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Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care
Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care
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Patients Want Digital from Pharma | PM360

Patients Want Digital from Pharma | PM360 | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Patients Want Digital from Pharma
by Sam Welch on June 9th, 2014


New survey data released by Accenture found that more than 75% of consumers expect drug companies to provide additional services that complement their medical products.

Digital platforms are frequently mentioned as the preferred method of contact. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they’d prefer information from pharma companies via email, followed by printed materials (66%), websites (48%), mobile apps (44%) and social media (38%). Print media made the list, though patients have made it clear that they are seeking resources through digital channels.

Of interest to marketers, the data show that 64% of patients are willing to trade personal information to get free, relevant content. Not only should we engage around this opportunity, this indicates that marketers can achieve access to more customer data in order to personalize information to each patient’s needs. And digital expands opportunities to track outcomes and tailor content to the individual.

Consumers want more tools to manage their healthcare. If we’re really moving into an age where “an app a day can keep the doctor away,” then we must address this need to make valuable tools available to patients.

Read the full Accenture report here.

Via Laurent FLOURET
Laurent FLOURET's curator insight, July 2, 3:30 AM

At this stage, it is beyond the wake up call...

Bettina Gifford's curator insight, July 2, 3:55 PM
Are you meeting patient needs with digital support?
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Accenture Mobility Digital Trends 2014

Digital Trends Craig McNeil / Philippe Bonneton February 2014 Accenture Digital

Via Philippe Marchal/Pharma Hub
Bettina Gifford's curator insight, July 3, 2:33 PM

Mobile communication campaigns  have to be  in budget...

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Massive pan-African mobile health advice and analysis service launches

Massive pan-African mobile health advice and analysis service launches | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Massive pan-African mobile health advice and analysis service launches


The GSMA, the group of mobile operators and companies dedicated to standardising mobile phone communications,  has unveiled a Mobile for Development mHealth programme, which will provide various mHealth health care services to women and children across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The list of partners involved includes tech companies like Gemalto, Samsung and MTN, along with health specialists  Hello Doctor, Lifesaver, Mobenzi, Mobilium and Omega Diagnostics. Initially, the program will focus on maternal and child health in seven countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. A second phase planned for next year includes Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

From the press release:

“This new mobile ecosystem partnership, developed by the GSMA, is committed to connecting the mobile and health industries to develop commercially sustainable mHealth services that meet public health needs,” said Tom Phillips, the Chief Regulatory Officer of GSMA, said in a press statement, “The companies in this partnership are working to deliver the objectives of the United Nations Every Women Every Child Global Strategy, as well as the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact, in the areas of nutrition and maternal and child health. We call on mobile ecosystem players, health providers, governments, NGOs, civil society and others to work with us to launch life-saving mobile health services.

The main thrust of the initiative appears to be subsidised Samsung phones and tablets with free data connections via MTN. Where it gets interesting is in the embedded apps for healthcare promised, and discounted accessories such as monitors that attach to phones to test the CD4 count of HIV sufferers in the field – something that cuts down on weeks of lab time.

It’s intriguing news and one of the most ambitious plans to use mobile phones for health we’ve heard of yet. We’ll be following up in due course.

[Image - Shutterstock]

Via Alex Butler, Bart Collet
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Talk to a virtual doctor on your iPad

Talk to a virtual doctor on your iPad | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

Imagine for a moment that your allergies have been troubling you for the past few days. What do you do? Complain on Facebook? Probably. Make an appointment with your doctor? Maybe. Talk to a virtual doctor on your iPad? Never. Well, soon you will.

A company called Geppetto Avatars is about to turn health care on its head with virtual physician's assistants that very well could be smarter than any doctor who ever walked the Earth. In one of the company's allergy applications, a sympathetic young doctor named Sophie talks you through air quality and the pollen index in your neighborhood. Then, she makes sure that you're taking your prescriptions right. When you tell her you're feeling really bad, she gives a gentle "mmm-hmmm," to let you know she's been there and wants nothing more than to help you feel better.

Except she hasn't been there. Because she's a computer program.

If you saw the move Her, it's a lot like that. Only better, because this virtual chick won't break your heart. If anything, she'll try to fix it.

FUTURE OF MEDICAL WORK: The computer will see you now

The thought of using computers to help keep us healthy isn't new or even all that novel: Let's face it, when it comes to raw data, computers are smarter than us. They might not be able to take over the world, Terminator-style, but IBM's Watson shamed its human competition on Jeopardy, and that's pretty close.

The wealth of wisdom housed on connected hard drives around the globe is simply more than a human brain can handle. When you go to the doctor, you have access to a fraction of that knowledge, and while health care professionals know a heck of a lot more than the average person, it seems safe to say that more is better when it comes to your well-being.

But computer programs have always lacked the ability to read body language, non-verbal cues, and all those parts of communication that make us human. Just asking Siri for directions to the nearest pizza place is a far cry from getting advice from a virtual robot on something as serious as your health. At best, we're often left hoping for a response that borders on intelligent — as the computer crunches key words and text strings — trying to mix and match words versus meaning.

Geppetto Avatars tackles the human component. Just as your real doctor learns from the tone of your voice and your facial expressions, so does Sophie. The system uses your device's camera and microphone to see and hear what you say, then uses natural language processing, sentiment analysis and voice-to-text recognition to analyze the meaning behind your words. If you sound down in the dumps about a health issue, you'll get a sympathetic response from your virtual practitioner, and if you're super happy about a new exercise plan, the digital doc will share your excitement.

As with most AI applications, the more you use it, the better job it does at reading you — picking up whether your voice is hoarse or your breathing labored, or whether you sound worried or anxious. The hope is that with some training, it will be able to detect your mood, read your state of mind, and respond accordingly with one of its tens of thousands of recorded answers. It will also share your information with your real, living health care professionals.

Geppetto's founders say the idea here is not to replace your doctor, but to provide tools for both patient and practitioner to get the information they need. In addition to applications for allergies, Geppetto's working on versions of Sophie to work with kids with asthma, people with diabetes and arthritis, and developing a product targeting Parkinson's disease.

If this all seems really far-fetched, consider this: Geppetto creators say their Avatars will be talking with people within three to five months. The founders also told us that they're in a daily patent race with Apple, Google, Microsoft and a handful of other massive tech companies working on similar applications to move ahead with a more realistic relationship between computers and man. So … this is likely just the tip of the communicating, mood-reading, mind-interpreting Avatar iceberg.

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY's digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.

Via Philippe Marchal/Pharma Hub
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mHealth App Growth Nearly Double Overall Mobile Market

mHealth App Growth Nearly Double Overall Mobile Market | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

Consumer use of mobile health and fitness apps in the first half of 2014 is almost double that of the mobile platform market in general, according to mobile analytics and optimization vendor Flurry.

"We have studied the usage of over 6,800 iPhone and iPad apps listed in the health and fitness category on Flurry’s platform and we have seen a 62 percent increase in usage of health and fitness apps over the past six months," Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf writes in a blog post. "This compares to 33 percent increase in usage, measured in sessions, for the mobile app industry in general. Growth in health and fitness is 87 percent faster than the industry, which is itself growing at an astounding rate."

