• Featured Authors

  • Medicine in the Moment

    Working to change healthcare for the better

    Explore how life science companies can engage clinicians in more meaningful and impactful ways by leveraging the understanding of today's clinician workflow.

    “Putting the ‘Health’ back in ‘mHealth’: 3 Game-Changing Innovations that Are Saving Lives”

    Ask any tech-savvy layperson to describe mobile health, and they will mention sleek, high-tech wearables and smartly-designed activity-trackers. Companies like Fitbit, Apple and Nike have successfully bestowed a sense of style upon the industry; and, as more players compete, newer products with flashier design and higher functionality are flooding the marketplace. This deepened focus on bells and whistles has convinced much of the world that discerning gadget enthusiasts are the target audience for mobile health. Yet, a look beyond the glossy façade of mainstream products, which range from apps detailing yoga positions, to sleep trackers, to designer jewelry with biometric monitoring, brings the vernacular use of the term “mobile health” into question.

    If we believe that health and fitness are different things, perhaps we would be wise to name the large universe of fitness and lifestyle devices and apps as belonging to a “mobile fitness” industry. We could then reserve the “mobile health” moniker for technologies that impact the clinical experience and tangibly address disease. Though they don’t get as much media coverage as the RunKeepers and Fuel Bands of the world, clinical and disease-focused innovations like the OmniPod, the Propellor Health Sensor, and the work being done by organizations like HealtheVillages, are creating value on a different scale and in a different way, and may be mobile health’s unsung heroes.

    OmniPod- Wireless Insulin Pump

    The OmniPod by Insulet, the first FDA-approved wearable and wireless insulin pump for Type 1 diabetics, attaches painlessly to the body via cannula and is usable for up to three days. Wearers are free to go about their daily lives—sleep eat, exercise and bathe—while the waterproof pump administers a steady stream of insulin. A handheld controller is used in conjunction with the pod to guide users through insulin delivery; it has a built in blood glucose meter, a wireless remote, and an in depth food library to help with counting carbs. This technology not only eases the burden of maintenance and helps eliminate risks of disease-related complications—it enhances quality of life.

    Propeller Health Sensor

    More than 50 million people in the U.S. are affected by asthma and COPD, prompting Propeller Health to develop a small sensor that attaches to an inhaler and wirelessly syncs to the patient’s smartphone. The sensor not only monitors usage frequency—it also keeps track of the time and place in which patients use their inhalers so they’re able to accurately identify trigger patterns. Data from the sensor provides users with reports about their symptoms and medication use, which can be reviewed by their physician.

    For parents with asthmatic children, this technology can be used to monitor and control the disease, allowing for alerts when a child uses his inhaler. One of the most important tasks of an asthmatic or COPD patient is to track symptom triggers and frequency of rescue inhaler usage. Propeller’s technology revolutionizes this process by taking the user error out of capturing this sort of data.

    Health eVillages

    The World Health Organization reports that, in 2012, citizens of Europe and the Americas were twice as likely to have access to physicians in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Western Pacific. Health eVillages, a collaboration between our own Physicians Interactive and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, is helping to solve this problem by arming health care providers in clinically underserved areas like earthquake-ravaged Haiti, Uganda and rural Louisiana, with smartphones and tablets containing medical reference and clinical decision support resources. Healthcare professionals in these regions, some of who still rely on outdated medical textbooks, can use these tools and training materials to accurately diagnose and treat patients. HealtheVillages, and other organizations like it, are creating unprecedented access to health care among a global population of patients who have seen decades of care disparity.

    When it comes to discussing, and evaluating, the role of mobile health, we must look beyond novelty and aesthetic appeal, and consider the role of product need, access, and the ability to leverage unique opportunities provided by mobile technology.   Developing marketable products is good, but doing the greatest good for the most people is better.   We must remain committed to investing in mHealth solutions that have the greatest impact in closing serious gaps in health care around the world.









    Posted in Blog

    Healthcare Deserts

    Author: Donato Tramuto, CEO and Chariman, Physicians Interactive

    We hear frequent media reports on food deserts—rural towns or urban areas without access to fresh, nutritional and affordable food. Yet, healthcare deserts, an equally concerning crisis plaguing millions worldwide, seldom receive such exposure. Healthcare deserts are areas across the globe where quality healthcare is severely limited or is simply nonexistent.

    The World Health Organization reports that, in 2012, citizens of Europe and the Americas were twice as likely to have access to physicians, two and a half times as likely to have access to nursing and midwifery personnel, and nearly six times as likely to have access to dentistry as compared to citizens in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Western Pacific. And, according to the U.S. Office of Rural Health Policy, 640 U.S. counties (about 20% of the nation’s 29,000 residential areas) are without quick access to an acute-care hospital. Problems are notable in cities such as Detroit, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., as well as rural areas of Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi.

    When I founded Health eVillages, my vision was clear: to eradicate healthcare deserts by improving the quality of care in some of the poorest, most underserved areas. It was a lofty goal with widespread reach, one that would require a universal strategy that could be used by healthcare professionals worldwide. Our solution was mHealth technology—putting mobile devices into the hands of medical staff in clinically challenged areas, many of who still relied upon decades-old textbooks for diagnostic guidance.

    Partnering with Physicians Interactive, we loaded iPhones and iPads with medical reference content and clinical decision support tools. We then traveled to clinics in developing countries, some without such basic infrastructure as electricity, to teach eager healthcare professionals how to use the technology. Because Internet access is not required, the devices can be used in the most remote regions of the globe to properly diagnose and treat patients.

    To date, we have worked with medical professionals in coastal regions of Louisiana devastated by the Gulf oil spill and in hurricane-ravaged Haitian cities where water-based diseases have pummeled the population. We have partnered with clinicians in Kenya and Uganda and we will continue to expand our organization’s footprint this year as we develop impactful partnerships in India, China and South Africa.

    One of the most salient examples of our mHealth successes comes from the healthcare desert surrounding Lwala, Kenya. After arming local physicians with mobile technology, the region’s infant mortality rate was cut in half. Building on the community’s victory, Physicians Interactive raised $150,000 to finance the construction of the first Health eVillage Maternity Clinic in Lwala.

