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Today it was announced our President of EMEA, Annalise Coady, is being featured in PRWeekUK’s, UK Power Book! I’ve had the pleasure of being her colleague for years and I cannot think of a more deserving recipient. She is an incredible leader, well-versed in our industry, and brings a client-centric approach to every aspect of her work.

I was able to hop on the phone with Annalise to pick her brain about the current landscape of the marketing and communications’ industry, what makes our firm unique, and her personal goals for our European efforts this year. Take a listen below.

 

Today it was announced our President of EMEA, Annalise Coady, is being featured in PRWeekUK’s, UK Power Book! I’ve had the pleasure of being her colleague for years and I cannot think of a more deserving recipient. She is an incredible leader, well-versed in our industry, and brings a client-centric approach to every aspect of her work.

I was able to hop on the phone with Annalise to pick her brain about the current landscape of the marketing and communications’ industry, what makes our firm unique, and her personal goals for our European efforts this year. Take a listen below.

 

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One of the most common questions we get from clients heading into HIMSS is: What’s trending? After all, booths, badges and general bacchanalia at the world’s largest healthcare technology conference don’t come cheap. It helps to know what topics, issues, executives, media, speakers, influencers and brands are trending up…down…or in between. Smart marketers and communicators and their CEOs invest in these insights to inform their message, cut through the clutter and make stronger connections.

So, on the eve of HIMSS18, me and my fellow army of digital health nerds at W2O Group thought it would be worthwhile to share some such insights. HIMSS itself does provide a bit of a petri dish to understand how market conversations are trending.

Like kids in a candy store, the W2O Group analytics team dug into the data, comparing social discussions in the weeks and months before HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17.   More specifically, they viewed public data through the lens of the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem, which maps online behavior and digital footprints of more than 870,000 stakeholders worldwide, including doctors, patients, industry CXOs, hospitals, payers, technology vendors, advocacy organizations, media, analysts and among many others). For this particular analysis, we

One of the most common questions we get from clients heading into HIMSS is: What’s trending? After all, booths, badges and general bacchanalia at the world’s largest healthcare technology conference don’t come cheap. It helps to know what topics, issues, executives, media, speakers, influencers and brands are trending up…down…or in between. Smart marketers and communicators and their CEOs invest in these insights to inform their message, cut through the clutter and make stronger connections.

So, on the eve of HIMSS18, me and my fellow army of digital health nerds at W2O Group thought it would be worthwhile to share some such insights. HIMSS itself does provide a bit of a petri dish to understand how market conversations are trending.

Like kids in a candy store, the W2O Group analytics team dug into the data, comparing social discussions in the weeks and months before HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17. [i]  More specifically, they viewed public data through the lens of the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem, which maps online behavior and digital footprints of more than 870,000 stakeholders worldwide, including doctors, patients, industry CXOs, hospitals, payers, technology vendors, advocacy organizations, media, analysts and among many others). For this particular analysis, we analyzed tweets mentioning HIMSS from verified authors in the Health Ecosystem.

Below are five takeaways from W2O’s pre-HIMSS18 social conversation analysis:  

1. The unofficial HIMSS prom court: If HIMSS had a prom court, Rasu Shrestha (@RasuShrestha) and Geeta Nayer, MD, (@gnayar) would be dubbed King and Queen, with Janae Sharp (@CoherenceMed), Danielle Siarri (@innonurse), Nick van Terheyden, MD (@drnic1), Charles Webster, MD (@WareFLO), Linda Stotsky (@EMRAnswers), Colin Hung (@Colin_Hung) and Max Stroud (@MMaxwellStroud) rounding out the group. The qualifier for this particular court is most mentioned handles within the HIMSS conversation from January 2017 to February 2018.

2. Social communities are thriving: Social groups and Twitter-based movements are a staple within the broader HIMSS conversation and engagement landscape. For example, #hcldr, which represents the weekly healthcare leader tweet chat/community, #HITsm, which is related to the healthcare IT social media gang and weekly tweet chat, and #pinksocks, which stands for the “PinkSocks Tribe” (whose members you’ll see wearing said color socks with curious mustaches on them at conferences) are all among the top hashtags in the HIMSS conversation both pre-HIMSS 2017 and 2018.