Khalaf says the trend was a stark turnaround from 2013, in which general mobile app use grew by 115 percent, while health and fitness app use increased by only 49 percent.

The company's analysis found two factors encouraging the rapid groth of mobile health and fitness apps: the ability of smartphones to replace discrete devices as the hardware platform for the apps, and the integration of the apps--such as MapMyFitness--with social networking platforms.

The audience segment leading the mobile health app charge, according to Khalaf, was mothers aged 25-54 who are sports fans and who also lead healthy lifestyles.

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SusanThorn's curator insight, June 30, 4:32 AM

Mobil apps for a mobil society. 

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Study: Health care firms embracing the cloud

Study: Health care firms embracing the cloud | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

As much as 83 percent of the US health care industry utilizes cloud computing infrastructure to manage data, according to a new study. The report, compiled by HIMSS Analytics, suggests that companies in data-critical sectors of the economy are leveraging the cloud in order to handle the vast troves of information that they deal in.

The survey covered more than 150 businesses that focus on medical practicing, hospital data management and health care systems facilitation. Notably, just 6 percent of those who participated said that they would never actively consider adopting cloud infrastructure as a means to facilitate data. Roughly three-quarters of those who took part in the survey said private cloud solutions are becoming an increasingly more positive solution to their data needs.

"Cloud services have been long praised as a tool to reduce operating expenses for health care organizations. The data presented in our inaugural survey demonstrates the health care industry's eagerness to leverage this resource," Lorren Pettit, a VP of market research for HIMSS, said in a statement.

As well, the report suggested that some challenges remain when it comes to integrating the healthcare system with the cloud. Pettit added that future surveys will look at some of these specific issues, offering companies in the space ideas on how the cloud can be leveraged to solve data-related concerns.

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Art Jones's curator insight, June 27, 10:08 AM

Once upon a time the majority of businesses were concerned about security of their data within cloud based platforms, seems those days are far behind us. #TheFutureofHealthcare

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Breaking Language Barriers in Healthcare Using Digital Technology

Breaking Language Barriers in Healthcare Using Digital Technology | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

The non-English speaking patient population in the U.S. accounts for an estimated 30 million people. Navigating our health system is challenging enough for native speakers, but what about for those for whom English isn’t their first language?

Language barriers have been demonstrated to lead to a number of adverse health outcomes including:

Decreased patient satisfactionLack of preventive health servicesRepeat visits to the emergency roomLonger hospital staysNon-compliance with treatmentIncreased number and severity of medical errorsHowever, digital technology has opened an entirely new frontier for addressing communication problems. eCaring is one of the first health care technology companies to address the issue head on. Our copyrighted icon-based language was designed in mind for people with limited technology skill and for whom English may not be a first language. Our home care monitoring interface allows home care aides and patients, regardless of English literacy, to capture huge amounts of information about the real-time care and condition of patient’s at home, including clinical, behavioral measures as well as medication adherence information.MedCity News shares more about how eCaring’s unique icon-based program is breaking down language barriers in home health care, here. 

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Physicians Interactive acquires patient community MedHelp, marking entry to consumer market

Physicians Interactive acquires patient community MedHelp, marking entry to consumer market | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Two mobile health companies — one a clinician-facing business and the other a patient-oriented healthcare forum — have taken different approaches to patient engagement in healthcare. Physicians Interactive’s acquisition of MedHelpfor an undisclosed amount gives the physician-oriented marketing company a consumer channel, according to a company statement.

Merck Global Health Innovations financed the deal. Merck acquired a controlling interest in Physicians Interactive in August last year from Perseus LLC, a merchant back and private equity fund manager.

Physicians Interactive, started in 2008,  has been growing through acquisitions and developing new products internally. Last year, it developed reference tool Omnio as a rival to Epocrates. MedHelp offers the company a way to diversify but to add more insights gathered from patient data. MedHelp, launched in 1994, has a forum for patients to ask questions and get information on different medical conditions. It also has a tool allowing users to track and analyze health data from their wearable devices. MedHelp claims to have 14 million unique users per month.

MedHelp uses Red Urchin, an enterprise software platform that provides mobile, social and data solutions to employers, retail pharmacies and health plans with the goal of improving consumer engagement and lower healthcare costs.


Physicians Interactive CEO and board chairman Donato Tramuto said the deal will give healthcare professionals and consumers mobile health tools that will improve the healthcare experience.

He added, “MedHelp’s rapid growth in the consumer health space is exciting. Together, we hope to deliver better patient experiences by matching MedHelp’s healthcare quantification and socialization solutions for consumers with PI’s solutions for physicians, such as Omnio, our peer-to-peer healthcare content sharing app.”

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Via Philippe Marchal/Pharma Hub
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Mhealth Usage and Adoption by Physicians

Mhealth Usage and Adoption by Physicians | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Mhealth Usage and Adoption

There are few topics in the healthcare industry today garnering as much lip service as mobile health, or mhealth for short.  Praised as the next generation for how healthcare is tracked, accessed, and delivered, mhealth has the promise of lasting implications for both consumers and healthcare professionals alike.  But, the delivery of healthcare in the US is slow to change and, it seems at times, even slower to adopt new ways to deliver care.  Despite all the incredible advances in the clinical arena, improving the way in which providers interact with, monitor, and generally manage their patients is remarkably, some would say even frustratingly, stuck in the old ways of doing things.

Olson Research recently polled physicians to understand what their current views are on mhealth, how they are using it in their practices today, and what they think the future looks like for this new technology.

See our infographic here:

A few key insights:

Adoption of mhealth is generally over 80% across all specialties queriedE-prescribing is the dominant use of mhealth, with accessing clinical information the secondNearly 30% of physicians receive reimbursement for “virtual” visits, though the majority report reimbursement is less than a traditional office visitAlmost half of physicians feel mhealth will be beneficial to their practices, though they have concerns about the level of reimbursement

Despite mhealth’s promise to transform healthcare delivery, it remains to be seen just how fast practitioners will embrace it.  While overall adoption remains high, this is largely limited to prescribing and accessing clinical information.  To unleash the true power, connectivity and ultimate cost-savings that mhealth can deliver, there will need to be compelling and economic benefits for providers and healthcare delivery organizations to fully adopt.


Via Philippe Marchal/Pharma Hub
Bettina Gifford's curator insight, June 28, 3:01 PM

An interesting study showing what physicians think of myhealthshare and where it's going..

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Why providers should care about consumer mHealth devices | mHealthNews

Why providers should care about consumer mHealth devices | mHealthNews | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

The developers of a new mobile testing kit for "tracking health information at the molecular level" might be marketing this to consumers, but devices such as this have strong value for providers as well.

Cue, a San Diego-based startup, unveiled its product of the same name this past May. The 3-inch tall device takes a drop of saliva and analyzes it for five molecules: C-reactive protein (CRP) a marker for inflammation in response to stimulus like injury or chronic illness; Vitamin D; Luteinizing Hormone (LH), a marker for fertility; Influenza; and Testosterone. The tests take a few minutes, with results sent to the user's smartphone.

