Digital Health Coalition Newsletter - October 2019


The DHC Fall Summit was held this month at AstraZeneca in Wilmington, Delaware.  We would like to thank Jeff Pott (General Counsel) Karan Arora (Global VP of Innovation), Lars Merk (Sr. Director, Omnichannel Strategy & Optimization), Michelle Balabon (Global Digital Change Management & Communication Leader) and their teams at AZ for hosting the event and providing thought leadership in the agenda design and content.

As we are already into Q4 and 2020 plans are well underway, this Summit focused on three macro trends with which anyone involved in the planning process needs expertise. Operations. People. Technology.


Digital Leadership

AstraZeneca’s General Counsel, Jeff Pott, kicked off the day with a formal welcome. He took the opportunity to remind attendees of the importance of education and understanding of digital innovation across teams, an area of passion for the AZ senior leadership team.

As digital takes on more of the focus and patients continue to be increasingly central players, he pointed to the importance of using digital tools to offer real solutions and connections for patients, HCPs, and payers.

Structuring for Success

Neil Keene, DHC member and Digital Brand Consultant at Intercept Pharma walked through his view of change management with his talk on Digital Transformation in Pharma and Biotech. As a seasoned marketer with a background at GSK, Teva, and Boehringer Ingelheim, Neil has witnessed the evolution of digital strategy and pharma’s organization shifts over the past several years. He pointed out that only 23% of B2B marketers claim to have a customer-centric organizational structure–versus a channel- or product-centric structure. Yet most marketers agree with the concept that customer-centric CoE is the goal.
Keene offered several key take-aways to help organizations based on his analysis.

Those charged with digital transformation or digital management need to have a clear picture of the current framework – are you currently set up to make the desired changes? If not, identify the barriers to change. Neil proposes using a strategy he dubbed M.O.L.E.. In this exercise, you will take time analyzing Means, Opportunity, Leadership, and Execution.

Create a customer-centric governance strategy. You need talent and leadership buy-in.

Ensure you understand your goals and have evaluated your needs. Neil warns that 70% of transformation attempts fail, due largely to a lack of discipline in setting goals for sustained transformation. His advice: create a wholistic plan for change.

Above all, consider your digital capability. The key elements of digital and data system transformation are based on digital capability so ensure clearly defined standardized processes for executing and managing execution AND strategy. Make sure you have a clear picture of your customer experience, operations, and business model.

Growth of Workforce Expertise

Founder of Health Accelerators, Joe Shields, designed and moderated a panel taking a look at how recent pharma hires (both new grads and outside tech experts) are impacting the pharma landscape, especially within the newest generation of brand managers. Highlighting the early career paths of panelists Olivia Carney (Manager, Legacy Brands, Teva), Alexis McAllister (Associate Director RM Strategist, Intouch Solutions, formerly at Groupon.) and Josh John (Senior Associate Director, Cardiovascular Marketing, Boehringer Ingelheim), Joe led a discussion on how emerging industry leaders will potentially speed up disruption and innovation. (pictured below left to right)
DHC Fall Summit Panel
One key theme was the appetite for an increased ability to provide patient-friendly, highly relevant content through the full suite of available digital channels and platforms. A sense of frustration over the standard caveat that pharma is a more challenging environment was apparent, demonstrating passion and commitment to challenging the status quo, certainly for the good of the patient.

Josh John (Boehringer Ingelheim) highlighted the uniquely rewarding nature of marketing in pharmaceuticals given the real impact on patients’ quality of life.  The panelists all agreed that as they considered the planning season, there is an increasing focus on planning around the patient journey. Olivia Carney (Teva) explained that she views the need to realize a more patient-centric environment as a critical next step.

Another look forward at how these marketers might drive change was a desire to address the pace at which campaigns are created and optimized. Alexis McAllister (with DHC member Intouch Solutions) referenced the need to break down barriers to innovation due to risk aversion, pointing out that there are often examples outside of the pharma industry where success has already occurred.


