Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Did Kaiser Permanente THRIVE? May 29, 2013

KP - ThriveHave you ever met anyone who doesn’t love Kaiser Permanente’s THRIVE campaign? I haven’t. So when I had the opportunity to hear the insiders’ perspective of the campaign from Angela Zepeda, Managing Director of Campbell Ewald Los Angeles, and Kaiser Permanente’s Lisa Ryan, Executive Director of National Advertising, at a recent Healthcare PR and Marketing Association meeting in Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance. Here’s a little insight into this highly memorable brand campaign.

Kaiser began developing its new brand campaign at a time when HMOs were truly hated. Because the organization stood for the largest example of an HMO, it was often the target of a negative backlash – even though Kaiser defines itself as an integrated delivery network and has hospitals and a physician group (in California, anyway — its models in other states are different).

Research-based Strategic Insights

Kaiser started with extensive research:

  • As in any brand initiative, they first looked internally to what the Kaiser Permanente brand stood for: Health advocates dedicated to your health and well-being. They believed that this legacy is consistent with the organization’s mission and values today — it stood the test of time.
  • They also looked externally:
    • Competitive research showed that, at the time, no company was talking about health vs. healthcare.
    • They learned that what mattered most to their target consumer audiences was the concept: No matter what, I want to be as healthy as I can be. This crossed all stages of life, and the target’s psychographic profile was more important than its wide-ranging demographic profile.

In fusing the internal and external findings together, what came out was THRIVE. By taking a fun, lighthearted approach to talk about all the things you can do to take better care of yourself, Angela and Lisa emphasized that it was a reinterpretation of Total Health.

Creative Delivery

A brand is the accumulation of experiences and interactions with an organization, and Angela and Lisa said they made the care delivery organization align behind and promise to deliver on the brand story they wanted to tell.

The strategic tenets of the campaign are and remain:

  • Reinvent the language
  • Redefine the system
  • Champion the cause

For example, the campaign will never show a doctor in a traditional exam room or hospital setting – that is, if they show a doctor at all. Instead, it’s about the patient, the member or prospective member. For example, in 2007 Kaiser aired a really memorable ad about taking better care of yourself that featured a cute, chubby little boy. It never mentioned childhood obesity, but that’s what it was really about, and about raising healthy, active kids.

While we may remember the TV spots best, the campaign was fully integrated across communications disciplines. From turning pillars in an airport waiting area into giant redwoods to hosting farmer’s markets at its medical centers, THRIVE and the team behind it found creative ways to emphasize what the brand was all about: Total Health.

Results

So, over the years since the campaign launched in 2004, has it achieved the desired marketing results? Angela and Lisa report the answer (and I admire them for sharing the reality), based on continued research and evaluation, as yes and no:

  • Yes, the brand perception of Kaiser Permanente improved tremendously since the campaign began.
  • No, it has not moved the needle much in terms of growth in membership. The research shows that only 38% of respondents would “consider joining” – a number that they still consider low.

Lessons Learned

Here are a few more insights that Angela and Lisa shared:

  • The campaign emphasized behavior change and health advocacy. However, Kaiser and Campbell Ewald learned that care delivery messages have a greater effect on some of the key attributes target consumers value, even though they don’t move the brand. In the future, the THRIVE campaign will focus on both health advocacy and care delivery, but still follow the strategic tenets. They’ll talk more about integration and coordinated care, like they did with this spot.
  • Social media was happening whether Kaiser liked it or not, so now they need to develop a strategy.
  • They see a continued growth in digital ad spend with more sophisticated planning across platforms.

Since its rollout in 2004, THRIVE has successfully helped Kaiser Permanente stand out from the “sea of sameness” that existed. Many health organizations are now focusing on their brands in the age of the ACA, and delivering a wellness message. Kaiser has a huge headstart due to its long-term investment.