Ayub Khattak, Cue's co-founder and CEO, and Clint Sever, the company's co-founder and chief product officer, say the device gives consumers an opportunity to track vital lifestyle information whenever and wherever they want. Just as important, they say, it gives them information to use in communications with their doctors, resulting in a much more enriched and useful conversation.

"This is another layer of information that doctors don't have," Khattak says. "Yes, it's a consumer-based product, but this … facilitates that conversation (consumers) are going to be having with their doctors" after they take these tests. 

[See also: How providers are harnessing mobile asthma apps.]

The key is to not only provide data that consumers will want, but data that their doctors will need. Many consumer-facing devices on the market these days track vital signs and other physiological information, but that information often gets in the doctor's way. Many, in fact, have said they don't want to know what's on their patient's activity tracker, wristband or watch.

"It empowers the physician far beyond what they have at their disposal," Sever added.

What Cue is doing differently is focusing on tests that matter not only to consumers, but their doctors – who would be scheduling these tests after an initial conversation with the patient anyway. Granted, these are five very specific tests that pertain to a particular segment of the overall population, but they point to an enhanced connection between the consumer and the provider – an intersection of the fast-growing consumer healthcare market and the provider market.

Khattak noted that many physicians are keeping an eye on the consumer space – think the massive CES annual conference – because they see "mHealth going in that direction." And while public interest has made the wearables market a hot commodity, it's slow to gain traction in provider circles, who want some control over the data they get.

"It's more specific, actionable information," said Sever, who added that physicians were brought in to help develop the Cue.

Sever said Cue is first and foremost a consumer-facing company because that's where the market is strongest. But by targeting data that physicians also want, Cue and other mobile health vendors are moving beyond the "natural progression" of giving consumers access to their own health information.

Constructing that kind of bridge between patient and physician ought to bring music to almost any doctor's ears.

Related articles: 

FCC: 'Telemedicine, it's coming' 

3 sensor startups collecting population health data 

BYOD advice: Start simple, inlcude clinicians, and be nimble

Topics: Innovation, Clinical, Consumer
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The Evolving Landscape of Medical Apps in Healthcare

The Evolving Landscape of Medical Apps in Healthcare | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
The evolving landscape of medical apps in healthcare is becoming increasingly smarter, multifunctional and user-friendly. Pathfinder's Software Mitchell Posada explains.

Via Emmanuel Capitaine , Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek, Philippe Marchal/Pharma Hub
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Health-tracking app connects patients directly with clinicians

Health-tracking app connects patients directly with clinicians | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

The health-tracking scene, once fresh and exciting, is admittedly now becoming a little congested. There’s certainly no shortage of apps and third-party hardware designed to offer insight into the wearers’ day-to-day wellbeing. Where uMotif aims to stand out from the crowd, however, is by facilitating collaboration between patients and clinicians.

The app — which can only be accessed following an invite from a clinician — is designed to track patients’ long term conditions and post-operative care. It enables users to input diary entries and log their mood, while it also captures medical data on variables such as glucose levels and weight. All of this is then fed back to clinicians, who can access the data to gain a more complete understanding of their patient and their condition. Initial small-scale trials showed 70 percent daily use rates along with an increase in medication adherence. The video below explains the service further:

uMotif will launch across 15 NHS centres in the UK this summer on both iOS and Android, focusing initially on supporting patients with Type 1 and 2 diabetes. Through integration with Microsoft HealthVault, the company will be able to connect to a range of devices and care planning applications. What other strategies could health-tracking apps take to stand out for the crowd?


Via Marc Phippen, Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek
Marc Phippen's curator insight, June 23, 12:55 AM

uMotif will launch across 15 NHS centres in the UK this summer on both iOS and Android, focusing initially on supporting patients with Type 1 and 2 diabetes. Through integration with Microsoft HealthVault, the company will be able to connect to a range of devices and care planning applications

Helen Adams's curator insight, June 24, 12:59 AM

yet another health tracking app - and guess what, its being rolled out for diabetes, in to an already flooded market

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Wearables Belgium Meetup

Wearables Belgium Meetup | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
Let's get together to discuss the current and future wearables. Quantify yourself with fitbits, get productive with Google Glass and get connected with your smart watch.
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How to Grow the Supply of Healthcare

"For two or three generations, we've almost completely ignored the supply side" of health care, warns Robert Graboyes, an economist who specializes in health care issues. That's especially...
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Startup wants to fix nutrition communication gap between MDs, parents, children

Startup wants to fix nutrition communication gap between MDs, parents, children | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

A Carnegie Mellon University startup wants to make it easier for physicians to talk about  preventing and reducing obesity with children and their families. It wants to make these conversations less challenging, confrontational and defensive.

The public health program by Fitwits uses a mix of goofy cartoon character role models (Elvis Pretzley, anyone?), gaming and multimedia presentations to improve health literacy to encourage healthy choices among elementary school students and their families. For example, for every Fitwit role model there seems to be an antithetical Nitwit character making bad nutritional choices.

Fitwits is part of the university’s ‘For-Profit’ technology transfer program. Its Fitwits is the product of a five-year research project by Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design, according to the company’s website. It was developed in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center St. Margaret’s Family Health Centers in the wake of some pretty stark stats.


In the U.S., obese children aged 6 to 11 years old rose from 7 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Although there’s a strong emphasis on portion size, improving nutrition literacy for kids and adults is also a big part of it.

The program is currently part of a national trial with a health insurer, which could be Highmark. Two executive appointments, in addition to being graduates of Carnegie-Mellon’s business school, were also members of the Highmark Health Services leadership team. Alistair Rock will serve as CEO and Adam Jenkins will act as head of finance, innovation and strategic planning.

The program is aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds and is designed for three settings: elementary schools, doctors offices and families.

A gaming component is designed to be played by parents and their children. A multimedia program is led by teachers, and physicians use flashcards to test children on what they’ve learned.

In addition to making it easier for physicians, the program sets out to encourage behavior change at an early age and make a lasting impact.

The size of the challenge — making parents more aware of their children’s and their own nutritional needs–  illustrated by the sheer number of startups and volume of research around this issue. It will be interesting to evaluate the health of the students that participate in these programs in a few years time to see if it has a lasting impact.

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Why a "Switzerland Approach" Might Become a Key Part of Wearable Health Platforms

Why a "Switzerland Approach" Might Become a Key Part of Wearable Health Platforms | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

It’s been a few weeks since Apple’s announcement about its Health app, the consumer electronics giants’ new dashboard for capturing health data; and HealthKit, its foray into establishing a healthcare integration platform for wearables and other sensor-generated data.

In February, Optum’s acquisition of Audax was market validation for using mobile and rich media features as one approach to helping plan members to get and stay healthy.  Since then, several other well know information technology players have put their chips on the table relative to announcements about connected, wearable health solutions.

