Long, glutted, linear medical presentations are a thing of the past. What we say to HCPs, how we say it, and where we say it has transformed dramatically. HCPs’ educational preferences have changed, and the competition for their attention is fierce. Still of fundamental importance to medical education, though, is good storytelling that must now adapt and travel beyond just the page and across channels and devices. During this discussion, we will answer questions around three aspects of this new paradigm:
- What We Say—How do we condense scientific information in a way that’s relevant to HCPs?
- How We Say It—How can we use impactful visual creative to cut through the noise?
- Where We Say It—What are the best platforms to use to meet HCPs where they are?
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Deborah Stoll: Hello everyone, my name is Deborah Stoll, Content Producer for MM&M’s Custom team, and it’s my pleasure to welcome all of you to today’s webcast, Has Medical Storytelling Been Canceled? Sponsored by Avant Healthcare. Long, glutted, linear medical presentations are a thing of the past, what we say to HCPs, how we say it, and where we say it has transformed dramatically.
HCP’s educational preferences have changed, and the competition for their attention is fierce. Still, a fundamental importance though, is good storytelling that must now adapt and travel beyond the page and across channels and devices. Here to lead you in a discussion that will take a look at three key aspects of this new paradigm, are Arun Divakaruni, CEO of Avant Healthcare. Arun leads the scientific and medical programming, developing solutions for the firm’s roster of clients. He brings an industry awarded track record of scientific and medical storytelling programming expertise to Avant, and has counseled blue chip, midsize and emerging biopharmaceutical companies across a variety of issues, including scientific, policy and commercial strategy around the world. We also have Greta Rybicki, VP of Avant Healthcare, where she provides senior leadership across strategy and client services, driving transformative ideas to advance medical education and Engagement beyond traditional channels. Greta leads a team of highly passionate, intelligent individuals dedicated to improving patient lives, and has 14 years of experience working with pharmaceutical, medical and life sciences clients, serving brands in immunology, oncology, neurology, and cardiology. Also, joining us today is Patrick Kelley, Chief Creative Officer at Avant Healthcare. Patrick has more than 20 years of experience originating award-winning creative across digital and traditional platforms. He has held creative leadership roles at J. Walter Thompson, TMP Worldwide and Big YAM, the Parsons Agency, with numerous creative excellence awards and achievements in building and growing household name brands across a multitude of channels and platforms.
At this point, I would like to encourage all of you out there to interact with us. A major portion of today’s session will be a presentation by our speakers. But the final portion will be to answer your questions. To ask a question, simply look for the Q&A box on the left side of your screen next to the handouts tab, and type in any question you’d like to ask. Handouts will be made available via email following the event. Now, without further ado, it’s my pleasure to hand things over to Arun.
Arun Divakaruni: Thank you, Deborah, and thank you to all of us who are joining either here now live or if you’re watching this later. Thank you for joining us, and we’re here to talk about the role of medical storytelling today, in a no-normal world as we transition out of this pandemic, here in the United States and then elsewhere around the world, as things begin to catch up. Does medical storytelling still have a role? I think that the answer to that question is an obvious yes.
But it’s important to fully recognize that, a lot of the channels of which we interact with our audiences, whether or not that’s in-person programming or medical meetings or congresses, symposias, even visits by reps to hospitals have been severely limited by the pandemic, and for the foreseeable future, they will be. I can test that the importance of a story, particularly a scientific story, the sciences is bringing us out of this pandemic. But at the same time, a lot of the traditional channels that we’ve used to communicate that story in person, are no longer here and are probably forever changed. Patrick, just like to ask you, in this new world that we’re venturing into, which we can’t really predict, what role does the story have in communicating the important advances that our clients and pharmaceutical companies are bringing to patients?
Patrick Kelley: Yeah, it’s a great question, Arun, and thanks for asking. It really is, particularly now, it’s all about the how. How do we engage in HCP today, in this new form of engagement? We need more than ever, to be across channels in a more intimate, more educational fashion. Bringing in just relevant content or relevant therapeutic content is really no longer what we can just do. We have to blur that line between the scientific content and human-to-human conversation because we’re not having the same amount of face-to-face conversations we once had. We need to tell a story, as you have referred to, that’s relatable, empathetically relatable, yet still deeply rooted in the science of interest. Which, for all intents and purpose is the heart of medical storytelling, and what we do on a day-to-day basis. With that thinking, I would turn it to Greta, and ask the question, where might we best engage HCPs today across this chaotic market channel?
