A blog powered by Aptus Health, offering points of view on the changing world of healthcare.

If you’re not priming your market for biosimilars, who will?

Steve Smith, PA, MDE

As the biosimilars market heats up—and with the FDA likely to approve more of them for the US in coming months—the market will be challenged to achieve widespread physician adoption. Meanwhile, news of the FDA’s draft guidelines that exclude safety and efficacy information from biosimilars’ labels suggests that doctors may have to do their own research to ensure they’re prescribing the best and most effective choice for their patients.

To better understand how significant these obstacles may be—and the opportunities for effectively addressing them—we reached out to our digital healthcare provider (HCP) community after the FDA approval of the first biosimilar for the U.S. The insights they shared offer pharma companies that are either releasing or bracing against the introduction of a biosimilar to their branded drugs a clear roadmap for targeting, engaging, educating, supporting, and ultimately influencing physician behaviors around these new therapies. For example:

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Life sciences marketers speak: why pharma needs to make digital house calls

“There often isn’t time during the daily schedule to sit down and read a whole journal or even a whole article. With this format, I can review topics I’m interested in whenever I get a break between patients, over lunch, or any other time I have a moment I don’t want to waste.”

–Member of our web and mobile physician community

Clearly, today’s healthcare professionals are hungry to connect – with their colleagues, with the latest clinical information, and with trustworthy, high-value content on relevant therapies and treatments.

Two new industry whitepapers—MM&M’s Communicating with the Connected Clinician and eyeforpharma’s Customer Experience and Beyond: Why Digital Changes Everything—explore some of the trends and opportunities life sciences companies have to meet healthcare professionals in ways that matter to them, through resources they’re already using—from online communities to Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and mobile devices. Industry experts from organizations including Bayer, Teva, IMS Health, Novartis, Takeda, and others share their perspectives on areas in which pharma marketers might want to double down on their integrated digital tactics.

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Creating a better new-to-brand patient experience

By Robert MacMillan, VP of EHR and Innovation

“My doctor told me I have [condition] on Thursday and gave me a prescription but I haven’t gotten it yet. If I don’t get the meds what’s the worst that will happen?”

That’s how one member of our online health community, MedHelp, described the trepidation around getting started on a medication. It’s an unfortunate yet not uncommon attitude shared by many people who face long-term therapy.

Providers perceive the barriers of starting patients on a new medication, too – from ensuring fulfillment of that first script to the ongoing support that helps address patient concerns. In fact, a recent survey of nearly 300 members of our digital physician community sheds light on key drivers of providers’ prescribing decisions, as well as some of the perceived barriers that their patients have around their care plans.

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Digital communications—not just for whitespace anymore

By Brad Davidson, PhD, SVP Strategic Planning

There is a belief among many healthcare communications and brand managers that multi-channel marketing (MCM) is a substitute for human interaction—and a poor substitute at that, one whose relevance was forced upon the industry as a direct reaction to the rise of “no-see” physicians. This may have once been true, especially at the beginning, when the loss of access started accelerating and digital was still in its infancy (or at least, toddling along).

We started, as do all industries undergoing massive technological, administrative, and social changes, by adaptation-by-analogy, or what can be termed the “faster horse” syndrome: for doctors to whom we could no longer provide an in-person detail, we created e-details; for audiences who no longer went to congresses, we created virtual conferences. Taking these one-to-one conversions from face-to-face to digital were, almost always, seen as a step backwards. Digital communications, at the beginning, were something we settled for when the real McCoy wasn’t available to us.

That thinking is obsolete. Digital has changed how we—and that includes physicians—communicate.


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Real-world engagement just got real: Leveraging consumer data and location-based signals to drive qualified reach at scale

By Patrick Aysseh, President of Tomorrow Networks (a division of Aptus Health)

Why did a generation of kids want their MTV? At the very basic level, it was the exposure to new, easily digestible content — whether you were a metal-head, into new wave, or a music newshound — 24 hours a day.

Of course times have changed over the past 35 years and the way many Americans engage with media has changed too. Digital — and more specifically, mobile channels — have captured the attention of nearly every generation, giving us virtually any kind of content we need, in the format we value, whenever and wherever we want it. We don’t have to be tethered to a TV or computer (or the living room of that friend who had cable TV back in the 1980s) to engage deeply with content that offers incredibly in-the-moment relevance. And collectively, we’re engaging with mobile longer and more frequently than through other channels.

Savvy advertisers are taking advantage of this trend. In fact, recent U.S. ad spending reports  suggest that $69B will be spent in digital advertising (excluding video) in 2016. About two-thirds of that spend — that’s $44 billion — will be mobile. According to the report, by 2020, mobile ad spend will be on par with television advertising budgets.


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How digital content is helping physicians curb the opioid abuse epidemic

By Stephen Smith, PA, MDE

Managing pain is, well, a pain. On one hand are the patients who are physically suffering, desperate for relief. On the other hand are the prescribers who are driven to help their patients but finding that their pain management protocols are now complicated by what the national opioid abuse epidemic has wrought. In fact, a poll of physicians within our digital community found that 64% believe that doctors have a responsibility to help curb the epidemic.

Health systems also have a responsibility to engage their physicians on this topic, offering education on tangible ways they can better address the growing epidemic —such as registering for and regularly using their state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database before prescribing opioids to a patient. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PDMPs continue to be among the most promising interventions to improve painkiller prescribing, inform clinical practice, and protect patients at risk.

Acknowledging how time-pressed their physicians are, our health systems clients are using our concise web and mobile format to engage their affiliated doctors and other prescribers in this highly relevant topic. And there’s plenty of evidence that this approach works—having a measurable and almost immediate impact on how physicians approach opioid prescription in practice.


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The Missing Ingredient in Online Healthcare: Trust

By Brad Davidson, PhD, SVP Strategic Planning, Aptus Health

When the term “virtual reality” was coined in the mid-1980s, a distinction was being drawn between the real world and one mediated through computer screens or similar technology—a distinction that seems to be fading, as more of our lives take place online.  A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that 21% of Americans report that they go online “almost constantly,” and overall, 73% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis. And, where once it was common to express hesitation at participating fully in things like e-commerce because of a lack of trust in the Internet, those days are long gone.

Clearly, we have replaced our misgivings with trust—trust that the Internet is safe, that we can find what we need there, that information and exchanges, at least with some partners, is trustworthy.  But while companies like Amazon and eBay have earned our trust and transformed the way we approach shopping, the way we (and our target customers) interact with the healthcare system in many ways lags behind. In part, this is because healthcare is not the same as buying books or used video games. The stakes are far higher, and gaps in trust or delivery can have potentially grave consequences. But in part the lag exists simply because the hard-won lessons learned in the e-commerce space are not being applied, or even recognized, in the healthcare space. The lessons, from our point of view, are clear—build trust, and they will come.

Let’s take a look at how online retailers have used the basic tenets of commercial trustworthiness (clarity, consistency, and customer-centricity) to yield success—and how pharma marketers can use these same elements to build trust and brand affinity among their target healthcare professionals (HCPs) in an increasingly transactional world.



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What the cool kids are talking about at HIMSS this year

The theme of this year’s HIMSS conference—transforming health through IT – seems tailor-made for the work we’re doing with our clients to transform existing models through digital, mobile tools and technologies.

Here are just a couple examples of what some of the cool kids attending HIMSS are talking about this year and how we’re joining the conversation (over in booth 11051, so stop by to say hi!) with a full range of health engagement tools and technologies that offer demonstrable value at key points throughout the healthcare ecosystem.


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