MedTech Pharma Marketing

Digital marketing in MedTech and Pharma

Is digital marketing in MedTech and Pharma similar? Understanding the specifics of MedTech and Digital Health digital marketing is essential to success.

MedTech digital marketing

The four main components of digital marketing in the medical devices industry are digital strategy consulting, digital content creation and management, digital campaign execution, and analytics.

  • Digital Marketing Consulting involves helping MedTech companies assess their priorities and strengths, optimize their operations and innovation, and develop effective go-to-market strategies.
  • Digital content creation and management involves producing engaging and informative content for various channels such as email, social media, blogs, webinars, etc. that showcase medical devices’ value proposition and benefits.
  • Digital campaign execution involves designing and implementing marketing campaigns that target specific segments of healthcare professionals (HCPs) or patients using digital tools such as CRM systems, marketing automation platforms, SEO/SEM techniques, etc.
  • Digital analytics involves measuring and evaluating the performance and impact of digital marketing activities using data-driven methods such as web analytics, customer feedback surveys, ROI calculations, etc.

Digital consulting is a vital component of digital marketing for medical devices and should be a first step. It helps MedTech companies to:

  • Define their vision and goals for digital transformation
  • Assess their current capabilities and gaps
  • Develop a roadmap and action plan for implementing digital solutions
  • Align their organization and culture with digital best practices

Digital marketing of medical devices in comparison to pharmaceuticals

Digital marketing for Medical Devices in many aspects is similar to the pharmaceutical industry, however, there are significant differences.

What are the similarities between MedTech and Pharma digital marketing?

  • Both Pharma and MedTech use digital tools to inform and influence HCPs and patients about their products and services.
  • Both industries rely on data and analytics to measure and optimize their digital marketing activities.
  • Medical Devices face regulatory challenges and compliance issues when engaging with their audiences online that are similar to those in pharmaceuticals.

The key differences between Pharma and Medical Devices digital marketing are that:

  • Medtech companies tend to have more complex products that require more technical expertise and demonstration than pharma companies.
  • Medtech companies have a wider range of stakeholders to consider, such as hospital administrators, payers, distributors, etc. than pharma companies.
  • Medtech companies have more opportunities to leverage digital health and digital therapeutics (DTx), such as connected devices, apps, sensors, etc. that can enhance their value proposition and customer experience than pharma companies

Outsourcing digital marketing services in the MedTech industry

Medical device companies may look for different services or support when deciding to outsource digital marketing, depending on their needs and goals.

Some possible services or support are:

  • Quality assurance: ensuring that the digital marketing activities comply with regulatory standards and best practices.
  • Content production and management: producing digital content or products such as websites, apps, videos, etc. that showcase the features and benefits of medical devices.
  • E-commerce: setting up and managing online platforms that allow customers to order and purchase medical devices easily and securely.
  • Virtual sales channels: creating and maintaining digital tools that enable sales reps to communicate and demonstrate medical devices to HCPs remotely.
  • Data analytics: collecting and analyzing data from digital marketing activities to measure performance, optimize campaigns, and generate insights

Generally, smaller MedTech companies may need more comprehensive and flexible services and support than larger companies, as they may have less experience and capacity for digital marketing. Larger companies may need more specialized and customized support than smaller companies, as they may have more complex and diverse needs for digital marketing.

Some possible factors that influence digital marketing service requirements are:

  • The type and complexity of medical devices that the company produces or sells.
  • The level of expertise and resources that the company has internally for digital marketing.
  • The scope and scale of digital marketing activities that the company wants to undertake.
  • The budget and timeline that the company has for digital marketing outsourcing.

The skillset of MedTech digital marketer

Some of the skills of a digital marketing expert from pharma are transferrable to provide medical device digital marketing services too. For example, both sectors require:

  • Knowledge of regulatory requirements and compliance standards.
  • Ability to create engaging and informative content for different audiences and channels.
  • Proficiency in using various digital tools and platforms to design, execute, and measure campaigns.

However, there are also some differences between pharma and medical device digital marketing that may require additional skills or adaptation. The key differences are that:

  • Medical device customers have different expectations and needs than pharma customers. They may be more interested in product features, benefits, demonstrations, or testimonials than in disease mechanisms or outcomes.
  • Medical devices are more diverse and complex than drugs. They can range from tissue grafts to prostheses to digital devices and apps. They may also have different modes of action, indications, or usage scenarios.
  • Medical devices may have shorter product life cycles than drugs. They may face more competition or innovation from other players in the market. They may also require more frequent updates or upgrades.

Therefore, a digital marketing expert to excel in the Medical Devices industry may need to understand the nuances of device marketing and how to tailor their strategies accordingly. MedTech digital marketing specialist has to learn about the specific types of devices they are marketing and how they work, who they serve, and what value they offer. Finally, digital marketer in MedTech industry has to be flexible and agile in responding to changing market conditions and customer feedback.

Regulatory requirements for medical device digital marketing

Regulatory requirements for medical device digital marketing vary depending on the type of device, the market, and the channel. Some of the general requirements are:

  • Medical device digital marketing must be truthful, accurate, and not misleading.
  • Medical device digital marketing must comply with the relevant laws and regulations of each country or region where they operate.
  • Medical device digital marketing must respect the data privacy and security of customers and users.

Some examples of specific regulatory requirements for medical device digital marketing are:

  • The Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) applies since 26 May 2021 in the European Union. It sets out new rules for placing medical devices on the market, including requirements for clinical evidence, post-market surveillance, labeling, and advertising.
  • The In Vitro Diagnostic Devices Regulation (IVDR) applies since 26 May 2022 in the European Union. It replaces Directive 98/79/EC and introduces new classification rules, conformity assessment procedures, performance evaluation requirements, etc. for in vitro diagnostic devices.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides guidance documents with digital health content for medical device manufacturers in the United States. They cover topics such as software as a medical device, mobile medical applications, clinical decision support software, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence/machine learning, etc.
Digital Health MedTech Pharma Marketing

MoovCare – a clinically proven mHealth app in lung cancer treatment

MoovCare, a mHealth app to help patients with lung cancer presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting.

moovcare on tablet
MoovCare tablet interface

An Israeli company Sivan Innovation and the Cancer Institute of Western France are behind MoovCare – a mHealth application presented at the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago.