    This year I was named by the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights as a 2014 Ripple of Hope honoree for my efforts in addressing the needs of the least advantaged across the globe. I am deeply humbled by this recognition and I am truly inspired by mHealth advances and success stories. I pledge to continue my fight against healthcare deserts to ensure that quality care is readily available to all, regardless of geography, as a right, not a privilege.

    http://www.who.int/gho/publications/world_health_statistics/EN_WHS2014_Part3.pdf?ua=1 (pages 84 and 120, with attached spreadsheet calculations)






    Posted in Blog

    Giving Employees What They Want: How Employers Can Partner with Leading Providers to Deliver mHealth Benefits

    Author: Bonnie Schirato, SVP Human Resources and Administration, Physicians Interactive

    As mHealth technology floods the consumer marketplace, the patient’s role in managing his own health is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Products range from wearables, to smart garments, to phone apps, to connected devices like body weight scales and medication trackers, and give patients the autonomy to streamline management of their personal health. Though many agree that it’s time for employers to incorporate these solutions into their employee benefits packages, not all employers are aware of corporate programs offered by leading providers. Well-known consumer-space players—Fitbit and MapMyFitness—have both created inroads to allow employers to facilitate access to employees. Enterprise solutions like our own Red Urchin platform allow employers to group and grant access to many leading wellness products within a cohesive employee portal.

    Fitbit is a wristband that automatically tracks physical activity and sleep patterns while allowing users to self-report data such as caloric intake and weight. In order to integrate with wellness programs, Fitbit has launched a suite of corporate solutions, with customers such as BP, GNC and NetApp already making the device available to employees. When working with medium to large companies, Fitbit offers bulk rate pricing and customized online stores to facilitate the employee shopping experience.

    MapMyFitness, a leading cloud-based mobile app owned by Under Armour, allows users to track fitness and diet information in addition to mapping running, walking and biking routes. To better serve corporations and communities, the company offers a “Connect Platform,” through which users can tap into an employer’s customized website or app. Because smartphones are so ubiquitous, this product can be easily integrated into a corporate wellness program by simply downloading the app onto an employee’s personal or company-sponsored phone. Incentivized fitness goals and workplace competitions can help to drive employee engagement, and employers can use the collected data to monitor lifts in activity rates and health improvements within the employee population.

    Red Urchin is an enterprise health platform that encompasses mobile, social and data tools and offers users everything from top tier smart phone apps and condition-specific trackers to health information and support communities. The platform’s versatility allows for integration with more than 50 health and fitness devices, including Jawbone, Fitbit and iHealth, as well as third-party services such as health coaching and biometric screening. And because this technology comes packaged as a mobile app, employees can manage and track their health anytime, anywhere, any way they’d like. Not only does Red Urchin provide employers with a glimpse into their workforce’s health challenges and goals, it also collects, aggregates and analyzes more than 1,600 data points to provide a true understanding into which programs are the most effective for their population. Employers can customize solutions to provide support around 40+ conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity, as well as track and monitor associated medications and resources.

    So, why put so much emphasis on employee health? A 2012 study from the Integrated Benefits Institute shows that illness and poor health cost U.S. businesses some $567 billion annually. By investing in mobile health-integrated wellness programs, employers can help to stave off health issues that impact productivity and employee retention, and reduce employer-paid health insurance premiums. More importantly, employers can take pride in striving to cultivate happier, healthier work forces, while granting employees access to exciting products that can improve their overall quality of life.










    Posted in Blog

    What Pharmaceutical Marketers Can Learn From Perfectionists

    Guest Author: Ken Locicero, PhD. Vice President, Physicians Interactive

    Hey, Product Manager… Are you pursuing success? Or fleeing failure?

    In the late 90s, I had the chance to research and publish on Perfectionism. It’s a broad area and very entertaining. Everyone always seem to know who the perfectionist is in their family, work group, or social group (if they don’t readily identify themselves as a perfectionist), and some interpretation of what it means to be a perfectionist. However, if you cull down to the core of perfectionism, it’s really about simply setting very high standards.

    Perfectionists can be sorted into two distinct types: Adaptive and Maladaptive. The basic difference between Adaptive and Maladaptive Perfectionists is essentially how they react to achieving—or not achieving—the high standard they’ve set. For example, think back to your time in school and that Marketing 101 final exam. Perhaps you set a goal to get an A. For the perfectionist, the goal is to ace the exam. Anything less—even 99 out of 100—is a slippery slope to failure. But now, let’s consider how a maladaptive’s experience differs from an adaptive’s experience in relation to the outcome of their lofty pursuit:


    Hmmmm. Exhilaration or Relief. The Adaptive Perfectionist tends to pursue success. The Maladaptive Perfectionist tends to flee failure. We can learn a lot from our perfectionistic friends and loved ones about how we engage at work.

    Are you pursuing success or fleeing failure?

    In the last 17 years of supporting pharmaceutical marketing teams with HCP engagement solutions to drive business, I’ve worked with many ‘perfectionists’ of both types. Those that pursue success are the ones that always seem to be on the crest or ahead of the wave in the industry. The fleers perpetuate the same cycle of choosing the safe route and ultimately “bask in the glory” of non-failure. In the marketing world, we might call this “exceptional adequacy” (we could also call it complacency). The pursuers are the ones who understand that when something is broken, they have an opportunity to take calculated risks and lead change— fully embracing the notion that success is derived from is the opposite of complacency.

    Today’s life sciences marketing is rapidly changing to solve the issues related to the broken commercial model. Digital HCP engagement has been propelled to the forefront of what is required to support medical practice in the HCP workflow — and to do so cost effectively. Accelerated by electronic health record (EHR) adoption, HCPs spend increasingly more time engaging with technology to support education, treatment decisions, and patient outcomes. Consumers and patients have been there long before the recent HCP surge. Opportunity abounds. And yet, most life science company partners either show reluctance to embrace the change, merely providing lip service, or they actively marginalize results by perpetuating a siloed point of view:

    “I don’t believe in digital.”

    “I’m not convinced about mobile.”

    “We know we should be integrating digital, but we still don’t do it or just don’t know how to.”

    “Our customers are different; they haven’t really adopted digital and still heavily rely on our sales force.”

    With the brightest and most innovative minds in the life science sector, many partners are still holding onto the mantra of “Let’s be first to be second.” How is it still possible, or acceptable, to move so slowly in adapting to the real change that is happening?

    Perhaps a more important question: How does leadership inspire an innovative culture of accelerating promotion that better aligns to today’s digital revolution?

    And, finally, whether you are or are not a perfectionist, the most important question you can ask yourself every day: Are you pursuing success for your brand or fleeing failure?

    Posted in Blog

    A Call to Action for Healthcare Leaders: Why I Choose to Do More (And Why You Should, Too)

    Author: Donato Tramuto, Chairman & CEO, Physicians Interactive

    In an industry capturing nearly $3 trillion in revenue, with annual profits of major players in the hundreds of billions, the grim reality of global healthcare is barely to be believed. A World Health Organization (WHO) study about top causes for premature death unveil a laundry list of preventable diseases and easily treated conditions. This isn’t news to the industry—so why haven’t highly profitable companies done more to improve global health?