Google.  This week Google announced Google Fit as a hub for data connectivity with fitness tracking wearables and cross-platform APIs that developers can use to provide consumers with the means to better keep track of their fitness goals.  This is Google’s second act in health, and with their previously announced diabetic-sensor-in-a-contact-lens, they seem to have a well thought out technology and product strategy.Microsoft.  In February, Microsoft added to its quietly evolving Healthvault platform by announcing the Bing Health & Fitness App, a fitness and medical reference tracker focused on Also this month, the CRM market leader began messaging around its abilities as a healthcare platform with a focus on mobile. is not to be trifled with, and while they’ve been quietly amplifying their healthcare footprint via application partners in recent years, the timing of their announcement is notable.Samsung.  In May, Samsung began several announcements (SAMI – Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions; its ‘Voice of the Body’ initiative; and gear like the Simband sensor watch); and built on its focus of becoming a global leader in healthcare with mobile at the forefront.WebMD.  In conjunction with Apple’s announcement, WebMD Healthy Target was announced as an iOS feature that will allow users to track biometric data from sources such as wearable activity, glucose and other trackers.  Goal setting, progress reports and other summaries are part of the package.

Consumers who use tracking tools and related sites like these are typically individuals already in tune with their health.  At first glance, it’s hard not to wonder how much useful data are being generated and not already being captured by the likes of DigiFit, Jiff, Health Advocate, LiveHealthier, MapMyFitness, RedBrick, RunKeeper, ShapeUp, Vitality, Viverea and WellTok.  A well-deserved nod to the consumer appeal of Apple, but if you’re already engaged in monitoring your health by using one of these great tools, why migrate?

Does harmonizing data between wearables and enterprise health systems call for a “Switzerland” strategy?  As the volumes of healthcare data grow and sensors become more sophisticated, the importance of broader interoperability and data integration between wearables and enterprise healthcare engines (EMR, claims, clinical and population health management) are growing too.

The need is founded on managing risk for members / patients and knowing as much as possible about these consumers or a population.  Microsoft’s Healthvault struggled and Google Health outright failed because both vendors assumed consumers would actively enter health data into their tools, creating a useful database.

The two most interesting aspects of the Apple announcement were the endorsement from Mayo Clinic and an undefined partnership with Epic.  On the surface, Apple and Epic don’t have a lot in common with very different underlying technologies, so a shared developer ecosystem is hard to imagine.

However, the usefulness of Apple Health Kit might boil down to whether it can extract a patient’s clinical data from Epic, securely sync that data with an iPhone such that it’s simple for the patient, and make that data portable so it can be leveraged by other healthcare professionals who are serving that patient.

Apple aside, the ramifications of how wearable data can be used is wide ranging as payers and providers look to manage risk — and employers consider how their wellness models might include rewards for monitoring and reporting activity levels to help employees be healthy and spend less on healthcare.

Additionally, we think the ability to enhance data interoperability regardless of technology or device is increasingly important.  One new player in the healthcare interoperability stack is Validic, who is integrating both provider and payer enterprise systems with consumer wearables and allowing their clients to in fact, be Switzerland.

The simple graphic below depicts how some of the current announcements in consumer health platforms may begin to realign because of the influence of wearables, and emphasize the growing importance of healthcare interoperability and workflows.


What about the FDA?  Through sources close to TripleTree, we’re aware of how the FDA has been refining and expanding its definitions of a ‘health app’ versus a ‘diagnostic app’.  In some reports surrounding the Apple HealthKit announcement, it appears that Apple asked the FDA about their approaches to messaging for healthcare solutions on the iPhone and iPad.  Just having an app gathering data is not a conclusion of anything medical. So while we’re in the early but exciting innings of connected health and wearables, there is still little evidence validating the accuracy of the hundreds of sensors and thousands of apps in the market.

Regardless, in the quest for harvesting consumer healthcare data, wearable devices, digital apps and consumer services will remain front and center in transforming health and healthcare.  Convenience and the ability to engage consumers on their terms will carry the day because in connected health without convenience, there is no engagement.

Regardless of the quickened pace of investment which we recently summarized, the noise around this area of the market is loud and will be confusing for several quarters.  Fortunately, macro-economic forces have a way of shaking out the solutions that are half-baked, so as leading approaches and solutions emerge we’ll review and opine about them.

Until then, let us know what you think.

Via Sam Stern, Celine Sportisse, Laurent FLOURET
Laurent FLOURET's curator insight, June 30, 5:58 AM

What I call "from silos to legos"...


What Do Doctors Think Of Apple's HealthKit?

What Do Doctors Think Of Apple's HealthKit? | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

It has tremendous potential.

I watched the keynote, and initially Healthkit seemed fairly unremarkable, just another way for consumer apps like Nike+ and sleep trackers to output their data into pretty charts. A cursory look at their website (Apple – iOS 8 – Health) would seem to support the view that Healthkit is targeted at those obsessed with the “quantified self” movement:

Calories burned? Sleep? Heart rate? This type of fitness-oriented data isn’t particularly interesting, as it’s been done before in a thousand different iterations, starting with pen and paper. Why should I care?

We’re then shown this screen, however, and from a clinical perspective, there are 4 key points of interest, particularly since Epic Systems (one of the largest EMR vendors in the nation) was mentioned in the keynote:

There’s also this:

Suddenly, I’m interested.

Imagine if with just your phone, you could travel with all of your former imaging studies (e.g. chest X-rays, CT scans). Your verified vaccination records. Your biopsy results. Your list of allergies. Your lab tests from the last 10, 15, 20 years. All the medications and doses you’ve ever been on, for what time period, and why. Your heart rate and blood pressure measurements from every clinic visit you’ve ever made.

What if all of this was kept in the cloud, with instant access through your phone?

What if, with Touch ID, you could grant access to this wealth of data to any new physician/system, with a single tap of your finger?

Take a moment to see how medical records currently go from institution to institution. Then come back and think about this. This could be revolutionary.

The lung cancer patient in New York who wants to move to Michigan to be closer with her extended family now has significantly more peace of mind, knowing that her health data can easily move with her. She doesn’t have to drudge through the paperwork to release her own medical records from her prior hospital system. She doesn’t have to make a separate trip to the radiology department to have them burn her a CD/DVD of all of her imaging. She doesn’t have to burden her new oncologist with the task of sifting through hundreds of sheets of results by hand, as she can release them into the new EMR with a single tap of a finger. She doesn’t have to worry about whether the images on the disc will be compatible with her new radiologist’s system, as the cloud automatically adjusts the data format to match.

The trauma patient who arrives in a lower-acuity ER after a motor vehicle accident and is found to have a severe unstable ankle fracture on imaging can now be more easily transferred to a higher-level hospital with orthopedic surgery on call. The patient has his X-rays in the cloud. Within minutes of arrival at the new hospital, he opens his phone and grants access to the X-rays to his surgeon. The surgeon downloads them onto his Retina display iPad, quickly assessing the nature of the fracture to determine whether or not the patient requires emergent operation. Again: no drudging through paperwork. No waiting to process a CD/DVD. Less hassle. More clinical care.

I feel that Healthkit might well be the first step in creating something akin to a universal EMR. If Apple pulls this off with the right partners, they could potentially solve one of the single worst problems in healthcare today: the inability to easily transfer patient records from one care location to another.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What do doctors think of HealthKit? More questions:

Medicine and Healthcare:Is it true that oncologists refuse to be treated for terminal cancer? Doctors:What do doctors think about 23andme?Apple:Why did Tim Cook need to attack Android at WWDC 2014?