MoovCare claims to be the first application of its kind. It allows controlling lung cancer treatment based on reports on outcomes submitted by patients via web or mobile-connected devices. It enables the early identification of relapse or complications requiring rapid and specific care.
According to the clinical data from the III phase randomized study on 300 patients as presented at ASCO, this mHealth application provides direct benefit in terms of prolonged survival.

The main advantage of using the app in lung cancer therapy is early detection of relapse, which is symptomatic and typical for lung cancer. This allows optimal treatment and in turn increases of survival rate among patients.

An additional effect of the app is improved treatment compliance (observance of scheduled visits, lower number of inopportune phone calls, lower number of imaging). All this at a comparatively very low cost of less than 10 000 USD versus 265 000 USD per one CT-scan for Lung Cancer.

How does MoovCare work?

MoovCare mHealth app lung cancer Mode of Action – Sivan Innovation
MoovCare mHealth app lung cancer Mode of Action – Sivan Innovation

MoovCare is being “prescribed” to ambulatory patients. Patients are asked to fill in the web-based form each week, self-assessing 12 clinical parameters and having a free text field to enter any information they consider of importance. Data are securely passed and processed within the application. An algorithm behind MoovCare analyses the data provided and in case of any anomaly detected reports it to the oncologist and hospital dashboard. Based on the alert from Moovcare healthcare providers can contact patients and take any necessary action.
Company and research behind MoovCare.

MoovCare is a product of Sivan Innovation. Founded in 2014 in Jerusalem by Daniel Israel, Sivan Innovation is an Israeli E-health start-up and R&D company.

The research presented at ASCO has been conducted by Dr. Fabrice Denis at the Cancer Institute of Western France

MoovCare is a perfect example of how digital innovation, mHealth, and IoT trends are positively impacting healthcare and patient outcomes. We look forward to seeing more of such innovations coming not only from startups such as Sivan innovation but also from Big Pharma companies with their vast R&D resources.

Pharma Marketing

Pharma digital marketing in the U.S. Spending more and wrong.

The US Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industry 2014: Digital Ad Spending Forecast and Trends, a new report from eMarketer shows that Pharma Marketing spending on digital remains on steady 3.0% of the total digital ad spending level. Unfortunately half of it is spent wrong.
This has been a common joke of marketers and advertisers for a long time: If I only knew which half I spend on wrong tactics I would make myself and my company rich. However, jokes aside, at K-message we can clearly see which quarter of this budget is going wrong way. We talk serious money here, healthcare and pharma ad spending is now at USD 1.41 bn level, and by 2017 we will pass the threshold of two billions.

US Healthcare and Pharma Industry Digital Ad Spending 2012-2018. Source:
US Healthcare and Pharma Industry Digital Ad Spending 2012-2018. Source:

eMarketer takes into account all healthcare and pharmaceutical digital marketing spending in the United States. It includes prescribed (Rx) and over the counter (OTC) products, specific products and services addressed to healthcare professionals, as well as direct to consumer advertising of products, services, hospitals, health insurers etc.
More than half of this budget (56%) goes for direct response advertisement. The remainder of 44% is spent on branding campaigns. This is an artificial segmentations, as the objective of campaign usually is not so clear in the American, DTC driven market. Every branding effort may bring direct response.
What is more striking in eMarketer’s report is the share of spending on healthcare and pharma digital marketing by channel. It seems that mobile is still an ugly duckling for pharma marketers, who dedicate only 26.5% of their budget to mobile formats.
It is incredible if you look at this from the perspective. The same crowd that claims “we want more direct response and we spend more than half of our budget for it” in the same time neglects the channel that is the best to accomplish this objective.
Healthcare and pharma marketing is the single industry that spends on mobile the smallest chunk of its budget. Even PC makers spend 33% of their budget on mobile, but we in Pharma remain connected to the desktop. If we go mobile, pharma marketing focus mostly on mobile search advertisement.
US Digital Ad Spending by Industry and Channel 2014, Source:
US Digital Ad Spending by Industry and Channel 2014, Source:

We can try to persuade ourselves, that there is some logical reasoning behind this inefficient budget allocation. However, at K-message we tend to believe that the only reason to avoid mobile advertising in pharma is simply change-aversion. Mobile advertisement is well regulated, rules are clear, and results are easily measurable. It allows better interaction than PC in many dimensions: it can be geo-located, instant, personalized. The only disadvantage over display ad on PC screen? It requires additional work.
Digital marketing is not a rocket science that Pharma R&D are performing. You can start simply with text messaging in your next multichannel campaign. Make sure that your next edetailing is part of the CLM. Give your audience some thrill with elements of gaming. Do not fly everyone to the remote conference site, use virtual one instead. This is pharma digital marketing, not putting banners every here and there.
We really hope that pharma marketers will surprise eMarketer by proving they know how to use digital marketing tactics efficiently. Fingers crossed!

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Pharma Marketing

Top 3 Key Lessons on Social Media in the Pharmaceutical Industry

On 22nd and 23rd of January in London I was honored to be a speaker at the Social Media in the Pharmaceutical Industry conference. Now back in Swiss Pharma capital city – Basel, let me summarize the key lessons on the social media in pharma industry I took back from the United Kingdom.

Social Network Analysis book cover [social media in pharmaceutical industry]
Social Network Analysis book cover (Photo credit: Matthew Burpee)
First of all, the event itself was really worth to attend. If you heard alarm bells buzzing on the bullshit bingo sequence of social media in pharma, this time it would be a false alarm. Not because of my humble presence, but because of the other participants and the content of their presentations. The chairwoman of the event, my ex-colleague at Roche, now enjoying freedoms of the external consultant, Alexandra Fulford (@pharmaguapa) made sure that we were not lost on the way. Having said that, let us digest the content of the conference.

Social Media in Pharmaceutical Industry Key Learning #1: Social Media is not a marketer’s toy, but a source of powerful intelligence data. A Big Data!