    This isn’t about money (though many life-threatening conditions are well-understood, with known treatments that can be meaningfully addressed through funding). It is about using other—more important—tools that we as healthcare leaders have at our disposal to dramatically influence the healthcare space.

    Think about it: as leaders and entrepreneurs in the healthcare industry, aren’t we uniquely positioned to recognize issues, patterns, and solutions that could seismically change the global health landscape? Between our purview over emerging methods and technologies, our access to world-class human and logistical resources, and our influence in proliferating solutions, failure to save lives does a disservice to our offices, the companies we lead, and the public we ultimately serve.

    So, what does leadership look like? In this era, it requires mobilizing our collective intelligence toward innovation and integration that is meaningful for large populations. The quality of invention around hundreds of new medical technologies may be astounding, yet few of the amazing new apps, devices, and drug therapies we see hold the potential for global impact.

    Success may equate to a simple shift in focus. What new technologies, if applied to major health crises rather than to rare diseases, could transform communities around the globe? A shift in priorities is also in order. How much could be gained if technologies were not developed with profitability in mind? How much more could be gained if competition among major players were forgotten, and knowledge shared in the name of public service?

    Healthcare is a basic human right. When we begin addressing patient care from that perspective, we find ourselves in a position to incite meaningful change. That was the mindset I had when I founded Physicians Interactive six years ago. It led to the development of Omnio, a point-of-care mobile app that helps clinicians access and organize information needed to provide high quality care. And now Omnio is helping to save lives through Health eVillages, which provides donated mobile devices loaded with Omnio and other resources to underserved communities; programs in Uganda, Kenya, Haiti, rural Louisiana and China are providing much needed medical references to clinicians who previously lacked such access.

    Developing these products required time, money, and effort, yet the basic solutions were simple, their purposes straightforward, and their outcomes supremely worthwhile. Yet there are more—so many more—solutions such as these, and it is incumbent upon us to bring them to fruition. As healthcare leaders and problem solvers, we need to show up, be present, and listen. We need to be committed to proactivity, to driving toward (rather than falling into) solutions. The answers will come if we are so bold as to ask the questions. And when we do hear them, we have to be prepared to act.



    Posted in Blog

    Leveraging Big Data to Drive Scalable Mobile Marketing Solutions for Pharma

    Author: Bill Paquin, Chief Revenue Officer, Physicians Interactive

    How many companies are leveraging data intelligence platforms and other technologies to reach prescribing physicians and potential consumers? And, how precise are these technologies?

    The answer to the first question is easy: not enough. By our estimation, most pharma companies, despite having sound strategies, are leveraging technology to address the problems of old paradigms rather than looking forward to new opportunities. Consider the marketing efforts of an organization that contracts with several distribution channels on the West Coast after gathering intelligence that the region over-indexes for conditions treated by the drug. While a strategy like this makes broad, logical sense, the missed opportunity lies in newer, more efficient and effective targeting tools at pharma’s disposal.

    Consider, by contrast, platforms that have the ability to combine a number of big data sets to establish higher-value targets, including not only condition prevalence rates, but also insurance status and demographic data.

    Identifying where high-opportunity patients and high-value physicians intersect is just the first element in a sound strategy. A second element—reaching them where they are—creates new opportunities for engagement. Providers of data-driven mobile solutions for healthcare marketers should also provide the ability to execute such a strategy at a scale that will move the needle and affect outcomes.   Our Tomorrow Networks platform, for instance, leverages the mobile app ecosystem to reach both consumers and professionals at a time when mobile already accounts for a quarter of all time spent with media, eclipsing desktop usage and providing interaction and engagement absent from television but at equal scale.

    Companies that fail to respond to the role of this new distribution platform, and leverage it using smart, data-driven solutions, may be missing out on some of the most robust opportunities the industry has seen.

    Posted in Blog

    How mHealth Apps Are Improving Compliance and Adherence

    By Ulya Khan, Chief Operating Officer, Physicians Interactive

    When patients forget to take their medication, or fail to take it consistently, the cost to patient health, and the resulting financial costs to our healthcare system, can be significant. The issue of compliance—taking medication as directed—and adherence—remaining on a prescribed drug therapy—have a symbiotic relationship in producing both perceived and actual results. Three mHealth innovations have emerged which, despite their fundamental simplicity, hold the potential to have a big impact on both. Though these innovations are not mutually exclusive (that is, apps may contain components of all three), the basic qualities of each stand to change patient outcomes and address compliance and adherence challenges impactfully.

    Smartphone alerts. With the prevalence of smart phones, simple audio reminders can now alert patients or caregivers that it is time for the next dose of medication. Some studies have shown that there are now more smartphones than personal computers in circulation in the U.S.; another study revealed that some 247 million Americans have downloaded a healthcare mobile app. A timely reminder serves the needs of patients who may be busy, distracted, or suffering from a memory-compromising condition such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Patients and caregivers hearing such alerts can stop what they are doing, take a moment to administer medication, and return to their daily activities.

    Wireless pill bottles. Devices such as these monitor the number of pills in a bottle and can send HIPAA-compliant text or phone reminders to patients to take their medicine. Some studies have shown adherence to rise as much as 95% with the assistance of such devices. A natural next step will be for such “smart” pill bottles to communicate with pharmacies to facilitate refills (and, therefore, compliance), and with doctors offices to relay patient compliance data and enhance clinician understanding of drug therapy results. Solutions such as these help to correct reporting error in traditional drug compliance and adherence metrics (such as refill rate) which are weaker indicators of whether a patient actually took his or her medication.

    Apps with gamification features provide psychological incentives for patients to participate by appealing to their sense of achievement. A reminder alone may not be a compelling reason to take one’s medication over time; yet, when given “rewards” for complying, patients have been shown to participate at a higher rate.

    The impact of products with such features are more than just speculative. In one study focusing on diabetes patients, medical text reminders were shown to increase patient adherence by 10% and save $812 per patient. Those numbers will only continue to grow as more comparable products enter the market. A study recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research demonstrated that a tablet app used by seniors could improve medication adherence, even in patients with no prior experience with smartphones, tablets, or the internet. With the aging population increasingly using smartphones, it’s not hard to imagine a mobile app improving medication adherence just as well as a tablet app.

