Digital Health Coalition Newsletter - August 2019


FEATURED CONTENT: The Customer Experience

Ask any marketer, program partner, agency executive or corporate lead about the customer experience, and without exception, they will agree that designing for the patient’s or healthcare provider’s experience is an imperative in today’s pharma marketing. JUICE Pharma founding partner, Forrest King summarized the importance of the topic “The challenge we all face is essentially creative. It is a complex problem that needs creative, problem-solving skills—promote your brand advantage and drive preference while anticipating the needs of your customers. Address their needs, gain trust, then share your story. The consequences of not providing this seamless customer experience are costly.”

There are articles, blogposts, and conference lectures dedicated to the topic, but for this month’s newsletter we would like to focus on where DHC members are seeing the best opportunities for innovation application related to this omnibus industry catchphrase “Customer Experience”.

Designing with Patient Journey in Mind


Innovations in data and technology have both allowed for significant improvements in how marketers approach planning. We are seeing organizational structures changing as marketers and brand leaders reorient themselves around how to best serve the patient. In an interview with DHC earlier this month, Meghan Rivera (DHC Advisory Board member and VP, Head of Women’s Health Sales and Marketing at AMAG Pharma) discussed her approach to creating a culture of patient-centricity.
“We always start with a patient need, not with a technology when it comes to innovation. Anchoring back to addressing an unmet need or gap in experience is at the root of all pilots or partnerships that we pursue. The question we continue to ask ourselves when evaluating opportunities or taking an idea into execution is ‘is this helping to support better health outcomes for women, and how?’”

Among the innovation streams under consideration are chatbots, AI, partnerships within the social sphere, and treatment partnerships in virtual medicine. In a survey of pharma marketers earlier this year, 64% of marketers indicated that their organizational model had already moved to “a mix of centralized resources and decentralized leads embedded within brands”, with many of those surveyed citing the greatest strength or opportunity within these teams as “patient-centricity”.

At the DHC Summit at Pfizer, a fireside chat with Melissa Mackey (formerly Novartis, now Verizon) and Tricia Brown (Digital & Technology Strategy at Merck) focused on the ways that organizational structure shifts allow for better focus on the customer experience. Tricia explained that “fundamentally what we’re saying is that improving capabilities is most important. It is about the customer experience that we believe will drive better business results. This focus on digital and optimizing digital is critical.”

One of our newest DHC members, Justin Grossman, CEO of meltmedia, outlined the approach to the patient journey under the term “Journey Orchestration” in a recent article with PM360. He explained why this facet of designing with the customer in mind matters:

“Consumers across the board expect a better and more seamless experience, online and off. From their first impression of you to their first interaction with your brand, and even after they are customers, their experience should be frictionless and personalized.”


The marriage of ‘patient-centricity’ and technology advancement means that innovation applications are approached with the customer experience at the forefront. Rather than “shiny object” syndrome, smart marketers are going to the drawing board with their agency and technology partners to find the best set of solutions for their specific customer population.


We spoke with the team at imre Health to learn how they were able to develop a chatbot that met specific and personal patient needs when they used this method. The team developed a first-of-its kind chatbot to create a discoverable, intuitive and informative digital destination for women suffering from dyspareunia to learn more about what is happening to their bodies and seek the right treatment option for them, anonymously.

Through a mix of unbranded content and an exit path to an unbranded website and social channel, the chatbot serves as an educational tool to guide women in their journey and provides a space for listening to others experiencing symptoms.

Cara Peckens, VP at imre Health summarized “This chatbot creates a new way for women to validate their experiences and explore solutions free from stigma, but it also moves them more quickly toward a next step specific to their individual needs. It’s a perfect bridge step for women stalled between the black hole of WebMd and initiating an awkward conversation with their doctor.”

Privacy and Security


The double-sided coin of leveraging data and ensuring privacy is continued struggle within the consumer experience design world. Crossix’s Sarah Caldwell explains it best: “Modern advances in data and technology allow marketers today to better understand their customers and target relevant messaging based on their online (and offline) behavior. But just because certain targeting techniques are possible, does not mean they should be done. Self-regulatory guidelines help marketers know where to draw the line.”

In fact, a DHC survey asked pharma marketers to rate digital trends on importance today and in 2020 and in both instances “Privacy and Security” earned top ranking by a significant margin. Crossix has also seen the value of leveraging patient data to improve marketing initiatives. Marketers have been using patient data (in a privacy-safe way) to reach their potential patients across all media—not just contextually relevant environments. Beyond targeting, health data can also be used to validate that efforts are working by tying specific campaigns directly to patient behaviors.

