Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

3WD Interview–Susan Brown February 1, 2013

Filed under: 3WD Interviews,Debbie,DTC,Social media — Debbie Donovan @ 12:00 pm
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Susan Brown

I connected with Susan Brown at an industry luncheon. We quickly bonded over the topic: how medical device companies could metric their marketing efforts real-time to determine which ones were the most efficient revenue drivers. She was working at Conceptus at the time and I was an alumni so we decided to meet again and learn more about each other’s experiences. I admired what Susan was doing then and now and I couldn’t resist asking her our interview questions.

  • How did you arrive in your current role?

Basically I’ve been able to take my technology marketing background (Intel, Cisco, Apple, etc.) and apply it to healthcare/med devices/pharma products and services. I’ve been involved in technology and healthcare since the 1990’s; first with a medical imaging company that evolved into a company with a software platform for automating clinical trial patient identification (kdhsystems.com). I’m still an advisor to them. Then I had the opportunity to work on revolutionary changes in healthcare for Kaiser Permanente’s HealthConnect launch—we had no idea it would be the most disruptive model for change in US healthcare. Most recently, as eMarketing consultant for Genentech, I got to lead the new Tamiflu launch for the 2012-2013 season—been a fun progression!

  • What do you love most about the work you do?

Best of all to me is to work with creative, smart people and use new techniques and technology to connect and inform health care professionals and consumers/patients, through such methods as affinity communities. For example, as Digital Marketing Director for Conceptus, I produced the “GYN Summit” Community, a moderated on-line forum and destination site for OB/GYN docs to share best practices and communicate easily and securely with each other about procedures, best practices and techniques. Was great to “meet” new folks, help them learn from each other and learn a lot myself as well!

Also I especially enjoy the challenge of transitioning healthcare marketing to involve more social media—there’s still a lot of hand-holding to do to help companies engage consumers, patients and healthcare professionals in new ways of communication.

  • Where is the most exotic place in the world that you’ve eaten?

In November 2011 I went to Vietnam and Cambodia— so far the trip of my lifetime. One evening in Cambodia, our guide took us to a local nighttime street market with food stalls of all kinds. There were food stands with grilled frog legs, tiny birds (not sure what they were) and “snacks” of sautéed crickets spiced with soy sauce and Sriracha (a type of hot sauce). The crickets are crunchy like popcorn with kernels that get in your teeth! Actually I tried everything and liked it all.

(C) 2013 eGold Solutions; all rights reserved.

 

Blessings to my Healthcare Social Media Gurus September 26, 2012

Filed under: Debbie,DTC,marketing,Programs,Social media,strategy — Debbie Donovan @ 2:15 pm
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[I’ve updated this post from July 2010 because in the past 2-1/2 years a few things have changed.]

I am frequently asked to explain how “social media” works for health care companies and providers. After I answer specific questions and cite examples, the next question I get is a variation of, “How did you figure all this stuff out?”

The answer is pretty simple. Early in my self-guided study I stumbled upon what I can only describe as gurus. They provide a steady stream of examples of creative execution, critical insights on legal and regulatory issues and infinite enthusiasm for this communication revolution.

The big news is that gurus Ed and Lee have gotten together to make sure that Ed’s Hospital social media list has a new home at the Center for Social Media at the Mayo Clinic and title: Health Care Social Media List . It’s a critical resource for anyone selling products or programs to hospital administration.

I’ve learned that the best karma I can give is a shout out to those whose activity I can’t miss:

Namaste!

(C) 2012 eGold Solutions all rights reserved.

 

Power of Combining Brands May 11, 2011

A colleague once told me that a health care provider is a value added reseller (VAR) of health care services enabled by great technology. This is no different then a VAR in the high technology computer industry. The best marketing programs for any VAR are cooperative–both parties contribute their brand and budget resources (money and time) to extend the marketing of a given product or service.