Via EuroHealthNet, Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek
EuroHealthNet's curator insight, June 28, 7:29 AM

Welcome in the era of patient centricity 


Marisa Maiocchi's curator insight, July 2, 4:07 AM

Me parece una exageración solo para fanáticos del estilo de vida saludable. Una cosa es cuidar la salud y otra muy distinta es estar pendiente de parámetros vitales...  ¿Y qué de las horas que se dedican al trabajo, a la familia, a la recreación? ¿Y qué de emplear el tiempo en hacer cosas que nos gustan? ¿Vendrá con un medidor de felicidad o de alegría?

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mHealth: To Invest or Not to Invest? | Mobile for Development

mHealth: To Invest or Not to Invest? | Mobile for Development | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

This is a guest blog written by Perry Fernan Flores, a Research Consultant with Zapienza.

Is it worth investing in mHealth? Given that most mHealth innovations are stuck in the pilot stage, mHealth stakeholders often have doubts.

In South Africa, where almost every household (98% based on recent research conducted by the GSMA) across all socio-economic classes has access to a mobile phone, the rationalisation for using phones to reach out to Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) consumers is compelling. Based on this reasoning alone, it would seem worthwhile to invest in mHealth in order to help educate pregnant South African women and mothers of children under the age of two, as a means of preventing maternal, perinatal and under-5 mortality, 40% of which is avoidable.

Investment Criteria

In reality, the factors that stakeholders take into account when considering an mHealth investment are not that simple. For the government or public sector as well as insurance providers, some of the main issues that they need to answer are:

Does the mHealth intervention really help in changing health behaviour?Does it help in improving people’s health?Is it more cost effective than current or other new alternative interventions?

For private sector organisations such as mobile operators, shareholder accountability means that the following questions must be answered, for any initiative that requires considerable financial and human resource investment:

Is there a financial return on this investment?What does it bring to my organisation?Can it help strengthen existing customer relationship or reduce customer churn?Or can it help bring in new customers?

Donors, especially those pertaining to foreign governmental organisations, have the same considerations as public entities. Constrained by limited resources, they would like to understand:

How can mHealth services become commercially sustainable, beyond pilot phase?

These are some of the key questions that the Mobile for Development mHealth team is trying to address through the Pan-African mHealth Initiative. In South Africa, the focus of the initiative is on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH). In Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the focus is on both nutrition and MNCH.

Consumer Research Insights

In order to answer some of the questions above, 2000+ South African women have been interviewed for a nationally representative market research study funded by UK Aid. This study has been conducted in order to understand the needs and wants of pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of two, to comprehend their mobile usage and habits, and recognise their perception and experience of existing MNCH messaging services and other mHealth services.

We gained a number of interesting insights:

80% of the women surveyed stated that they are the health-decision maker of the household and  are generally “self-aware” of their own personal health needs and find information about their babies (rather than their own pregnancies) interesting35%, 19% and 42% are already using smartphones, feature phones and basic phones respectively, with the remainder 4% not owning one (see Figure 1 below).  However, segmenting the respondents between BoPs and non-BoPs, we found out that majority (65%) of the BoP consumers continue to own basic phones whereas the proportion among non-BoP is only half of that (32%).When concept testing was conducted to test the women’s perception towards various mHealth services, between 70% and 80% said that they would be interested in using the services tested if they were provided for free (see Figure 2 below). However, not all are willing to pay for the services if a minimal fee is going to be charged. Moreover, given their higher disposable income, non-BoP consumers have a stronger interest and willingness to pay for mHealth services compared to BoP consumers.

What are the implications of these insights?

In order to make MNCH messaging services more relevant, it is important to link pregnancy-related advice to how it impacts the baby’s overall growth. 41% of BoP consumers (compared to 32% among non-BoPs) become pregnant at the age of 15 to 24 and 66% are, or end up as, single-mothers. Additionally, widening the scope of a messaging service beyond MNCH can potentially broaden the appeal of the service. As an example, adding job related tips could be invaluable to BoP women, particularly as many of them are unemployed.While the majority of BoP consumers continue to have basic phones, it is imperative to develop a “transition plan” that takes into account that in two to three years’ time, most BoP consumers will likely have switched to smartphones as well.Developing premium services, targeting non-BoP consumers, may be crucial in order to make the service more relevant to the needs and wants of such consumers. Developing a two-tiered “freemium business model” should be considered, to make it commercially viable to subsidise a free service targeted to those who have a limited ability to pay.

In addition to the above learnings, the consumer research undertaken has unearthed many other interesting insights, which mHealth stakeholders in South Africa may find useful when assessing their respective organisational mHealth strategies.

If you would like to learn more about our consumer research, please join the GSMA and other mHealth stakeholders at a workshop entitled “Integrating Mobile into Health” on 1st July 2014, at the Da Vinci Hotel in Sandton, South Africa.

Figure 1. Mobile phone type ownership among pregnant women and mothers of children up to two years of age.

Figure 2. Interest and willingness to pay for mHealth-related services among pregnant women and mothers of children up to two years of age

Top – Interested if provided for free (all respondents). Bottom – Willing to pay some amount (those who are interested).

For more information on the GSMA Mobile for Development mHealth, please contact us on For information on various mHealth initiatives, click here. For more information on GSMA mHealth resources, click here.

Via Emmanuel Capitaine
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Reviewing the latest advances in Eric Topol's top ten digital health targets

Reviewing the latest advances in Eric Topol's top ten digital health targets | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

Five years ago this month, Scripps Health’s Chief Academic Officer Dr. Eric Topol began a speaking tour about the potential of digital health at a mobile industry event in Las Vegas. One of his presentation’s key slides, which would become a fixture of his talks for the next two years, listed the top ten opportunities for digital health. In April 2009 MobiHealthNews called these Topol’s Top Ten Targets for Wireless Medicine. They included: Alzheimer’s, asthma, breast cancer, COPD, depression, diabetes, heart failure, hypertension, obesity, and sleep disorders.

In an effort to reflect a bit on progress made since Topol first took framed the digital health discussion, MobiHealthNews caught up with Dr. Topol to discuss how he might rework that list if he had a chance to do so today and how well he thought the list stood the test of time. The MobiHealthNews team also reviewed our archives from the intervening years and put together a high level review featuring a sample of digital health activity relevant to each of Topol’s ten targets.

“The idea back then was what if we could have sensors and digital technology take fresh, novel approaches to these very important chronic conditions that affected tens of millions of Americans — the only ones that weren’t, like heart failure, Alzheimer’s, and breast cancer, obviously are very important and also growing,” Topol told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview. “What’s happened in the five years since is that every one of those has had significant efforts to apply digital technologies and mobile devices to them.”

Topol says that in hindsight he underestimated digital health’s immediate opportunities. 

“In fact, I had underestimated the field. While in some ways we haven’t gotten a final solution for any of them, so much has been done for each — most of which I had not envisioned at the time,” Topol said. “Plus the field has blossomed well beyond the sensor side of it. Back then, I was mainly thinking about sensors, but it’s really exploded in other ways too.”

