Ad-ventures in marketing VII

By Joshua Slatko

For the seventh time this past September, Med Ad News began once again its search for the future of pharmaceutical marketing. We sought out young companies, spin-offs, offerings, and ventures to profile that are providing the most innovative and interesting products, services, or marketing opportunities to pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare community. This year’s three profilees all share two characteristics: first, they all started as internal ventures at ad agencies, and second, they all attempt to deal with major strategic issues being faced by the pharmaceutical industry – the growing complexity of policy matters under ACA and making sense of the avalanche of “big data” now available about physicians and patients. Here are Med Ad News’ three Pharmaceutical Marketing Ventures to Watch for 2013.

Breakaway Policy Strategies
Breakaway Policy Strategies, a joint venture between inVentiv Health and the lobbying firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti launched in September, is a healthcare policy firm that provides strategic counsel and guidance to biopharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers, and a broad range of healthcare organizations. The venture aims to help clients stay current on the large assortment of regulatory and legislative changes coming out of Washington, which are having impacts across the country’s entire healthcare system. Breakaway analyzes for clients how decisions made in Washington will affect the bottom line in their businesses, and provides strategic advice on changes in public policy that will shape the future of healthcare. With many portions of ACA set to go into effect in 2014, this sort of insight will soon become even more critical to pharmaceutical decisionmakers.

“Now more than ever, clients must have a sophisticated understanding of the sweeping changes taking place in America’s healthcare system,” says Paul Meister, CEO of inVentiv Health. “Navigating this new landscape requires seasoned experts with historical knowledge, a deep understanding of political context, and the ability to anticipate what’s next. Through Breakaway, we offer experts with an unmatched level of health policy expertise.”

In developing Breakaway, the leaders of inVentiv and MVC aimed to bring together people who understand details of laws and policies in all sectors of healthcare, who could look beyond narrow subsectors of the industry and analyze how the parts fit together. And so the senior staff at the top of Breakaway all bring impressive resumes to the table. The venture’s CEO, Dean Rosen, was chief healthcare advisor to Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D., serving as staff director for the United States Senate Subcommittee on Public Health and as the Majority Leader’s health policy director. One of the principals, Rick Smith, previously headed up policy research at Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, and held a similar post at America’s Health Insurance Plans. The venture’s research director, Margaret Nowak, joined from Walgreens, and previously worked at the Congressional Budget Office. Gina Boscarino, a senior policy director at Breakaway, served as associate counsel at Highmark Health Services, one of the largest Blue Cross Blue Shield Affiliates. And Colette Desmarais, a former top staffer for Senator Charles Grassley and deputy director at AHIP’s Public Programs Policy Unit, also is part of the Breakaway team.

With all this talent in-house, Breakaway’s offering goes far beyond tips to deal with ACA. The venture is providing a long list of services to clients, including strategic business planning, policy development and guidance, Medicare and Medicaid payment and coverage policy tracking, legislative and regulatory analysis, multi-stakeholder policy development, and policy intelligence. But the key to Breakaway, it seems, is an understanding of how all these fit together and what their long-term strategic implications may be.

“We recognize that some consulting companies do understand the policies and regulations that are taking shape,” Rosen told Med Ad News. “But often, they lack the ability to peer into the future and explain how these developments will directly affect a company’s business. What’s more, they fail to understand the political environment from which new policies emerge. This is the gap we fill.”
According to Rosen, Breakaway has a number of key differentiating characteristics that set it apart from other policy advisories. The first is the focus and scope of the new company’s research.

“To take just one example, we’ve been studying the details of dozens of health insurance plans that will soon be available to millions of Americans,” he says. “We’re looking at the premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance people will have pay to see doctors and obtain medications. Understanding the details of different plans will help stakeholders, including pharma companies, identify barriers to access and address the obstructions so they can serve consumers seeking various products and services.”

Second is political proximity. “Consider the recent government shutdown, and the paralysis from which we have just emerged. At the heart of it, there are disagreements about changes affecting Medicare and Medicaid. These are difficult to resolve. There will be future crises, as well as a continuing and intense focus on cost-cutting. There will also be alterations to the ACA – some of them foreseeable, some unforeseen. Our team understands the granular details, and we never lose sight of the Big Picture.”

And there is also the relationship with inVentiv, one of the world’s largest providers of healthcare services. “inVentiv includes one of the top five clinical research organizations, companies engaged in all aspects of commercialization, and a well-respected consulting practice. It also has 12,000 employees in 40 countries with expertise that we can draw upon when needed. Our expertise and the vast expertise of inVentiv Health is a unique combination.”

