Category Archives: Healthcare

Telehealth

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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As marketers, we often compare brands within specific industries and verticals, but in reality most consumers don’t think this way at all. They don’t compartmentalize their individual experiences but rather they aggregate all of their experiences into generalized expectations. Consumers take in all of this information and develop expectations for brand touch points based on their experiences as a whole. A consumer who uses innovative digital tools when they are shopping comes to expect a similar experience in their healthcare, as well.

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Telehealth is a key trend in healthcare and directly impacts the patient experience and how they interact with their physician. In fact, Ed Simcox, Healthcare Practice Leader from Logicalis Healthcare Solutions, believes the true tipping point in telehealth is coming within the next four years as “today’s digital natives expect to interact online with service providers – including their physicians – with the same convenience they experience ride-sharing via Uber or booking a vacation room via Airbnb. To remain relevant, healthcare providers must capitalize on these expectations by providing fully integrated telehealth solutions. Those providers that haven’t begun catering to the younger patient demographic using telehealth are already falling behind.”

A survey conducted by American Well found that 60% of physicians are in favor of communicating with patients via video visits.

70% of physicians believe that video is a better tool to communicate with patients than email or phone.

There are many health specialties that are implementing telehealth programs, including radiology, dermatology, and neurology. According to Logicalis Healthcare Solutions experts, there are multiple stages for adapting telehealth solutions and there are four different categories of telehealth services:

  1. Synchronous: A live, two-way video meeting between patient and physician for consultations, health exams, health education and training, and patient observation – even monitoring patients in an intensive care unit.
  1. Store and Forward: The sharing of information such as images, clinical results, education and training, and patient portals to be reviewed at a later time. This could be via a device such as a portable ultrasound device, which can send patient scans to a radiologist from another location.
  1. Remote Monitoring: The collection and sharing of vital signs and health data from chronically ill patients with a HCP in a separate location for care or support. This is extremely beneficial for patients who are ready to be discharged from the hospital but the physician still wants to regularly monitor their vitals.
  1. Mobile Health/Wellness: The ability for mobile devices to promote healthy behaviors, deliver alerts or reminders, and manage patient cases remotely, including anything from vital signs monitoring to behavioral health assistance or diet and weight loss tips. This is very useful for elderly patients who may need a way to alert caregivers or physicians if they need medical assistance.

Brands are beginning to explore the telehealth trend and how it can be used for their consumers. Walgreens, for example, has developed a partnership with MDLIVE and recently announced they are offering consumers in 25 states 24/7 access to MDLIVE’s telehealth visits via the Walgreens mobile app. MDLIVE provides patients access to a robust network of board-certified doctors, straight from their mobile device. This example of a brand and telehealth provider partnership is offering convenience for patients like never before. The MDLIVE integration into the Walgreens mobile app positions Walgreens as a leader in the digital health space and gives them a strong competitive advantage.

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Adam Pellegrini, Walgreens Divisional VP of Digital Health, explained in a statement, “We have seen that telehealth solutions play an important role in helping to improve patient outcomes, and we will continue to work to evolve our offerings to ensure our patients can choose what’s most convenient for them, whether that’s live doctor consultations, digitally chatting with a pharmacist, or visiting a Healthcare Clinic.”

Walgreens has also launched their Walgreens Connect app, which provides additional benefits for Walgreens Balance Rewards members. Members who own a Well at Walgreens connected glucose meter or blood pressure wrist monitor can earn points for taking daily measurements. The app allows members to sync their devices in order to seamlessly sync data and earn rewards. They can gain up to 20 Balance Rewards points a day for blood pressure measurement and 20 points for blood glucose measurements. The Walgreens Balance Rewards program has over 500,000 connected devices, proving that patients are seeing the value of this program. The Walgreens app, as well as the Walgreens Connect app, show the brand’s dedication to providing innovative digital solutions for their consumers, through tapping into trends like telehealth and simplifying processes for patients who deal with chronic conditions and need to monitor their health daily.

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Another organization utilizing telehealth to provide better access to healthcare for patients is the University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing. They are launching a research project in January that will leverage telehealth robots for elderly patients living in local retirement communities. These robots will conduct physicals and enable patients to communicate with their physicians via two-way video functionality.