Greta Rybicki: Yeah, thanks, Patrick. If my question to answer here is the where, the answer is everywhere. Where do we take our story, instead of these in-person venues that in many cases have been either canceled, or postponed or look a lot different than they did before. We have to be everywhere our customers are. Within each of those venues, we’ve got to have a strong understanding of that customer’s expectation for how they engage in that setting, what feels authentic to the setting, authentic to the storyteller, and something that we know can really resonate to the audience wherever they are. With all of this change, some of it is, was it temporary response to a global pandemic? Some of it is going to be enduring. Then the question back to you, Arun is, what does it mean for HCP engagement?
Arun Divakaruni: I think that’s a really important point that you brought up, that is that we’re seeing a juxtaposition of things that would have happened, whether or not the pandemic happened, alongside of permanent changes that were maybe catalyzed by the pandemic. The only constant, I guess, is change. Irrespective of your own personal opinion, somebody who has navigated change and dynamicism in business incredibly well has, I guess, on Amazon Prime Day, we can look to Jeff Bezos, and not necessarily to read everything that’s on the slide right now. But to paraphrase, what he posits is that, the more interesting question about looking at the future isn’t necessarily what’s going to change, but what’s going to remain constant? Because if you look at what’s going to remain constant, that’s a way that you can build a fundamental business strategy around it. Let’s take a quick look at a few things that we know are, and concern with a high degree of confidence are going to be constant, moving forward. The first I would say is that, if you ask, and this is our own research, if you ask doctors here in the United States, they prefer learning from other doctors. And that’s probably a product of the way that they were trained in the Socratic method, how medical schools work, how residency works, but they like hearing from their peers. More so than probably any other profession, at least in the United States, and likewise, probably globally, doctors like learning from other doctors. Not only is the message of what we’re talking about really important, but also the messenger. That gives peer to peer communications, and ancillary activities around that a unique and special role in changing behavior and catalyzing the adoption of new medicines or procedures or diagnostics.
The second is that, fair balance isn’t going to go anywhere. Irrespective of the channel, it’s incumbent upon us as communicators, educators and marketers, to not only communicate the benefits, but also the risks of the medicines or medical devices that we’re talking about. We still have to play within the boundaries of fair balance, and obviously, what is proper communication of information around a particular product.
In my mind, the regulations don’t necessarily preclude us from communicating in new and different ways, but rather force us to be that much more creative in the way that we’re communicating our story, and we’re drawing genuine connections between how the products that our industry provides can help improve patient lives. It’s improving them in quite remarkable ways. The science is moving really, really quickly. If you were to look at the juxtaposition of Moore’s law, which is a way of looking at scientific advances and computing, versus, what we’re seeing in biology. Now, I firmly believe that this is the century of tremendous biological advancement. Our understanding and moving biology from merely a descriptive science, to one that’s manipulable in a way that can benefit people is here right now, and today. In today’s world, what we thought was science fiction of the past, is now science fact. We have new modalities of treatment. Now, there are gene therapies that are curing inherited blindness, this is biblical level science. The approval of mRNA as a therapeutic, as a medicine, with a proper use of medicine is going to get us out of this global pandemic. These are brand new ways of treating human health and disease. Coming off of ASCO, there was a really monumental study done by a company in California Grill where they can actually predict through high throughput sequencing, to a degree of specificity and certainty whether or not you may have early stage cancer before any symptoms appear. To call it a test or a diagnostic is probably an understatement, but the mixture of high throughput sequencing and AI and strong machine learning to develop algorithms that can predict disease, is going to be a monumental advance in human health and disease. Today, we’re also drugging the undruggable. We have new targeted medicines that only scientists could dream about, even a decade ago. It’s a really, really exciting time for science, and it’s, to be honest, probably a bit overwhelming for clinicians, irrespective of the area that their craft is.
