A new emerging event for pharma: NEXT Pharma Summit

Posted on May 21st, 2019 by

What are the most challenging aspects of pharma today? What should be the main focus for the industry going forwards?

These were the key questions behind the very first edition of NEXT Pharma Summit, held in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in May 2019.

The international experts who stepped on the stage expressed some key reflections: the challenge of gathering and sharing engaging information online, developing digital multichannel excellence, bridging the gap between pharma, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and individual patients, and understanding why pharma appears to be trailing behind all other industries in the race for a digital presence.

In a brilliant talk, Tim Cave (GSK) discussed the need for virtual communication channels in this day and age. He highlighted that in the coming years, 70% of HCPs will be digital natives. In his opinion, the pharmaceutical industry cannot quite capture a key need of this generation: going digital.

Doctors repeatedly express the desire for fast, accessible, digital information, and have been asking for virtual conferences, digital insights and virtual communication channels. However, there are many historical and regulatory reasons hindering the race to digitise pharma. Despite that, the industry must tackle this challenge and ensure it can be up to speed with the ever-evolving and constant technological development. Most consumer industries, such as transportation, communication and fintech have made a gigantic shift into digital – why can’t pharma?

Another great contribution was made by Laura Greco during both a talk and a group panel. A 40-year-old lawyer-turned-patient-advocate, with a stage 4 ALK+ lung cancer diagnosis, made a strong case for the patients’ right to be informed and involved in decisions about their own treatment.

She highlighted the value of social media during her patient journey. This hits home for many stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry – the value of sharing accurate, engaging and relevant content online will enable both HCPs and patients to access information and create closer ties with the community.

Laura Greco also discussed the need for transparency at the R&D stage. She reported often finding herself unaware of her personal patient history data being used in scientific publications, or not knowing the outcome of clinical trials she had personally been a part of. This is another opportunity for the industry to bridge a gap – patients and pharma should be able to work together to find answers and advance research.

Our very own founder Felix Jackson also gave a talk about Dynamic Digital Content & Real-Time Expert Engagement. He presented the growing need to turn data into actionable insights and improve current communication channels. A solution can be found if the pharmaceutical industry expands into new digital options, such as online content creation and Digital Advisory Boards.

Providing a digital space for HCPs to offer expert insights, which also doubles as a place for patients to efficiently liaise with pharma, can overcome some of the key barriers that we know are holding stakeholders back from a digital revolution. This could be a lack of human resource or talent, compliance barriers, or lack of financial support.

Our technology, medCrowd, offers a compliant and accessible option to help pharma transition into a digital route, in order to lead the conversation and easily discover actionable insights with Digital Advisory Boards.

We had a wonderful time at NEXT Pharma 2019, and we’re already getting ready for the NEXT Pharma Summit 2020!

The stunning backdrop of Dubrovnik will be expecting us once again on the 6th and 7th of May 2020, for a weekend packed with influential speakers, new ideas and incredible insights.

Did you attend NEXT Pharma 2018? What did you think of it? Get in touch and let us know!

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WHO releases guidance on digital health technologies

Posted on May 16th, 2019 by

The World Health Organisation (WHO) released their first guidance on digital technologies in healthcare last month. Given the vast scale of the digital health industry, the recommendations in this guideline cover just a small subset of digital interventions, with the intention to expand in future versions. Reviewing the evidence and assessing the risks, the WHO hopes that this guidance will help policy-makers to make informed investments, supporting all areas of the industry from providers to patients. 

Digital technologies continue to evolve the world around us, and healthcare has been no exception. From artificial reality (AR) aiding diagnosis to virtual reality (VR) for healthcare professional training, we continue to see innovators developing new technologies to shape the industry. But how many of these innovations actually have a strong evidence base? How do we know if they truly have a tangible benefit? These, amongst others, were the questions that the new WHO guidance sought to address.