The main message is:

Obtain this [national brand] at [your local outlet]

Consumer examples:

Obtain a refreshing Coca-cola(R) beverage at your Main Street McDonalds(R)

Fry’s(R) electronics is an authorized reseller of HP(R) Printers

Health care examples:

Mountain View’s El Camino Hospital now offers the da Vinci(R) Si system for minimally invasive hysterectomy

Essure(R) permanent birth control is now performed in Dr. Mason’s Fresno office

Balloon Sinuplasty(TM) procedures are performed by Dr. Nathan at Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital

The value of the message is the exponential power of two brands joined together. Each has value on its own; however, when combined, the local health care provider legitimizes the availability of the advanced technology and the company provides advanced technology to the local health care provider.

Who wins? Everyone in the chain–the patient gets access to the medical company’s advanced technology from a local healthcare provider. I would propose that public and private payers win also and here’s why.

<Warning: Soapbox Moment>

Finally (thanks Shana Leonard) there is a conversation around devices becoming the new drugs driven off the analysis of the American College of Cardiology meeting by Reuters. Since diving into the medical device industry, I’ve come to believe if a health problem is mechanical then why not fix it with a mechanical solution instead of masking the symptoms with drugs? In many cases, this is a more cost-effective approach. Your thoughts?

(c) eGold Solutions, all rights reserved.

Related Articles
 

Practice Marketing is not Rocket Surgery October 17, 2010

Filed under: Debbie,DTC,Physician Preparation — Debbie Donovan @ 2:05 pm
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[Oct 17, 2011: I just had to re-post after viewing the Hubspot capabilities video–they talk about marketing not being rocket surgery! I’ve consumed many of their helpful inbound marketing resources so check them out.]

There is a fascinating process that converts a consumer with a health problem into a patient whose symptoms have been successfully resolved. Reaching the consumer with the health problem your products can solve is a fun challenge for medical device companies. It’s not rocket surgery–which is to say it is not expensive or complicated.

Many a time the marketing department is told, “just put ads on TV and sales will take off like a rocket.” When considering Lisa’s 6 Criteria for DTC campaign readiness, points 1, 2, and 6 rely heavily on the health care professional trained to perform a branded medical procedure. The burning question is “Are your customers really ready to receive patients?” Here are ways to evaluate customer readiness:

  1. Does the staff understand which patient population will call and what questions they will ask to get more information about the health problem and product?
  2. Do the patients already in the practice know their doctor performs the branded procedure to resolve a health problem they may not have mentioned?
  3. Does the referral community know that their local specialist is trained to treat the health problem with the latest technology?

If all three questions can’t be answered with a solid yes, then there is work to be done at the local trained specialist point of care.  Preparations can and should be simple, inexpensive and easy to implement so there are no excuses for not completing the tasks.

Next up: Simple, inexpensive “must do’s” to prepare a practice for DTC/DTP.

(C) 2011 eGold Solutions; all rights reserved.

Related Information:

Hubspot’s capability video–they talk about rocket surgery

 

Ready or Not? March 22, 2010

Filed under: Corporate Preparation,DTC,Lisa,Market Planning — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 9:36 pm
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DTC campaign here I come!  You’ve sweated the small stuff.  Well, not really small stuff, big stuff actually. And a lot of it. You took a step back and assessed the physician’s needs, your product benefits and your promise to the patient. The focus has been on attending to the physician – rightly so, ensuring they were ready to assume the staff of authority with your product and procedure.

You trained them, encouraged them and supported them. The reimbursement and insurance coverage gaps around the product are closing. Scientific and clinical journals have published clinical data and there are go-to clinicians, who are actively performing the procedure that new customers can contact.  Lastly, you’ve resolved distribution challenges and simplified the purchase process. 

And now you believe your company is ready to launch a DTC campaign.  If that is the case, you can confidently mark ‘yes’ next to the following 10 checklist items.

© Scholastic, Inc. October 1999/ Art by Gioia Fiammenghi

Company Preparedness Checklist                                              

1.    ALL departments agree it is time to launch and are ready to do so.

2.   Regulatory and clinical affairs are available to handle patient and consumer concerns customer needs.

3.   Sales is well prepared to support and manage customer needs

4.    PR, regulatory and legal are in alignment with their responsibilities and messages to address market reactions.

5.   Marketing is ready to support and usher customers, consumers and company personnel through the process of fulfillment.