While each of the targets he pointed digital health entrepreneurs toward in 2009 have received considerable attention, Topol says that digital health hasn’t yet gone too far beyond point solutions.

“The problem still today, I would say, is integrating the information from multiple data sources — that’s a major issue still,” he said. “That is, if you just take an example like depression and have a sensor that captures data that includes tone of voice, inflection, … blood pressure, heart rate, along with galvanic skin response, heart rate variability, movement, activity, posture, and breathing — if you had all of those and could process it all, you could come up with incredible quantitative tracking for state of mind and depression. You could do that. But none of them have yet folded them all together. What we have now is a lot of siloed activity.”

Topol said that’s true for many of the digital health offerings targeting asthma today too.

“We have sensors that can pick up air quality, pollen count, oxygen saturation, microphones that can sense lung functions, even sensors for inhaled [nitrous oxide] and breath analyzers that detect would-be constituents for precipitators of an asthma attack. But we don’t have that all folded together yet into a single functional system with the predictive analytics and learning we’d like to see. We are mainly missing the data platforms and data processing downstream.”

In addition to pulling the data streams together and developing better analytics, Topol said that digital health still needs to make much more progress in validation, regulation approvals, and reimbursement policies.

Topol said that he really missed the mark in his heart failure prediction by leaving out arrhythmia monitoring, which ended up being one of the first digital health products to find its ways into consumers’ hands thanks to AliveCor. He also admitted that he never would have predicted a digital health company developing a smart bra that could help predict breast cancer, but he did see a big opportunity for handheld ultrasound devices that at-risk women could use at home. Finally, Topol said he didn’t appreciate how powerful the smartphone would become as a hub for conducting lab tests, for example, or for various imaging devices used in annual physical exams.

“The other thing that I didn’t envision back then, that has really exploded since, is the other dimensions of the smartphone hub. For example, to do lab tests. That’s going to be — over the next five years — remarkable, in terms of being able to do almost any lab test. All the routine labs could be run through the smartphone with a very simple microfluidic adapter — any lab test could. Then there’s all the ways you can do a physical exam through a smartphone now via mostly medical imaging, whether it is ears, eyes, you name it —  all through a smartphone.”

Topol believes that one of the most important factors that will drive digital health forward in the next fives years will be recruiting data scientists into the field.

“I’m starting to get convinced that we need to find a way to attract data scientists to digital health,” he said. “Too many of them are working at places like Twitter and Facebook and we need them here in healthcare and medicine.” 

Via Andrew Spong, AttractiveHealthcare
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Study Shows Patients Searching for Health info While in Waiting Room

Study Shows Patients Searching for Health info While in Waiting Room | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

In another sign of the changing times, a new CDMiConnect report says that patients are using their mobile devices in waiting rooms and, to a lesser extent, exam rooms, more and more to search the Internet for information about the particular health problem that brought them to the waiting room in the first place.

3000 patients, all 18 years of age or older, were surveyed for the report, named “The Patients First Reports: In-Office Mobile Device Use.” Deb Deaver, agency president for CDMiConnect, said that these 3000 patients had over 200 different health conditions and were surveyed in order to “understand the impact of healthcare at our fingertips and uncover how it has influenced the roles we play in each other’s lives.”

What they found, according to managing partner Deana Peck, was “so surprising that we decided to go ahead and publish our findings.”

For instance, the average patient spends about 20 minutes in a doctor’s waiting room (which, frankly, isn’t so surprising) and, during that time, one in five is using their mobile device to search for health information or, as researchers put it, “[turning those] 20 minutes of tedium into a productive prelude to an active doctor discussion.”

What they also found was that healthcare marketers have an incredible opportunity to leverage this time in order to open a dialogue between patients and their particular healthcare provider, as well as provide valuable content that caters to their particular healthcare needs.

Elliott Tyler, managing partner of CDMiConnect, says that “The majority [of patients] were looking for information specifically around their appointment.“ Tyler added that “They want to know ‘what do these symptoms mean’ and are searching for that confidence so they can engage their doctor about it.”

Interestingly this “search for confidence” is the very foundation for nearly all advertising and marketing. Consumers are always searching for information that will support their motivations and desires, no matter what it is that they happen to be doing, and give them the confidence they want/need to proceed.

Tyler confirmed that “The common theme was patients feeling prepared and confident to have that discussion with their doctor.” He said that, in order for agencies to capitalize on this waiting time, they need to think about information that patients are searching for and then focus their strategy on making that information accessible through related content.

He gave an example about someone “using their phone in an exam room, and during their previous appointment, the doctor said he wanted to put them on product X,” continuing by saying that “And so the patient takes out her phone and looks up the side effects, which sound awful to her, and then during the appointment asks what else she could try.”

Talk about keeping a doctor on his or her toes.

From casual users searching for a little bit of information to help them “sound educated” when speaking to their medical doctor, to “power users” who dig deep into Internet content to learn everything possible about their healthcare situation, this new and improved information availability is changing the way healthcare providers communicate with their patients.

And it’s also changing the way marketers create their healthcare related content.

Via Philippe Marchal/Pharma Hub
SusanThorn's curator insight, June 30, 4:33 AM

Healthcare is evolving. Smart healthcare organizations evolve with it! 

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Verizon rolls out telemedicine tool for non-emergencies, Virtual Visits

Verizon rolls out telemedicine tool for non-emergencies, Virtual Visits | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |
In an effort to cut healthcare costs from after-hours emergency room visits for non-emergencies, companies in the telemedicine space have been rolling out alternatives. The latest comes from Verizonthis week. Its Virtual Visits platform is designed to be used when people feel like they’re coming down with a cold or the flu or some other acute condition.

Here’s how it works: Users log on from  smartphone or tablet and see what their co-pay is. They fill out a brief questionnaire. On the other side, doctors enter a user name and password and authentication code when they log in to see patients. Where states allow it, doctors can transmit prescription orders to the patient’s pharmacy. The data exchanged by each side of the conversation is encrypted. Aside from filling out the documents, the conversations last about 20 minutes, according to Leigh Ann Ruggles, director for strategy and business development at Verizon Mobile Health Solutions.

In a phone interview with MedCity News, Ruggles said the company sees three different markets where Virtual Visits could add value. Health plans, self-insured employers — it could reduce workflow interruptions and absent employees since they can log on to the service 24/7.  Health systems are another potential market because they could present it as an alternative to clinics at national drug store chains. Ruggles points out that having this service would allow the health systems’ physicians to concentrate on other, more serious cases.

The early adopters have been self-insured employers — the market it was initially designed to help. But Ruggles said health systems have shown interest as well, although she declined to name any customers.


Virtual Visits data can be integrated with patient’s primary care physician records. The mobility built into the platform means people will be more likely to use it and it adds more flexibility to physician-patient interactions.

It will be interesting to see what the co-pay is. It seems like young and middle-aged professionals who work long hours would be the most common users. I think a critical audience could be parents of young children who might prefer not to make a late night emergency room visit, but that would require pediatricians in the provider network Verizon uses.