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After this pilot program, students at the University of Cincinnati will conduct focus groups in order to determine how the elderly patients felt about the telehealth robot program. They also would like to explore whether the patients would be open for future robot programs to help manage chronic diseases like diabetes. While this is just an experimental program, it proves that the telehealth trend is not only being explored for use with the digitally savvy, younger generation of patients, but there are also opportunities for telehealth to transform patient-doctor interactions for people of all ages with various medical conditions.

Preventing Shiny Object Syndrome in Digital Health Innovation

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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I see Shiny Object Syndrome very often in the world of marketing. MediaPost defines Shiny Object Syndrome, or SOS as “chasing after the latest digital innovation with little planning, thinking about whether it will work for the organization, or buy-in from the people responsible for making it happen.”

Marketers and brand managers hear about brands with innovative campaigns or technology and want to implement them immediately for their client. Often they want the process expedited so that it can be pushed into market sooner, which could potentially hurt the project in the long run.

In the past, innovation in healthcare happened only within the R&D departments of medical manufacturers, but now we are starting to see a shift in this model. Hundreds of new digital health companies have been funded since 2012, with a focus on consumer health, wellness, and a rise of personalized health.

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International Journal of Health

It is important to take a step back and really consider whether this particular innovation would be driving the clients’ business goals and strategic imperatives. People with SOS risk focusing too much on being innovative that they lose sight of the actual problem they are trying to solve. Bankruptcy courts are filled with what once seemed like clever software programs and digital innovations that were created under the thinking that customers would want them. Successful innovators take a step back before building and executing these ideas to understand what problem they could solve with their new digital offering.

If you want to sustain and support digital health innovation for your client long term, there are a few key steps that you have to take in order to be successful:

1. Awareness and Education: This is where you learn about an innovation and really start to understand the nuances of the offering so that you can make a decision about whether or not it would be beneficial for your client in the long-term.

2. Engagement and Capacity Boosting: Start testing pilot initiatives and determining whether it makes sense to move forward with the innovation. Is it making a process more efficient? Is it solving a business goal? Does it have a measurable impact? This is where we implement a series of small, low-risk, low-cost experiments designed to test the assumptions behind a new offering and ensure that it is the strategic direction we want to go.

3. Proficiency and Scaling: Successfully utilize the digital innovation in ways that positively impact the client and their key business objectives.

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MediaPost/Fard Johnmar

This process seems very simple and rudimentary, but it helps provide an outline for implementing the latest digital innovation from initial awareness to leveraging technologies at scale. It forces marketers to ask the right questions about their clients’ goals (short- and long-term), target audiences, and plan for how the digital innovation would fit into the larger picture for the brand.

Challenging Pharma and Medical Device Companies to Be Better on Social

Written by: Olga Kraineva
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Pharmaceutical and medical device companies and healthcare practitioners alike have been cautious to join social conversations due to fear of their legal and regulatory bodies and FDA regulations. Twitter, in particular, is worrisome due to the cap of 140 characters – how to disclose everything necessary for best use? Even Kim Kardashian was recently hand slapped for not fully disclosing both the positive and negative side effects of a morning sickness pill on Instagram.

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An easy place to start for many companies was live-tweeting around events, such as healthcare conferences, and simply echoing their press release information. As a heavy media-oriented, news-like channel, Twitter worked well for this, as that info is already approved by legal and regulatory. It also worked well when joining in on the social conversations that occurred at different conferences, simply by adding on the official conference hashtag at the end of their tweet.

However, just this summer, a group of scientists and HCPs have joined together to form the #MICEProject (Measuring the Influencer of Commercial Entities) in the Twitter backchannels of medical conferences. Their argument is while there are certain precautions taken at live conferences to separate third party entities (pharma and medical device companies) and “learners” (healthcare providers, other attendees) so that a learner, if they so desire, would never have to expose themselves to a third party. Currently, these restrictions do not exist on Twitter. Using PageRank, the study analyzed the influence of HCPs and third party entities at 13 different medical conferences from 2011-2013, suggesting that medical device and pharma companies exert around the same amount of influence as healthcare providers within the social space, something that is protected against happening at live conferences.

Their bottom line is that pharma and medical device companies should stop spreading biased information and instead focus on evidence-based medical knowledge – or curb their use of medical hashtag use overall. While it’s quite provocative to have full restrictions on companies’ hashtag use at medical conferences, the larger issue this brings up is using social strategically and not posting for the sake of posting.

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As part of the #MICEProject, Pharma Marketing News created an initial survey on third party medical conference hashtag use.