A diagram of a social network [social media in pharmaceutical industry]
A diagram of a social network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My senior colleague from Roche, Dr. Alfred R. Steinhardt now in the hat of PA Consulting Group and his own Alfred Steinhardt Consulting, showed us an incredible power of the Social Media used not for standard “what they said about us”. Dr. Steinhardt provided example of social media used by pharmaceutical industry for recruitment to clinical trials (social patient). We could also see social media as a tool to identify and engage with Key Opinion Leaders (in this new world, aren’t they rather Influencers?) who do not necessarily recruit from academia as in the past. Maybe most striking, even if not the most common usage of Social Media was tracking origin of counterfeit drugs sold online.
As we discussed after the presentation, Social Media is not such a big revolution as some pundits say and it will not replace scientific method with statistical analysis of huge amounts of data. Still it is an extremely useful tool that should be looked at out of plain pharma marketing perspective. Which was further confirmed by Dr. Sherri Matis-Mitchell, an Associate Principal Information Scientist R&D Information at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Matis showed us how Social Media, when properly used, can provide important answers to R&D teams in pharma industry and help identify unmet needs of patients.

Social Media in Pharmaceutical Industry Key Learning #2: Legal Team is not a threat (and can be a savior) for social media in pharma.

Let's Make It Legal [social media in pharmaceutical industry]
Let’s Make It Legal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An eye opening presentation of Audrey Hagege, a Legal Manager and Todd Kolm (@toddkolm), VP and Head of Global Digital Strategy from Sanofi showed us not only what Legal Teams think about Social Media. Even more important was how distorted is an image of legal teams in the eyes of us, digital marketers working on social media in pharma. At the end it is easy – just let your legal or compliance officer know what you are going to do. They are in the organization to help and protect, and not to stop any activities.
On the other hand, while social media in pharma is becoming more and more regulated, I had an impression that some of our colleagues are going dangerously close to the line. Ms. Müge Gizem Bıçakçı Akalın (@MGizemBA), a New Promotional Models Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim’s Turkish affiliate shared with us plans to promote a Facebook page of a feminine avatar with a name very closely resembling a brand of prescribed drug for menstrual pains. Is it already promotion and communication DTC, or still just a disease awareness campaign? Let’s hope Gizem has very good friends in her legal team and they are crystal clear about their legal framework.

Social Media in Pharmaceutical Industry Key Learning #3: Social media in pharma can be measured and data driven (but not always is).

Gary Monk (@Garymonk) from Havas Lynx and John Pugh (@JohnPugh) from BI shared similar thoughts on how to measure efficiency of pharma activities in social media. As we were sitting in the UK, for obvious reasons there were not much about direct impact on sales. However, we could see important metrics on the engagement. Both speakers provided some hints on what can be improved in Facebook and Twitter presence of the analysed brands, but it is not what is the most interesting from my point of view.  
What is more important is just an attempt to step back and look at those activities and try to measure them against each other. Then track what works and what is not. How your facebook page welcomes user? How fast do you respond (do you)? How often do you tweet? Do you follow others and do you retweet or share their posts? What makes Eli Lilly or Boehringer more successful in Social Media than in the market? We can find those answers, and we should as we are no longer pioneers in the social media. It is time to treat it as a serious communication channel with real budget and real targets to meet.
The lessons on social media in pharma listed above are not a comprehensive list. I have learnt much more, and I am going to share those lessons soon on K-message in other posts. There were great examples of social media and digital in action. Mobile app helping patients to fight against depression (Claire Perrin), Catz against Asthma (Ben Furber @BenFurber), Knowledge database available online to HCPs thanks to Merck and their Univadis (Thibaud Guymard @thibaudguymard), I will not be able to mention them all now. But I can now say thank you to all participants, speakers, and SMi for making this event so inspiring. Thank you!

Pharma Marketing

FDA Guidance on Social Media in Pharma: We need more of this

Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has announced its draft guidance on Social Media in Pharma. What question does it answer and what remains still unregulated? What are the consequences of this guidance and expected next steps? 

English: Logo of the .
English: Logo of the FDA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When finalized this guidance will regulate all Internet activities of pharmaceutical companies operating in the United States. The guidance was long expected by the pharma industry. According to earlier announcements from FDA more comprehensive guidance shall be released by July 2014.

Main proposals of the new FDA guidance for Social Media in Pharma

Pharma companies responsibility for the content published in social media:

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]

  1. A firm is responsible for product promotional communications on sites that are owned, controlled,  created, influenced, or operated by, or on behalf of, the firm.

  2. Under certain circumstances, a firm is responsible for promotion on third-party sites.

  3. A firm is responsible for the content generated by an employee or agent who is acting on behalf of the firm to promote the firm’s product.


Pharma companies obligation to submit interactive promotional materials to FDA:

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]

  1. At the time of initial display, a firm should submit in its entirety all sites for which it is responsible on Form FDA 2253 or Form FDA 2301. For example, the firm should submit the comprehensive static product website with the addition of the interactive or real-time components.

  1. For third-party sites on which a firm’s participation is limited to interactive or real-time communications, a firm should submit the home page of the third-party site, along with the interactive page within the third-party site and the firm’s first communication, on Form FDA 2253 or Form FDA 2301 at the time of initial display.

  1. Once every month, a firm should submit an updated listing of all non-restricted sites for which it is responsible or in which it remains an active participant and that include interactive or real-time communications. Firms need not submit screenshots or other visual representations of the actual interactive or real-time communications with the monthly updates.

  1. However, if a site has restricted access and, as such, FDA may not have access to the site, a firm  should submit all content related to the discussion (e.g., all UGC about the topic), which may or may not include independent UGC, to adequately provide context to facilitate the review. Screenshots or other visual representations of the actual site, including the interactive or real-time communications, should be submitted monthly on Form FDA 2253 or Form FDA 2301.

  2. When submitting the site, FDA recommends that a firm take formatting factors (e.g., appearance, layout, visual impression) into consideration to enable the Agency to view the communications as a whole.


What the industry expected to be addressed? Is it addressed with the new FDA draft guidance?

In general FDA has addressed two of five main points raised by pharmaceutical companies. Those are responsibility for the content published in the Internet and in Social Media, and 2253 Submissions requirements.

Internet control and 3rd party controlled social media responsibility

FDA has defined scope of responsibility for pharma companies. In general pharmaceutical companies are responsible for any content that they have control or influence on. Let us repeat the phrasing of the document:

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]
Pharma companies responsibility for the content published in social media:
1. A firm is responsible for product promotional communications on sites that are owned, controlled,  created, influenced, or operated by, or on behalf of, the firm.

2. Under certain circumstances, a firm is responsible for promotion on third-party sites.

3. A firm is responsible for the content generated by an employee or agent who is acting on behalf of the firm to promote the firm’s product.


2253 Submissions

FDA requires all prescription drug labeling and advertising to be submitted at the time of initial dissemination through an FDA Form 2253. [21 C.F.R. § 314.81 (b)(3)(i)].