    There are other uses for mobile apps in the health sector as well. Apps supporting the coordination and continuity of care, and those designed for use by non-skilled caregivers and individuals without any formal training, could reduce the number of costly hospital readmissions. A recent session at the Long Term and Post-Acute Care Health IT Summit was entitled, “Using Mobile Technology to Empower $10/Hour Lay Caregivers to Prevent $10,000 Readmissions.”

    As mobile app technology improves in the healthcare sector, so will our outcomes around compliance and adherence. Sometimes the simplest solutions hold the greatest potential for impact.





    Posted in Blog

    What Role Will ACOs Realistically Play in Improving the Quality of Patient Care?

    Author: Tom Quinn, Senior Vice President & General Manager, eSampling

    Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) function as medical villages with networks of doctors, specialists, hospitals, and pharmacies working together with a shared goal of providing superior patient care. The hope is that an integrated approach will create efficiencies that not only improve patient outcomes but also lower the overall cost of care (Medicare alone may save up to $940 million within the first four years).

    On the surface, everybody wins. Yet, ACOs have come under serious scrutiny since being passed into law as part of the ACA. Many criticisms are fairly granular (such as complaints over administrative burdens and duplicative measurement efforts). Still, a basic problem remains: How can ACOs deliver a full set of holistic benefits given immaturity in the structure needed to support it, not to mention blatant conflicts of interest?

    Let’s look at the incentives: ACOs that achieve the dual goals of improved patient care at lowered costs receive their portion of shared savings, which should then be distributed among participating providers. Yet, those in the best position to form ACOs tend to be large hospital systems and medical groups, which have traditionally benefited from providing more care (not better care) under the widely-utilized fee-for-service model. Following the basic intention of ACO legislation—to focus on preventative care and reduce the need for acute hospital care—places hospitals (or, any other large medical system that financially thrives based on the volume of care provided) in a position to cannibalize a major revenue stream. With the medical industry already under fire for inflated costs and a perception of ruthless profiteering, introducing a structure that fails to address this conflict is problematic.

    Incentives created by measurement logic also add pressure to ACOs. When dollars are at stake, players focus on hitting targets, which may shift attention away from what is right for patients. Among the 33 ACO quality measures, special attention will be paid to those relating to at-risk populations, defined as those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and some vascular diseases. However, much of the focus—to keep HbA1c levels among diabetics and LDL cholesterol levels among high cholesterol patients within certain ranges—may create incentives for care providers to achieve this through more aggressive drug therapy rather than lifestyle changes or other (harder-earned) measures that would go farther in improving the overall health of the patient. Opportunities to meet targets at the expense of truly impactful care management must be addressed as we consider the likely outcomes of ACO legislation.

    Doubts notwithstanding, there are success stories, such as the Franciscan Alliance Accountable Care Organization. This Indiana-based ACO has 13 hospitals, and was one of the first ACOs to partner with Medicare. It has met targets, citing successes around monitoring patient health by using mHealth tools such as Genesis DM and Genesis Touch RPM. Supporters of the legislation have pointed to other early adopters that have shown evidence of patient care improvement. Though we should not discredit these examples, we cannot ignore the simple reality that asking care providers to do more with less—and more importantly, to do better with less—will create some outcomes that are counter to truly improving patient care.

    Posted in Blog | Tagged

    Fee-for-Service vs. Performance-Based Pricing Business Models: The Choice Is Clear

    Author: Joe Caso, Chief Relationship Officer, Physicians Interactive

    The need for accountability in promotional spending has never been greater. Companies are demanding greater accountability from their suppliers, vendors, and business partners. An emerging business model is now offering just that.

    This business model links fees with important performance metrics, providing the necessary accountability and ensures that promotional investments produce the outcomes that matter for the business. With this model, companies invest a small portion of the value of a project at the outset, but pay no more until it is clear that the project is achieving the results that the company needs. This model represents the perfect alignment of interests: Both parties are driven and incentivized to achieve a business result. If a campaign is not performing according to expectations, the company is under no obligation to pay any additional fees.

    Based on this accountability, it’s easy to see why performance-based business models are becoming so popular.

    Of course, with any performance-based business model, choosing the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business is critical. For instance, if a company needs an integrated campaign to drive new prescriptions, open rates should be a secondary KPI, at best; measuring a lift in new prescriptions via a test and control group is a better benchmark of performance. An open-rate KPI merely values engagement, while a script-based KPI values actual revenue.

    Providing value to clients means paying attention to the bottom line. To be truly effective, we have to move beyond discussing levels of engagement to recognizing more relevant achievements: milestones of revenue. The switch to performance-based models represents a paradigm shift—one that is rooted in greater accountability, transparency, and flexibility. Customers benefit from sophisticated and innovative pricing models that allow them to drive revenue and impact at scale.

    We predict that these models will soon become the norm, rather than the exception. Clients want the best probability of success for any investment they’re making. And smart marketers will want that success for their clients, too.

    Posted in Blog | Tagged ,

    RoboRep: Why eSampling Intelligently Enhances Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives

    By Tom Quinn, General Manager, eSampling, Physicians Interactive

    The statistics don’t lie: 91% of HCPs want more pharmaceutical companies to participate in eSampling.  And, among new doctors, proactive sample requests increase the likelihood of a prescription by 81%.With numbers like that, it’s safe to assume that eSampling is one of the smartest prescriber-reaching strategies that a pharma company might introduce.  But don’t fire your sales force yet—though critically important, eSampling should be used as part of an integrated Marketing strategy and sample distribution program.

    It’s all about the relationship, and one size doesn’t fit all.  While some condemn the sales rep visit as “outdated,” for prescribers who value personal interactions, this is far from true.  Prescribers like these—even tech savvy ones—may prefer to have questions answered in short order, rather than having to sift through information that would be common to any self-service model.  Developing and strengthening relationships with providers like these means continuing to leverage a strong sales force capable of gauging physician wants and needs.

    Along the same lines for physicians who find personal visits interruptive or difficult to absorb (or who prefer to think about drug choices and sampling in their own time), unwelcome sales rep visits may weaken the relationship.  Remember, the end goal is to encourage prescribing.  Achieving that goal involves creating awareness of a drug and its attributes while building goodwill through satisfying interactions.  Based on such criteria, eSampling presents a win-win solution for both pharmaceutical companies and prescribers.

    In other words, sales force tactics and eSampling tactics are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, 73% of surveyed HCPs said that acquiring samples online would not decrease the likelihood of meeting with a pharma company representative.  By integrating sales force-driven sampling with eSampling, not only does reach become simultaneously greater and more efficient—the nature of interactions can become more strategic.  Companies that take opportunities to segment prescribers by their preferred styles, and tailor sampling approaches in anticipation of individual effectiveness, stand to extract the most value from eSampling, as well as other future breakthroughs in sampling technologies.