As the meat of ACA goes into effect in the new year, marketing decision makers will need a firm grasp on what the insurance reimbursement structure will look like, meaning both government programs and private payers that are regulated by the government. FDA approval will no longer be enough; decision makers will have to understand the payment and coverage policies, and those policies will be adding a layer of complexity as government involves itself to a much greater degree than in the past.

“The government is going to pay for more healthcare than ever before, and it’s going to regulate the insurance market much more aggressively,” Rosen told Med Ad News. “In addition, there are the emerging care delivery models in the Medicare arena, such as Accountable Care Organizations, which are enrolling more than four million people. Under these structures, managers will need assistance deciding how to achieve necessary cost savings.”

In such an environment, the demand for the sort of advice and experience that Breakaway can provide is considerable. “Payers, providers, pharma companies, and all the other stakeholders understand what’s at risk,” Rosen says. “They see sweeping changes on the horizon. They know the role of government in healthcare is going to grow exponentially in the next few years. Breakaway will be an essential part of the decision-making fabric. That applies to marketing decisions by pharma companies, but it extends beyond that. Having a senior team of policy advisors will be critical for healthcare stakeholders making a range of decisions about their future, because of the enormous role the government plays in shaping the markets. This role will only grow, and along with it, so will demand for Breakaway’s expertise.”?

Media Vitals
Media Vitals, developed by CMI/Compas and launched in August, is a physician promotional needs, consumption, and preference database presenting physician perspectives around key insights that are crucial for informing, engaging and building lasting, valuable relationships using cross-channel, personal and non-personal communication methods. The Media Vitals proprietary digital tool for accessing the database, which is available via PC or tablet to subscribers, provides full access to physician responses by specialty or in aggregate, allowing users to view and understand HCP needs, wants, behaviors, and preferences and establish engagement strategy using both personal and non-personal outreach. The tool represents responses from thousands of physicians and provides a view of these responses by specialty or in aggregate, allowing subscribers to quickly see and understand HCP needs, wants, behaviors, and preferences.

For years CMI/Compas has been conducting customized marketing and ad research studies for its customers based on their unique targets. But earlier this year the agency’s leadership wanted to make some of that research available on a syndicated basis, allowing those who run customized studies to have a comparative resource as a means of understanding how their targets differ from the overall specialties they represent as well as offer all others the opportunity to better understand the audiences they serve from a multi-channel media lens. Thus the Media Vitals database and its various methods of access.

“Media Vitals offers instant access to the right information at the right time across all channels and representative of a wide variety of specialties,” says Carly Kuper, VP, marketing, CMI/Compas. “You can access from your phone, tablet or computer to get instant information to answer your most pressing questions, justify a recommendation and make quick decisions. It’s channel-neutral, encompasses not just vehicles and preferences but also devices. Media Vitals allows us to understand not just what doctors are doing today but also in the future, not just ads but also NPP deeper engagement, as well as content needs. There’s really no other tool that does all of that today.”

Before being offered to the world at large, the Media Vitals database was already powering CMI/Compas’ planning teams’ ability to build NPP recommendations for its clients. But now, with the benefit of instant access, subscribers can select one or more or all specialties, choose the questions of most interest to them, and get answers right away. According to Kuper, it also inspires users to speak to CMI/Compas’ experts to explore how to make the insights actionable, whether in support of or in lieu of a rep.

“We never realized how highly coveted and valuable it would be, watching people use it as a tool,” Kuper told Med Ad News. “Last year we had it instead as a document with tables, summaries, et cetera, and this was the first year we launched as an interactive database/query tool. We’ve had an amazing response from our clients who like the visual data and ease of use. At this point we’re focusing on making the tool even more interactive and visual.”

Subscribers are also making a contribution on the back end. “From a survey perspective, we engage our clients in the selection of key questions that keep them up at night relevant to media access, usage, and preference,” Kuper says.

None of this would work without a front-end tool that is easy to use, so CMI/Compas’ developers have done their best to make the Media Vitals tool as intuitive as possible, with outputs that can be transitioned to other media.

“The tool is easy to use, and like Google’s newest features, uses real-world language to find the answers to questions,” Kuper says. “It was critical that the tool be intuitive enough that anyone could get the answers they need quickly. The user logs in using username and password, and is brought to a screen where they can use drop-down menus to choose the specialties they’d like to see, as well as the information they’d like to see about that audience or audiences. Information is viewed on clear, bright graphs that are designed to be added to a presentation.”

While Media Vitals in its current incarnation has already proven popular among CMI/Compas clients and subscribers, the agency intends to continue to expand the underlying database, offering even more granularity in the future.