It’s important for us as educators, communicators, and marketers to tell our story in the way that our audience expects. That expectation often is set by the way that they interact with other sort of goods and other sort of communication platforms. What we’re seeing, at least in terms of medical storytelling, and in the consumption of information in general, is that power is shifting from essentially publishers to platforms. The adoption of mobile technology, and all of the apps and ways that people are communicating are shifting information from what was essentially a centralized source, which could be a certain publishing house and their platform of journals, to how that information spreads through the platforms that people are using now, and that could be anywhere from HCP specific, social networks like Doximity, Sermo to even crowdsource platforms of information sharing, like Reddit, or Facebook or media. It’s not so much where you’re publishing your information, or where you’re engaging with people, but rather, how are you letting that information permeate and spread through the platforms that people are on? If you look at those outlets that are successful and are keeping up with that change, there’s no better example, at least in terms of medical information sharing, than the New England Journal, because they’ve evolved their platform and their offering to be way more than a journal. The journal is still important and a core part of who they are as an organization and the sharing information in the peer reviewed setting is incredibly important, and in the written word. But they’ve also changed the way that they are communicating that information to include a variety of different types of formats that are best suited to how their audience wants to consume their content. Whether or not that’s from audio interviews and podcasts, to online progressive cases, to quizzes and eNewsletters. Likewise, if you think of the way that we get news, those platforms like the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, they’re also adopting a very similar type of model, where it’s not just about the physical paper anymore, it’s not just about the physical journal, it’s about taking that information and making it spread, and making it platform agnostic. Particularly when it comes to very complicated science, the science that we’re living in today, I tend to draw my inspiration from really good and simple storytelling, things that can make the complex seem understandable and accessible, which is so important now, particularly for our busy physicians who we’re communicating to. I keep going back to an example of one of the biggest scientific advances, I guess, of our lifetimes, before the development of a COVID vaccine. But in a related field in particle physics, which is, the development or the discovery, rather, of the Higgs boson, the so-called God Particle, and it’s something that’s incredibly complicated, and beyond my comprehension, that through really good storytelling, and very creative art and copy could be made understandable. To understand why certain things have mass and other things don’t is a very deep scientific question, but can be made accessible and understandable through really good storytelling. Likewise, if you look at something that’s maybe just as complicated is how our immune system mounts or responds to cancer. This is an example from the pharmaceutical company, Roche, where they’ve taken a very complicated biological process that is incredibly dynamic, and simplified it into seven key steps, and have made them visually appealing through art, platform agnostic so they can be consumed… What we’re showing right now is a Twitter handle, and made simple to the point and direct so people understand the incredible scientific advances that they’re making. I guess, Patrick, I’ll turn it over to you and say, in this sort of time with all of the changes that we’re seeing, how do we best engage in HCP audience?
Patrick Kelley: Yeah, thanks, Arun. Again, I think, I’ll just echo that last portion of your last slide. It’s really about simplification. It begins with a conversation, a conversational tone. In every engagement that we have with an HCP, we have to provide the clear facts, the scientific facts that are relevant to their therapeutic area of expertise or their need. It has to be there, but we have to do it conversationally, we have to do it in a way that an HCP, in their busy days, in their busy lives can digest it quickly, in content that’s relevant to them. It has empathy to their lives and what they’re doing, but also has deep scientific meaning. We call these snackable, or bite-sized content type of buckets. But, it can be anything, and any type of form that we utilize to engage in HCP. Because the platforms and the channels that HCPs live in today are far different than they were. It’s not always going to be in a form that’s useful or just useful, it has to be relevant, it has to be today, it has to be current, and honestly, it has to be a story. That’s where we begin every aspect of communication and education with an HCP today. Because, we know HCPs aren’t robots, but we tend to treat them that way. We tend to write to them, we tend to be very factual, we tend to give more of the science rather than the relation.
It’s our job today, particularly today, to turn that over. The facts have to be there, but we have to do it in a way that’s more human-to-human, because it’s all about stories. We tell stories, medical stories that resonate with our specific HCP audience and deliver medical content, founded in fact, qualified by peers, where and when an ACP is looking for it. That can be all over the board.
It has to be short, it has to be simple, and it has to transcend. We talk a lot about the power of the story. Arun alluded to this point, the stories is just another data point, unless there’s emotion behind that story, unless you’re able to humanize that data. The only way to humanize it is to make it relatable, and relatable to the HCP that is looking for information. Facts or facts, the journal is a great place, and it is factual. But our goal is to take those journalistic type data points that are qualified and bring them to life in an impelling storyline, that is relatable, and also empathetic to the HCP today.