3. Conversation topics on the rise:

  • Precision medicine: From advances in genomics to the necessity that is taking a patient-centric approach to care delivery, use of “precision medicine” increased nearly 200% pre-HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17.
  • Patient centric: Both “patient centered” and “patient outcome” were used 55% and 48% more, respectively, in the weeks leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17. With HIMSS providing scholarships for patients and advocates at this year’s event (YES), and groups like the Society for Participatory Medicine playing a role, it’s great to see that the social conversation are increasingly mapping back to the patient.
  • Workflow technology: Someone tell @WareFLO that HIMSS-focused discussions mentioning “workflow tech” increased 90% leading up to HIMSS18—though perhaps not surprising, given the renewed industry focus on finding ways to alleviate the administrative burden and burnout on clinicians through better designed systems and solutions.
  • The artificial era: The AI revolution is very much alive and well. Conversations related to AI and machine learning were on the rise in the weeks before HIMSS18, with AI-related conversations increasing 19% pre-HIMSS18 compared to last year.
  • Analytics: None of the above are possible today without accounting for the role that data analytics plays. HIMSS-focused conversations referencing “data analytics” were up 20% leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17.

4. Notable hashtags support rising trends:

  • Reinforcing the patient-centered takeaways above, it’s great to see #patientengagement used 84% more this year in comparison to pre-HIMSS17.
  • #AI and its variants also increased in use prior to this year’s event as opposed to last, with many sessions in the HIMSS18 agenda focused on case studies of success and lessons learned from AI innovations in action. Related, #radiology is becoming a bigger part of the pre-HIMSS conversation, used 150% more compared to last year pre-event.
  • #VR, #AR and #IoT are even trendier this year, increasing in use upwards of 100-200% pre-HIMSS18 versus pre-HIMSS17.
  • #Aim2Innovate, #TransformHIT, #RethinkRCM, #EmpowerHIT and #Nurses4HIT all picked up steam this year leading in to the event in comparison to social chatter pre-HIMSS17.

5. What comes up…

As telling as it is to see what topics are trending up, those trending down can help tell a different story:

  • Policy-focused staples such as “MACRA” and “ACA” died down in use pre-HIMSS18 in comparison to the post-election year prior
  • Perhaps a bit more surprising, “healthcare costs” were mentioned 92% less leading up to HIMSS18 versus HIMSS17
  • While AI is heavily represented in the pre-event social conversations this year, blockchain in healthcare was mentioned 93% less pre-HIMSS18
  • Mobile apps are also not as popular in the pre-event chatter this year, mentioned 95% less ahead of HIMSS18
  • The patient-first narrative is seeming to take hold, with consumer health and customer experience being discussed 95% and 96% less, respectively, before this year’s event versus 2017.

Lastly, when looking at the audience breakdown of those driving the conversation (below), stakeholders that fall within in the health industry segment of the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem—e.g., health system CXOs and technology decision makers—are the main conversation contributors, responsible for 40% of the HIMSS related posts, but only making up 27% of the authors.

U.S. Physicians are the opposite, contributing just 6% of posts but making up 23% of the authors. The takeaway? While doctors are present and accounted for, the health industry rules the HIMSS social discussion, contributing nearly seven times more than their caregiver counterparts.

What will the post-HIMSS18 story be? Stay tuned and we’ll tell you!


[i] Comparing conversation leading up to HIMSS 2017 (1.1.17 – 2.15.17) to conversation leading up to HIMSS 2018 (1.1.18 – 2.15.18)


 This blog was co-authored by Steven Cutbirth, Product Commercialization Lead, Healthcare Analytics Innovation at W2O 

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The future of healthcare is being shaped by technology and SXSW Interactive is a great opportunity to learn about what’s coming next. With more than 100 events in this year’s health track, we wanted to highlight the panels we think are the most interesting. Plus, this year W2O has officially joined forces with SXSW and are presenting three days of content in the Brand and Marketing track. Naturally, as part of that we’re highlighting healthcare and we’ve included these three panels.

I recommend taking advantage of the networking and meet up events as well. At SXSW introducing yourself to someone new and asking what they have learned so far can lead to a fascinating conversation. Also, be sure to also venture outside the health sphere for inspiration and ideas.

We hope to see you there!

(Please note event summaries are provided by SXSW.com and, in full disclosure, some of the speakers represent companies that are clients across the W2O network of operating companies.)

March 9, 2018

Improve Consumer Experience with Data & Analytics

3:30-4:30pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speaker: Lisa Smith, Chief Consumer Experience Officer, Optum

Consumer experiences in health care are fragmented in a

The future of healthcare is being shaped by technology and SXSW Interactive is a great opportunity to learn about what’s coming next. With more than 100 events in this year’s health track, we wanted to highlight the panels we think are the most interesting. Plus, this year W2O has officially joined forces with SXSW and are presenting three days of content in the Brand and Marketing track. Naturally, as part of that we’re highlighting healthcare and we’ve included these three panels.

I recommend taking advantage of the networking and meet up events as well. At SXSW introducing yourself to someone new and asking what they have learned so far can lead to a fascinating conversation. Also, be sure to also venture outside the health sphere for inspiration and ideas.