Until this draft guidance however, it was not clear what are companies obligations for submitting social media content. For the sake of security social media activities were limited to the safe topics and avoided mentions of any product. It may change now, as the guidance states clearly what and when should be submitted to the Agency. While industry may not be happy with the request to feed FDA with all User Generated Content that may be considered promotional, at least now everyone knows what to report.

What is left unanswered by the new FDA Guidance on Social Media in Pharma?

Space limitations and one click statement rule

FDA requires that every promotional material includes comprehensive information about the product, including safety information. Due to space limitation and “hypertexted” nature of the digital media, pharmaceutical industry developed theory of  so called “one-click rule”. The assumption was that to meet FDA’s expectation it is enough to provide on the interactive promotional material a link to the website that would include required information.

This has been questioned by the Agency which issued enforcement letters to 14 companies who used Google display advertisement where risk information was available under “one-click”. In the following statements FDA declined existence of any one-click rule, but did not offer any alternative. New guidance does not refer to this aspect of the regulation. Therefore any promotional activities mentioning pharmaceutical products on platforms with limited message space ie. on Twitter are still not possible.

Off-label discussions

Another issue that is not addressed by the guidance is off-label use discussion. Promotional messages may not recommend or suggest the drug for off-label uses. Technically it means that anyone in relation to the company is not allowed to even mention any use of the drug that is not approved by FDA. Any response to such mention in social media by pharmaceutical company may be considered as suggesting and therefore promoting off-label use. As we are discussing here open communication channels available to general public, even scientifically valid and supported by pending trials question about any product use that is not approved has to remain unanswered. This limitation remains in force with the new draft guidelines.

Drug Safety and Adverse Events Reporting

Drug Safety or Pharmacovigilance is probably the most important reason why embracing social media in pharma marketing is so slow. It is extremely important (human life is at stake), and there are too many questions unanswered around it.

The first obligation is to provide possibility to report any adverse event to the public. For websites addressed to US-based audience it is usually solved by adding MedWatch icon/link, or easily available report form. In social media this is much more difficult, as there is no way to include such link in every message.

If the company engages in social media, should not it also proactively monitor this space for any possible adverse events? Companies are obliged to report any AE found within limited timeframe, but there is possibility that report is discovered long after it was posted online. It may be written in exotic language and not recognized immediately.

Another question is if the company is obliged to actively pursue any post that may be adverse event but does not include all necessary information for AER. If that would be the case the workload could be overwhelming. Another complication is when the post mentions generic name of the drug manufactured and distributed by many companies. Shall all of them contact the original poster to find out missing information?

Those questions remain unanswered with the draft guidelines.

What will happen next?

All interested parties can submit their comments to FDA within 90 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register (01/14/2014) to electronically or in written form to the addresses provided in the document. We also expect more comprehensive guidance as mandated in FDA Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) of 2012. Section 1121 of FDASIA orders FDA to, “issue guidance that describes FDA policy regarding the promotion, using the Internet (including social media), of medical products that are regulated by the FDA.”.

Although in his e-mail conversation with Regulatory Focus Stephen King, FDA’s spokesman maintains that the guidance released on 13 January 2014 actually meets the statutory requirements of FDASIA, FDA “plans to issue additional guidance for drug and device manufacturers related to the Internet and social media,”  Those documents, according to the same spokesman: “Issues with character space limitations, links (the appropriate use of links), and sponsor correction of misinformation about their products disseminated by third parties.” We may then wait longer than expected for full set of regulations, but at least some steps have been done and we know that there is no need to submit every tweet to FDA before publication.
Full text of the FDA guidance: Guidance for Industry Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements for Postmarketing Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics
Federal Register link

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Pharma Marketing

Top 5 pharma marketing trends in 2014

Approaching end of the year experts have two options to choose. The first and a safer one is to summarize past twelve months. The second, more dangerous but also more exciting is to predict what will happen next year. At K-message we find the latter option much more useful and interesting. Please enjoy our prediction of the Top 5 pharma marketing trends of 2014 below.

Top 5 pharma marketing trends for 2014
Top 5 pharma marketing trends for 2014

1. Integration of digital tactics within multi-channel marketing. Leveraging Closed Loop Marketing and Big Data advantages by more mature organizations.

CLM - Closed Loop Marketing
CLM – Closed Loop Marketing

For years digital marketing was treated as a fifth wheel in pharma business. Whatever we say, the truth is that those organizations are made of sales force. And digital marketing for sales force was just another marketing gimmick that does not add value but a workload and cost.

However, during past few years this traditional sales force thinking was challenged. Payers pressure forced companies to reduce ranks of sales representatives. Regulatory decisions have limited possibility of sales reps to meet HCPs. The result is that sales rep cannot meet his Client often enough to detail the product and maintain relationship in the same time.

Digital came to help with e-detailing and web-based self-detail solutions. CRM software supports reps with data that allow reps to have a meaningful conversation with HCPs they barely know. Combining detailing during visits with digital tactics and good old direct marketing is our new buzz word: a Multi Channel Marketing (MCM).

This Multi Channel Marketing approach allows even better results with something Pharma marketers call Closed Loop Marketing (CLM). What does it mean? It is a feedback loop that feeds every next action with the information gathered in previous touch points.

[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]For example: If doctor X has logged in to the website of the product or disease area and searched for particular information (be it safety data or Mode of Action), his activity is logged in the system. Sales who will prepare for the meeting will get his eDetailing story focused on the topics that were of interest of doctor X during his journey on the website. eDetailing application also logs data about activity of the doctor X. It will note which parts were opened longer, which multimedia were presented, what answers doctor X gave to the quizzes embedded in the story.

Those data combined may be used to shape the content of personalized newsletter send to the doctor X as the follow-up for the visit. When doctor X clicks on the link and goes to the self-detailing website his activities will feed any next action that company can offer (be it web conference or CME online course assignment proposal).[/box]

The concept is easy to describe, but very hard to achieve. Big Pharma usually has many different tools for each activity used by different business units at the same time. The data gathered across different channels are not only not standardized, but often they are not gathered at all.
Our prediction is that 2014 will be the year of integration of digital with other channels. Multi Channel Marketing campaigns, made better or worse will become a standard approach. Digital channels will become a core of those campaigns as they offer the most advanced and effortless data collection capabilities. When integration is done, more mature organization will start to play with Big Data, looking for the behavioral patterns, segmentation and optimized content.