“CMI/Compas over the last years has offered the most expansive, state of the art customer insights services,” Kuper told Med Ad News. “While Media Vitals is an important contribution to that, we see our development of customer insights expanding greatly over the next several years to physician level providing preference, affinity data, and much, much more.”

REVEAL is a proprietary SaaS business intelligence solution that is engineered to simplify the data analysis and interpretation process for key decision makers within a company. Developed by the marketing agency Cadient Group, REVEAL was first launched during 2009, but was substantially upgraded and relaunched as of this past June. According to its developers, REVEAL is unlike other insights and analytics tools in that it not only allows businesses to gather brand and competitive multichannel data – including social, web, advertising, mobile, and search – but more importantly, the platform enables users to democratize and socialize key findings within an organization.

“Most analytics platforms require specialized skills to interact with and make meaningful use of metrics and data,” says Bryan Hill, chief technology officer for Cadient Group. “This dynamic creates the potential to produce insights in a vacuum, conceivably leading to ill-informed decisions and actions. This latest release [of REVEAL] builds on our user-friendly interface with enhanced social-sharing aspects and further extends accessibility to the enterprise beyond the data scientists while driving organizational interpretation of data. This shared analysis approach is the key to maximizing the value of big data.”

The development of REVEAL began with a problem: the typical fragmentation of marketing touch points and the complex relationships between these elements across channels of social, web, and mobile. Many businesses that have incorporated program measurement typically use channel-specific analytics software and people to explore and interpret the data, such as web analytics, social monitoring. So the Cadient team tried to devise a way to help marketers connect the dots to determine effectiveness and move from analysis to action.

“With isolated channel-specific tools for storing and analyzing data, aggregating metrics and data in one spot would be essential to connect data as well as simplify access for decision makers,” Hill told Med Ad News. “With all this data now connected, we can create contextual views that focus on the metrics that matter most and visualize them in an easily digestible way. A platform that can deliver this essentially creates an open source interpretation of big data to the enterprise beyond the data scientists, ultimately accelerating action.”

The original release of REVEAL in 2009 was focused on the “connecting of the dots” with an emphasis on relating web activity with social signals to illustrate attribution models as well as customer behavior and preference. The key technology component of the solution was a mechanism for tagging web and social assets with professional services delivering the analysis. But since then Cadient’s developers have placed a higher emphasis on translating all that data into comprehensible and visually impressive chunks – or what they call “Insight Mashups.”

“In the years since the initial release, the offering has evolved to a SaaS platform providing direct access for anyone in the enterprise to what we call ‘Insight Mashups’ of brand data from web, mobile, social, advertising, and search programs,” Hill says. “These Insight Mashups help to demystify big data, delivering meaningful points of data in a visual fashion.”

This capacity to pull coherence out of mountains of data and present it in a fashion that is comprehensible to individuals outside a company’s analytics team, Hill believes, is REVEAL’s great differentiator.
“So many performance dashboards and data analytics offerings produce passive views with little directional narrative, simply providing the facts,” he says. “The ability to crowd source analysis, interpretation, and prescriptive measures for optimization from across the organization leverages perspectives and creates a culture that is focused on meaningful performance improvement.”

So how does REVEAL actually help clients on the ground? Hill offers the example of a brand marketing looking to bring a new product to market.

“[This marketer] can leverage REVEAL by observing the multi-channel programs of in-market comparators to determine strategic investment,” he says. “What channels or assets are most effective by audience, content type, or marketing spend? Once the product is in market, REVEAL allows the marketing team to monitor the launch progression, and understand what assets are delivering the maximum impact. In today’s complex marketing environment, success is driven by knowing what assets to ‘double down’ on, and which ones need to be phased out. REVEAL makes these types of allocation decisions much easier because it is apparent what is working, and, perhaps more importantly, what isn’t.”

Coming next for the offering is an effort to make its outputs even simpler and more actionable, and to expand its applicability. The REVEAL R&D team is focusing on continued enhancement of artificial intelligence technology driving the prediction and suggestion engine; also, because the core elements of REVEAL have applicability outside of healthcare, Cadient is laying the foundation for expanding REVEAL to markets outside of healthcare.

Whatever the future holds, though, REVEAL’s developers believe they have taken a long step towards solving one of the pharma industry’s most intractable marketing challenges.

“Pharma brand marketers are looking to increase patient engagement but are searching for the key mechanisms and drivers,” Hill says. “However, in the healthcare space it can be particularly difficult to predict and measure the impact of particular communication tactics given the wide range of patient and provider types. REVEAL – with its integrated visual approach, provides the tools to develop strategies for engaging the right patients via the right channels with the right message and optimize those touch points over time.”

Posted: December 2013

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