    Posted in Blog | Tagged

    Rocking ROI: Taking an Integrated Marketing Approach

    Author: Joe Caso, Chief Business Development Officer, Physicians Interactive

    Many clients find themselves contracting with different partners for different tactics, working one channel with one partner, and another channel with another partner, rather than looking at their network of tactics systematically.  The business rationale for this, presumably, is that working with a partner that is highly specialized around one channel will yield the greatest results for that channel, and that, when the best results within each channel are achieved, those results will be the best for the business.  Yet, we’ve seen evidence that the “specialized” approach often adds to less than the sum of its parts.

    I’d like to make the case for an integrated marketing approach. With integration, all aspects of a media plan can be optimized, from strategy to measurement to results. An ecosystem in which the relationships among individual tactics can be understood and optimized, instead of scattering resources for short-term gains and siloed responses, unlocks potential for significant pay-offs across the board.

    Yet, integration does not equate to lack of focus.  Unified media plans still have the potential to be highly targeted, but become more cost-effective because they represent a smarter deployment of resources. One-off campaign initiatives rarely achieve this kind of success (to borrow an old adage, the right hand may not know what the left hand is doing). Sometimes, they may even compete with each other for results.

    With an integrated marketing approach, you can experience greater accountability in terms of how your money and resources are spent. You can be more responsive—and divert resources from one aspect that isn’t working to fund an initiative that is.

    Consider this case: a digital campaign for a mature cardiovascular drug that involved an eNewsletter, eDetail, eSample, and mobile tactics—with a methodology in place to measure the true impact of the campaign on prescribing.

    The program was designed to reach a target audience of about 28,000 neurologists and primary care physicians; it provided several touch points for the user to engage with the brand. Upfront costs were minimized by tying program fees to actual incremental revenue generated by the campaign. During the first six months, NRx among physicians increased, resulting in $1.36 million in incremental revenue and a projected annual impact of over $4 million.

    Some companies may be reluctant to commit to a large-scale investment with a single marketing partner. Yet, in our experience, well-executed efforts based on solid strategies and well-structured media planning mitigates risk while delivering intended value.  Marking service providers with risk-sharing and accelerated ROI agreement structure have the ability to align corporate and agency incentives, positioning both parties to do well over the long run.

    Posted in Blog | Tagged ,

    From Tech Giants to Healthcare Giants: The Role of Apple, Google, and Others in Mobile Health

    By Sanjay Pingle, President, Physicians Interactive

    With the mHealth industry projected to grow to $58.5B over the next 6 years, tech giants with mobile capabilities are rushing to get on the train.  Hiring sprees for healthcare pros and mHealth acquisitions valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars have become the norm for some top tech players, whether they know much about healthcare or not.

    Apple.  Google.  Microsoft.  Dell.  Samsung. Even processor leader Intel made headlines after acquiring smartwatch manufacturer, Basis, for $100M.  mHealth needs devices and software platforms in order to thrive, and it’s logical that tech inhabit some of this space.  Yet, industry-changing plays from mega-companies with no core mission related to patient care or wellness begs the question: even if tech companies can position themselves as major healthcare players, should they?

    In some cases, yes.  Microsoft and Dell are betting that fast, friendly tablets cheap enough to encourage large-scale enterprise implementations will integrate with EHR and penetrate clinical markets. To the extent that tablets and smartphones remain at the center of the mHealth universe, Apple is viewed as their primary adversary.  Yet, Apple has expanded its focus beyond its popular-with-physicians iPad, with the consumer wearable and health-focused ‘iWatch’ on the horizon.  Though its stores currently sell personal health monitors by other manufacturers, will Apple’s endeavors edge those players out of the market?

    And this is where things get hairy—when tech giants go from selling multi-use platforms that health care experts can use as springboards for innovation, to becoming companies that originate specialized health care products themselves.  Google’s intentions with Glass—a broadly relevant device with hundreds of industry-agnostic applications—are different from those of its smart contact lens product, which will measure the blood glucose level of diabetics through their tears.

    Tech companies dabbling in specialized healthcare products isn’t new—just more obvious as financial stakes grow and become clearer.  The now-defunct Google Health and the still-going Microsoft Health Vault were created nearly seven years ago.  Even Jawbone, which focused on Bluetooth headsets from 2004 to 2010 is now behind UP and UP24, two of the most successful personal health monitors (though Jawbone is bound to be ejected by larger consumer electronics players with the wallets—and, apparently, the will—to dominate mHealth).

    And this is where Google Health might be revisited as the most important symbol of what is happening today.  Google’s early attempt at a large-scale healthcare product failed, but they are at it again, and this time they’re not failing.  Current evidence indicates that the role they intend to play health space is deepening, yet given Google’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” it remains hard to understand its specific intentions with respect to health

    So, where might all of this get us? Undoubtedly, closer to better patient care.  In-market products from companies like these are already driving growth within the health/fitness industry, and doing so in ways we would not have seen from the usual players.  Along those lines, tech companies may be most successful (commercially and in terms of improving health outcomes) by continuing to grow the “wellness management” sector rather than by competing with entrenched experts in traditional healthcare – or what I call “sick care.”  Integration among well care players, sick care players, and patients, will lead us to our true endgame—the marriage of technology and healthcare to enable a more health and wellness centered culture.

















    Posted in Blog | Tagged , , ,

    A Revolutionary Merger: When Medicine, Technology, and Social Need Meet

    By Donato Tramuto, CEO & Chairman, Physicians Interactive

    Medical innovation is leaning, if not teetering, on the brink of a culture of “cool”. Yet, investment in brilliantly practical, infinitely useful and often simple innovations that hold the potential to improve global healthcare has been no match for wow-factor technologies.

    Brain cells from urine. Artificial lung tissue grown with magnetic levitation. 3D printed organs, implants and bone.  Headline-hoggers like these have flash and build excitement around the potential to address every possible health condition.  Yet, reading about these (or, perhaps, not reading about other types of innovation) brings the Pareto Rule—that is, the 80/20 Rule—to mind.

    So we must ask: if 20% of medical innovation is vital on a global scale, and 80% of innovation has narrow reach in terms of population health, isn’t it our duty as people who have vowed to save lives and proliferate health, to promote the use of tools that can make the biggest impact?  More importantly, where is the moral center for health technology investment, and how can we make not just the technology itself, but the use of the technology, a part of the conversation?

