Thank Me Later: Insights from the PEPP Conference

When I attend a conference, I always take notes….actual, old-fashioned, hand-written onesnew notepad-01 (typically using the conference-provided pad of paper of course!)  It is my way of absorbing what the speaker is saying and it helps me to pay attention.   In an ideal world, as soon as I get back to the office I would sit down and decipher my scribbles and then take action or refer back to my “transcripts” when the need arises.  But that’s in an ideal world of course.  Instead, I often get busy with other priorities and the transcribing task gets deferred to another day, then another.  Until finally that nice pad of paper is relegated permanently to a far corner of my desk (and a far corner of my mind!)

Awesome presenters definitely make a difference

But the recent PEPP conference (DTC Perspective’s “Patient Engagement through Physicians and Pharmacists” event) was different.  I read through my notes on the plane during the return trip, and have found myself referencing those key learnings several times since then.   I believe that I felt the sense of priority because virtually all of the presentations were so good!  The event attracted speakers from a variety of pharma backgrounds – marketing, research, agency, product management – to contribute their views and results.  All of them – including of course our Rob Blazek from Rx EDGE and Cathy Paulson from Walgreens − were well-prepared and aligned their topics with the conference’s main focus.

If you weren’t at the conference, my notes will take you there…..

Below I’ve compiled a summary of my main takeaways from the conference:

sticky note 2We are moving from a world defined by the physician-patient relationship to one where the system-patient relationships will take on a bigger role.  The common ground between the healthcare provider and the IDS (Integrated Delivery Systems) will be in the areas of trust and accountability.  IDS entities and HCP’s will be more of a “partner” than pharma manufacturers will ever be.

Leveraging “big data” – it’s critical to match the marketing/message exposure to the patient needs and expectations.  We are migrating from measuring media (i.e. “tonnage and frequency”) to measuring business and patient outcomes.  (which by the way we’ve always been doing here at Rx EDGE…)

Picture1Incorporate patient stories as you continue refining and refreshing your brand identity.  When people hear stories, their brains are trying to mirror the thought processes, emotional responses, and activites of the storyteller.  Using this type of story-telling strategy can help pharma companies make more relevant connections with their patients, creating not only awareness of brands, but the value that those brands bring.

Bonnie Ben-Shmuel from Pfizer and Robert Palmer from JUICE Pharma presented a case study sharing their launch strategy for an award-winning hemophilia app.   This initiative required considerable upfront research and collaboration with patients.   The presenters made a great observation “We believe we’re experts – until we engage with patients..” which pretty much captured the essence of the conference goals!

Daryl Travis, the author of “Emotional Branding”, gave a great presentation about the impact of non-conscious influences on decision-making.  Although we’d probably all like to think we’re judicious and thoughtful about all our decisions in life, the fact is that emotional factors drive the great majority of our choices.  He gave some good examples – if we were all completely rational, we would exercise regularly, eat right every day, never lose our temper, never ever text while driving, buy things based strictly on need vs. want, and so on…  The idea behind the science of behavioral economics is to determine if this “irrationality” could be more predictable.  I believe that there are numerous ways this could be applied to the pharmaceutical world, particularly when it comes to the myriad reasons behind non-adherence.

Speaking of adherence, in her presentation “The Evolution of Adherence”, Suzanne Wilmot from Novartis talked about the key trends in the area and made a good case that we are now at a point where the “different mindsets of the patient and pharma stakeholders are converging”.

Picture4Vaccination coverage levels among adults in the U.S. are extremely low for most routine, recommended shots.  Rob Blazek from Rx EDGE and Cathy Paulson from Walgreens discussed the current landscape and the tactics and strategies currently being undertaken in this critical public health area.  They also shared insights from pharmacy programs in the Tdap, flu, and shingles categories.

Day One concluded with a panel of marketing and analytics leaders from Merck, Pfizer, and Janssen.  They offered their views on a range of topics and reinforced the need for better patient-physician synergies.  When asked about the gaps they are facing now, and what they’d like to see more of from their partners, the “ability to deliver meaningful metrics” seemed to top the list.  There is constant pressure to move faster and faster, and the data sources need to keep up.

Picture2Reem Nouh from Adams & Knight stressed that it is not so much about patient education as it is about patient engagement.  She explained the “Five M’s” – motivation, markets, methods, messaging, and metrics.  Her agency’s work with hospitals, health systems and pharma companies on several integrated marketing campaigns demonstrated how the “Five M’s” strategy came together in a unique and powerful way to help deliver results.

The Practice Fusion-Razorfish Health-Verilogue joint presentation was a bit of a jaw-dropper for me.  Using an animated video supported with transcripts, the trio shared their findings from actual patient-physician interaction:  the doctor lets the patient know he has diabetes, and then keeps rolling along with detailed information about the disease, medications, blood sugar levels, treatment protocols, and side effects – all with little more than uh-huhs and head nods from the patient (who was probably still trying to process the initial words “you have diabetes”!).  The videos and transcripts demonstrated a striking communication imbalance to say the least, and demonstrated that we have some pretty big opportunities to make the diagnosis experience more productive.

The next PEPP conference is already scheduled and will take place October 25-26 2016 in Philadelphia.  Hope to see you there!