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“You Will All Be a Patient One Day!”

Posted by | 10:10am on Saturday, April 3, 2010
e-Patient Dave

Last week the Center for Business Intelligence hosted its 9th Annual Forum on eMarketing for the Bio/Pharmaceutical Industry in Philadelphia, PA.

For me, the most powerful speaker was e-Patient Dave deBronkart, who shared his personal battle with Stage IV kidney cancer. Using what he learned online from other patients on ACOR, Dave was able to get into a clinical trial for Proleukin which saved his life. He told the room, “You will all be a patient one day.” Dave’s presence continued to be a reminder that pharma needs to focus on patients.

There were a variety of excellent speakers, but a few themes emerged.

Don’t make assumptions
Cynthia North, Customer Marketing Director at Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, reviewed a case study of Bayer’s successful partnership with trusted patient organizations in the MS community. Cindy noted, “Consumers are the brand managers today.” Bayer didn’t make assumptions about MS patients. They asked them how they were using technology and used this information to design their marketing campaign. Even the name of the website, MyMSMyWay, reflects the focus on the patient and providing an accessible, relevant tool.

Bayer approached Microsoft to collaborate on the site and the technology, and Microsoft also gained valuable insights from the patient feedback.

We can’t make assumptions about HCPs either. As Jason Bhan, MD, said: physicians are not a homogeneous group of people. Pharma needs to get in the mind of both patients and HCPs.

Dr. Bhan stated that to get the attention of physicians a mobile application has to do 2 out of these 3 things: save them time, make them money or significantly improve care.

Educate early and often
Heather Reilly Powell, Director Compliance Training and Reporting for Daiichi Sankyo, talked about the importance of establishing company social media guidelines. She stressed that it was essential to engage compliance, regulatory and legal stakeholders early on and provide lots of education on social media.

Nothing replaces strategy
Social media and mobile can be wonderful tactics, but we need to stay focused on what supports the brand strategy.  Rob Lytle, Manager, New Channels and Technologies, GlaxoSmithKline reiterated the importance of staying on strategy.

Learning from each other
Ray Kerins, VP, Worldwide Communications, at Pfizer kept things lively as the conference chairman. I was live tweeting the event and my most retweeted comment was something he said: “Pfizer recently took down firewall preventing Facebook access at work, then launched Facebook page per @raykerins”. This indicates that industry is fascinated by how Big Pharma is approaching social media. Ray also noted that what’s working for Pfizer on Twitter (@pfizer_news) is being part of the dialogue. I think the move they have made to identify the person behind their tweets – Jennifer Kokell – is also positive.

For one session the audience broke into three groups to talk about different topics. I went with Joyce Ercolino, Director eStrategy, CSL Behring, who led a great conversation on Word-of-Mouth Consumer Influence. People started giving practical examples of what they had seen work and some of the challenges they faced.

Overall, the conference was thought-provoking. And it was great to meet in real life some of the people I’d been interacting with online.

This post was contributed by Eileen O’Brien, Director of Search & Innovation for Siren Interactive. You can connect with her on Twitter at @eileenobrien.

(Photo by Roger Ramirez, Chariot Photo. License: Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

View other posts from Eileen

6 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • http://epatientdave.com e-Patient Dave deBronkart

    Having spent much of my career in marketing before I got sick (and moved in to healthcare), I was thrilled with the quality of the conversations we had. Great group, good discussions, good connections, and a great write-up. Thanks so much for your support in helping me be ther!

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  • http://www.fbhc.org Diane Zuckerman

    Thanks Eileen for your reporting. I have heard Dave at another conference, he is integral to every conference and I think is being heard. I hope confirmation of Don Berwick at CMS will open the dialogue for patients even more. I’m anxious to hear more about what you learned regarding Word of Mouth influence – my quess is that it corroborates the opportunity we discussed a couple of weeks ago. Thanks again for great reporting. Let’s talk.

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