If you asked healthcare professionals, industry experts and patients what they thought the definition of “digital healthcare” was, you would likely get a myriad of varied answers. Anything ranging from patient-generated data in wearable technology to companion diagnostics in genomic medicine is likely to get a mention or be covered by any one definition. Thus, the potential for confusion around the term and its true definition – if there is one.
Pharma meets big tech
In the pharmaceutical industry, the trend for
partnership with big tech firms, whilst not new, has taken place at a faster
rate in recent years (Novartis
with Microsoft, Roche with Spark Therapeutics, Pfizer and IBM to name a few).
So, where does the integration of pharma and healthcare organisations with big
tech end? And where does digital healthcare on its own merit begin? Is there
even a difference?
“its primary function should be delivering software-generated therapeutic interventions directly to patients to prevent, manage or treat a medical disorder or disease”.
This could more or less read: “all the above” as
a correct definition from the industry’s biggest consortium of commercial
leaders. At the JP
Morgan Healthcare Conference that took place on the 13th-16th January 2020,
the themes of this breadth of inclusion in the term’s definition, the potential
confusion it causes and how it might be hurting the sector were big topics.
Because of the diverse approaches to the definition,
there are big differences in quality and strategy from many new companies
dabbling in digital healthcare. We are yet to see how many of these can be
It has also been questioned whether an
industry that still uses fax machines in daily communications is ready for the
digital innovation available. One counter argument is that fax machines and
other ubiquitous “dinosaur/retro” technologies still used in healthcare today are
reliable, easy to operate and fix – if it works for healthcare professionals
and patients, does it need to be replaced by something new at all? (medDigital
have written an article
about the “dark side” of using fax machines on the medCrowd blog).
At the JP Morgan conference, American Medical
Association CEO James Madara said that better curation is needed in order to
help healthcare professionals make informed decisions about recommending new
technologies under the label of “digital healthcare” to patients.
There has been no consensus as to whether this
broad scope has a potential to harm the sector. The question remains: how would
defining “digital health” in a more nuanced way add value to the healthcare
sector? Could it be defined and differentiated from other healthcare as succinctly
as say, champagne is distinguished from all other drinks on the market?
What the future holds
The truth is probably that time will tell. Digital
healthcare has arguably been integrating itself into everyday clinical practice
and healthcare research for many decades now. So, its increased umbrella use by
emerging partnerships and innovations may help distinguish its application eventually.
As time goes on, this could transform it from an aspiration today into a well-defined
entity in the future.
What do you think the definition of digital
communications to education and access to information, social media are serving
many needs of modern life, in a fast and efficient manner. Not only the public,
but also healthcare professionals (HCPs) are
joining online communities where they can read articles about new research for
their medical development, share practice issues and cases, consult colleagues
and network with their peers.
As a result, there is a vast amount of information flowing
through the web sphere that the pharma industry can turn into meaningful insights
performing what is called “social listening”: the process of monitoring
digital conversations to understand what people are saying about a company,
their products and a therapy area online.
What are the benefits?
Prepare ahead of scientific congresses and analyse post-congresses
of the conversations among clinicians and researchers prior to the congress
enables pharma teams to understand the key scientific trends, medical needs and
challenges their customers have, and shape their activity at the meeting. Furthermore,
continuing analysis of social activity post-meeting can provide information
about exceptional engagement, negative or positive feedback and healthcare
teams worth engaging with. This analysis could also serve as a benchmark
to check against the industry’s strategies and offer key learnings for the
future. Furthermore, post-meeting discussions could be initiated with the aim
to collect specific insights, through the use of platforms that facilitate
communication in a compliant manner, such as medCrowd.
Identify key opinion leaders
users’ activity, conversations and engagement contributes to the identification
of Key Engagement Experts (KEEs). In fact, the term KEE has lately been
replaced by the term Connected
Engagements Expert (CEE), as the type of thought leader with
influencing power among the social networks. CEEs are established in their
field, own a large following and drive conversations using their expertise and
Plan release of medical publications and follow reactions
listening also means being able to analyse the seasonality of
conversations, discussions around journals and current research trends, and
identify the most suitable timing for a publication. Moreover, it enables outcome
forecasting of new data, and how they will be accepted by the scientific
community. This is largely based on analysing the public’s perception of competitors’
products. The online “voice” post-publication can also reflect how well a new
study was perceived by the community.