Additional Resources

Five Lessons from Kaiser Permanente’s THRIVE Campaign

Campbell Ewald THRIVE Case Study

© 2013, Merryman Communications, All Rights Reserved

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Simply Described: FDA Review of Medical Devices March 13, 2013

FDA Logo BetterWhen I learned about the regulatory process that a medical device goes through to get to market, I learned about it on-the-job from experienced medical device communications colleagues, clients and their regulatory counsel.  Since then, I’ve looked for resources to pass on to other teammates or students to explain the process, which can be complex. I’ve found some really good descriptions of the process a drug or biologic undergoes (one of my favorites is by my colleague Mark Senak), but nothing that really works for medical devices.  (If you have a resource, please share it!)

So, here’s what I’ve developed and shared (with the caveat that I am not a regulatory expert.  I have a lot of experience with FDA-regulated products, and I’m offering this from a communications perspective.)

Devices are can go through two different processes at the FDA: The 510(k) and the Premarket Approval (PMA). Every year the FDA reviews thousands of 510(k) submissions, which is about 10 times as many PMA applications.

510(k) Clearance

Approximately 90% of device applications that the FDA receives annually go through the 510(k) process. This is a premarketing submission made to the FDA to demonstrate that the device to be marketed is as safe and effective (substantially equivalent) as a device that is already being legally marketed. This process on average takes under five months, although it can range from three months to about a year. Because it usually requires no clinical trials or research it also requires less investment and presents less financial risk to investors.

However, changes are underway.  The FDA is now requiring some devices going through the 510(k) process to have supporting clinical data, requiring a trial. This is generally the case when there is a new technology or a request for a new indication for use. When a study is required, it is the same as an IDE study (explained below).

Premarket Approval

A PMA is an extensive application submitted to the FDA to request approval to market. Unlike a 510(k), a PMA is based on the FDA’s determination that “there is sufficient valid scientific evidence that provides reasonable assurance that the device is safe and effective for its intended use or uses.” (http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DeviceApprovalsandClearances/default.htm)

This process generally takes at least five years, and often longer.  Here’s the process at a glance:

  • Feasibility studies are usually animal studies, and may include other kinds of economic and market research.
  • Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) approval is required from the FDA before in-human trials can begin.  An IDE trial can be a small, pilot or proof of concept study, or it could be a large pivotal trial.
  • In the medical device world, a pivotal trial is considered large when it includes several hundred patients, vs. the several thousand that may be included in a trial for a drug or biologic.
  • All PMAs for a first-of-its kind-device require an advisory committee review.  (I’ve never worked on a project going through the PMA process that didn’t have an advisory committee meeting.)
  • Of the three decisions the FDA can make, two are clear-cut: The device is approved or not approved. An approvable letter is a lot less clear-cut.  It means that the review is complete, but the FDA wants the company to address a few things, such as labeling, or setting up an inspection. When the issues are addressed to the FDA’s satisfaction, then the device may be approved.

Important Lingo

  • The FDA clears 510(k) submissions and products receive 510(k) clearance.
  • The FDA approves PMA applications and products receive FDA approval.

Other Good Resources

Mann Foundation

FDA PMA Overview

FDA 510(k) Overview

WSJ: Too Fast or Too Slow?

This information reflects my experience in working with FDA-regulated products.  Please only use this is a guide, and if you need the final word on matters, talk to your regulatory expert!

©2013 All rights reserved. This article may be shared in part or whole with credit given to author and link to Merryman Communications

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10 Questions to Build Your Strategic Communications Approach December 4, 2012

Filed under: Betsy,Business,Decision making,strategy — betsymerryman @ 2:58 pm
Tags: ,

education_ins1I just returned from a college reunion in New Orleans.  One of the things that I loved about going to school in New Orleans was that the education occurred both in and out of the classroom.  As I reflect on that now, I realize that the same still holds….  My education has continued throughout my career, not only from graduate school, seminars and reading books or periodicals.  I have learned on the job and in the trenches, in the frying pan and sometimes in the fire, from people who were mentors and from people who were – well, let’s just say not mentors – and from other team members, clients and employees.

Marketing and communications is a discipline where you need to constantly learn both tactically and strategically.