It’s not only designed to educate, but we need to find that emotional connection with the audience as well. If you look at the way we do it today, and Arun is talking to this as well, there are plenty of channels and plenty of platforms today. But the most important point we can make, from a medical and creative standpoint, is creating a narrative that is an arc or a story arc that can go across multiple platforms and resonate channels and platforms.
The idea here is to build consistency in a branded voice, and a branded message that, we’re going to have some redundancies at each point of interaction with the HCP, but that’s okay, because that’s the content marketing that we need to deliver, to begin to drive and influence HCPs to explore more. Because it’s not just about connecting, and it’s more about influencing. Influencing human-to-human, in today’s channels, in which we’re reaching the HCPs, it’s getting more and more difficult. One, because the modern HCP lives and works all the time, it’s a totally different environment. They’re working at night, they’re on the floor, in between patient visits, they’re checking their mobile device, or they’re working on and off out of hours, on their laptop, or wherever, we need to think in those terms. We need to think small, we need to think intimate, and we need to think interruptive when we’re looking at content and developing content.
These are just some fun facts, our average audience, or our average reader today has a 3.4 second attention span, which is less than a goldfish. We’re all, as online audiences, we ingest up to 300 feet of content today, that’s the same size as the Statue of Liberty. Again, we have to be relatable when we tell a story, and we also have to stick out amongst that 300 feet of content that you’re ingesting.
Then 500 billion YouTube videos are watched every day, globally, obviously, but that is a considerable amount of data that we’re competing against. We know that in everything we’re trying to accomplish, the chaos that’s in the market channels and the overcrowded channels that we’re reaching HCPs, we need to turn that chaos into clarity.
In doing that, we need to turn our stories into engagements, lasting engagements, where we can bring them in influencing an HCP into going to a destination site and reading more about our therapeutic area or our brand. With that… That really comes down to the journey itself, and how do we start to deliver these messages across this chaotic channel, these market channels? Greta, I’ve asked you that question, how do we do that, going forward?
Greta Rybicki: How do we make this actually happen? When you think about mobilizing anything that’s complex, we have to take it back to that individual customer and a deep robust, empathetic understanding of that customer, where they are within their educational journey, their learning habits, their styles, their channel preferences. I think when we partner with our marketing teams, there’s so much analytics that’s out there and available, are we always making sure we’re putting it to use, so that we show up for each customer across these channels in a way that feels really relevant, that meets their needs?
When we know we need to convey this narrative arc and then adapt it across the channel, adapt it to an individual target customer’s learning styles and needs, what might that actually look like? Patrick and Arun talked a lot about medical storytelling and building these really robust narratives. How do we adapt that medical story to the different channels?
One of the aha moments we had on our team and in so many ways, medical storytelling for a long time has been built in the longer form, at a product theater, a symposium, in a dinner program, a webinar. We know that there’s such rich behavior changing driven content that can live within content marketing, within physician social. When we’ve converted it from the longer form to the bite size, we realize here that we’ve got to change it from maybe that beginning, middle and end to bite size content that is a little bit more clickable right away, maybe something that in a longer form you put in the middle has to happen right away in order to gain that attention and meet that customer where they are in the little bit of time that they have to read your message and read your story.
Thinking back to the longer form content, for a really, really long time, that was the central part of the medical education universe that we’ve built, the peer-to-peer speaker program. It was in that central position for a really good reason, it worked incredibly well. Speaker programs in my experience on ROI, that was equal or second only the sales representative themselves. In many instances, that medical education universe lived almost separate from the omni channel that was built around the broader professional communication strategy, and we still sometimes see brands falling into that habit of having medical education separated, but that’s just not going to work anymore, as we’ve evolved. We’ve got to bridge the gap between our industry’s habits in terms of med-ed, and the engagement that our customers are demanding now.
Peer-to-peer is no longer that tack on tactic, but inherent to that ecosystem, inherent to an ecosystem that’s a little bit more complex, that has more channels and tactics available to it and requires a bit more of a rich and robust choreography on what lever to pull, when and where and why, so that we can be catering to the way that our HCPs want to learn.
One of those new channels is that, COVID has accelerated, catalyzed the adoption of physician social platforms, looking at Med Twitter looking at Doximity, and it’s pushed physicians to the role of influencer themselves, this new idea around digital opinion leaders as a sister KOL or part of a role that a KOL plays. That’s not going to go away, that’s not a temporary response to the pandemic, that is an enduring change. That is a new adoption that our HCPs have taken, that we believe will endure, and it is the critical fuel to storytelling and medical storytelling.