    These questions are not an indictment of innovation. (It sometimes happens that the narrowest breakthroughs are the catalysts for widely applicable change.)  All innovation is important, and necessary, and should continue.  Yet, our discussions about medical innovation reflect our values, and we as an industry may be overly focused on what science can almost do, rather than what people should do and are doing with the technology already available.  Futuristic medical innovation is important, but the healthcare community would benefit from knowing more about what technologies can be used to help patients, now.

    This means shedding light on the unsung heroes of medical innovation—and there are many—making a difference in healthcare today.  From consumer-facing apps—like CPR & Choking, a free smartphone app that shows brief instructional videos for how to help infants, children and adults breathe in an emergency, to clinician-facing apps like Omnio—which allows HCPs to centralize and organize medical resources on smart devices that can be used in clinic to provide higher quality care—lives are already being saved.  Other solutions—like Text to Change, which develops customized mobile phone-based solutions to facilitate interactions with people in emerging countries—have produced great outcomes in the healthcare space amid broader focus.

    Yet, to amplify knowledge and multiply usage of solutions such as these, we must focus first on context—on motivating HCPs and other healthcare community members to comprehend existing successes and integrate ready solutions into their own work flows.   We have not only an opportunity, but a duty, to inspire the community to become meaningful, active users of current medical technology, rather than mere spectators of far-out innovation.





    Posted in Blog

    Who Owns Adherence?

    by Sanjay Pingle, President, Physicians Interactive

    ePharma Summit_2014_Panelists

    Recently, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at the ePharma Summit in New York City entitled Hello, Your Customers Have Changed: Do You Know Who They Are, What They Need and How to Get Their Attention.

    The panelists included top-tier presenters across different arenas of healthcare:

    • Jordan G. Safirstein, MD, FACC, FSCAL, Interventional Cardiologist
    • Sumit Dutta, MD, MBA, SVP & Chief Medical Officer, Catamaran
    • Randy Krakauer, MD, National Medical Director – Medicare, Aetna
    • Adam Pellegrini, Divisional VP, eHealth, Walgreen Co.
    • Alexander Grunewald , PhD, Corporate Strategy & Business Development, McKesson Corporation

    The panelists spent a portion of our discussion wrestling with a seemingly simple question: “Who owns adherence?”

    A traditional answer might point right back to the prescribing doctor.

    But with the “sea change” occurring in healthcare, the decision of which drug to prescribe is no longer solely in the physician’s hands.  As Dr. Safirstein pointed out, doctors in the hospital setting are often unable to prescribe any off-formulary drugs. And as doctors move away from physician-led practices and aggregate within hospitals and health systems, other stakeholders need to take responsibility.

    Panelists agreed that adherence is more likely to be achieved if payers do it in collaboration with physicians. Yet even if healthcare professionals have access to the type of data formulary committees and payers wield, they may not want it, because of its potential to negatively transform their relationships their patients. “I don’t want to deal with the finances of medicine,” Safirstein said.

    The panelists explored pharma’s increased responsibility for outcomes. If they are promoting the efficacy of their products, they have a stake in the downstream real-world outcomes, which depend heavily on how well patients adhere to treatment. Dr. Safirstein suggested pharma is well-suited to be the adherence facilitator simply because they have the resources. With healthcare professionals strapped for time and reimbursements dropping, pharma may be best positioned to take on this role in the new healthcare environment.

    The panel agreed that adherence has to be easy for the patient. One way to achieve that is to use incentives to drive adherence—but there are likely to be a variety of tools that work for different patient types in different scenarios, and this is where a care collaboration model may have tremendous value.

    So, getting back to the simple question – who is it?

    Who is now responsible for helping patients adhere to their treatment and medication regimens? The doctor? The pharma company? The payer?

    Not one stakeholder has the entire view of the patient or the data. We all need to collaborate.




    Posted in Blog | Tagged ,

    mHealth Provides Opportunity for Worldwide Healthcare

    Several pandemics and non-communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria in Africa, continue to plague developing regions all over of the world. Just as necessary as clean water and food, strong public actions are required to monitor these diseases and ensure each region has affordable, immediate access to healthcare, resources and equipment. And in rural and developing regions where basic infrastructures such as electricity and roads are inadequate, many underserved clinics are turning to mobile health, or mHealth. The worldwide trend of using mobile phones for health represents an unprecedented opportunity for improving public health in impoverished or hard-to-reach regions.

    mHealth solutions are beginning to spring up all over developing regions in Africa, as mobile becomes a widely recognized, sustainable approach to healthcare. TRACnet in Rwanda, considered the first national mHealth system in Africa, is collecting, tracking and disseminating critical drug and patient information. By leveraging the strength of the existing mobile infrastructure – nearly 70 percent of people in the developing world have a mobile subscription – TRACnet connects to every health facility providing treatments related to HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other epidemics.

    In Mali, the Pesinet agency uses mHealth to provide villagers with an affordable form of health insurance. In a region with one of the world’s highest child mortality rates, community health workers test children weekly for illness before entering the information into a custom-designed mobile app. Doctors retrieve the information on a digital database and assist health workers and families to arrange the necessary treatment options.

    While each region presents its own unique challenges, worldwide mHealth programs are springing up as an answer to global healthcare. Communities with no electricity, plagued by HIV/AIDS or operating under threats of violence oftentimes suffer with limited to no access to the latest in medical research. Health eVillages, a worldwide mHealth program partially funded by Physicians Interactive (PI) and founded by our CEO and vice chairman, Donato Tramuto, donates medical reference materials on tablets and smartphones to clinics in developing regions. The program has already made a difference by offering clinical decision support resources to existing local organizations in Haiti, Uganda, Kenya, the U.S. and China.

    While the current slate of mHealth projects and organizations are offering quick, affordable responses to illnesses or epidemics in developing regions, the future they are paving has an opportunity to change the state of healthcare worldwide. Advanced reporting lends insights to community data in regions where this type of tracking was previously unheard of, promising more preventative care and a deeper understanding of how diseases start and spread.

    The need for accurate reporting systems is of the utmost importance to understanding the management of non-communicable or chronic diseases in arenas with limited resources. mHealth offers a sustainable solution to healthcare workers struggling to provide consistent, high-quality patient care in an area where chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancers, asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis and more account for more than 60 percent of all deaths and is by far the leading cause of mortality, according to the World Health Organization. Lasting medical conditions, while difficult to treat, also present a serious drain on local resources as patient care needs to be consistently monitored and can be expensive to treat.