As an overall struggle many companies face, pharma and medical device companies need to move past one-way communication streams and sending information that is likened to an ad and instead engage in social conversations that add to the dialogue. Using event hashtags can be a great springboard to reach your target audiences, but make it conversations that matter to them – not just what is safe and approved by your L&R. At the present moment, as seen with the #MICEProject, we’re in a place of not applying best practices and angering our audiences – quite the opposite of the intended result.

Personalized Fitness a Core Focus in Health and Wellness

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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Without a doubt, one of the most prevalent trends we are seeing in the health and wellness space is personalization. People crave personalization in every aspect of their lives, especially when it comes to their health. This has brought on the emergence of virtual health assistants and wearables, which allow patients to track their own health and wellness. We are also seeing a shift in the way doctors communicate with their patients, through providing digital support via patient portals and 24/7 phone lines. However, it doesn’t stop with healthcare; people are also expecting personalized experiences when it comes to fitness.

It feels like every day I hear someone talking about their recent experience in a fitness class – how they were trying a new studio, how sore it made them, or how much they loved it. Gone are the days of getting a gym membership at the local YMCA. Now, people are opting for boutique fitness studios that provide more than just a treadmill or elliptical. Now, people are looking for a fitness experience that is different every time they go.

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According to the Nielsen Global Consumer Exercise Trends Survey 2014, millennials are the most likely to exercise in a fitness class (such as yoga, Pilates, or dance). Forty-five percent of millennials who exercise do so in a fitness class, compared to 27 percent of people aged 55 or older.

The personalized fitness trend is even more evident in the emergence of tools like ClassPass. ClassPass is a New York-based startup that launched in June 2013. ClassPass collects monthly subscriber fees from consumers in order to sample different workouts at local fitness studios and is valued at over $200 million.

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The ClassPass advantage is that people can try multiple and different studios where every workout will be different. ClassPass has a relationship with over 3,000 studios who offer yoga, Pilates, cycling, strength training, barre, dance, and more. People are clearly seeing the value of this type of platform because in February 2015 consumers reserved 600,000 classes and the company reported $5 million in revenue.

While the boutique fitness craze seems to be a recent trend, many of them have been gaining steam for a few years now. SoulCycle, for example, is a New York City-based company that offers a full-body indoor cycling workout class. It was founded in 2006, and in 2014 Forbes stated their annual revenue was $87.6 million.

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Pure Barre, which combines a ballet barre and Pilates workout, was founded in 2001. In July 2009, Pure Barre became a franchise and exploded in popularity. Pure Barre instructor Marisa Cavallaro explained, “Some people are kind of afraid of the gym because it’s a threatening environment or you know they’re afraid to use the weight machines because they don’t really know what to do.” With class size averaging at about 22 clients, Cavallaro says, “This is a safe place for them, they can come and get a lot of individualized attention.”

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Downsize Fitness founder Francis Wisniewski explains, “Not every person in this country is fit and many feel uncomfortable at typical box gyms. You will see more, smaller, individualized training centers pop up—they won’t be huge chains, but they will be focused on the person and their goals rather than the 12-month membership market.” People are always looking for new ways to track their progress and ultimately achieve their fitness goals.

Overall, personalization is becoming a key element in healthcare and fitness. For fitness, in particular, people have started moving away from typical gym memberships and instead use wearables like FitBit and the Apple Watch and boutique fitness studios to get a workout and track their progress on their own. Moving forward as new technologies emerge, fitness is only going to get more personal and data-driven.

6 Things to Know About FTC Disclosures When Working with Influencers

Written by: Allie Wester
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Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission updated their Endorsement Guides FAQ for disclosures in digital advertising. This new document helps provide additional clarity into their 2013 Disclosure Guide, which is a bit ambiguous.

In blogger/influencer brand partnerships, it’s always best to make disclosures clear and conspicuous. If you’re not sure if something is clear and conspicuous, take a step back and look at the content through the eyes of a consumer who doesn’t work in the advertising/marketing industry. Assume this consumer has no idea that bloggers, YouTubers, Instagramers, Viners, etc. get paid by brands to market on their behalf. Is it 100% clear that the content is a partnership with a brand? If not, then you have some editing to do! If it is… good job!

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Here are some general guidelines that bloggers/influencers and marketers should follow when working on sponsored content:

1. Make sure to clearly disclose relationships in blog posts.

Again, make sure the disclosure is clear and conspicuous. You can say something like, “This post is sponsored by Brand X,” or “This post is in partnership with Brand X.”