We believe that DOLs and physicians social as a key planet within that medical education universe that we’ve built here, we believe that it can accomplish a couple of core things that are super, super important to really any brand. Educationally driven content will perform in physician social. Our customers are in those platforms, not to be sold. Content that is created through an approach of the narratives of medical storytelling that we’ve utilized in peer-to-peer and Congress and thought leadership, performs really well because it’s the way in which our customers want to learn.
We believe physician social, of course, can expand the reach of educational content to untapped audiences. It can go find those folks who maybe do not engage in your more traditional peer-to-peer channels and speak to them. If we do our job right, that educational content in physician social has the opportunity to drive targets back into the high performing peer-to-peer, the more, perhaps, traditional tactics around medical storytelling.
The idea here is now that they’ve experienced the value proposition of the medical storytelling that you’ve been able to put forth, they’re more willing to engage, more willing to accept an invitation to a program from a representative or to venture into your symposium. They’re more willing to engage in some of those, maybe traditional environments that have been effective for a really long time, and are still a really important part of the medical, medical storytelling, marketing mix, and there’s a good reason for that, that, the speaker programming has been, for many years, the cornerstone of medical education for pharma, because of this magic that happens. It’s the magic of really rigorous, really valuable content delivered by a trusted expert, in a setting that creates camaraderie for learning and for discussion with your peers, and has an audience that is showing up with the expectation that they are not there to be sold. When it works really well, the content and the delivery stays true to that.
Here we are in 2021, and the question is, how do you recreate that magic across all of the new and evolving channels that we have? When we ask that questions, sometimes the answer that we get is, that’s actually a different marketing department that owns content marketing more, that leverages the full channel preferencing for the customer journey.
What 2020 has taught us is that the need for customer centricity overrides those clean, swim lanes across departments, across marketing teams, and even across agencies that we can be so used to, that have been a part of how we’ve worked for so long. Internal barriers are irrelevant to our audience. So, we’ve got to break down those silos and swim lanes and partner across to fully leverage what we have available to us.
High science, complex stories are not understood over the course of just one event or one tactic, everything works together in a symphony. That through line is more important than ever, getting the story right, and having it manifest across different channels to create a truly seamless experience, seamless story.
What have we seen where we’ve been able to do this really well, in the past year? One of the things that I’ve really been excited by in the changes we’ve been forced to make is how the KOL video has evolved. How long have all of our KOL videos, your KOL videos looked pretty much the same. I’m imagining a muted clinical background and a white leather chair. That has been the visual story that we have relied upon for years and years and years.
Last year, we were forced to film our KOLs in their home office or in their office. Even just that visual setting looks different, feels different. Maybe they’re leaned over a little bit closer to their web camera, maybe they’re engaged a little bit differently, maybe they’re in conversation with another KOL or with a patient and how refreshing has that been?
When it works really well, the advances we have in addressable media have allowed our marketers to see who those hand raisers are among their audiences who are watching and engaging in this on demand content in these videos and pinging us to cues about how they want to interact and what’s interesting and valuable to them? When that can inform the next best action for that particular customer, maybe now we know they’re a little bit more apt to take place in a webinar, perhaps featuring that same KOL, how fantastic is that? Or maybe accuse them that there’s some additional content that the representative can be bringing to keep that conversation going.
That’s where we’ve seen this work really well, this choreography. Often, our marketing teams that we work with have the tools available to do this, it’s just about breaking down those swim lanes and getting everyone together to plan it. We believe this is all about expanding the reach of educational content to untapped audiences and then driving them back in. Because even though it is more complicated, and there’s new things that we can be doing, we’re going to have to be really customer centric and smart about how we use them. We know we’re going to return to some of the more traditional channels, they still have a really important place in that medical storytelling universe, but we’re going to have to be really intentional about when, where and how we use that. Because the last thing we want is that your brand is hosting a dinner program, a couple of months from now, in a private room, at a steak house, and got some great customers and attendees there, and your attendees sit back and think to themselves, this is great, but this could have been a Zoom.