2. Virtual conferences

Medical conferences are vital for pharma business. Unfortunately the cost of attending is too high for participants, and regulations are limiting possibilities of the industry to sponsor the attendance. The emerging trend is to compliment (if not replace) physical meetings with a digital, virtual presence.

Virtual conferences have many advantages that may not be obvious. They are cheap to organize, free to attend, accessible worldwide, and they do not have to be limited in time. Additionally virtual conference attendee can go to all the sessions one after another, pause and replay. While in real time of the event, there is possibility to network and perform Q and A sessions. If the event is replayed there is also possibility to maintain asynchronous communication via discussion boards or e-mail lists. Virtual event can be live for months and create a community around.


Webcasting Virtual Conference - Source: ON24
Webcasting Virtual Conference – Source: ON24

There are still some regulatory compliance objections (ie. no discussion on off-label, still researched use can be broadcasted and replayed outside of the physical event timeframe). There is still a group of attendees that strongly prefer physical meetings due to networking opportunities and informal chats. Technical solutions are not perfect and most of 3D meeting environments look like a joke in comparison with what consumer market offers for massive multiplayer online games.

Still, virtual conferences will become a common digital marketing tactic for pharma marketing in 2013. We recommend an exhaustive presentation on virtual conferences by Len Starnes below.

The medical conference is dead, long live the medical conference from Len Starnes

3. Embracing Social Media
It has to come some day: Pharma in Social Media. To be honest this trend is on the list since 2010 at least. Anyway, the time has come we believe. There are many factors that make 2014 a year when pharma should finally embrace social media.

20111230-NodeXL-Twitter-pfizer network graph
20111230 NodeXL-Twitter-pfizer network graph (Photo credit: Marc_Smith)

The major one is coming from the unexpected corner. Industry was long hesitant to enter social media space due to the drug safety consideration. If you participate in Social Media it means you need to actively monitor it against any adverse events reports. The standard practice was however, to assume that if pharma is not listening it cannot be obliged to report. On the other hand such assumption may be wrong, so as soon as there is a tweet that meets all four conditions, pharma company will be probably considered obliged to find it and report. Thus, we believe that drug safety teams should push their organizations towards monitoring of social media.

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]
Reminder: information needed for valid Adverse Event

  • An identifiable patient
  • An identifiable reporter

  •  A suspect drug or biological product

  •  An adverse experience or fatal outcome suspected to be due to the suspect drug or biological product.[/box]

Another change that may increase Social Media priority on digital pharma marketing tactics list is Google’s algorithm. Social signals are more important than backlinks and Google+ or YouTube presence is a shortcut to the first page on Google Search results. If pharma wants to have their web presence visible, especially on the US market where DTC marketing is allowed, Social Media is a must have.

Third factor to consider is, well, social. The generational change in attitude towards social media affects HCPs too. They are active in Social Media, and they will talk about industry in this space regardless of pharma marketing presence there. At K-message we believe that big platforms, and especially Google+ will continue to grow in 2014 at the cost of closed niche communities like Sermo or To be efficient Pharma marketing should listen to the conversation, and engage whenever appropriate. Influencers of 2014 are in the social web, not in the conference room.

4. Mobile apps decline, raise of the mobile web.

This trend is not limited to pharma marketing. Mobile applications are really dead end for marketers in 2014. Due to the war of ecosystems and difference in mobile usage habits between regions and countries it is just not viable to create mobile applications. To reach your target audience you need to prepare few versions customized per OS, data usage etc. Very often such costly effort is done only to find out that the content not compliant week after launch and cannot be updated.

QRcode -
QRcode –

Still, mobile is on the rise, and you will definitely see John Doerr’s abbreviation “SoLoMo” (Social, Local, Mobile) on some slides in 2014. The answer is not the app but the mobile web. The content pharma marketing has to create should work on the small screen from the beginning. Every new website should be designed starting from mobile and tablet experience or at least have a mobile version available. And “mobile” does not mean that it fits the small screen. It is about making the content fit for mobile experience.

5. More visual content marketing


Pretty Pinterest
Pretty Pinterest (Photo credit: mkhmarketing)

This fifth (although probably not the last trend you will see in pharma marketing 2014) trend is directly connected to Social and Mobile trends we discussed above. Content is the king for marketers in pharma for years, but in the age of social and mobile it cannot be text-only content.

On small screens and in social space image is worth more than thousands words. We will see videos, interactive infographics, images and animations. YouTube, Slideshare, Instagram, Pinterest. This is the content that is accessible on mobile, but also shared on social platforms. Of course pharma marketing cannot skip the text, but even for scientific, medical information there is a way to visualise it.

Pharma Marketing

Gamification in Pharma Marketing Explained with Examples

Gamification in pharma marketing is one of the hot topics of recent years. In this article you will learn what is gamification, see the examples of gamification used in pharma business (both marketing gamification and education gamification). We will also show the potential of social gamification, and try to show how to insert gamification into your app, website and other digital activities.

What is Gamification? Definition not only for Pharma Marketing.

One of the simplest and most appealing definition of gamification is: 
[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]”Gamification is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts” [Source: Deterding, S., Dixon D., Khaled, R., and Nacke, L. From game design elements to gamefulness: defining “gamification” (2011). Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, ACM, New York.].[/box]

What does it mean?
“Gamification” refers to

  • the use (rather than the extension) of
  • design (rather than game-based technology or other game-related practices)
  • elements (rather than full-fledged games)
  • characteristic for games (rather than play or playfulness)
  • in non-game contexts (regardless of specific usage intentions, contexts, or media of implementation).

Game design elements can be divided by the level of abstraction, starting from using game interface patterns (ie. using badges or leaderboards), to game design methods (ie. value conscious game design).

game design patterns

game mechanics

game principles and heuristics

game models

game design methods

badge, leaderboard

time or resource limitation, player turns

clear goals, recognition of different game styles

Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics (MDA), Core elements of gaming experience (CEGE )

Playcentric design, value conscious game design

Most applications of gamification in pharma marketing nowadays limits use of  game design elements to the first three levels. It is relatively easy and a no-brainer to add some badge or status to the user profile in hope that it would increase activity or completeness of the data provided. On the other hand, using game models and designing user journey with conscious application of game theory may bring the highest level of engagement and the best conversion rates.
As we mentioned “game theory” it is worth to explain this term as well. Basically, game theory is a study of how people make strategic decisions. The foundation of modern game theory is a classic 1944 work Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by mathematician John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern. Game theory tries to explain and provide mathematical models for decision making process. Using game theory in real life is difficult as the world does not provide to players full information, and “utility” or the prize in the game does not have to be considered equally by players. Still for the digital marketer game theory provides useful models to make some actions more attractive for users than others.

