Friday, February 27, 2015

A KOL By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sour

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of medical experts (physicians who could be deemed genuine experts) believe the pharmaceutical industry should replace the term Key Opinion Leader (KOL) – according to the results of a new international online survey to be presented today at the Medical Affairs Leaders Forum in Berlin, Germany. The survey was conducted by System Analytic, a company that helps pharmaceutical teams to "identify, map, and engage with their medical experts and key stakeholders."

According to the Pharma Marketing Glossary, Key Opinion Leaders are physicians who influence their peers' medical practice, including but not limited to prescribing behavior.

"Pharmaceutical companies hire KOL's to consult for them, to give lectures, to conduct clinical trials, and occasionally to make presentations on their behalf at regulatory meetings or hearings." (see "The Secret Lives of Big Pharma's 'Thought Leaders'").

It's a well-known fact that KOLs often are chosen more for their high prescribing habits than for their knowledge or other attributes that would enable them to influence their peers. The recommendation to change the name follows concerns by the senior medical community (who participated in the research) that the term ‘KOL’ is too ‘closely associated with the world of marketing’ and is often ‘used inappropriately’ for people who do not necessarily warrant the title.

But how do pharmaceutical executives feel about changing the name? What name should be used instead? And, most importantly, will changing the name really change the game?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lack of Adherence: A Haiku for Pharma

HealthPrize, a company that offers rewards to patients who take their medications, challenged ePharma Summit attendees and Twitter followers (hashtag: #epharma) to a Haiku contest.

The challenge is to write a Haiku - a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units (lines) of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. The catch? The topic must be medication adherence.

Here's my Adherence Haiku:

What do I mean by this?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Impact of mHealth on Adherence and Patient Outcomes Needs Improving. How "Open, Crowdsourced" Data from Pharma Can Help

A study just published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) concludes that "there is potential for mHealth tools to better facilitate adherence to chronic disease management, but the evidence supporting its current effectiveness is mixed. Further research should focus on understanding and improving how mHealth tools can overcome specific barriers to adherence."

The study was a systematic review of 107 studies published in peer-reviewed journals. It aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of mHealth in supporting adherence of patients to chronic disease management -- which the authors call “mAdherence” -- and the usability, feasibility, and acceptability of mAdherence tools and platforms for chronic disease management.

The authors classified mAdherence tools and platforms into four main categories: SMS; phone plus software or application; phone plus specific instrument (medical device connected to phone via a cord); or phone plus wireless or Bluetooth-compatible device (see figure below):

Types of mobile tools used in mAdherence. Click on image to enlarge.

What were the results and how can the pharmaceutical industry help?

I'm a Pundit, Yes I Am!

Andrew Spong, a pundit writing for STweM blog, just dissed pundits in an opinion piece titled "Pundits, prognosticators, philosophers, and practitioners: the exotic species of the health conversation on the social web."

"In addition to patient, healthcare professional, and provider voices on the social web," says Spong, "I can identify at least four other groups of participants: pundits, prognosticators, philosophers and practitioners."

Since I consider myself a pundit and I'm a "voice on the social web," I am primarily interested in what Spong has to say about us pundits.

"The pundit's stock-in-trade is opinion, of which they have an inexhaustible supply," says Spong, who himself has an inexhaustible supply of opinions such as this one.

"Pundits are invariably self-employed on the basis that nobody wants to pay to be subjected to an interminable stream of passive-aggressive jibes, yet no-one knows how pundits make a living. It's one of the great mysteries of the health conversation on the social web."

I don't know about other pundits, but I sometimes get paid to subject people to "an interminable stream of passive-aggressive jibes" or truth-to-power opinions as I like to call them.

STweM obviously thinks "practitioners" stand out from the crowd. "The practitioner is comfortable with the idea that the reception and ultimate success of any activity will be determined by how well it serves the needs of the user, not the needs of the publisher," says Spong.

I think I'm a practitioner too when it comes to social media. But I like the title "pundit" better. With apologies to Chicago, I wrote this little song about pharma pundits (sung to the tune "I'm a Man"):

Millennials Trust Pharma Social Media, Mobile Apps & Advertising a Hell of a Lot More Than Their Geezer Parents!

According to findings released today from the Fifth Annual Makovsky/Kelton “Pulse of Online Health” Survey, the percentage of Americans who trust pharma-sponsored social media "a lot" or "completely" increased from 17% in 2014 to 21% in 2015.

The same survey also revealed another trend: In 2010, 88% of Americans were willing to visit a pharma-sponsored Web site (e.g., a site), whereas in 2015 that percentage decreased to 80%.

Fielded in January 2015 to 1,015 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and older by Kelton, the Makovsky Health survey investigated consumers’ behavior and preferences for engaging with online healthcare information. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Meanwhile, a Prevention Magazine 2011 survey found that 49 percent of respondents who went online for prescription drug information reported seeking this information on a specific brand's Web site. As a consequence of this influence of the Internet, FDA is currently studying how consumers interact with websites (read this Pharma Marketing News article: Are Websites "Fair and Balanced?").

Before commenting on the above results, let me summarize a few other “Pulse of Online Health” Survey results -- especially those related to mobile and wearable devices -- that may be of interest to you.

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