We hope to see you there!

(Please note event summaries are provided by SXSW.com and, in full disclosure, some of the speakers represent companies that are clients across the W2O network of operating companies.)

March 9, 2018

Improve Consumer Experience with Data & Analytics

3:30-4:30pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speaker: Lisa Smith, Chief Consumer Experience Officer, Optum

Consumer experiences in health care are fragmented in a health system that has become increasingly complex. This complexity makes it too easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated, and that leads to disengagement. This is literally bad for one’s health. Consumers need a simple, seamless and smart health care experience. This session will provide actionable best practices on how data and analytics are used to predict consumer next actions and design customized consumer communication campaigns. 

March 10, 2018

How Our Astronauts Make Us Healthy

9:30-10:30am

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speakers:

The healthcare issues that NASA has to solve to provide safe travel for humans into deep space have a practical application here on Earth. A space ship travelling to Mars or small communities across the globe are both very remote and have limited resources. Medical technologies must be portable, minimally invasive, and easy to use (even by engineer astronauts!). Devices must be robust and require only low power and minimal consumables. Meds need to be very stable and safe for a long time.

Empowering People to Own Their Health Data

9:30-10:30am

Austin Convention Center | Room 9AB

Speakers:

With miniaturized sensors, machine learning, and exponential compute power, researchers can seamlessly capture and understand health information in new ways. What’s next? Figuring out how to share information with those it matters to most: people. This panel will examine how modern initiatives like Project Baseline and All of Us are developing tools and strategies to bridge the gap between clinical research and clinical care, and empower everyday people to understand and manage their health.

Put Down the Scalpel: Non-Invasive Heart Solutions

11:00am-12:00pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speakers:

New school medical diagnostics and interventions aim to reduce unnecessary procedures. This reduction makes the remaining procedures far less invasive while ensuring that hard to detect conditions get treatment earlier. The healthcare system needs innovators to make money by lowering costs overall, putting the pressure on traditional inefficient approaches and making space for innovators to shine.

Connect to End Cancer, Session 1

12:30-1:30pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speakers:

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the AT&T Connected Health Foundry, Merck & Co., Inc., and the Biden Cancer Initiative will host the second annual Connect to End Cancer. Panelists will share their vision for the future of cancer care, driven by an ideal patient experience. From caring for the mental, financial, and emotional well-being of patients to re-designing hospitals, panelists will explore how creating the experience of the future helps cancer patients focus on healing. 

Connect to End Cancer, Session 2

2:00-3:00pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speakers:

Data. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone is collecting it. But how is everyone using it? This forward-looking expert panel will explore the role of genomic data in transforming the cancer care model of the future and take a deeper look at how advances in research and technology can continue to enable the health care industry to deliver products and services that democratize access and provide insights that enhance early diagnosis, clinical care, clinical research and the patient experience.

Connect to End Cancer, Session 3

3:30-4:30pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speakers:

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the AT&T Connected Health Foundry, Merck & Co., Inc., and the Biden Cancer Initiative will host the second annual Connect to End Cancer event. Panelists will discuss the importance of effectively connecting patients and providers to resources that help navigate the treatment process. Additionally, attendees will hear from startups and learn about the role that startups play in improving cancer care.

Here’s My Genome. Call Me Maybe?

5:00-6:00pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speakers:

As healthcare becomes more and more personalized and predictive, technology is taking a more predominant role in the patient perspective, and with that comes massive amounts of new data about people and their experiences. What novel approaches are tech and healthcare companies taking together to create a personalized healthcare experience as a result of this uprising convergence.

March 11, 2018

Do Online Communities Make Us Healthier?

11:00am-12:00pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 8ABC

Speakers:

More than ever, people with health conditions are seeking out peers online who share their condition, speak to their experience, and can answer their questions. As online health communities grow, they are providing answers and insight that go beyond medical care and treatments. The relationships and connections that spring from online health communities contribute to health and well-being in ways not found elsewhere.

Genomes: Let’s Make Rare Disease Rare

12:30-1:30pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 8ABC

Speaker: Howard Jacob, Founder & Director, Envision Genomics

Howard Jacob is Founder, President & Chief Scientific Officer of Envision Genomics. Envision Genomics is based on its Founders’ 7 years of experience delivering genomic medicine tools to patients. Four of those seven years were spent at the Medical College of Wisconsin, during which time Dr. Jacob and the Envision Genomics Founder team were the first to use genomic sequencing to save a patient’s (Nic Volker) life. Now, as an associate company of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Envision Genomics’ goal is to enable hospitals and healthcare systems to practice genomic medicine immediately by leveraging the know-how of the Founders, a best-in-class genomic informatics platform and the leading-edge technology infrastructure of HudsonAlpha. Dr. Jacob’s passion for improving the lives of critically ill patients with rare/undiagnosed disease has been the catalyst for his determination to bring whole genome sequencing into the clinical setting to positively impact patient care.