  • Tactically, we’ve had a revolution over the last several years with the growth of new technologies and evolving and maturing ways to reach and engage with our target audiences.  We had to learn how and when to integrate them into our efforts.
  • Strategically, we always have to quickly get our arms around a new situation, challenge / opportunity, product, audience, etc.   We always have to learn and figure it out fast.

I learned how to zero in strategically from tools I got in a classroom, refined by years of real-world hits and misses (fortunately more of the former than the latter).  I now find myself going back to the same fundamental questions to help me figure out the best approach.  You see, I have a list of 10 questions I always start out with, the answers to which I must learn, research and often intuit.   I’m not saying that this is all I need to learn, but it’s a great head start.  For what it’s worth, here are my 10 questions:

  1. What are the business objectives?
  2. What are your main challenges/opportunities?
  3. Confirm target audiences and what they’re looking for
  4. Confirm marketing and communications objectives
  5. What are the key benefits of product/service and why should anyone care?
  6. Who are the competitors and what have they been up to?
  7. What have you been doing already and what’s worked/not – and why?
  8. What does success look like?
  9. What is the budget range?
  10. And you need it done by when?

Now I want to see yours!  (And let the education outside the classroom continue….)

 

Blessings to my Healthcare Social Media Gurus September 26, 2012

Filed under: Debbie,DTC,marketing,Programs,Social media,strategy — Debbie Donovan @ 2:15 pm
Tags: , ,

[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.

 

Left Brain, Right Brain, Slow Start, Fast Forward February 26, 2012

This weekend while observing physicians learning a new technique, I was asked about stimulating interest and accelerating adoption.

This isTHE challenge for makers of new products, especially in life sciences.  After years of work and significant investment, when the time arrives that a company can finally move into the commercialization stage, the foremost thought is how to make everything happen faster.

In my experience, sustained acceleration follows a slow steady start. Taking the approach of learning to walk before you run will reduce the severity of a fall from the inevitable stumble.

Slow start

When I say a slow steady start I am referring to really understanding your customer from their perspective when it comes to buying your product.  The very best way to do that is to conduct research to draw out what they think, what they will respond to and how they will react when you put your offer in front of them.

It seems so straightforward, and surely after having spent extensive time developing your product working with a ‘few good advisors’ the customers reactions should be predictable. However, frequently they are not predictable, and without a sound understanding of their thinking, you will be challenged to get the reaction you desire.

Decisions in the ‘blink’ of an eye

Behavioral research continues to uncover the triggers behind the choices we make. A favorite author of mine Malcolm Gladwell detailed fascinating examples of how we make decisions in his book Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. Apparently we make decisions in the blink of an eye, or in real time terms, under two seconds!

Two seconds is not much time to convince a customer to buy a new product, adopt a new approach or change behavior. To get a customer to do those three things, knowing their thinking beforehand is critical. Mind-reading is truly a gift of very few. Thus, simple clean research of the target customer is the best way I know of understanding their thinking.

Buy button

Roger Sperry, a neuropsychologist/neurobiologist initiated a study of the relationship of the brain’s hemispheres for which he and scientists Hubel and Wiesel were awarded the Nobel Price in Medicine in 1981. Sperry et al, found that the left half of the brain tends to process information in an analytical, rational, logical way. The right half of the brain tends to recognize relationships, integrate and synthesize information and arrive at intuitive insights. These differences are frequently described as the left-brain is logical and the right brain is emotional. The brain doesn’t have a ‘buy button, rather it draws on several different processes when considering a purchase decision. Emotional response is recognized as a strong influence over making purchase decisions – in that two-second space.

Cues that compel

In the case of accelerated growth it pays to understand the thinking of the target customer such that companies can present their offer in a way that compels the customer forward. In a post by Sam McNerney, who blogs for Scientific American on cognitive psychology, he provides examples of written, verbal and visual cues that drive desired behavior (Especially compelling, the ‘fly in the urinal’ example!).

Really learning what the customer thinks before pushing forward with the heavy lifting of sales activities is a step that shouldn’t be skipped if fast forward is the goal.

 

(C) 2012 pH Consulting. All rights reserved.
 