Marketers are also combining consumer data with geo-targeting innovation to provide maximum relevant message delivery. In an example on condition geotargeting from PulsePoint’s Elizabeth Pardieu: “Just as some brands target seasonally (think back-to-school or allergies), you can leverage geofencing technology to reach an audience within a specific geographic spread or DMA about a condition, illness, or virus such as Zika. Geotargeting can precisely connect disease state messaging with geographically relevant audiences to educate them on signs and symptoms to potentially decrease risk and minimize spread.”


Leveraging smart partnerships available within the digital pharma marketing industry is a smart path to achieving better access to thriving patient communities (rather than creating their own under the pharma co or brand umbrella). Experts in online health consumers, Healthline Media, broke down several ways for marketers to get closer to user-generated content.

Todd Zander, VP at Healthline advises that marketers “would like to experiment with new patient engagement models, and they benefit from unique insights and interactions derived from emerging, mobile-first communities. The value is manifold and includes proactively braving the world of UGC. Interested brands can now move beyond the banner and get involved in patient communities, as safe and controlled opportunities do exist.” We also looked at the role of pharma in online communities that are managed or driven by patients. 

The DHC members at WEGO Health have a robust group of patient influencers and were able to summarize for us where innovation is happening in that space. According to David Goldsmith (Chief Strategy Officer), “One area of innovation is tied to the growing realization that social strategy is no longer just about story-telling and soft engagement but measurable conversions.”

Brands are seizing opportunities to leverage social channels and patient influencers in ways that can drive high-value actions, such as downloads of a doctor discussion guide or request a telehealth consult (as we saw with AMAG and Plushcare at the DHC Summit). These kinds of actions, driven through social channels, are helping brands connect with patients in meaningful ways and simultaneously evolve their CRM strategy. That in turn opens the door to new touchpoints with consumers at different points along the patient journey – both online and offline.
Dr. Sheriff


An undisputedly critical moment in the patient journey is the time spent in the exam room. Technology innovation has had a significant impact on what’s possible within both the four walls of the doctor’s office and the personalized materials that are offered in follow up. Interactive exam room touchscreens allow doctors to walk patients through a virtual procedure, making notes and recommendations, and then email that summary to the patient – all directly from the device.

The exam room is home to the most important conversations between doctors and patients. Digital point-of-care solutions bring brands into each of these pivotal, decision-making moments! By leveraging technology-enabled POC solutions in the exam room, brands become part of a trusted, customized content package where brand content is positioned alongside highly relevant education and messages from the practice. The result is better doctor-patient engagement, more informed treatment decisions and, ultimately, value for sponsoring brands.” explained Linda Ruschau, Chief Client Officer, PatientPoint.
Marketers and their content partners are creating robust digital education campaigns that, while using DTC messaging as a jumping off point, are tailored to the in-office experience and frame of mind of the patient. In addition to technology advances, marketers are finding new paths to connect their digital platforms with trusted content partners who provide important patient education at the point of care. Late last year, Outcome Health surveyed physicians, nurses, patients and other stakeholders about what they were looking for at the point of care. Feedback indicated it was a mix of health lifestyle and clinical content, coming from a place of empathy.

As a result, they are now partnering with Verywell, one of the largest and fastest-growing online resources for health and wellness content in order to bring an experience to audiences at the point of care. And in case you missed the news, these partnerships are having a significant impact on both patient and physician behavior. Our members at PatientPoint partnered over the last two years with the incredible non-profit Shatterproof to combat opioid abuse. In data just released this week, we learned that nearly 21,000 primary care physicians featuring the PatientPoint/Shatterproof in-office opioid education from October 2017 to May 2018 prescribed nearly three million fewer opioid pills than the national average over the same time period. We would like to add our congratulations for this outstanding result!


In case you missed it, last month’s DHC newsletter was all things AI. We encourage you to go back and review the feature article to learn more about how AI is changing the game in healthcare. Read it now →


A DHC Op-Ed on The Customer Experience from DHC Co-Founder, Mark Bard

Investments in customer experience platforms, data, and analytics have rapidly increased across various industries over the past decade. Industries such as travel, hotels, finance, and auto are judged internally – and by shareholders – according to their Cx metrics.

Metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) have become the way to judge brand success. The global software behemoth SAP (operational data) recently spent $8 billion on Cx software platform Qualtrics as they see a big future in “experience data” to complement the operational data already being used by firms to run their business (using SAP) as efficiently as possible.

This begs the questions …

Is Cx relevant to health care delivery? Is Cx relevant to the relationship between a pharma company (brand) and the patient?