Although I would have thought loyalty to a physician would make people less inclined to request a late night appointment from a physician they never met before, the company is betting, as others have, that convenience trumps familiarity.

Some of the companies that compete in the primary care, non-emergency telemedicine space include Teladoc and American Well,  One Medical, and Sherpaa Health.

Read more:
Via Philippe Marchal/Pharma Hub
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Healthcare Marketers Trend Report 2014

Healthcare Marketers Trend Report 2014 | Mobile Health: How Mobile Phones Support Health Care |

One year on from the inaugural Healthcare Marketers Trend Report and the industry is continuing its transformation. Our exclusive survey of director-level execs benchmarks the manifestation of change on the healthcare marketing function. James Chase reviews the key trends

Exactly one year ago, the inauguralMM&M/Ogilvy CommonHealth Healthcare Marketers Trend Report drove a stake into the ground to begin measuring some of the fundamental changes that are taking place in the industry. In essence, the purpose of this study is to tap into the mindset of the healthcare marketing director and document the industry's journey through the perfect storm.

We called last year's report “The Big Shift”—after all, the coming transformation would eventually encompass not only products, functions, budgets and resources, but also shifts in mindset and it might even necessitate a willingness to take a bit of a risk here and there. Big? Yes. Fast? Of course not. Measuring the pace of change in pharma is like watching the tide—there's not much to see in real time, but if you take your eye off it for even a second, it's sure to sneak up on you.

For the second annual edition of this study, we fielded an online survey of 202 qualified senior executives—all director level and above—employed by pharmaceutical, biotechnology, devices and diagnostics companies. We requested details of their marketing budgets and responsibilities, along with their attitudes towards various industry challenges, trends, forces and opportunities. Just over half of the survey respondents (52%) represented pharma, with 15% from biotechs, 28% in devices, and the remaining 5% at diagnostics companies (see box).

One in four respondents were C-suite execs (including 36 president/CEOs) while the remainder were director-level or equivalent. Regarding their organizations, 57% were employed by companies with $500M or more in annual revenues, rendering the remaining 43% “small companies,” by the definition of this survey. This year, 37% of respondents claimed sole responsibility for marketing budgets (vs. 25% last year), and the number of brands for which they were responsible varied from one (33%) to “5 or more” (27%).

As with last year's survey, the top-line numbers might look a little flat at first glance. However, a quick delve below the surface confirms that many of the encouraging trends that were uncovered last year are continuing to build momentum (read: increased digital budgets). Some of the data also suggest that a few of marketers' big-ticket fears from 2013, such as the Affordable Care Act, have either yet to unleash their full force, or that perhaps their threat level was overblown.

Marketing budgets

The mean total marketing budget this year (Fig. 1) showed a marginal 5% gain, to $13.5M for all companies. And while the budgets for pharma ($19.4M) and devices ($4.2M) both remained flat, mean biotech budget shot up by 28% to $14.7M. Small companies (<$500M) reported an encouraging 26% increase in mean total budget to $2.6M, while medium/large companies ($500M+) remained flat at $22.2M. (Note that comparisons with last year's budgets are based on the data reported by the current respondents for the previous fiscal year, and do not represent the data collected in 2013 from the 2013 respondents.)

The median total budget rose 25% to $2.5M overall, with small companies and non-pharma companies faring rather better than medium/large companies (down 18% to $5.3M) and pharma (down 16% to $3.8M). These median decreases might hint at (but not prove) the loss of one or more big-budget brands, resulting in a possible redistribution of the budget curves for these categories.

When it comes to budget allocation across key audiences, the order of the “3Ps” remained well established, with physicians again accounting for the lion's share of the overall budget (55.7%, down slightly from 58.7% last year), followed by patients (23.6%, up slightly from 22.0%) and payers (15.8%, up from 14.5%). It's noteworthy that medium/large companies allocated a significantly larger slice of their budgets to payers this year (18.3%) than did small companies (10.4%).

Overall, 57% of respondents reported an increase in total ­marketing budget this year compared to last year (Fig. 2), only slightly (and negligibly) down from the 62% reporting increased budgets last year. However, there was again a significant difference according to company size—69% of small companies reported increased marketing budgets in 2014, compared to just 48% of medium/large companies. Conversely, 28% of medium/large companies reported a reduction in budgets this year, whereas only 12% of small companies lost marketing dollars.

Those numbers don't come as any surprise to Kate Cronin, global managing director, Ogilvy CommonHealth Public Relations. “Smaller-sized companies are able to commit budget to marketing because they are so streamlined,” Cronin says. “We see it firsthand when we work with them. They are more nimble and agile, they don't have a lot of layers and their marketers are often jacks of all trades. But what we're seeing from the larger companies is more consolidation and trimming costs, and marketing budgets are a part of that.”

Equally unsurprised is Walt Sandulli, VP,  marketing at Akrimax Pharmaceuticals—and likely one of the aforementioned jacks of all trades. “Most [smaller] companies like Akrimax are growing rapidly,” says Sandulli. “For us, the greater question is not whether to increase promotional support for our brands from year to year, but how to focus our spending in areas where we can achieve the greatest positive impact on sales and profit. But even with significant budget increases, the promotional budgets of smaller companies are still constrained relative to big pharma companies which, for the most part, are trying to rationalize all spending initiatives. I think the differences in spending plans are reflective of where various companies stand relative to the life cycle of the products in their respective commercial portfolios.”

When respondents were asked whether or not budgets had increased according to particular audiences, the data gets interesting (Fig. 4). Last year, the audience with the greatest number of reported budget increases was physicians. This year, it's patients (42%), followed by physicians (39%) and payers (35%). Although lacking enough statistical significance to even think about declaring it a “changing of the guard” moment, it is at least refreshing to see patients ranking first.

“The doctor's decision-making role is getting smaller,” notes Cronin. “The whole world is turned upside down—while the doc is still an important audience for all of the companies, decision making is increasingly at the payer level.”

Half of all respondents (51%) reported increased budgets for branded marketing efforts (46% in 2013), while 33% declared increased budgets for unbranded campaigns (26% in 2013) (Fig. 3). Note these particular year-on-year comparisons are not statistically significant.

When you look at the overall marketing mix (Fig. 6), things get a lot more interesting. Note, the table is sorted with the largest “buckets” (2013 budgets) at the top, and yet the channels with the most increased budgets for 2014 are towards the bottom. On the other hand, the “decreases” column largely follows the original order of the table. Broadly speaking, the marketing mix appears to be turning on its head.

Of course, what's actually happening is a continuation of the trend away from traditional marketing, and towards digital channels. Right now, the biggest buckets have a somewhat old-school look to them with meetings/conferences (15.7% share of budget), sales reps (14.4%) and sales materials (11.6%) occupying the top three spots. However, the channels for which marketers report the most increased budgets are digital all the way: websites (35.6% of them reported an increase), search engine optimization marketing (33.7%), social media (32.7%) and digital ads (30.2%). And it will come as little surprise that the channels with the most decreased budgets were meetings/conferences (25.2% reported a decrease), sales materials (17.8%) and print/TV/radio ads (13.9%).