How to Apply Gamification in Pharma Marketing Campaign?

There are six essential elements of gamification that you can use to improve your key message delivery.

  1. Playful design. Going through your campaign should be attributed to the world of play, not work. Your audience should be attracted to the message because it is enjoyable for them, not because you paid them or they were ordered to participate. It is easier said than done, but you should make an effort to provide user with the environment that is not connected with daily work routine, use positive stimuli or feedback whenever possible etc.
  2. Clear rules. Every game has its rules, and going through your message delivery should have it too. There has to be clear logic in how user goes through it
  3. Defined objectives and intermediate goals to meet. Put within the message some smaller tasks that can be quick-wins for users, as well as a  big hairy goal to be rewarded for at the end of the journey.
  4. Competition. It does not have to be based on other players, it can be competition against time. Still leaderboards, badges and points are one of the easiest tricks that encourage participation and accomplishing tasks. On the other hand, this competition should not be too hard, unless you want players to drop-off frustrated early in the game.
  5.  Rewards. Provide a constant feedback in form of the rewards for accomplishment of the task (to encourage progress) or just staying in the game (to maintain user-retention).
  6. Continuous challenge.  Achieving each next step in the game should be bit harder. Otherwise the game would be boring. You do not want to make the tasks too hard either. Thus the best option is to make sure that level one prepares user for level two. If you properly match achieved skill with the next challenge the game will have a “flow” that will keep your users fully engaged.

Looking at the list above, you probably noticed, that gamification as a concept must be embedded in the campaign even before the content is created or the channels and technologies of content delivery are selected.

Gamification in Pharma Marketing: Can We Do It?

Pharma marketing approach to gamification is somehow ambivalent. On the one side, gamification is a buzz word that flies around industry conference rooms. We see some examples of gamification in pharma marketing that worked or not, we also tend to call gamification activities that were just games, and we are bombed by the agencies who can name every product gamification as long as Big Pharma is going to pay for that.
But when we flip the coin, there is this other side. In general it is not very inline with regulatory compliance to even think about “games” or “playfulness” in the context of life and death. Which is the usual context of pharma marketing. Even if you think about CME – your patient does not have three lives to lose in case his pathologist did not score well a cancer on the tissue sample.
The questions remains: “Can we do gamification in pharma marketing? And shall we?
At K-message we believe, that pharma marketing not only should implement gamification, but it has an obligation to do so. This is especially because of the purpose of the pharma marketing job – we work to deliver the best possible treatment to the suffering patients. And if we have any means that can possibly help us in this task, ignoring it is equal to negligence.
There is only one thing to keep in mind, the gamification, as every other marketing tactic in our toolbox, has to be implemented by in a professional way. It means it has to be done by a specialist, after careful consideration of all the campaign elements that we are going to gamify,  and with a solid smart objective behind it.
While researching for this piece we encountered many examples of pharma marketers being misguided. It is very important to remember
[box type=”warning” align=”aligncenter” ]Gamification is not “making a game”. Yes, even if this game is an application for the iPad.[/box]
Gamification is use of game design elements in non-game contexts. If it is a game only, it is not gamification. It is just a game.
This common mistake makes plenty of examples of apparently successful gamification in pharma marketing just a gimmick.

Good and Bad: Examples of Gamification in Pharma Marketing


It is a pharma marketing game but not a gamification!

A famous SYRUM from Boehringer Ingelheim is not a gamification. It is just a brand image campaign and way to get access to user profiles in Social Media. Game elements are not used in out of game context, it was a game used to attract users. By the way, the imagery and general tone of SYRUM makes us question whether this campaign is targeting appropriate audience.

Syrum Logo © 2012 Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH.
Syrum Logo © 2012 Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH.

Social Gamification in Pharma R&D

In the same time Boehringer Ingelheim has properly used gamification in their Predicting a Biological Response competition made with Kaggle. In the contest with a $20,000 awards poll participants were looking for a model to predict mutability of new, previously unseen compounds.

Kaggle -  Boehringer Ingelheim Study
Kaggle – Boehringer Ingelheim Study

Similarly to Predicting a Biological Response, a good example of gamification that supports pharma R&D is a Cell Slider. This application was Cancer Research UK and Zooniverse. This simple app presents a snap of a tissue, blood cell or irregular sample with cancer. Users are able to classify samples. So far game uses breast cancer samples. The yellow stain indicates levels of a protein found in cancer cells called the oestrogen receptor (ER).
Click to Cure - Cancer Research UK and Zooniverse Cell Slider
Click to Cure – Cancer Research UK and Zooniverse Cell Slider

The job that would take months or years of work of trained pathologists is now crowdsourced. So far almost 2 million images were analysed and classified. Game provides a constant feedback and challenge varies depending on the sample. If user has a profile created, elements of game design are applied, including results saving.

Gamification in Pharma Marketing DTC

Another good example of gamification in pharma marketing is GoMeals, a set of applications developed for sanofi-aventis U.S. by specialized digital pharma marketing agency Intouch Solutions. GoMeals is created for people living with diabetes and promotes Sanofi’s diabetes drug Apdira.

GoMeals® Application for Healthy Living
GoMeals® Application for Healthy Living

The app, available on the web and for smartphones encourages users to make healthy choices with features for eating healthy, staying active and tracking blood glucose levels. GoMeals allows patients to see how their daily habits impact their diabetes. It also provides HCPs with the ability to see how their patient is actually doing. GoMeals uses game design elements providing users clear reports on “burnt calories”, intake from their meals, and glucose readings.
Another example from Sanofi is a gamification of diabetes tracking targeted to younger audience. A Monster Manor is a game for children with diabetes type 1, that encourages users to track their glucose levels. It is integrated with BlueLoop glucose tracker application. The app is created for Sanofi by Ayogo Health agency.
IPhone Monster Manor -
IPhone Monster Manor –

Every time children enter their BG information into the BlueLoop app they are rewarded with a “piñata” to crack open in Monster Manor. Piñatas are items with all sorts of fun inside, from “Beanz” that will help children collect more monsters, to “Gold” that will buy their monster new pets. Note that contrary to BI’s SYRUM this game has an effect outside of the game, as we gain better tracking and insights into the patient, so the whole game design was used in the context of diabetes tracking.