While health delivery organizations (and physician offices) continue to invest in systems to track, optimize, and improve their customer experience (and satisfaction) over time, the pharmaceutical industry has been slow to adopt many of the same tools and systems focused on what happens after the customer is made aware of the brand – and acquired. Do they enjoy the “experience” they have? Will they recommend the product (brand) to a friend or colleague? These are vital questions brands have to answer.

In some cases, the Cx may not matter. If it’s a brand with little to no competition – it’s all about the physician and insurance coverage, right? However, when dealing with patients with chronic conditions (and with multiple products as options) one can argue the experience the patient has – start, education, adherence over time – is a point of differentiation between brands. That said, there is a big difference between saying a brand is “patient centric” and basing the comp, bonus, and promotion of key managers (and management) on how well they meet Cx metrics – as is often the case in industries such as travel and banking.

Forrest King - Customer Experience

The Mandate for Designing Around the Customer Experience

Via DHC | Website →
This month we asked JUICE Pharma founding partner, Forrest King, to provide an Insights with Innovators piece on the customer experience. Forrest discusses why designing around the customer experience is something that is quickly driving yet another seismic shift in creating pharma promotional work across multiple channels. He provides a quick peek behind the curtain that illustrates how the customer’s experience should drive the creation of a website.

Read More Here →

3 Ways for Pharma to Get Closer to User-Generated Content

Via Healthline Media | Website →
Online patient communities are thriving and have become instrumental in guiding people’s health decisions. But, with a few exceptions, pharma is on the outside looking in, holding themselves at bay because of concerns with being associated with uncontrolled user-generated content (UGC). Some pharma brands have forged a way into patient communities by disabling user comments, but they end up losing the most social aspect of social communities.

Read More Here →

Justin Grossman

Creating an OmniChannel Experience

Via Meltmedia in PM360 | Website →

In this article, Justin Grossman shows how to think about the customer experience before a purchase or transaction occurs—instead it should encompass the entire customer journey. As CEO of meltmedia, Justin Grossman brings his passion for technology and business strategy to bear on the challenges facing today's pharmaceutical marketers. His experience with brands including Genentech and Johnson & Johnson has earned meltmedia national recognition for its client work and award-winning culture.

Read More Here →

Patient Point Feature

Seeing the Care Journey Through the Patient’s Eyes

Via PatientPoint | Website →

PatientPoint's Linda Ruschau interviews Grace Cordovano, an award-winning, board-certified patient advocate (BCPA) who specializes in fostering private, personalized patient advocacy services in the cancer arena. Grace gained a unique view of the patient journey by working intimately with dozens of cancer patients—including her mother—and by going through the journey herself when she was misdiagnosed with advanced lymphoma. As a result, Grace sees opportunities for brands to improve the care experience for these patients.

Read More Here →


The Customer Experience from the Customers Themselves – Physicians

Via SERMO | Website →

SERMO leveraged the quick turnaround global HCP survey platform, RealTime, to ask US physicians their thoughts on whether healthcare partners are actually delivering the content that physicians WANT or find helpful? In this summary of the research results, they will share what they learned.

Read More Here →


DHC East Coast Summit

October 8, 2019
NEW TIME: 10am - 3pm, includes lunch Hosted by AstraZeneca

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DHC West Coast Summit

November 14, 2019
Hosted by Genentech

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DHC’s Executive Director, Christine Franklin, recently interviewed Meghan Rivera, Vice President, Head of Women’s Health Sales and Marketing at AMAG Pharma. Meghan has been a member of the DHC Advisory Board for several years and a vocal advocate for innovation within digital pharma marketing. We sought out her perspective on the topic of patient-centricity, having watched her cultivate a culture at AMAG which genuinely prioritizes the patient. Read Now   →
DHC Co-Founder, Mark Bard, recently had the opportunity to interview one DHC member and leader of the Boston digital health innovation scene, Cris De Luca. Cris was recently recognized as a Top 40 Healthcare Transformer by MM&M Magazine. He is currently the Global Director of Digital Innovation for Johnson & Johnson Innovation, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read Now   →
Beyond Table Stakes – The Acceleration of Prescription Price Transparency
Just released on July 31, this informative webinar gives a first-hand look at the new environment of price transparency in the physician workflow. Medication Affordability continues to be one of the most prominent challenges facing healthcare today. Watch Now   →
Impacting Adherence in the Post-Mobile Age
DHC and HCB Health partnered earlier this month on a webinar unveiling new research on physician attitudes and trends towards mobile healthcare. Attendees also heard more about the overall size and potential of the mobile health marketplace today and in next 5 years and several other key takeaways. The Webinar is now available on demand. Watch Now   →