Market research and competitive analysis
listening can provide insights related to the performance of competitors’
activities, for example a conference campaign or the publication of the data
from a new trial. Therefore, pharma companies can understand the competitive
landscape and re-evaluate their own strategy. Understanding the landscape may
also reveal niches of innovation that pharma companies can consider expanding
into, for instance a new unmet medical need or a new collaboration opportunity.
How can I achieve insightful
Monitoring of discussions, engagement
and impressions can offer insights that would have been hard to extract with
the limited resources just a decade ago. Specialised social listening programs have
been developed, including Brandwatch
and Crimson Hexagon, Digimind, Linkfluence and NetBase. Remarkably, Symplur is a healthcare-focused social
listening tool that gathers data from Twitter to find out what people are
talking about in any given therapy area, what are the key trends and who are
the main influencers.
In this digital era, it is
important that pharma companies leverage the potential of social media
efficiently and securely, in order to effectively reach a broader audience,
gather insights and achieve their goals.
Developing engaging, factual and high-quality content can be challenging, particularly in the heavily regulated pharmaceutical industry. As healthcare professionals and patients adapt to the internet of things (IoT) era, their expectations around access to information are continuously evolving. At least 8 out of 10 people turn to search engines as their first source for health information1, so how do we develop medical content that meets your customers’ needs and stands out from the crowd?
Develop a clear content strategy
Whilst marketers spend months each year brand planning, it
can be easy for medical teams to skip the content planning phase. However, developing
a clear strategy to identify the objectives of the content you are looking to
create is key to success. You can start by answering the following questions:
Who is your intended audience?
What topics do you want to share as a thought
leader in your field?
Which platforms are you going to use to share
What story are you trying to tell?
How will you make sure this content stands-out?
Which initiatives are you looking to support
with this content?
What are your key performance indicators?
Seek advice and collaborate
In order to ensure your content is of the highest quality
you need to make sure it resonates with your intended audience. The best way to do this is to engage with
customers to get their feedback on your ideas and throughout the content
development lifecycle. This ensures that the content you are producing not only
meets your objectives but theirs too. You could do this by setting up a
steering committee online using platforms like our very own conversation
Plan for approvals
One potential barrier
to creating engaging content is the approval process, which can be challenging
and lengthy. Streamline the process by engaging reviewers early in your plans
and getting their buy in to your approach. Ensure content is code-compliant and
referenced properly before it goes into the approval system.
Do your research and make sure it’s authentic
It is often perceived that most medical content is produced by marketers. While it is true that we need to learn from our marketing colleagues and make sure that content is easy to understand and digest, we also need to make sure it doesn’t come across as too promotional. Medical content should be well researched and referenced as well as being factual. The real benefit comes from translating these facts into something meaningful for the audience with insights about how it will change their lives, practice or understanding.
Make sure it’s accessible
an engaging piece of content is only half the job. It’s only valuable if
customers can access it. It’s key to make sure you have a dissemination plan to
communicate your asset both internally and externally.
Measure performance and adapt
After your asset has been available for a while, it’s
important to reflect on the performance against your key performance indicators.
Use these insights to adapt your content strategy accordingly and keep creating
medDigital is a specialist medical communications agency for the life sciences industry.
We are a team with expertise in many therapy areas who specialize in digital. We combine insightful science with seamless digital communications to transform patients’ lives.
We have also developed medCrowd, the instant messenger for health and care that protects confidential information to the required standards, which is being used by health and care professionals all over the world.
Client Relationship Manager or Senior Account Manager
Due to our continued international growth, we are looking for someone who wants to progress their career in a dynamic and exciting environment. You will be working with both our internal team and our clients within the life sciences industry, this is an opportunity to take on a varied and interesting role. If you want digital communications to transform patients’ lives, then you will fit in well with our team. Your role will involve:
Working with our clients to build strong relationships and help them get the work done.
Leading regular client meetings with our team to help keep projects on track.
Overseeing project estimates and budgets.
Supporting pitches and new business proposals.
Optimising sales and account management process to constantly improve how we work.
Identifying new opportunities with clients.
Help the medDigital team to exceed client expectations.
What do I need to apply?