    While mHealth is still in its infancy, initiatives such as these that operate at a low cost in developing countries can help spur innovation and testing for mobile healthcare in all parts of the world. Unlike in developed areas, these organizations serve communities where both health insurance and preventative care are nearly unheard of. A large part of mHealth program costs therefore must include awareness and education-building projects about mHealth benefits, such as reduced healthcare costs and access to hard-to-reach, rural communities.

    A sustainable economic model largely dictates which mHealth program will flourish or flounder. Many regional programs offer care at free or reduced rates that hardly cover program costs in order to extend care to low-income communities.

    As mHealth organizations continue working on finding better technology solutions and funding, programs continue to make life-saving changes to developing communities worldwide. Fueled by third-party donations and funding, the mHealth movement is changing how communities gain essential access to medical care. The rise of mobile within healthcare has made having a cell phone in hand a life-saving resource for both professionals and consumers. As the use of mobile devices grows more prevalent at the point of care, there is a real opportunity to finally track regional diseases and improve patient care worldwide.

    Sanjay Pingle is president of Physicians Interactive and has oversight of the combined pharma and eCommerce business. Prior to joining PI, he was co-founder and executive vice president of Medsite, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical marketing firm.


    Posted in Blog | Tagged , , ,

    Pharmaceutical Companies Need to Adopt New Strategies to Effectively Reach Prescribers

    It is well documented that the Pharma industry is facing many challenges in 2012. Drug makers are losing exclusive patents on drugs that have matured, resulting in expected losses of revenue in the billions of dollars. As a result, companies are cutting costs and significantly reducing their sales forces. This creates the new challenge of reaching practices and hospitals with fewer face-to-face office visits.

    In the last five years, the size of the sales rep force has shrunk by nearly 30 percent according to FiercePharma.com. For 2012, Novartis announced it was reducing its U.S. staff by nearly 2,000, including 1,630 sales reps—approximately 1.6 percent of its worldwide staff. This trend of reducing pharma sales forces also reflects impatience among prescribers with the hard-sell from sales reps and tighter governmental regulations on what sales people can convey to the healthcare professionals (HCPs) they’re trying to educate and inform.

    Successful companies are those that will transition effectively from being primarily sales-driven to service-driven using a multi-channel marketing approach to reaching physicians and other prescribers. A key focus is providing services that fit into providers’ increasingly busy daily workflow: at point of care, when they’re making diagnosis and treatment decisions and when they’re prescribing medications for their patients.

    Companies on the forward edge are putting a heavy emphasis on digital in their commercial models – but how can mobile technologies assist pharmaceutical and biotech firms in this transition?

    Here are a few examples:

    Tablets to support the sales force – While sales forces are shrinking, they still play a vital role in educating prescribers on new medications. The Pharma industry, taking the lead of companies like GSK, is starting to incent sales reps based on quality of service versus amount of sales (Read more here in the WSJ). One of the tools that is helping in delivering better service is the tablet. Reps with an iPad can deliver more interactive and engaging product information, capture signatures for compliance and make the most of a few quick minutes with a doctor in the time that it would take a laptop computer to boot up.

    Online and mobile drug sampling programs – Companies now have the ability to leverage PDMA compliant mobile apps and websites that allow physicians to request free product samples that they can distribute to their patients to gauge efficacy and assist with adherence. Because the internet never sleeps, physicians can do this no matter what shifts they are working, independent of time zone or location, 24 hours a day.

    Direct-to-HCP mobile advertising – It used to be that most online and mobile advertisements for drugs were placed only in industry magazines, blogs and online communities geared toward healthcare professionals and general consumer websites. With emergence of mobile networks focused on healthcare such as Tomorrow Networks, this is changing. Tomorrow Networks is comprised of more than 50 medical apps. Pharma companies can now buy ad placements in mobile apps made exclusively for physicians and other healthcare professionals. A physician can be looking up treatment information at the point of care and see an ad for a medication that is relevant to their patient’s ailment. That’s incredibly powerful for the physician and advantageous for the advertiser.

    mDetails – Physicians want to learn about the best drugs and treatments for their patients. mDetails are multimedia mobile product presentations that provide information about drugs in a way that allow physicians to absorb detailed information at their own pace—and in their own time. Because mDetails are distributed on smartphones – they let physicians fit pharma product education into ‘found time’ at any point during their day that’s convenient for them.
    By employing a multi-channel approach and by helping healthcare professionals do their jobs better, instead of just selling to them, pharmaceutical companies can reach their target audiences and develop deeper value-based relationships. The aforementioned examples are just a few of the ways that pharmaceutical companies can leverage the ever-growing mobile channel; there are many more evolving every day.

    Posted in Blog | Tagged , , ,

    The benefits of mobile devices at the point of care outweigh the risks

    The New York Times recently shared a post on its Bits blog about multitasking clinicians endangering patients’ lives, which has caused some buzz on the Internet lately. The article discusses a case study written by Dr. John Halamka for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In it, a medical resident was asked by an attending physician to put in an order to stop a patient’s anticoagulation treatment, which the resident began entering on her smartphone via a computerized order entry system.

    That’s when something went terribly wrong.

    According to the article:

    “Before the resident could finish the order, her phone beeped with an incoming text. It was from a friend. She got lost in the text and failed to finish the order….”

    “On the patient’s fourth day in the hospital… [he] was rushed into emergency open-heart surgery. Blood had filled the sack around the heart. He’d received too much blood thinner, but he survived.”

    While any distraction to a clinician treating patients can add to the risk of medical errors, do the benefits of access to mobile clinical tools outweigh the hazards of having mobile devices at the point of care? I say: without a doubt. In a mobile usage survey conducted by Skyscape, 78 percent of pediatricians and 71 percent of oncologists credited their use of mobile clinical resources with reducing the risk of medical errors. So, physicians at least feel that having clinical decision support such as mobile apps at the point of care helps them make more confident decisions.

    There is emerging hard evidence pointing to that fact as well. In a November 2011 article in EHRWatch, Dr. Robert Hitchcock discusses the high value of having clinical decision support at the point of care. He explains that prescribing medication can be a difficult task because of complex calculations. Hitchcock cites U.S. Pharmacopeia’s MEDMARX database records from 2006-2007 showing that more than 37 percent of harmful pediatric medication errors are caused by an improper dose or quantity. He also discusses research from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which found that 10 percent to 30 percent of medical errors are diagnosis errors. By having dosing calculators, differential diagnosis tools, clinical resources and lab guides with them at all times, clinicians are able to mitigate the risk of these types of errors.