Designing for the Patient

Heidi Anderson, Chief Growth Officer of Outcome Health, picked up where the brand manager’s panel left off: designing for the patient’s experience. Heidi was able to share several key data points from recent large consumer research surveys done with IQVIA to provide Summit attendees with a picture of the patient experience and needs.
Key Data Points from Patients:
  • Patients want content that inspires, educates, uplifts, and communicates care
  • “Dumbed Down” or 101-level content is resented
  • Targeted content or personalized content well-received, but chronic sufferers don’t always want to be reminded of their condition
Key Data Points from Physicians:
  • Physicians want more frequent content refreshes
  • Access to personalized content for patients faster and more easily accessible, possibly integrated into the workflow to better educate patients and save staff time
  • Access to survey results to see what patients are looking for in terms of education resources

Understanding the Privacy Landscape

As is now the norm, it’s not possible to have a conversation about personalized or targeted content without also talking about privacy.  DHC member Crossix provided their privacy expert, Hart Mechlin, to give a look back and ahead. Hart started with a framework on the impact of US privacy law on today’s rapidly evolving space. While he did remind marketers that the best practice is to always listen to internal legal teams, he also offered several key details to consider.

First, understand that privacy rules or laws are coming from different origins, and the source matters. Legislators (authors of the CCPA for example) are working toward the goal of protecting and responding to constituents. 
A second group, industry trade associations, are considering a blend of consumer and corporate interests when writing privacy policy.  The third group, private companies, often the authors of privacy policies for browsers, search engines, and social media, are, according to Hart, first and foremost protecting the interest of shareholders. Many of these frameworks are now being written with two key elements as the focus: privacy and choice.

Mechlin spent some time helping marketers understanding CCPA. Why bother understanding it? Not only does it represent the 40 million people living in California, a place where most (effectively all) pharma companies do business but more importantly, according to Mechlin “Future laws will look like this.  Doing a marketer’s audit of how well you comply with CCPA should give you an idea of how future privacy laws will affect you.”  What rights does CCPA give consumers? A copy of their data. Request to opt-out of data collection. Request for data deletion. Protection against discrimination (refusal of goods or services) due to exercise of previous rights.

What should marketers do to prepare for CCPA? Complete a data flow audit.  For any business unit under your control, identify if/what data you collect, where it comes from, what you do with it, and where you send it afterwards. Creating a map of this data flow will ensure you are well prepared for any coming privacy changes.

The second important check Hart recommends you make to confirm you are privacy policy compliant (especially HIPAA) is related to linking of de-identified data. Simply having de-identified data is not enough.  Marketers need to understand how the vendors they work with might be linking multiple de-identified data in order to avoid the risk that combined data sets become identifiable.

The Physician's World

A conversation around the customer experience in pharma should also include a look at the HCP’s interaction with pharma messaging and content. AZ’s Melissa Skidd (Manager, Marketing, AstraZeneca) spoke to fellow thought leaders at the DHC Summit about her observations of the shifting HCP landscape.

Skidd referenced the external pressures on physicians have made digital users out of all HCPs, not just newer and younger members of the field. Regardless of age, HCPs are now using digital resources for one-third of their work day.  60% of physicians are now indicating that email is the preferred method of communication – a digital shift that will only accelerate.
After setting this framework, Melissa joined several DHC partners – moderator Linda Ruschau (Chief Client Officer, PatientPoint), and panelists Tony Dale (SVP, Everyday Health Professional) and Keith Matt (AVP, Veradigm) to discuss how marketers should evolve their approach to HCP communication plans in response to this landscape change.  This diverse group of expert voices came together to agree that the no-see/low-see rep access is just one of the external pressures they are seeing.

Tony Dale (Everyday Health Pro) referenced a just-released study showing significant drop in rep access reported by physicians this year – a number that is now at just 54%.  He pointed to the tension between an increased HCP demand for support and the dropping access as a key motivator that “asks us to think differently about our messages.  How can we be as relevant as possible as often as possible?…How can we stay on the cutting edge of what’s important to physicians?”  Dale added that millennial physicians especially indicate that they put a high premium on an authentic experience. Keith Matt (Veradigm) addressed the opportunity to achieve the idea of matching what we offer to what’s important to the physician, looking specifically at the EHR workflow.

