales reps detailing and find alternate avenues to communicate with our "connected" physicians.  This discussion can go on, but I'll stop here to reinforce - let's explore a re-segmentation.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Score: Marketers: 0, Promotional Review Boards: 1

As of today, Facebook will no longer allow biotech/pharma companies to disable their comment pages.  As a result, we are already seeing companies taking down their pages.  AstraZeneca and J&J already shut down some pages.  For these companies, the risk of patients posting on adverse events or off-label claims are too high.  Or perhaps these companies have not reached consensus on the best way to leverage social media and chose the most conservative route to shut down the pages.  Or they are waiting on some guidance from the FDA.

Unfortunately, I'm not surprised.   Culturally as a whole our industry is rightfully very conservative.  Off label uses of drugs can have detrimental effects; worst case: people can die.   

However, I do think we can find balance and a way to utilize these amazing marketing avenues.  I don't expect the FDA to magically come up with some guidance in the short term.  And by the time they do, we'll be onto marketing 3.0 and their guidance will already be obsolete.  I would encourage biotech/pharma marketers to work with their regulatory teams to continue to find an appropriate and safe way to keep the conversation alive.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Should facebook pages be limited to consumer facing products

I was very excited to see healthcare/pharma tips on facebook posted on Mashable, one of my favorite one-stop shops on social media. Augustine Fou, the writer of the article, offered basic advice such as create a publishing schedule and establish the right metrics. I agreed with most of his points due to their generic nature. The one point I would challenge would be “determine if your brand, drug or service is “consumer facing” — whether consumers are the ones making the purchase decisions. This factor applies more to over-the-counter products that consumers can buy themselves in stores and less to prescription drugs for which doctors are the ones writing the prescriptions. Consumers tend to go online to research products before they buy — and they want to be able to reach the manufacturers directly”.

While I agree that consumer facing brands are good candidates for utilizing facebook or other social media outlets, the real impact will come from empowering patients to discuss products and brands that are NOT “consumer facing”. For example, Sanofi hosts a facebook page promoting their products to bring awareness of diabetes to patients. Patients asking for a specific brand-name drug are far more likely to get that drug than another drug. Information on facebook pages can arm a consumer with valuable discussion points for his/her next doctor appointment; thus creating powerful influence on the physicians' willingness to prescribe.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Can biotech/pharma tweet?

The law requires that product claim ads give a "fair balance" of information about drug risks as compared with information about drug benefits.  According to the FDA, "this means that the content and presentation of a drug's most important risks must be reasonably similar to the content and presentation of its benefits.
This does not mean that equal space must be given to risks and benefits in print ads, or equal time to risks and benefits in broadcast ads. The amount of time or space needed to present risk information will depend on the drug's risks and the way that both the benefits and risks are presented."
Bayer recently tweeted the claim for its drug, without adding fair balance.  Certainly with only 140 characters, no fair balance would fit that little amount of space.  However, what if the tweet comes from in country affliates in a market that allows for a claim?  Can we tweet just the brand name without a claim? Should global brands develop social media brand guidelines that apply across the globe, incorporating regulatory restrictions from their strictest markets?  My recommendation: for every global brand, the brand team along with legal and regulatory should come to consensus and develop brand guidelines that are agreeable to all markets.  Perhaps even create a social media review committee to regulatory monitor if those guidelines are followed and to help resolve new issues that come up.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

iPad detailing to physicians

There seems to be a rapid rise of the use of iPad in biotech/pharma. I recently saw an iPad in use by a sales rep. It was mostly a digitized version of their printed marketing materials with some minor functionality of being able to email the physician abstracts. The marketing manager was sharing how the reps are spending more time on detailing because of the "coolness" factor of the iPad. Even I had a blast playing around with the iPad as my mind wandered about all the additional possibilites. I'm curious to learn how the use of the iPad and mobile devices will change the way we sell to physicians.

We can incorporate in our physician segments and pre-build our marketing messages based those segments. We can utilize the data of how much time a rep spend on a certain page or message. We can offer a high touch way to show videos and animations of product attributes and drug administration at the tip of our fingers. We can collect immediate customer insight through quick surveys of our key customers.

There are many more possibilities.  As you research agencies that can help you execute these ideas, make sure they have not only the capabilities to develop the tools, but also the knowledge of the regulations in your markets.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Facebook Policy for Pharma/Biotech

Pharma and biotech companies have had the option to enable or disable comments on their Facebook pages. However, Facebook recently changed its policy: 1) New Pharma/Biotech Facebook pages will have to keep comments open, 2) Existing Facebook pages with comments disabled have until August 15th to open their wall to comments.
Of course any company that puts themselves on Facebook or other social media forum is at risk of uncontrolled comments and public critism. However, one major concern unique to the biotech/pharma industry is the regulatory environment it plays in. In the US, the FDA requires reporting of all adverse events/effects. As it stands, even an unrelated, negative comment about a drug may be considered an adverse event/effect and may need to be reported.
I'm curious to see how biotech/pharma will respond to this new policy. Social media is here to stay and patients are looking for the opportunity to have an open dialogue. I hope to see biotech/pharma companies find a safe, appropriate way to be in this space and not run from it.