How much smarter and more intentional do we need to be to meet our customers’ expectations? We have so many more options, their habits have evolved, their expectations have changed, how are we partnering with you to truly plan what each engagement requires, so that coming out to that in-person program at the [inaudible 00:36:31], feels so worth their while and is so eye opening and interesting and brings all that magic of the dinner program to life, so that there’s no question that this was something that was the right way to engage, and the right thing for them and brought that value proposition to the customer of truly customer centered medical storytelling.
When we use the webinar, we use the webinar for the right reason. When we’re using on demand in content marketing, they’re all customer centric in their delivery as well. Taking us back to the beginning, of course, the consistency is change, but the value proposition for the customer of medical storytelling, the customer centricity of it, the way that it can move people is more relevant than ever. It’s all about this equation.
If we start first with that insight, empathy to the customer, understanding their expectations within each channel, understanding their learning styles, their grounding beliefs, and then Patrick, what else do we need in this key equation?
Patrick Kelley: I think… Thanks, Greta. I think the learn, the behavior and the trend going forward, is that, our targeted HCP message and the branded visual, it has to transcend channels, paid social platforms, and it has to deliver a unified narrative that is relatable therapeutically, but empathetically relevant to the HCP, and engage, of course, in a scientific fashion, but also in a human point of view, because we’re missing some of that in the lack of face-to-face communication that we’re in currently, and were in all of 2020. It’s hard… That is once more the art of medical storytelling, and it is alive and well, we just need to tell it in new ways.
Arun, where do we take it from here or from that standpoint?
Arun Divakaruni: Well, thanks, Patrick. I think, to both you and Greta’s points, understanding where our audience is coming from, how they’re consuming information differently now, and then maybe take it one step further to say that, we’re not going to treat HCPs like they’re robots and then speak to them as prescribing machines, but rather understand the particular nuances of their practice.
For example, there likely is some changes that are going to happen with the increased adoption of telemedicine in things like dermatology, and other sorts of areas where you may not necessarily have to go into the doctor’s office at the exact same way to get the same level of care, but rather an oncology that could look very, very different.
By marrying the insights and change behaviors, I think it’s our job as educators, marketers and communicators, to come up with those bespoke solutions that address, not only where a particular medicine may be on its lifecycle, it’s value proposition but also marry that to the context of which is used. This always sounds very theoretical and general as we talk about it here in the context of a webinar, but really when it comes down to the brass tacks, and we have to get done what we need to get done to improve the lives of patients who are living with either chronic or life-threatening diseases, programmatically, it has to manifest in a very thoughtful way.
I think what we talked about today, in summation is that it’s really important for us to take very complicated science and make it simple, make it emotive, to your point, Patrick, and follow a story that resonates with what we as human beings, and particularly HCPs have been taught to learn by, in a very specific way that tells the story, and then to Greta’s point, in the channels whose adoption has been catalyzed by this pandemic.
As we move into this next normal, new normal, whatever you want to call it, it’s incumbent upon us to be able to help, not only our clients navigate what’s going to be a constant barrage of change, but also to really anchor into the constant, which is a really good story.
Throughout the history of mankind, we have learned through good storytelling, that good storytelling is what will ultimately end up being able to give you the opportunity to show how new medicine, the diagnostic and medical device can make the world a better place and improve the human condition. I guess, at that, I’d like to thank the audience for their time and attention today, and we can turn it over to any questions that we may have, Deborah. If there are some that have laddered up to the top, let us know.
Deborah Stoll: Yeah, awesome. Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for that presentation, everyone. I do have a question that came in. It’s, we all understand the need for bite sized content today. But data needs to be accurate and tends to be lengthy and detailed. How do you propose we break up scientific data?
Arun Divakaruni: You know what, I’ll take that one. That’s a really interesting question, and I think there’s a fundamental disconnect, or maybe different purpose between the clinical data that a sponsor would generate to support the approval of a particular product, and what we’re talking about with scientific and medical storytelling.
The purpose of a clinical trial is, within the context of a study, to disprove, I’m going to get a little bit technical here, is to disprove what the null hypothesis of the trial is. Meaning that, the purpose of the clinical trials to show statistical significance that a drug, medical device or other sort of intervention has statistically reliable information by which to support a regulatory approval. That is a fundamentally different question than saying that how do I incorporate this into my practice?
If you’re a clinician, and you’re saying that, okay, ultimately, the FDA or other regulatory body is saying that this is a sufficient risk benefit profile to be used in the clinic, how do you catalyze the adoption of that? How do you tell a story around them? I think, Deborah, to your question is, how do we take that information and break it down into ways that are understandable?