What’s the future of the physician experience according to the panel? Truly personalized and targeted content matched to the physician’s needs, in order to create a better dialogue and care plan with the patient. In the EHR, there is an acceleration in the ability to improve clinical outcomes, offering better connection to the hub and more streamlined communication around prior authorization. Marketers are also increasingly able to use data to identify the right physicians to receive specific messaging, reducing possible waste in budget.


Having completed a robust look at both the audiences in question and the operational framework needed for success, the DHC Summit experts looked at where technology innovations are ready for brand plans in 2020.

Technology Innovation

Two thought leaders from DHC partner McKinsey, Jennifer Kilian (Partner, McKinsey & Company) and Sari Kaganoff (Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company) covered the different types of digital solutions having an impact on the patient journey. Categories range from pure digital therapies all the way to digital wellness and prevention solutions, with Sari Kaganoff explaining “these solutions used with analytics can have a significant impact on the patient journey”.

Indeed, much of the technology innovation highlighted was most closely tied to the use of data provided by and matched with new solutions. Jennifer Kilian summarized “the aspiration is to get to measurable patient outcomes, as well as patient and caregiver experiences”. Kilian and Kagnoff specifically identified Rx/pharmacy reminders, adherence and patient symptom trackers, patient education and on-demand virtual support, and connection to patient support services and fellow patients as areas in the ecosystem where technology is currently fueling the next generation of data-driven personalization.

Social Media Tomorrow

In a deep-dive look at one area where technology (and data) innovation is continuing to happen rapidly, Emmie Taylor (with DHC partner imre Health) was joined by Ryan Billings (Senior Director, Oncology Digital Marketing & CX, GSK) and Josh Simon (Global Social Lead, AstraZeneca). This dual case study followed the work done by both AstraZeneca and AMAG Pharma on the use of video and chat inside of social media.

The work that Josh Simon (AstraZeneca) and his team did through Facebook video started with unbranded efforts and then were transitioned to the branded campaign. The “Save Your Breath” unbranded page allowed the connection with patients first through keywords related to the condition, animated videos, and then eventually patient stories, using both short and longer form video. Josh and Emmie related the importance of understanding channel best practices and the implications of latest technology – shooting vertical videos, but having the capability to be viewed in wide-screen, as well as having video captioning to account for viewing without sound. Using the authentic nature of social media story-telling, the team transitioned to branded content, which included a celebrity endorsement.

The second effort reviewed by Emmie Taylor and Ryan Billings (GSK) was the use of Facebook live for unbranded content. Emmie discussed the need for creative problem solving when experimenting with new technology as a pharma marketer – in this case, briefly removing the video after it was live to allow for a rapid MLR review.

Ryan also shared his experience in creating a chatbot during his time at AMAG Pharma. He highlighted that the chatbot was especially innovative as it followed a “build your own adventure” format instead of a static bot experience. AMAG, with their partners at imre Health, built several different content paths that would present responsively based on a patient’s side of the conversation.

All of these technology innovations within social media demonstrate the agreed-on takeaway from Taylor, Simon and Billings: keep solving for the unknown. Understand the patient’s online experience to discover where you can add value in a meaningful way.

Programmatic - The 2020 Horizon

To conclude the day’s discussion on technology trends, we convened a panel of experts from DHC partners on programmatic.  Led by Amy Turnquist (EVP, eHealthcare Solutions) panelists Chris Neuner (CRO, PulsePoint), David Nazaruk (VP, Digital Solutions, DMD) and  James Smith (Associate Director, AstraZeneca) unpacked the key questions today. As the possible “next frontier” of data innovation, programmatic represents an opportunity to use data automation in order to provide real-time impact.
The innovation of programmatic for 2020 is around providing highly targeted and highly valuable content, with a better understanding of the “CRM” nature of the channel vs a prior mis-categorization around remnant ad space sales. James Smith (AZ) highlighted the imperative to work with media partners, publishers, and creative agencies to both make the best possible plan and to positively drive better channel understanding.

