Google has announced changes to how it will rank sites in mobile search, penalising some websites. Here's what pharma digital marketers need to know.
Johnson & Johnson’s ($JNJ) Ethicon is teaming up with Touch Surgery to provide simulated surgical training through a free mobile app, with the aim of improving patient outcomes.
The training will cover the safe and effective use of Ethicon products and will be delivered via Touch Surgery’s 3-D simulations and technology platform to surgeons and students “anytime, anywhere,” according to a statement. Ethicon, J&J’s surgical device unit, markets products such as laparoscopic tools for bariatric and colorectal surgery, a plethora of sutures and tissue closures and tissue sealers.
Touch Surgery’s tech allows for virtual training in a 3-D operating room simulation. Its app currently helps 1 million users practice more than 75 different procedures across several surgical areas, according to the statement.
Going digital is not as easy as it may seem. Industry players have to take a deep breath and dive into careful analysis and strategy development. It is exceptionally important for industries, such as healthcare, where the cost of failure is incredibly high.
For years I’ve been working with healthcare providers and have gained a good understanding of how much value digital solutions may bring to them. At the same time, it isn’t an easy task to implement a solution which will move services they provide to the next level. The ultimate key to success is the development and implementation of the appropriate digital strategy. My hope is that this article will help digital change executives and others involved in a digital transformation of healthcare businesses to consider five major elements of getting a successful digital strategy off the ground. Using my years of experience, I’ve developed a road-map for the development of the digital strategy.
Patients are your primary audience, therefore when developing the strategy think of them first with the following point in mind: today’s patients want more information.
They have acquired quite profound medical knowledge these days and want more information about the treatment. Continuously, they ask how they are being treated, what medications are used and why, how patients with similar diagnoses were treated and what the result was. Searching for this information, they create communities to discuss the issues, treatment methods, physicians and medications. Sometimes patients’ communities save lives, like what happened with e-Patient Dave, who managed to find the medical treatment by turning to a group of fellow patients.
In a world where patients demand more information, delivery of relevant content becomes one of the essential points in the development of digital strategy.
Access to medical services
Access to medical services goes hand in hand with the delivery of relevant information. Awareness triggers asking more questions and raising more patient cases, hence the lines at clinics get longer. However, physicians have about 15 – 20 minutes to examine a patient and write prescriptions, which is quite a limited time slot. Implementing medicine technologies would notably improve the situation. Medicine is not the panacea, but it provides physicians with multiple opportunities like remote monitoring of chronic patients, support systems, accelerated feedback and provides better experiences for patients in rural areas. All kinds of digital tools to speed up and automate scheduling a doctor appointment can be a great help for patients.
Medical adherence management
Digital technologies are also valuable in monitoring chronic patients. Quite often, these people require more doctors’ attention, but the limited time for an appointment is a real problem. Digital technologies can facilitate the process. With applications serving for control medical adherence, doctors can be sure their patients won’t forget to take a pill or miss an appointment. The same applications may help to exchange information between patients and doctors in real time. This exchange may include symptoms collected via a patient’s device, medical test data sent to the patient’s device and information about pills taken (or not) by a patient. This exchange can help doctors to take corrective steps when required, like giving a call to a patient or a caregiver when a problem with medical adherence has been detected.
Treatment process management
The adoption of digital technologies can help not only manage medical adherence but also the whole treatment process itself. Digital technologies provide physicians with opportunities to adjust the treatment on the basis of the received tests, and make the changes if there are improvements or if something goes wrong. Patients can see a treatment schedule in their devices as well as an associated medication schedule, and receive notifications in order to not miss an appointment or a pill. And again, the option to share symptoms history works well in this process as it allows quick changes based on a real patients’ feedback.
User experience optimisation
The quality of services at hospitals can be considerably improved by digital technologies. Simple things like registering appointments online, appointment reminders, to-do lists, mobile payments, QR codes, quick patient access to EHR (electronic health records) or sending the result analysis to smartphones can advance the level of healthcare services and optimise user experience.