One area I think that we agree as an agency have had success is in call and response but modified to a digital format. To ask the question, first of all, who does this scientific advance apply to, in the broader sense? Is it for this type of disease, this type of patient who may need, who have failed on other therapies and now need a new one? Then sequentially break it down from there to give the most relevant content at the particular time. There’s a lot of ways that we can use user behavior data, how they’re interacting with other content on certain channels, to, Greta’s earlier point, figure out where they are on the spectrum of adoption, and give them the right information at the right time.
That may seem very vague, but the reason it is, is because we have to narrow it down to a very specific therapeutic area, given the options that a doctor has. For example, to draw out some very clear and contrasting clinical situations, there may be areas, let’s say in a third line solid tumors, where there’s one or two therapeutic options, and a doctor just needs to know that there is something approved and available for this. That’s very different than, let’s say, the first line setting in perhaps a dermatological condition, where there may be a dozen different options.
It’s really important for us to be able to take the clinical story, keep true to what our obligations are, from a regulatory perspective, and give doctors that information on the channels where they want it of what’s available to them. In the broader setting, it becomes difficult to talk about, but I think as a construct for us to look at it, the key is customization, and that’s what the data and the analytics will help us be able to figure out is what’s the right channel mix, what’s the right story to give them, and ultimately, what will change? Have them consider and have that conversation with their patient, that there may be a different option for that.
Deborah Stoll: That was a great answer, Arun. Thank you for that. I have another one here. There’s been a ton of change over the past 16 months. Bezos talks to building strategy around being stable in time. In our world, what are some of those things?
Patrick Kelley: I might weigh in on that one. I think, Bezos’ point of view that, sticking to things that are stable today, in our world of medical education, those things are wrapped right around the two points that we’ve made throughout this presentation, which is making sure that our research is showing the correct scientific data that our target HCP needs is looking for, in the desired therapeutic area, as well as creating it in a relevant storyline, which, the relevance and the humanization of that data is where we can begin to build a larger story.
That’s a commonality that we’ve not walked away from, it’s something that has remained in all that we do, it’s always been there in every type of communication. The change has been the communication vehicles, not the actual communication. That, for us, is the biggest learn is that the conversations don’t go away, and they don’t die down with an HCP, they actually have to increase, and we actually have to begin to look at these channels as conversational tone, and more personalized, intimate, bite sized type of content that is scientifically relevant, as we said, but it also has to be relatable by that HCP, and empathetic in ways that a classic CRNA can relate to some challenge that they have had on the floor.
We need to talk to those things, or we need to make that content an aha moment. Again, I don’t think… There are many things that have changed, but I really do believe that the medical story has not, it’s just changed how we deliver.
Arun Divakaruni: Yeah, and maybe, Patrick, to build on that a little-
Deborah Stoll: Awesome.
Arun Divakaruni: … another perspective is that, what’s not going to change, is that we’re all human beings and human beings have inherently, throughout the history of our species have communicated information through really good stories. I was there 1000s of years ago, and it’s there today. The channels may have changed, but we’re people and people learn from stories.
Deborah Stoll: Got it. Awesome. Thanks to both of you for that response. I have a question here, a new one that just came in from Kate Baldino asking, what is the foundation of creating a digital ecosystem connecting peers either regionally or nationally?
Greta Rybicki: Awesome. Thanks, Deborah, thanks, Kate, for your wonderful question. I will take that one. This is Greta. This is a great question. A lot of fun to think about. Okay, foundation for a digital ecosystem, and really the foundation to any ecosystem is such a strong analytics and understanding of your customers and where they are.
Connecting peers regionally and nationally can look a lot like leveraging influence mapping, it can be looking for consistent and similar behaviors, and there’s a lot of different ways to define behaviors. If it’s in their writing behavior, and the patients that they see, all dependent on that therapeutic area. Then understanding too, how that particular therapeutic area might look to experts.
Some of the disease states that we’ve worked in, have really strong national specialists that have an overarching influence, really, across anyone within that specialty. Some disease states are a little bit more regional focused. They might have maybe regional centers or regional referral basis that influence treatment behavior and patient management behavior within that particular disease, and it can be different from region to region.