6.   Manufacturing is able to respond to inventory ebb and flows.

7.   IT has everything online working and significant bandwidth committed to supporting demand.

8.   Customer service knows precisely how to handle all callers and questions.

9.   Finance is committed to releasing funds well in advance of actual media event. 

10.  Senior Management is well versed in the campaign purpose and goal and all employees are aware of their responsibilities.

In addition to the above readiness states, the following conditions also need to be in place.

  • A call center is prepared to handle all reactions from respondents
  • All customers are informed about the planned campaign
  • Referral physicians have been informed about the procedure and know who in their network performs it
  • All patient education materials are downloadable
  • Physician spokespersons have been identified and are prepared and willing to respond to press requests
  • Reimbursement references are available to assist with coding and coverage questions

These conditions are key in preparing the company to support a consumer reaching campaign.  All parties deserve information about the campaign, preparation to support the campaign and continued communication about the progress of the campaign.  Launching a DTC campaign should only be done when you can confidently declare ‘here I come!’

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

First things first; the importance of taking one step at a time February 22, 2010

Lisa’s recent entries on the right time to start a direct-to-consumer campaign raise some great points. Since a DTC campaign should include public relations as well as advertising, I thought I’d bring up a few points to consider.

Typically, when an in-house marketing person is talking about doing a DTC campaign, they are thinking on a national scope. But just as it’s true that advertising campaigns are often best started and tested on the local or regional level, so too can—dare I say should—PR be started on a local level.

I was recently in conversations with a prospect. After several months of discussion, the prospect determined they were not ready for “PR.” What he meant by that was that he did not feel the company was ready for a national public relations effort. On one hand, he was smart enough to recognize that the company did not have significant physician adoption of the product, nor did the company have an adequate sales force, or even a well-staffed call center to handle the inquiries that would come from a national campaign. Unfortunately, this company never gave us the chance to show them how the right public relations campaign would have helped them drive both physician adoption and build awareness among potential consumers.

It all starts with building awareness among physicians who will use, prescribe or recommend your product. Many companies do this through trade shows or medical conferences.  Building relationships with trade media is key during this phase of the adoption cycle.

The second step often involves taking a local market approach to supporting physicians who have adopted your product or technology. Picking a physician to be a spokesperson can be tricky if more than one physician is using the product in that market. But the real key to success of this approach is often the patient.  Finding a patient who is willing to share their story publicly and who is articulate enough to do so isn’t always easy.  Still, it’s often the best way to build awareness and the emotional connection that would be completely missed if all we did was pitch a straight product announcement.

Look for more information and some basic rules to follow on selecting the best physician and patient spokespeople in a future entry.

 

Expect the unexpected – what happens when the DTC campaign is launched February 3, 2010

Filed under: DTC,Lisa — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 11:28 pm
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You’ve launched your campaign and the phones are ringing – and among the many calls you’d hoped for are those you least expected.  Some reactions are anticipated, some will leave you gobsmacked!  These are a few that caused our heads to turn:

  • To capitalize on the DTC campaign, a physician invests in a local advertising to promote his practice and the new procedure; when interested patients with no contraindications or insurance issues contact the physician he convinces them to have an alternative procedure.
  • After being refused an elective procedure by a physician who promotes performing the procedure, consumers go to chat room sites and ‘teach’ each other the questions and responses to ensure getting what they want.
  • A non medical group successfully discourages physician adoption of new and safer techniques because of the implications to the group tenets and governance.
  • Advertising is dropped by a broadcaster because of one complaint received from a listener about the use of anatomically correct terms in the description of the procedure.
  • Competitors began advertising their unrelated products with our message.

Plan to be surprised from the most unexpected of experiences.  And remember to chuckle at the things you can’t control.   Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

 
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