The tension for some marketers is the need to confirm that programmatic efforts are privacy-compliant. Dave Nazaruk (DMD) explained that the run-up to GDPR allowed publishers to become extremely well-versed in the nuances of privacy requirements and then go out and achieve great, privacy-compliant results. “You have to make sure that whatever the source of your data, that first party has an authenticated opt-in. If you have that, you can very deterministically find audience members wherever they are going on the internet. Having the opt-in first is critical in order to be privacy-compliant.”

Chris Neuner (PulsePoint) provided further detail by pointing to the coming innovation of programmatic television. “Now you are marrying better experience and better data into an omni-channel experience.  Adding contextual on top of that gets into the nirvana of programmatic. You are creating an omni-channel/omni-approach into incorporating data in a real time capacity using automation.”

Amy Turnquist wrapped the panel by pointed marketers back to the importance of tying these technology-based opportunities to the need for a team culture and organizational design geared towards innovation.

WRAP-UP: The Fireside Chat

A favorite feature of each DHC Summit is the executive fireside chat, in which DHC Co-Founder Mark Bard interviews a senior member of the host company.  For the Fall Summit, Mark had the privilege of interviewing  AstraZeneca’s VP of Global Innovation, Karan Arora.

Mark and Karan discussed several themes from the event, including several major areas of consideration for strategic planning 2020: people, process, technology, and partnerships.

The discussion wrapped up with a section on the concept of scale and how should marketers utilize these applications for maximum impact. A full transcript of the interview will be made available to DHC readers in the next installment of DHC’s Insights with Innovators.


Our Thoughts from the Fall Summit and Strategy for 2020

From RxEdge | SVP, Rob Blazek
There are hundreds of technologies and platforms created specifically to help industry professionals reach HCPs and patients. As we plan and prepare for 2020, we remain steadfast in our approach to focus on the details surrounding a brands’ desired outcome and then determine which tactics and targeting approach will help them reach it.

Learn More about RxEdge →

boys and girls club

Raise Funds for Mercer County Boys & Girls Club

Mercer County Boys & Girls Clubs
This Saturday, November 2nd, DHC's Co-Founder, Joe Farris, and Executive Director, Christine Franklin, will be participating in a fundraising fun-run and we would love your support! Please consider joining us in raising funds for this important organization, whose work helps students of all ages. ALL funds raised help provide scholarships for local youth to attend Club programs such as College Access, Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship and Afterschool.

Donate Now →

Insights from DPE 2019: Pharma Gets Experimental

Via meltmedia | Clare Kirlin, Director of Marketing
In the race to transform pharma, nothing is sacred. At the recent Digital Pharma East conference, industry leaders revealed how they are experimenting with conventional business processes once accepted as the status quo. In this article, Clare Kirlin of meltmedia shares key takeaways from their sessions — and discussion prompts to spark innovation in your organization.

Read More Here →

New members

DHC Welcomes Robust New Group of Members

Via DHC | Website →
The DHC is proud to recognize several new members who have joined us on our mission of serving as the collective voice and industry rallying point for the discussion of the current and future issues relevant to digital marketing of healthcare products and services. We are pleased to welcome a diverse new group of corporate partners, including Conde Nast, meltmedia, McKinsey & Company, OptimizeRx, RxEdge, and WEGO Health.


DHC West Coast Summit

November 14, 2019
Hosted by Genentech

Request a Seat Today →

Join fellow marketers for an afternoon of content and networking.

DHC Leaders Join eHealthcare Solutions, Novo Nordisk, and Johnson & Johnson
This Saturday, November 2nd, DHC’s Co-Founder, Joe Farris, and Executive Director, Christine Franklin, will be participating in a fundraising fun-run for the Mercer County Boys and Girls Club.  We could use your support! Please consider joining us in raising funds for this important organization, whose work helps students of all ages. ALL funds raised help provide scholarships for local youth to attend Club programs such as College Access, Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship and Afterschool.  By donating  you have the ability to make a difference.

Donate Now   →

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