In those instances, you might elect to elevate regional influencers and have more of that regional connection. Then once you have a really good understanding of who’s there, where they are, what they need. We’ve partnered really closely with the marketing and analytics teams within the departments that we work in to literally map it all out. Where is everybody? What’s unique or similar about them, and where might there be levels of influence? Then it’s just building. It’s building, are there some key areas where we might list certain stories and certain educational points, delivered both in some of the more traditional channels like a webinar or a broadcast, complemented with a content marketing play, in partnership with certain third party media or physician social where you might have a level of individualized targeting that’s available to you.
Then that ecosystem has such an important role for the sales representative to be pulling through. What guidance are we providing for them for pulling the right lever at the right time in full complement with the ecosystem? It’s interesting, because often, the marketing teams that we work with, they have all of these tools, but we’ve got this bad habit around swim lanes every once in a while where we don’t leverage all of the tools that we have.
Where you’ve made a lot of great progress with our partners is breaking down those silos to create a fully integrated customer experience and ecosystem that’s driven and routed and founded upon a strong understanding of where your customers are and what they
Patrick Kelley: Yeah, if I could-
Deborah Stoll: Awesome. Thank you so much for that, Greta. I think we have… Whoops, sorry, go ahead.
Patrick Kelley: I was just going to build on Greta’s point, because the idea of the ecosystem across the hub, particularly in the next gen type of medical education ecosystem, this is where the story arc or the narrative arc lives because you have so many vehicles of communication, from live to virtual. If you have a common message and you have a common branded theme that works across each ecosystem touchpoint, you’re going to reinforce your messaging, whether it’s regional or national. You can continue to bring your branded content to life. It’s really important, particularly in the ecosystem itself, to make sure that, that story arc, the narrative arc is consistent across each vehicle. Just wanted to add that bit.
Deborah Stoll: Awesome. All right, I think we have time for one more question. You talked about a content ecosystem, that’s NextGen in medical education. Are there any touch points within the new ecosystem that are more important than the others? Anything that should be prioritized in our 2022 plan?
Arun Divakaruni: I’ll take that one. I wouldn’t say that one isn’t any more important than the other, I would say that contextually, what we have to map is where the story is, to where the platform is. For example, how to use all of these platforms together in a way that makes the most impact. We know, through… You’re going to use a couple of examples here, this is by no means exhaustive or complete, but for example, take a look to how you consume information in your personal life, and map the analogs to how you may consume that information in your professional life.
We have platforms like Facebook, who are really moving towards whether or not they want to be there or not, but they’re, frankly, de facto information outlets. They talk a lot about newsfeed, and that’s what platforms like Doximity talk a lot about. It’s how do I provide that constant source of information? You think of a platform like Hippocrates that gives information at the point of care in real time. That’s what Twitter does. Twitter provides information in real time. It’s organized by time. Likewise, you look at Instagram, is a visual platform, and there’s a platform right now called Figure 1 that looks at a lot of information in terms of medical information, in terms of visuals. How do you orchestrate a campaign around a single user, across these multitudes of platforms? Imagine a hypothetical situation where you provide maybe brand agnostic disease information on a platform like Doximity, when a doctor comes into their office, and they pull up their feed, and they’re looking to see and consume information. Then at the point of care, you have a targeted campaign that gives a product monograph on Hippocrates when they’re actually using that platform to look at it. Then likewise, when they go home, or they’re on the train back from the clinic, that can bring that a bit more to life, visually, using a platform like Figure 1. By far, there’s a number of different platforms out there, those are just three random ones that we’ve picked. But I don’t necessarily think that one is more important than the other, and we need to focus on those specific channel. It’s rather about orchestrating the experience that someone has about the information, whether branded or unbranded about the medicine, or device or intervention that you want to raise awareness about.
Deborah Stoll: Thank you so much for that answer. Unfortunately, everyone, it looks like that is all the time we have for today. I want to thank everyone for a wonderful presentation and Q&A session. On behalf of MM&M, I want to sincerely thank Avant Healthcare for sponsoring today’s webcast. Also, big thank you to our speakers, Arun, Greta and Patrick for sharing their insights, and of course, to all of you, our audience, for tuning in and participating.
Deborah Stoll: Today’s webcast will be available on demand on the MM&M website under the events/webcast tab for up to one year. You can tell others who didn’t get to make it today where to find it and you can revisit it as well. Once again, thank you everyone. We hope you’re staying safe and we’ll see you soon.
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