Gamification for CME

In the field of CME (Continuing Medical Education) gamification is seen as one of the ways to retain interest of the HCPs. One of the examples is Septris a web-based mobile application focused on Sepsis education. Created by Stanford University School of Medicine,  Septris may be used on iOS, Android and from desktop web browser. To achieve its learning objectives it introduces a game in which user is diagnosing and treating virtual “patients” while learning about Sepsis.

Gamification in Pharma Marketing: Looking Forward

As listed above there are good examples of gamification in pharma marketing. We can all learn from them, but there is still a big room for improvement. Gamification in pharma marketing goes hand in hand with mHealth, and as mobile healthcare grows there will be more of game design elements in pharma marketing campaigns.
Current focus of pharma marketers is on gamification in direct to consumer (DTC) marketing. Indeed gamification as a tactic can be very efficient in increasing patient compliance to the prescribed treatment.  However this focal point has to change, as regulatory and compliance rules out such application outside of U.S. market for any branded activities.  Disease awareness and prevention campaigns will always be worth the effort, but our prediction is that gamification may be more and more used in self-detailing and CME. So far we could not see any good example of game design application in e-detailing.
We really hope that in 2014 we will start to see first integrated campaigns with e-detailing, self-detailing combined in one “gamified” design. At the end, if we want HCPs to self-detail themselves should not we make it a playful and rewarding experience?

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Pharma Marketing

Disease awareness campaign for Alzheimer Netherlands: Chocolate Christmas Bunny

Every December we can see plenty of ads with Santa Claus theme in the copy. One of the best this year is a disease awareness campaign for Alzheimer Nederland. Created by Dutch agency N=5 (Creative Director: Lukas van de Ven;  Art Director: Hans Bolleurs;  Copywriter: Paul Bakker) intensive image reminds the public what is a daily experience of people suffering Alzheimer’s disease.

#paashaas disease awareness advertisement for Alzheimer Nederland by N=5
#paashaas disease awareness advertisement for Alzheimer Nederland by N=5

The ad quickly went viral on Twitter and made hashtag #paashaas [Easter bunny] a trending topic in the Netherlands by 5th of December. According to the N=5 it already gathered more than 900,000 impressions, which is a great result for a low-cost disease awareness campaign for such a difficult topic as Alzheimer’s disease in 16,77 million population.

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Pharma Marketing

Top 5 most expensive pharma marketing failures since 2010

Pharma marketing costs the most when it is not compliant to the regulations. Any unlawful or improper marketing campaigns in pharmaceutical can result in fines counted in billions of dollars. A report “Pharmaceutical Industry Criminal and Civil Penalties: An Update” by Public Citizen ranks the largest settlements by drugmakers, and shows these companies paid out 74 settlements to the tune of $10.2 billion from Nov. 2010 to July 2012. Public Citizen’s report does not include recent Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals settlement regarding Risperdal, Wellbutrin and Avandia misleading promotion.
Basing on the report of Public Citizen and U.S. Department of Justice data, has compiled a list of top 5 most expensive failures of pharma marketing that resulted in heavy fines.
1. $3 000 000 000 – on 2nd of July 2012, GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) has agreed to pay total 3 billion dollars to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, its failure to report certain safety data, and its civil liability for alleged false price reporting practices. There were three brands that GSK promoted against the law.

Paxil (Photo credit: ~!)

  • The first, Paxil was unlawfully promoted for treating depression in patients under age 18, even though the FDA has never approved it for pediatric use. NB. Paxil, as other antidepressants, included on its label a “black box warning” stating that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in short-term studies in patients under age 18.
  • The second brand included in the settlement was Wellbutrin. From January 1999 to December 2003, GSK promoted Wellbutrin, approved at that time only for Major Depressive Disorder, for weight loss, the treatment of sexual dysfunction, substance addictions and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, among other off-label uses. 
  • The last brand involved was Avandia. In this case GSK failed to include certain safety data about Avandia, a diabetes drug, in reports to the FDA.  Since 2007, the FDA has added two black box warnings to the Avandia label to alert physicians about the potential increased risk of congestive heart failure, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). [Source]

2. $ 2 200 000 000 – on 30th of August 2013, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals settled for 2.2 billion dollars in total multiple civil and criminal cases arising from allegations relating to the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega and Natrecor, including promotion for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and payment of kickbacks to physicians and to the U.S. largest long-term care pharmacy provider.

English: Risperdal (United Kingdom packaging)
English: Risperdal (United Kingdom packaging) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a J&J subsidiary, promoted the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to physicians and other prescribers who treated elderly dementia patients by urging the prescribers to use Risperdal to treat symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, depression, hostility and confusion. The medicine was approved at the time only to treat schizophrenia. Risperdal was also promoted for use for elderly, children and individuals with mental disabilities, against repeated FDA warnings (Until 2006 Risperdal was not approved for use in children for any purpose). For all this groups drug posed certain health risks that J&J was aware.
  • Similar allegations were made regarding to the newer J&J antipsychotic drug, Invega.  Although Invega was approved only for the treatment of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, the government alleges that, from 2006 through 2009, J&J and Janssen marketed the drug for off-label indications and made false and misleading statements about its safety and efficacy.
  • J&J and another of its subsidiaries, Scios Inc., caused false and fraudulent claims to be submitted to federal health care programs for the heart failure drug Natrecor.  In August 2001, the FDA approved Natrecor to treat patients with acutely decompensated congestive heart failure who have shortness of breath at rest or with minimal activity.  Government alleged that, shortly after Natrecor was approved, Scios launched an aggressive campaign to market the drug for scheduled, serial outpatient infusions for patients with less severe heart failure – a use not included in the FDA-approved label and not covered by federal health care programs. Scios had no sustainable evidence to support medical necessity of these outpatient infusions. [Source]

3. $1 500 000 000 – on 7th of May 2012,  Abbott Laboratories Inc. has agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of the prescription drug Depakote for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.

depakote (Photo credit: JTony)