3+ years experience leading client projects in medical or healthcare communications, advertising or PR within the life sciences industry.
Excellent organisational skills.
Flexibility whilst working under pressure.
What is desired?
Experience leading digital activities, such as website content, Facebook pages or Twitter accounts with the life science industry.
Familiarity with agile ways of working.
A scientific background is a plus but not essential as our team of Scientific Advisors will be on hand to work with you.
What qualifications or authorisations do I need?
Minimum of 3+ years of relevant experience.
UK work authorisation.
Where will I be based? You will be based at our office on the London South Bank with skyline views, great events and free beer! Flexible working is also available. You will also need to visit our clients’ offices from time to time which may involve international travel.
6% qualifying earnings employer contribution PQM pension
Private healthcare with BUPA
Life Insurance (5x your basic annual salary)
Generous 25-day annual leave allowance
£500/year training allocation
Team reward activities
Laptop and current mobile phone
How can you apply? To apply please send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org and complete our on-line application form: https://www.meddigital.com/hr/entry/
Social media presents a fantastic opportunity for keeping in touch with your wider audiences. Posting videos can be especially useful for sharing engaging educational content, highlights from conferences or key updates on a therapy area. But with many social media users scrolling through hundreds of posts per session, you have to be savvy to draw someone in and keep them interested.
Remember that viewers on social media may not
understand complex topics and scientific language, so it is important to
explain information in a clear and simple way. Imagine you are telling the
viewer a story. This format helps to keep the viewer engaged while making sure
that the flow of the information is easy to follow.
1. Have a clear beginning, middle and end
When conveying the story, it is important to
have a clear beginning, middle and end. Try to share the ‘why’ before the
‘how’, so that each point clearly and simply leads on to the next. This will
help to keep the viewer engaged and interested throughout the video.
2. Avoid jargon
Viewers on social media may not understand
specialized scientific terms. It is important to keep messages simple and to
avoid jargon. One way to reduce specialized vocabulary is to consider your
language through the eyes of someone you know – perhaps someone without a
professional science background at all.
3. Be light on the detail
Try to resist explaining too much too soon. If
detail is not directly relevant to your key points, it is best to avoid
including this completely. If the detail is essential, make sure that you share
this only once the viewer understands the basic concept.
4. Use analogies and examples
Using examples and analogies can help a viewer
to understand complex topics, as it gives them a frame of reference. Even if an
analogy is not 100% accurate, it may help to get your point across without confusing
5. Talk to the viewer as an individual
Using the first person as much as possible is
important when trying to educate. It helps to keep the viewer engaged, which is
key when discussing a complex topic.
6. Make the content relevant
Why is the topic important to the viewer? As
interesting as the science may be, public audiences are not likely to engage
unless it has relevance to them. Try explaining the end goal of the research or
how it could directly impact patients, even if this is far in the future.
Interested in creating a compelling scientific video? At medDigital we love turning complex science into powerful and digestible content. We offer a range of content services that can support you in engaging your audiences.
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of
medDigital fully align with the mission
of FPM “to advance the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine by
working to develop and maintain competence, ethics and integrity and the
highest professional standards in the specialty for the benefit of the public”.
FPM members work in diverse areas in order to achieve this, from clinical
trials, pharmaceutical marketing and regulatory affairs. They aim to improve
health of the public through their activities, including discovery,
development, evaluation, licensing and monitoring of medicines.
In our article, we wanted to
highlight the importance of digital innovations in healthcare and offer an overview
of the support available in the UK environment. We believe that all modern
healthcare systems, including the NHS, should adapt to the technological
developments in order to ensure patients receive the care they need, quickly
and efficiently. For instance, in 2018 and early 2019 we have seen numerous
medical applications (Apps), wearables, virtual reality systems emerging in the
healthcare start-up environment. These new technologies are enabling real-time
diagnosis, tele-monitoring of symptoms and health progress tracking. In our
article we listed organisations and initiatives, such as DigitalHealth.London
Accelerator, Health Foundry, Digital Catapult and MedCity who are doing the essential work
of offering useful services and shaping the right ecosystem for digital
innovations to flourish.
Transforming patients’ lives is
at the heart of all the work we do at medDigital. We believe that insightful
science combined with digital means can upgrade health and we are advocates of
the digital movement in healthcare and its supporters.