Connecting patients and HCPs
For years, quick connection between patients and doctors was one of the most important and sometimes difficult things in healthcare. By implementing digital technologies, doctors and patients can have a close connection. Be it a smartphone or a web app, it would allow a patient to consult or call a doctor when it is really necessary. Digital technologies cut the distance; that is what hospitals really need. Connecting doctors, medical staff and patients better organises the whole process. Tools mentioned above, such as apps for real-time communication, sharing symptoms, sending medical test results to patients’ devices and medicine are excellent examples of how digital technologies can help doctors to provide a better outcome to patients.
Digital skills of your employees
As Accenture states in its report, the major barrier to digital transformation is the lack of digital skills; 44 percent of business leaders agree with that opinion. Therefore, staff training should not be omitted.
It is interesting that many doctors are already using smartphones and tablets to facilitate the process of communication and interaction with patients. Physicians are really interested in digital tools and services. According to the JournalMTM research, 94 percent of surveyed respondents had smartphones (95.2 percent students vs. 92.5 percent physicians). Of those with the technology, 82.9 percent stated they have used it at least once in a clinical setting. Respondents perceived fast access to information to be the greatest benefit to mobile medical technology (96.6 percent), as well as simplified access (75.5 percent) and easier medical calculations (70.8 percent).
As you can see, doctors are already trying to go digital. What you need is to perform thorough research, check the skills of the staff and teach them to use the digital technologies. They are ready to accept the digital challenge.
In hospitals all over, doctors need new processes and workflows that allow them to increase work efficiency, improve diagnostics and treatment, and what is more, advance their relationships with patients.
Therefore, optimisation of workload is an important benefit digital technologies provide. Thinking about your future digital strategy, you may want to consider a paperless data exchange – a mobile doctor’s dashboard where they can check their patients’ data and manage treatment plans, apps for nurses to help with task management and urgent requests processing, and many other tools to digitise and therefore optimise business processes efficiency. All of that quickens the pace, reduces workflow disruptions and increases productivity. Hence, hospitals and clinics can work with more patients without the negative impact on the quality of treatment.
How can your medical staff and doctors benefit from going digital
Implementation of digital tools brings tangible advantages, like reducing paperwork time and increasing patients’ face time. Moreover, with digital tools, physicians can receive symptoms and medical conditions data prior to meeting with a patient in-person, thus decreasing the time for recollecting a case history.
“Doctors today face two important issues,” says Todd Skrinar, a partner in the Life Sciences Advisory Practice at Ernst & Young. “They’re working in a more constrained cost environment, doing more with less. And they’re being forced to change the way they deliver services because of that. Digital technology will enable more mobility of the healthcare practitioner, and health records will be more readily available.”
Having “digital assistants” in their hands, doctors get more opportunities to deliver better treatment. Digital tools broaden the limits that have prevented the improvement of service delivery.
More and more, direct-to-consumer wearables companies are moving into business-to-business healthcare markets. It's not exactly a surprising move -- the potential for consumer technology to encourage healthier lifestyle choices is a core thesis of digital health, and one that could have big implications for healthcare as it faces a rise in chronic conditions. Nonetheless, over the course of the past year MobiHealthNews has noticed a creeping trend of the big names in consumer-facing digital health putting more resources behind their B2B programs.
Take Fitbit itself, for example. In the company's first quarter earnings call, CEO James Park wasn't shy about trumpeting the healthcare opportunity, stopping just shy of promising a regulated device.
The importance of talent has not gone unnoticed at Bayer, for instance, which embarked on its own digital transformation in 2014. Jessica Federer, Head Digital Development, highlights leadership from the top and a very dedicated implementation team as the two pre-requisites for a successful digital transformation, but sitting at the top of a list of the keys drivers in any successful transformation, is talent.
“The number one thing for us is always the talent – the people. We do have people in our organisation who are world leaders in digital marketing and multichannel marketing and integrated customer experience. We have brilliant people here and you’ve just got to have people that get it and understand it.”