The recommendations covered a wide range of digital technologies:

  • Birth notification via mobile devices
  • Death notification via mobile devices
  • Stock notification and commodity management via mobile devices
  • Client-to-provider telemedicine
  • Provider-to-provider telemedicine
  • Targeted client communication via mobile devices
  • Health worker decision support via mobile devices
  • Digital tracking of clients’ health status and services combined with decision support and targeted client communication
  • Digital provision of training and educational content to health workers via mobile devices/mobile learning

For some recommendations, the WHO suggested that digital solutions should act as a complement to traditional methods, rather than as a replacement. For others, the ability for the health system to support implementation in an integrated manner was highlighted as key. Indeed, it is important to recognise that digital health interventions cannot substitute key components needed by a health system, such as workforce, leadership and governance.

The WHO recognised that while recommendations were based on distinct digital interventions, the whole picture is more convoluted and interlinked. The executive summary provides an interesting infographic explaining some of these links between the recommendations.  The publication of the first WHO guidance on digital technologies is a key step in recognising the importance of digital health advancements around us today. It is also important in ensuring that health systems can reliably choose technologies that are effective and work for the people who need them.By Alex Teckkam

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Smartphones signal a new era in the fight against TB

Posted on March 26th, 2019 by

24th March 2019 marked World TB Day, created to raise awareness about tuberculosis worldwide. Robert Kock discovered the cause of tuberculosis on this day in 1882 and in the 137 years since, there has been a huge effort to combat this deadly disease.1 However, despite a definite improvement in diagnosis and treatment, TB is still a major epidemic killing 1.6 million people a year.2

TB remains a serious and deadly threat but if the right drugs are prescribed and taken properly it can be cured. Unfortunately, this is not always easy! To help, researchers are now applying technology to change the way TB is diagnosed and treated. Smartphones could radically transform the way we diagnose and treat TB.

A key factor in the success of treatment is making sure that drug regimens are adhered to and patients can be closely monitored – usually for at least 6 months. Technology developed by researchers at the University of California and John Hopkins University allows patients to send encrypted videos to public health workers who can watch videos securely rather than having to travel to visit patients.3 And it worked – video monitoring improved adherence which in turn not only can improve outcomes but also reduce costs.4

The real breakthrough with smartphone diagnosis came at the end of last year, when researchers from the UK and Malaysia developed a mobile phone testing system which can detect TB specific antibodies in sputum with 98% accuracy.5 The sputum is placed on a biosensor which simply changes colour based on the result. Then, using a smartphone camera a diagnosis can be delivered in seconds.5 This technology can be used without an internet connection and the only cost would be the biosensor. Using this technology in rural, hard to reach places could transform early diagnosis of TB and help people access care. Perhaps, with technologies such as these we could make the goal of a TB free world by 2030 a reality!5

In light of all the potential of mHealth, WHO published evidence-based recommendations for the use of digital technologies for TB treatment and adherence based on text messaging, medication event monitoring systems and video supported treatment. Who knows, maybe our smartphones could be our strongest weapon against TB?6


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/tb/worldtbday/history.htm
  2. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-03/tl-tle031819.php
  3. https://www.statnews.com/2018/08/21/tuberculosis-smartphones-disease-surveillance/
  4. https://www.emocha.com/home
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0957417418304214
  6. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/255052/9789241550000-eng.pdf;jsessionid=FCDB56CAF6F602A449D95F4A799E2E15?sequence=1

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medDigital join the ABPI!

Posted on March 14th, 2019 by


MedDigital are thrilled to have joined the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) as general affiliate members. This allows us to share our knowledge and experience with wider industry partners, provide our opinions to dictate the evolution of the ABPI Code and to gather the latest insights for our clients.

At medDigital we pride ourselves in our understanding of the ABPI Code and our knack for delivering compelling, creative and compliant content. We subscribe fully to the principles set out in the Code and this is reflected on all aspects of our work. Joining the ABPI further cements our drive to maintain our knowledge and provide the best quality services to our clients.

Watch medDigital Founder Dr. Felix Jackson explain further why joining the ABPI is so important.

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Future proofing your digital strategy

Posted on February 26th, 2019 by


Now more than ever, the digital evolution affects every part of our day to day lives. From the way we search for information to the way that we communicate, digital innovations are constantly moulding and adapting our behaviours. With all this change, how can a pharma organisation keep ahead of the game? Events such as the upcoming Eyeforpharma Barcelona conference provide ideal opportunities to discover emerging technologies, learn from industry experts and help future proof your digital strategy.