  • Abbott admits that from 1998 through 2006, the company maintained a specialized sales force trained to market Depakote in nursing homes for the control of agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, despite the absence of credible scientific evidence that Depakote was safe and effective for that use.   In addition, from 2001 through 2006, the company marketed Depakote in combination with atypical antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, even after its clinical trials failed to demonstrate that adding Depakote was any more effective than an atypical antipsychotic alone for that use.  The FDA approved Depakote for only three uses: epileptic seizures, bipolar mania and the prevention of migraines. [Source]

4. $1 200 000 000 – on 11th of July 2012 a judge in Arkansas ordered Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen to pay more than $1.2 billion in fines on Wednesday, a day after a jury found that the companies had minimized or concealed the dangers associated with an antipsychotic drug Risperdal. For details of the allegations see number 2 of this list. Risperdal case generated also other, smaller fines in Texas ($158 million), South Carolina ($327 million) and Louisiana ($258 million). [Source]

5. $950 000 – on 22nd of November 2011, an american pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme has agreed to pay $950 million to resolve criminal charges and civil claims related to its promotion and marketing of the painkiller Vioxx® (rofecoxib).

  • Rofecoxib
    Rofecoxib (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Merck’s criminal plea relates to misbranding of Vioxx® by promoting the drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis, before that use was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA approved Vioxx® for three indications in May 1999, but did not approve its use against rheumatoid arthritis until April 2002.   In the interim, for nearly three years, Merck promoted Vioxx® for rheumatoid arthritis, conduct for which it was admonished in an FDA warning letter issued in September 2001.  Additionally Merck representatives  made inaccurate, unsupported, or misleading statements about Vioxx’s cardiovascular safety in order to increase sales of the drug. [Source]


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Pharma Marketing

How to attract seniors into Medicare Plan? Use digital channels!

Digital health has no age limit. According to the recent research, seniors are keen to use digital channels to manage their healthcare.

Seniors in the Internet

Accenture research reports that Medicare consumers are frequently (at least once daily) online. Ninety-one percent are using email frequently and 73 percent frequently search the Internet. Nearly one-third frequently login to Facebook or other social media sites.

This data comes in par with the Pew Internet & American Life Project. According to this research,  Internet use rates tripled among seniors (65 and over) and doubled among 50 to 64 year olds between 2000 and 2012. The highest growth in Internet use among all age groups during this period was among seniors 65 and over.

Broadband for Seniors kiosk
Broadband for Seniors kiosk (Photo credit: Mosman Council)

eHealth and Digital Channels for Seniors – Reality versus expectations
The 2013 Accenture Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement covered more than 9,000 adult consumers in nine countries, including about 200 US seniors. It shows that 67% of Americans 65 and older say that accessing their medical information online is very or somewhat important.
Overwhelming majority (83 percent) of US seniors thinks that they should have full access to their electronic health records, but only 28 percent actually does today. Similarly, 70 percent of survey respondents said they believe it’s important to be able to request prescription refills online, but only 46 percent can do that today.

In addition, according to the Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement, 62 percent of seniors believe it is somewhat or very important to be able to book appointments online. Over half (53 percent) say it is somewhat important or very important to email with providers, what is sadly possible only for 15 percent of surveyed seniors.

Baby Boomers and GenX-ers are getting older, too.
It is not only Accenture that points out an increasing importance of digital channels in healthcare for the seniors. Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and Philips conducted a study for Aging Well: Next Generation Tech Roundtable.
This survey results are based on responses from a sample of 1,200 Americans aged 34 to 67, weighted to reflect a nationally representative profile of baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and GenX-ers (those born between 1965 and 1976).
By 2020, an estimated 118 million Americans, or almost 40 percent of the country’s population, will be older than 50. This generation moving into this next phase of life has embraced technology and believes in its ability to help keep all of them healthy and living independently as they age.
A majority (73 percent) of all respondents declared a preference for aging at home, and almost all (more than 90 percent) said being independent and having access to quality healthcare would be important to them when they reach retirement.

Baby boomers and GenX-ers use technology frequently. Nearly seven out of ten respondents (69 percent) report a high level of comfort with technology. The level of comfort increased among younger respondents, with 75 percent of GenX-ers reporting a high level of comfort, as compared with 62 percent of “leading edge” baby boomers, or those born before 1955.

Two-thirds (67 percent) of both baby boomer and GenX respondents said they would be willing to spend between $25 and $499 per month on technology if it would help keep them at home as they age, and 13 percent said they’d spend more than $500 per month for such technology.

According to Bill Novelli, a professor at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business in Washington, D.C., and member of the Philips Aging Well Think Tank, these results reveal a huge opportunity for the healthcare industry as older people are far bigger consumers of healthcare than younger people.

Unfortunately looking at their parents experience, in the Philips/GSEI study as both Gen X and boomers feel that their aging parents (age 60+) are not utilizing technology as well as they could.

  • 53 percent of boomers and Gen X believed it would be a good thing if their parents used technology more with 45 percent stating that it will help them stay better connected with friends and family.

  • Boomers and Gen X want their aging parents to utilize monitoring technologies, such as home health monitors (45 percent) or security systems (43 percent). However, only 17 percent are using home health monitors, and 12 percent have a security system.

  • 40 percent of boomers and Gen X said their parents think technology is “too hard” to learn. Respondents point to the fact that the time involved in learning to use a device and fixing potential problems discourages use.

Call for action for the healthcare industry

“Just as seniors are turning to the Internet for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to handle certain aspects of their healthcare services online,”

– said Jill Dailey, managing director of payer strategy, Accenture Health.

“What this means for providers, and health plans is that they’ll need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctors’ offices. As the digitally engaged senior patient population continues to grow, healthcare systems need to consider the role the Internet can play in making healthcare more convenient for patients of all ages at every touch point,”

– Dailey added.

“For people to live independent, fulfilling lives in their own homes and communities as they age, technology must continue to become easier to learn and use while also being better integrated with adjacent technologies, including patient care,”

– said Bill Novelli, distinguished professor of the practice, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, and member of the Philips Aging Well Think Tank.


Healthcare providers who want to attract and retain older customers have to keep in mind growing importance of digital channels, eHealth and mHealth solutions. They are important not only as marketing tools, but also as a technology that curbs costs and helps people live better lifes while they are older.

Current status quo leaves a lot to improve. Both Accenture and Philips/GSEI research show that the demand for new technologies comes from current seniors and two generations that will become senior by 2020.


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