But where do life sciences companies find such extraordinary talent – it can be elusive – and how do they build the necessary skills?
Federer’s colleague Gerhard Arnhofer leads the centre of excellence for integrated multichannel marketing for the pharma business at Bayer. Set up some nine months ago, the centre is one of a number of CoEs within the company, designed to inspire and transform the organisation.
Each deals with a different competency area such that the bundled competencies available within the centres enable the wider organisation to build up its skills, competencies and knowledge in specific areas of focus. This approach is seen as the quickest and most effective way of building digital capability within the organisation.
After several years of impact, individual CoEs are dissolved once they have done their work, at the stage that the organisation as a whole understands more than the CoE can then deliver. Traditionally, this knowledge transfer takes three to five years. This is a technique that Bayer has applied for several years.
One solution is homegrown talent. Bayer runs a dual study programme for undergraduates who spend time at a university on technology and economics programmes and then half their time on the job within the corporation. Bayer is able to hire fresh talent out of that stream and can shape individuals early on in their careers.
Currently, there are a number of people within Arnhofer’s team writing their dissertations and the organisation is interested to see whether this approach will accelerate the digital transformation or not. Topics covered by the students include AI, evaluating concepts of remote detailing, and business decisions analysis, among others. Team members fresh from university have a very keen eye for evaluating problems but need considerable time spent on nurturing them.
Additionally, Berlin has a thriving start-up scene, with a large number of talented people from the digital community originating from all over Europe. This represents a significant talent pool for the company.
Competitive intelligence can offer huge benefits to pharma companies, especially in personalized medicine where market trends are continually shifting. In a world where available data grows by the second, Steve Vitale of Diaceutics AIS examines how it can be used to optimise expertise and understanding in order to gain an edge. (requires registration)
Social media was once scary territory for the heavily regulated pharma industry, but today it’s becoming old hat, according to Tamara Littleton, CEO and founder of London social media agency Emoderation. Big Pharma players have realized they can no longer ignore the space where many of their target audiences--patients, families, physicians and even payers--congregate.
“Social offers pharma brands a way to connect with their market over the longer-term. It is also where their customers are and whether they engage or not, or are able to on certain posts, they will be talked about," Littleton told FiercePharmaMarketing by email.
In a column for Econsultancy earlier this month, Littleton pointed out some good examples of pharma companies using social media. She highlighted GlaxoSmithKline’s Twitter account, which focuses on its company values of leadership and research, and Johnson & Johnson’s overall social media presence, which emphasizes its values around the importance of family.
Of course, just because drugmakers are more readily joining social media doesn’t mean using it has become any easier--or that it now requires less vigilance. The job of professional pharma social media managers is demanding, and it requires a particular skill.
So how, then, can pharma social media managers field a successful strategy? Read on for Littleton's thoughts.
Be engaging. Health products may not be as central to a person’s identity as his or her car or clothing brands, but pharma’s social media voice can still make a difference. “People may not build their identities around their chosen brand of painkiller in the same way that they do with their choice of gaming console or favorite clothes brand, but a friendly, engaging social media presence can go a long way to keeping the brand at the forefront of people’s minds,” she wrote in the column.
Share content around the values of the company. Like the J&J and GSK examples Littleton cites, pharma companies can connect with patients and families by highlighting their values and the efforts their people and corporate initiatives make to fulfill those values.
Monitor content to stay in line with advertising guidelines and FDA regulations. That means keeping current on regulations and ensuring pages are constantly monitored so that “any user-generated content posted that contravenes the regulations is removed as soon as possible,” she told FiercePharmaMarketing.
Create an adverse event reporting and escalation process. Pharma brands active on social media have a dedicated resource to manage their social media presence--whether it’s an internal person or team, or a specialist agency--but they should also have a process for reporting any problems. Littleton noted the need to report an adverse event to the FDA within 24 hours. If pharma companies don’t have a process in place to flag incidents, that one-day clock can pass quickly.