Among other significant insights is the fact that in 2013 medium/large companies allocated almost twice as much budget to digital advertising (5.4% of budget) than did small companies (2.8%). They also allocated more to content/materials development than did small companies (11.5% vs. 7.4%).

Concentrating for a moment on only those tactics that are targeting healthcare professionals (Fig. 5a), the ongoing shift in spend from traditional marketing tactics towards digital channels is apparent here, too. While once again, meetings/events (85.1% usage), printed sales materials (77.2%) and sales reps (73.8%) are near the top in the adoption stakes, they also tend to be the channels with the ­lowest rates of budget increases and the highest reported decreases. For example, printed sales materials (18.7% reported increased ­budgets vs. 42.2% decreased budgets) and journal print ads (22.4% vs. 40.5%) were both examples of this trend. Rising channels, on the other hand, included digital sales materials (62.0% vs.7.3%), social media (63.4% vs. 7.1%) and mobile/tablet apps (62.5% vs. 11.5%).

Do patients really come first?

By Kate Cronin, Global Managing Director, Ogilvy CommonHealth Public Relations

Last year's open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act stirred up apprehensive feelings among healthcare marketers about its impact on patient care. Yet, in this year's Trend Report, more than four in 10 marketers believe that ACA will have a positive impact on patients, despite its rocky start. Unfortunately, more than half of these marketers think ACA will negatively impact healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Over the past year, the industry made some inroads to meet patient needs better. But more work is needed. For example, nearly three-quarters of the respondents said the industry still lags behind patients in digital engagement. And only four in 10 believe healthcare companies are adequately prepared to embrace social media. We know that people are already digitally-connected to healthcare information. And with the FDA's recent draft guidance, the industry has tools to navigate the social media waters and keep up with their patients' changing needs.

While healthcare companies claim to be patient-centric, the reality is that few operate this way, according to 78% of respondents. In terms of HCP communications, 80% of respondents believe that restrictions on how sales representative communicate will impact prescribing knowledge and, ultimately, patient outcomes. With the era of marketing the “magic pill” gone, companies need to demonstrate a drug's value proposition—a key indicator of whether an innovation will be approved, reimbursed and welcomed by stakeholders, and ultimately, serve patient needs. But 63% feel the industry is not doing this well enough.

So how can marketers improve communication to patients, HCPs, and other stakeholders? Integration may be the key. More than eight in 10 agree that marketing service companies “must integrate their offerings and become more dynamic to serve the changing needs of the healthcare industry” – an increase from 69% last year.

The corresponding inventory of consumer channels (Fig. 5b), reveals a similar, albeit more established, swing towards digital. Digital channels already top the consumer channel adoption standings, with both websites (55.9% vs. 9.2%) and social media (69.2% vs. 7.7%) also reporting high numbers of increases.

Sourcing partners

The survey showed little change in the overall ways that marketers search for marketing partner agencies (Fig. 7), compared to 2013. However, there were some significant differences based on company size. Medium/large companies were more than twice as likely to use preferred partner lists as were small companies (78.3% usage vs. 36.3%). They were also significantly more likely to deploy procurement services (55.7% vs. 18.8%) and to invite existing partners to pitch (70.8% vs. 48.8%). Small companies, however, were more likely to use their industry relationships to find partners (62.5% vs. 46.2%).

Perception and opinion

Regardless of the way in which marketers apportioned their budgets and prioritized their audiences in their roles, we asked them to rank seven key stakeholder groups according to their perceived importance to them (Fig. 8).

Looking at only the number-one ranking first of all, physicians took the expected top spot, with 54.5% of marketers having ranked them at the top (vs. 63.5% in 2013 – as exciting as this looks, it's not quite statistically significant enough to predict the downfall of docs just yet.). Next on the list come patients (17.3%) and payers (12.4%). Interestingly, these three scores are remarkably close to the actual overall budget allocations to the three P's.

Also of note are two clear insights defined by company size. Respondents at medium/large companies ranked payers the most important stakeholder 18.9% of the time vs. just 3.8% for those at small companies. The latter are more focused on investment, with 11.3% ranking shareholders number one and 21.3% placing them in the top three.

“While physicians remain the most important stakeholders, payers and patients have become even more critical players,” says Akrimax's Sandulli. “Payers, through formulary controls like prior authorization, high patient co-pays and other pharmacy management tools, are increasingly determining what drugs are dispensed to whom. Patients have a growing influence in helping new therapies gain formulary access and shaping payer behavior. The pressure from patients to gain access to innovative therapies is, in some cases, at odds with payer desires to control inappropriate use of drugs. The outcome of these potentially opposing forces will be critical to determining the future of pharmaceutical innovation.”

Finally, our marketing execs were asked to score 18 industry trends, challenges, forces and events according to both the perceived degree of challenge and the perceived degree of opportunity. In terms of challenges (Fig 9a) payer pressure was voted the biggest challenge by a long stretch, followed by clinical development/time to market and FDA regulations/guidance. On the whole medium/large companies appeared to be more challenged by these issues than their small company counterparts.

But when it came to perceived opportunities (Fig 9b) using the same list, med/large companies again often posted higher scores than the small companies, particularly in areas like social media (60.4% vs 47.5%), mobile/tablets (60.4% vs. 46.3%) and big data (58.5% vs. 31.3%).

“To me, the biggest challenge, and opportunity, is to demonstrate value on an everyday basis,” says Cronin. “It's not just about the product you are taking, but how is it actually going to affect outcomes? And so what you're seeing in the survey is some frustration in terms of reaching that ROI, reaching the value that you are looking to show. Because the reps aren't able to see the docs directly and take it to another level. And there are challenges with leveraging big data. Everyone knows you have to show value, but no one has really figured out how to get there.


• Survey link was sent in an email to approximately 9,241 healthcare professionals who reside in the United States. Respondents were offered $25 in the form of a gift card.

• A total of 202 healthcare professionals completed the online survey between March 25 and April 15.

• Results are not weighted and are statistically tested at confidence levels of 90% and 95%.

“And even with social media, it's like, yes we get it, that's where our patients are going, but it's still a little unclear about how we can communicate with our audiences in a way that demonstrates value, whether it be disease awareness programs or initiatives that surround a product, so I think that's the value story—and we're seeing it with all our clients. And it needs to start earlier in the process, when you are designing the studies. Everyone agrees that regulations inhibit innovation, but innovation can also be designing clinical trials in a different way so that when the product is available you can actually see how it's making an impact in a different way.”

Industry outlook: more change ahead

While Cronin thinks the year ahead will largely see “more of the same”,  she is appreciative that marketers are at least optimistic about where the industry is going. “Maybe that optimism will translate into innovative marketing campaigns,” she says. “Just because an initiative is innovative doesn't always mean it's going to be risky. Innovation does not equal risk.”

She also sees a continuation of the trend toward an increasing degree of collaboration. “Most of the businesses that we go after are now alliances,” she says. “I remember 20 years ago it would be unusual to have two companies together. Now the trend seems to be collaboration and you see a lot of agreements such as swapping out oncology for a different category, figuring out how to maximize on a specialty area of focus. So we're seeing more collaboration, which I think is ultimately going to benefit the patient and help demonstrate value.”


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