    It really all boils down to accountability and ethics. It is a fundamentally similar issue to that which I discussed in my last blog post about HIPAA Compliance. According to the 2011 HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, 72 percent of institutions have no policy governing the use of smartphones and tablets. To ensure privacy and to prevent misuse of mobile devices at the point of care, it is imperative that institutions, large and small, set clear policies that must be agreed upon by all their employees. These policies may include a stipulation that while working with patients, clinicians must put their smartphones in “Airplane Mode” with the Wi-Fi turned on.

    That way, the clinicians can access medical resources but cannot make calls or text. Ultimately, it’s all about doing what is right for the patients — and that means allowing clinicians to reference medical calculators, drug information, lab values, diagnostic tools and medical journal summaries at the point of care, in order to make more informed decisions for their patients.

    For another interesting response to the NYT article that highlights a far greater distraction to clinicians, please see the following article from Better Health titled, “What Is Distracting Doctors More Than Electronic Devices?”

    Sanjay Pingle is president of Skyscape and Physicians Interactive Holdings and has oversight of the combined Pharma and eCommerce business. Prior to joining PI, he was co-founder and executive vice president of Medsite, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical marketing firm that has been named a market leader by Forrester, Jupiter Research and Frost & Sullivan.

    Posted in Blog | Tagged , ,

    Mobile-enabled, HIPAA-compliant

    There’s no question that mobile apps have the potential to improve patient care. When physicians and other practitioners have the information and tools to diagnose and treat patients in any environment – in the office, by the bedside, even on the commute into work – they save time, make more confident decisions, reduce errors and provide the most value for their patients.

    But the challenge remains: How do you allow and regulate the use of mobile devices and tablets, which often include cameras and recording capability, in a clinic, hospital or academic institution while protecting patient privacy and adhering to stringent Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protocols? The answer is certainly not to ban or severely limit the use such devices, depriving clinicians of fast access to current information, medical alerts and updated formulary information. The solution is to set strict device policies and to educate your institution’s clinicians and students about the “do’s and don’ts” of mobile use in a clinical setting.

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but according to the 2011 HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, only 38 percent of respondents reported that their mobile use at work was regulated by any formal mobile technology policy. Such policies may include provisions that clinicians and students are expected to understand and follow HIPAA guidelines that personal health identifiers (PHIs) must be removed from patient data that HCPs collect on their mobile devices or that mobile devices must be password protected. Some educational institutions require students to put their phones on “airplane mode,” so that the students can access clinical information but are unable to receive or send text messages or make personal phone calls.

    Hygiene is another issue to consider in a clinical setting. HCPs must avoid the use of smartphones when wearing contaminated gloves, wash their hands prior to using a device and avoid using smartphones in isolation and/or sterile rooms. These rules are often spelled out clearly within the device policy and are meant to protect the patients, but also clinicians and their families and friends who come in contact with these devices outside of the clinical setting. Having a clear and agreed upon mobile device policy is the first step in protecting patient privacy while allowing your clinicians and practitioners-in-training to do their jobs better and more efficiently.

    Recently, the Academic Centers and Associations (ACA) group at my company, Skyscape, conducted a webinar on “HIPAA Compliance in Nursing Education using Mobile Devices” with a panel of faculty from across the United States. The webinar was attended by nearly 200 participants and included information about HIPAA, setting policies and educating students and clinicians about patient privacy and regulations.

    Sanjay Pingle is president of Skyscape and Physicians Interactive Holdings and has oversight of the combined Pharma and eCommerce business. Prior to joining PI, he was co-founder and executive vice president of Medsite, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical marketing firm that has been named a market leader by Forrester, Jupiter Research and Frost & Sullivan.

    Posted in Blog | Tagged , ,

    Consumers will drive mHealth adoption

    By 2014, mobile Web traffic will have exceeded desktop traffic for the first time. This has truly profound implications, especially for anyone who delivers services or runs a business on the Internet.

    In healthcare, where we will see this impact first and most profoundly is with the consumer. By 2015, more than 500 million smartphone users worldwide will have downloaded at least one mHealth app. And apps are only part of the story – the more complete mHealth picture includes wearable devices, systems for data capture and sharing, communication and apps.

    But why is mobile different? Unlike fixed-location desktops or even laptop computers, mobile is different for two main reasons.

    First – smartphones are highly personal devices that are with us all the time. For most people the phone is within arm’s reach 24/7. Second – smartphones are always on and almost always connected. There is no need to log on, boot up, etc.

    This is important for the healthcare sector because it means we are removing barriers for consumers to be more informed and active in capturing, understanding, sharing and taking action on their health and wellness. mHealth helps consumers evolve from episodic ‘sick’ care to more continuous health and wellness management.

    There are a few examples of how mHealth is already moving far beyond providing medical information on a mobile phone – companies like Jawbone, Fitbit and, on a more specialized basis, Zeo. All offer wearable devices that track various health-related statistics and report them in a user-friendly way via a mobile phone or Web hubs.

    Another example is CareSpeak, a company that offers direct two-way communication between patients and caregivers. There are also a number of start-ups are developing similar approaches to measure things such as anxiety, diet, blood pressure, blood sugar and other key health measures – all designed for the consumer.

    In the future, “mHealth 2.0” will usher in increased interoperability and integration between mobile devices and between consumers and providers. At first, this will mean the smartphone acts as a mobile health and wellness hub for the consumer. However, smartphones have the potential to succeed where patient health record’s failed. The second phase of “mHealth 2.0” will facilitate transfer of data between the consumer and their providers’ EHR, allowing healthcare providers to share information and more proactively deliver care. For healthcare, we envision a solution that drives compliance, monitors patient progress and triggers communication between provider and consumer, all through interoperable systems.

    What should the industry do to take advantage of these opportunities? The most important thing is to prepare for a future where consumers (who should no longer be thought of simply as patients) have access to more information (their information). This will require healthcare companies build systems that both facilitate this and are prepared to receive and interpret the real-time data that’s being generated. The second area of potential is to empower consumers and providers by making the data actionable – think of simplified presentation layers, communications and analytics as places to start.

    As mobile consumption continues to rise in healthcare, the smartphone in your pocket will become a low-cost, portable health and wellness hub that will empower consumer-driven care. Through the convergence of universal availability, mobility, connectivity, ease of use and low cost, consumers will take a more proactive role in their health, making mHealth a truly positive disruptive force in healthcare.

    Sanjay Pingle is president of Skyscape and Physicians Interactive Holdings and has oversight of the combined Pharma and eCommerce business. Prior to joining PI, he was co-founder and executive vice president of Medsite, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical marketing firm that has been named a market leader by Forrester, Jupiter Research and Frost & Sullivan.

    Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , ,

    PI Index