Putting a stake in the poop December 1, 2011

Today I began my next adventure as the Director of Marketing at Avantis Medical Systems (Sunnyvale, CA). I will be applying my marketing knowledge and experience to help the Third Eye® Retroscope® become a household name (great branding, right?). Here’s a brief description from the current website (being ever mindful of labeling):

“During a colonoscopy exam, the Third Eye provides a retrograde—or reverse—view that appears on a screen side-by-side with the traditional forward-looking view. Colonoscopy is currently the most accurate test for detection of both polyps and colorectal cancer. It also provides the best means for removing them. However, research shows that some polyps and cancers can be missed during routine colonoscopy, especially if they occur in locations that are hidden from the forward view of the colonoscope. The colon has many folds in its inner lining and contains many sharp turns, or flexures. The areas behind those folds and flexures are difficult to see with the colonoscope. The Third Eye Retroscope provides a way to visualize the hidden areas behind folds and flexures by providing a retrograde view.”

Here’s why I am so excited about this opportunity:

  • As a young marketing communications agency executive, I worked on the Hemoccult® Brand Fecal Occult Blood Test used to screen the colon for hidden blood caused by cancer and other diseases. Back then it was owned by SmithKline Diagnostics, now it’s owned by Danaher. I received two awards for a patient education poster entitled Colorectal Cancer: Facts you should know about its detection and prevention (I know, very sexy stuff). More importantly that work connected me permanently to the lifelong work of my father, Ron. For those of you that know my family, it’s beyond exciting for all of us that I am “back in the poop.”
  • The time has come to put into put a “stake in the poop” and apply all that I have learned about digital marketing, and especially social media. I can’t wait to discover the haystacks of needles, use social capital and motivate healthcare providers to find the power in combined brands. I believe it is possible to drive brand value for medical devices and diagnostics using modern marketing techniques.

I vow to continue blogging to highlight learnings and great resources I stumble upon. Feel free to ask me questions about what’s happening as you begin to stumble upon the Third Eye Retroscope and its contributions to colonoscopy and cancer detection.

Views expressed on this blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

In this season of giving thanks for all the blessings in my life, I want to express my gratitude for the support I have received in the past two years.

  • To Lisa for getting 3WD started and being a great mentor and friend.
  • To Betsy for her most recent colonoscopy post (looks like I get to use the image after all).
  • To my social media gurus for keeping me ahead of the curve.
  • To my incredible network of friends and family maintained on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Ole!

©2011 eGold Solutions. All rights reserved.

 

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should November 29, 2011

I saw the results of a study recently that supports the practice of doing colonoscopies without sedation.  Now, I know one person who, for reasons that are still a mystery to him, had a colonoscopy without sedation, and I can tell you he wouldn’t recommend it.  Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

I find myself saying the same thing with so many marketing and communications practices today, especially those are easy to do it yourself.  Just because you can blog, Tweet, send out a press release or whatever, doesn’t mean you should.  What sometimes gets lost and forgotten is that strategic fundamentals haven’t changed, despite the excitement around new channels and ways to reach target audiences.

I once had a client suggest that we should send out a press release every week so that we could then Tweet it.    While I’ll be the first person to agree that press releases are valuable beyond communicating with the press, I believe you should issue a press release to announce news that supports your communications objectives, and you should Tweet things that would be of value to your followers. It isn’t about making noise.  It’s about building your credibility, brand and/or reputation.

Strategic fundamentals include asking yourself at the outset, among other things:

  • What you are trying to achieve and does it help you achieve your business objectives?
  • Who is your target audience and why should they care?
  • What do you want them to do with your information?
  • Is this channel the best way to reach and influence your target audience in these ways?
  • And does it further your overall product brand and company reputation?

The bottom line is that tactics shouldn’t drive solid marketing and communications.  Strategic fundamentals should.  And just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should if it doesn’t fit strategically.

As for me, sign me up for sedation with my colonoscopy.  How about you?

(C) 2011 Merryman Communications, Inc.; all rights reserved.

 

 
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