Digital Marketing Manager, Access, Commercialisation and Communications, ICON
ePharma IMPACT brings together influential players across the digital marketing spectrum to reveal next generation omni-channel strategies for stronger patient and HCP relationships, and greater influence over impactful marketing strategy. ICON's Travis Tingey attended the recent conference and shares his thoughts on some notable trends and themes.
Silicon Valley Is Coming to Pharma
Across all industries, customers have begun to disregard corporate brand identity being key in decision-making—it matters less how a company talks about the product and more what peers think about the product. Driven by our constant connection to social networks, today’s consumers rely on word-of-mouth recommendations for products. As we’re increasingly engaged with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, “influencer marketing” has taken hold. Now the value of the product is equated to the influencer’s authenticity. “Lifestyle marketing” has emerged, where the products we buy must also represent a way of life or take a stance on social issues that will resonate with consumers.
One interview at ePharma exemplified this shift taking place within the pharmaceutical industry. Former Google employee Steven Gutentag is the cofounder of Keeps, a business focused on branding an entire disease state of men’s hair loss. This business model follows other successful internet-based businesses that are “disrupting” the traditional brick-and-mortar approach. With the platform, doctors connect with patients through telemedicine for prescriptions. Generic forms of Rogaine and Propecia are supplied directly to consumers. Keeps’ lifestyle brand identity permeates the platform, positioning it as the one-stop solution for hair-loss treatments—all of which are supported by digital ad campaigns. By focusing on the disease state, the brand represents the solution for patients and not the drugs themselves.
From consulting, to prescribing, to packaging, to distributing, Keeps controls the supply chain with vertical integration in order to drive costs down. Doing so has allowed Keeps to compete directly with doctor visits and pharmacy prescription fills, bypassing payers completely. While the current business is selling generics, he believes this model can be applied to other drugs. Gutentag’s company is currently working on another brand dedicated to migraine treatments that is leveraging the same business model.
Artificial Intelligence Within Healthcare
In a talk, David Gome provided examples of how artificial intelligence (AI) is currently being leveraged and opportunities within the life sciences industry. Deep-learning algorithms created for image recognition have surpassed human accuracy since 2015. In one example, one type of AI was trained to accurately predict the cancer stage of mesothelioma as well as probability of the types of genetic mutations based on diagnostic image alone. The technology is already out there, and we will soon see how AI will change the approach in diagnosis and treatment of patients.
AI systems require massive amounts of data to train machine-learning algorithms. The mass adoption of customer relationship managements (CRMs), such as Veeva and SalesForce, by manufacturers is a sign that they are already collecting big data, but their challenge is still codifying their data and building infrastructure to make sense of it. While agencies are unlikely to provide that level of service for their clients, social monitoring platforms that use AI are already available and can be leveraged to generate useful insights and targeted marketing for manufacturers.
Gome pointed to another study that showed the importance of social connections and thought leadership among physicians. The study demonstrated that a single key opinion leader (KOL) leading a meeting netted a prescription growth of only 7%. However, a KOL speaking with more than 1 colleague attending had a net prescription growth of 89%. The role of the social influencer is critical even within healthcare.
Social monitoring platforms have great potential to aid in research around where public dialog is occurring and which patients, physicians, and organizations have the greatest social reach. This could be a new opportunity for to provide more targeted campaigns for both patients and HCPs.