2. Disclose relationships in individual social media posts, too.

Typically, influencers promote brand partnerships on social channels that complement their primary channel (such as their blog or YouTube channel). These complementary social channels include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. If the brand is mentioned in text (e.g., calling out the brand’s Twitter handle) or image (e.g., the product is visible in the Pinterest image), disclosure needs to be included in that individual piece of social content, too.

Linking to a blog post with disclosure is not sufficient. What if someone never clicks on that link?

3. #sp and #spon are not acceptable disclosures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Use #ad instead.

Many bloggers use #sp and #spon as disclosure. This is a common mistake. The FTC Endorsement Guide cites #spon as insufficient and not clear. A consumer may not realize that #spon or #sp is shorthand for “sponsored.” I see their point here; even I, a marketer, read #sp and think, “Spelling error!” (Elementary school essay flashbacks…)

The easiest solve is to use #ad. It uses the least amount of characters and is undeniably clear. For a softer approach, you can disclose in context such as, The easiest BBQ brisket, in partnership with @BrandX: [LINK].”

4. Don’t put #ad in the first comment on Instagram.

If multiple people comment, then it will get buried and no one will see it. It needs to be in the description.

5. On YouTube, make sure disclosure is stated verbally both in the video and in the description.

Make sure that the disclosure is featured in the description above the fold, before the “Show More” link. Additionally, disclosure should be stated verbally at the beginning of the video, since YouTube videos are often embedded and a consumer may never see the description. And, as the FTC says, it’s even better to disclose multiple times throughout the video.

6. If you’re working with a blog network, make sure they call out the brand name in the disclosure. 

Some blog networks have bloggers disclose with a simple “This post is sponsored by Blog Network X,” without any mention of the brand name. The consumer may think Blog Network X is a neutral third party, so it is not sufficient. The brand name must be mentioned.

For further insights and guidance, visit:

FTC Endorsement Guides FAQ

.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising

Connected Health

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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If you had the opportunity to attend any of the recent major conferences, such as CES, Social Media Week, or SXSW, chances are you attended a session (or five) related to health. Health tracking devices, such as wearables, and technology are coming together to create a connected health phenomenon that is completely changing the way patients monitor their health and receive care.

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The Aging Population

One stat that keeps popping up at conferences and in articles: By 2050, seniors over 60 years of age will outnumber children below the age of 15 for the first time.

With the rise of the aging population, there is a growing need for personalized healthcare and the ability to both connect elderly patients with their doctors and share this information with their loved ones. CarePredict, for example, is a company that offers a wearable device and health monitoring tool for the elderly. It tracks a person’s sleep, movement, and location, and can send this information back to their family.

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Types of Connected Health Users

IBM explains how today’s health devices are most commonly categorized into two groups: the health-conscious and fitness-focused (the “Motivated Healthy”), and the chronically or terminally ill who require regular monitoring (the “Chronically Monitored”). However, in between these two groups lies another much larger group: the “Information Seekers.” This segment is “seeking some measure of control over a potentially serious health risk or a condition that is difficult to manage. They represent a willing – but currently underserved – market for health device makers.”

There is a huge opportunity to focus in on the largest population of people in the United States within the connected health sphere. These people like to take elements of their health into their own hands and leverage health tracking devices to help adopt healthy behaviors and avoid serious health risks and conditions.

What does this mean for brands/marketers?

  1. Aim to deliver full solutions to patient needs associated with a condition. The “Information Seekers” group is the profitable part of the market many are trying to target with their connected health solutions.
  2. Don’t forget about the “Chronically Monitored” segment of patients. With the rise of chronic medical conditions, there is a growing need for connected health solutions for people with chronic conditions who require constant drug therapy and monitoring.
  3. Understand where consumer behavior and technology meet in order to create valuable solutions for consumers. The best-connected health solutions are created in response to specific problems with the overall patient experience. The solution should be rooted in insights and tackle optimizing patient experiences and meeting their needs.
  4. Adapt and optimize offerings based on performance. Feedback loops are an essential part of connected health, so there need to be opportunities to adapt and change as you learn what works and what doesn’t.
  5. Ensure that the connected health solution provides value and measurable impact. Now that there is a wealth of data surrounding patients’ health, there is an opportunity to leverage that data to create programs that provide value for patients. This data can help us understand where patients are in their health journey in order to create relevant and contextual experiences as a preventative measure or post-diagnosis.