Notes & Links: October 16, 2013

How To Build An Effective Social Marketing Strategy
I’ve struggled to find or discuss with others the topic of social media and that we need a strategy not just tactics. Greg at Digital Tonto just published this post. Immediately what stuck me was the headline a Social Marketing Strategy, not a Social Media Strategy. Since the later is a tactic not a strategy. 

Greg’s primary message is simple, in our previous marketing lives we grabbed attention now we need to HOLD attention ergo social media.

Apple stands for design.  Harley Davidson stands for friendship and camaraderie.  Red Bull stands for an extreme lifestyle.  These brands successfully engage consumers because the brand’s mission supersedes whatever they happen to be selling at any given time.

Doh! Are providers doing that? Group practices? Solo practices? What they are doing is as Greg says running longer versions of their ads with all the resident features and benefits. He notes that we should perform the following:

So the best way to start formulating a social strategy is to identify others who share your mission.  What are they doing?  What succeeds and what doesn’t?  What can we add? What can we subtract?  There’s no reason to try to reinvent the wheel.

I agree 100% but would add my own one trick pony which is identify the problems your audience wants to solve. In healthcare that is find the problems you patients are seeking solutions to and you will become an analogue to that patient. HCP and providers are already trusted, well to a point, helping solve problems secures that trust better and more effectively.

Okay wait for it… wait….

The truth is that the strength of your community has much less to do with how consumers are connected to you than how they are connected to each other.  That’s how great social brands, like Apple, Harley and eBay built devoted followings long before anyone even heard of social media.

Boom! Not just social media but a strategy.

I wrote to Greg and he responded with the following:

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to disagree with you. I actually left out needs analysis on purpose. It’s very hard to separate it from consumer analysis and then you’re down the rabbit hole. When formulating social strategy, it’s best to stay mission focused. Needs analysis is important as well, but it can wait for execution.

I realize that in health care, it’s very hard to separate the two, but you should try. It will make you rethink how you deliver content, who you partner with, etc.

Surge Of Employer Health Exchanges Is No ‘Passing Fad’
Bruce Japsen a contributor at Forbes has some positive news about healthcare and health insurance. I am trying to calm my racing heart to create the link to it. So much throwing shade regarding ACA. 

His point is that many companies are contracting with private online marketplace exchanges to provide employees with subsidy or credits t purchase the coverage they want.

The private exchanges work with each employer in the exchange deciding on the subsidy or “credit” that each worker will get to purchase coverage offered by the employer. Then, the employees take to the private exchange to select their coverage. The subsidy will vary from employer to employer.

Still, the private exchanges do work like those that are expected to be operational by states or the federal government next month under the Affordable Care Act next year in that they offer consumers more choices plus people who buy coverage are empowered to make choices for their individual needs, benefits consultants say. Open enrollment for uninsured individuals under the health law begins Oct. 1 and runs through next March.

This is good news and speaks to a type of free market where the consumer gets to participate in the purchase.This fits with data that shows consumers/patients are significantly more active in becoming ePatients regarding their healthcare. With small steps a journey begins. Let’s hope this is not off a cliff.

Why Is It So Hard To Predict Sales Of New Drugs?
Another Forbes piece by contributor John LaMattina kinda let’s us know that even big, smart, powerful, all knowing pharma put their pantyhose on one leg at a time. These are the smartest men & women pushing a beaker around. Yet?

LaMattina reviews the article in Nature Reviews by Cha, Rifal, and Sarraf Pharmaceutical forecasting: throwing darts? So if they are so smart why?

  • Missed understanding of market potential and fact market would be expanded
  • Where effective treatment of ED did a number on the market to the tune of 4x the original prediction
  • Lipitor’s potency was not considered to be so unique, well throw that out the window
  • Orphan drugs can become blockbusters

LaMattina offers his view that physicians and payers are driving some drug prices which makes this whole prediction thing even more dart like. From my perspective the greater the role of patients move toward ePatients and having an active role in their health with their physicians and their fellow patients this will put not only pricing pressure on the prediction question but on the success question. Will a drug be successful before it is widely used.

Some more thoughts on shared decision making
Aaron Carroll writing in The Incidental Economist followed up on his previous post on shared decision making here. Carroll reviews a JAMA Viewpoint on  Shared Decision Making (SDM). 

He concurs that SDM informs patients and is something that must has to be done. And he further agrees that SDM creates a more satisfied patient. Where plumbs the depths of rational questioning is SDM does not equal cheaper patients. I am not sure there is definitive evidence that SDM does equal cheaper patients but Health Affairs had this study in February of this year. 

In this article we examine the relationship between patient activation levels and billed care costs. In an analysis of 33,163 patients of Fairview Health Services, a large health care delivery system in Minnesota, we found that patients with the lowest activation levels had predicted average costs that were 8 percent higher in the base year and 21 percent higher in the first half of the next year than the costs of patients with the highest activation levels, both significant differences. What’s more, patient activation was a significant predictor of cost even after adjustment for a commonly used “risk score” specifically designed to predict future costs. As health care delivery systems move toward assuming greater accountability for costs and outcomes for defined patient populations, knowing patients’ ability and willingness to manage their health will be a relevant piece of information integral to health care providers’ ability to improve outcomes and lower costs.

Delaying Vaccinations
I have been following the comments from this post I did yesterday. Thought I would share one. 

Author: Sheldon Weisgrau Comment: Emily, vaccinations are among the most studied, well understood medical interventions (and along with sanitation, the most successful public health measures ever implemented.  Remember small pox and polio?  Neither do I.  That’s the point.) If you question vaccines, I wonder how you prescribe any medical interventions to your patients?


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