Choose a data-driven approach

How can you ensure that you are targeting your audience via the right channels, with the right information? Anoo Mehmi, Global Digital Content Strategist for ViiV Healthcare believes that embracing a data-driven approach is essential. Using insights from key data can help you to ‘fish where the fish are’ and understand what content is actually impacting your audience’s behaviour.


Engaging healthcare professionals – what the future holds


Don’t see PV and compliance as a barrier

While healthcare compliance and ABPI Code are often talked about as a barrier to effectively using digital media in the pharmaceutical industry, this is generally not the case. Melinda Hall, Head of Regulatory Affairs for Boehringer Ingelheim, describes compliance and pharmacovigilance (PV) requirements as purely perceived barriers. Engaging medical and regulatory teams early in the content development process can help them to better understand your commercial objectives.


Making digital a reality in your organisation


Knowledge share with industry experts

Keeping updated with current trends in both digital technologies and audience behaviours is key to future proofing your digital strategy. On 12-14 March, the Eyeforpharma conference boasts a range of unmissable sessions on topics spanning ‘improving the customer and consumer experience in a digital world’ to ‘the next-generation digital congress experience’ presented by medDigital founder Felix Jackson.

Attendance at key conferences such as this encourages open conversations between industry experts, with tricks and tips to help you develop excellent strategies to deliver outstanding digital campaigns and strategies. If you haven’t already, register for your place at eyeforpharma and use our exclusive code medDigital400 for 400 Euros off! See you there!


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An Apple a day keeps the doctor away

Posted on February 12th, 2019 by

woman checking her watch on wearable device

On the lead up to Valentine’s Day hearts are everywhere. Cards, text messages and cradled by fluffy teddy bears. So, what better time is there to start taking care of your heart? But getting check ups with your physician is not always convenient. You need to take time out of your day, schedule appointments in advance and sometimes wait for weeks to get the results. However, with current technological advances, checking up on your heart has never been easier, especially for those with a high risk of more serious heart conditions.


The Apple Heart Study is an example of how medicine is integrating with technology to provide a reliable, accessible and interactive experience. This study is a collaboration between Stanford Medicine and Apple with the aim of determining whether data generated from the heart monitoring feature of the Apple Watch, can be used to identify irregular heart rhythms, including those with the potential to develop into serious health issues such as atrial fibrillation.


The study was initiated back in 2017 and has recruited over 400,000 participants with Apple Watches. The Watch uses LED lights and light-sensitive photodiodes to measure changes in blood flow and estimates a  pulse based on these measurements. Pulse rates over time are then reported as tachograms and an in-built algorithm determines whether participants have regular or irregular pulses. If a subsequent video conference with a physician confirms the Apple Watch readings, participants are provided with an ePatch that generates electrocardiograms for up to 7 days for further monitoring. Relevant care is then provided if required.


This virtual screening process made with the patient in mind is unique in that it allowed for large-scale recruitment in a relatively short period of time while also relieving the burden on healthcare providers and services. However, it also has its drawbacks. Misdiagnosis, unnecessary testing and overtreatment are the main concerns of having a patient-centric screening program like the Apple Heart Study.


Despite these concerns, this study is a major step in understanding the potential of technology in modernising how we approach medicine in the real world. Wearables in particular are becoming more and more popular with wearables dominating major technology events such as CES and even having their own conferences in the Wearable Tech Summit 2019 and Wearable Technologies Europe 2019. Just listen to an interview of Paul O’Donohoe, Scientific Lead for eCOA at MetaData Solutions who describes the current state of wearables and devices in clinical trials.


The digital evolution in clinical trials


The results from the Apple Heart Study are expected to be available in 2019. In the meantime, read more about the Apple Heart Study from Stanford Medicine or the full study publication from the American Heart Journal.


By Ricky Tsang


Meta Title: The Apple Heart Study
Meta Description: A blog on the Apple Heart Study, a collaboration between Apple and Stanford Medicine

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