Using Bots to Enhance Clinical Workflow

2:00-3:00pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 6AB

Speaker: Julian Morelli, Senior Program Manager of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft

Communication is at the center of all clinician workflows. In this demo-rich session we will look at how to build communications flows that bring clinicians, conversations and apps together in one place to produce better outcomes. We’ll also discuss intelligent communications capabilities including a demonstration of bot capabilities within a real-world clinical setting using Microsoft Teams.

March 12, 2018

Sequence Me (Again)! Living a Step Ahead of Cancer

12:30-1:30pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 8ABC

Speaker: Byrce Olson, Global Mktg Director of Health & Life Sciences, Intel Health and Life Sciences

In 2014 Bryce Olson, an Intel executive, was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. He should not be alive today based on his prognosis. But he fought cancer differently. He used DNA sequencing data to break into a perfect-fit drug trial, engineering an ‘exceptional response’ and shutting down his cancer for 2 years. In 2017 his cancer came back. As a pioneer in an era of ‘Precision Medicine 2.0’, Bryce works side by side with the scientific, medical, and technology industry to keep him alive.

March 13, 2018

Hacking Childhood Cancer: Creating Support Systems

9:30-10:30am

Austin Convention Center | Room 9AB

Speakers:

How do we “hack” childhood cancer? The disease can have a devastating impact on everyone it touches, and it comprises so much more than treatment and care. When it comes to those of us who have had the briefest opportunities at life, inventiveness is critical to address everyday challenges. From tablet games to shared music playlists, this panel will explore and ignite conversations around creatively improving the childhood cancer experience through the arts, technology and their intersection.

Disrupting Drug Development through Crowdsourcing

11:00am-12:00pm

Austin Convention Center | Room 8ABC

Speakers:

Patients are consumers and today’s consumers are highly self-directed, research driven and actively use social media to navigate and chronicle their personal healthcare and treatment journeys. These global, detailed and candid exchanges create a brand-new data source that can be used to support multi-phases of drug development. Access to insights and the strategic use of social media can reduce drug development timelines, costs and accelerate access to new treatment options.

W2O Presented Panels

March 14, 2018

An Insider’s View into Healthcare Innovation

11:00am-12:00pm

The Fairmont | Congressional Ballroom C

Speakers:

Our world is experiencing the most rapid evolution in care ever experienced. Whether it is the sequencing of our genome or new ways to combat dengue fever or how to improve the efficiency, delivery and cost of healthcare in your hometown, big change is occurring. In this panel, three of the world’s experts will explore what’s next and why it matters to each of us.

March 15, 2018

Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World

2:00-3:00pm

The Fairmont | Congressional Ballroom C

Speakers:

From historical figures such as Marie Curie to contemporaries like Steve Jobs, a handful of innovators have changed the world. What made them so spectacularly inventive? Melissa A. Schilling, one of the world’s leading experts on innovation, looks at the lives of seven creative geniuses, plus we’ll hear from other modern day innovators in the areas of autonomous travel and food recovery and healthcare.

Engaging Society via Life-Changing Innovation

3:30-4:30pm

The Fairmont | Congressional Ballroom C

Speakers:

Imagine a world in which consumers are as excited about the newest gene therapy discovery as they are about the iPhone X announcement. Healthcare companies have been at the forefront of many of the most amazing and life-changing discoveries – but society at large is disengaged and even skeptical. How can life sciences companies – from biotech to pharma to manufacturers – shift the way they are representing themselves to cultivate genuine interest in and passion for scientific development? In what ways can they tap in to the marketing and storytelling strategies of tech and consumer companies to capture the minds and hearts of general society? How are they rewriting the rules of the healthcare culture to attract and retain the new wave of innovators who will become ambassadors for science?

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We’re offering the holy grail: a downloadable healthcare holidays calendar.

You’d be hard pressed to find a marketing and communications network with broader expertise in healthcare than W2O Group. And as a content strategist at W2O, I fully appreciate the regulatory challenges of healthcare marketing.

It’s tough, and we get it.

You often can’t mention the drug by name. Or the indication. So we have to figure out how to communicate the brand promise through topics that ARE allowed.

Often, when we’re putting together an editorial calendar or social strategy for clients, we recommend peppering in stories related to healthcare holidays / observances, but Twitter stopped creating their Healthcare Holidays Calendar a few years ago.

We figured there’s no one more qualified than W2O to release a comprehensive 2018 healthcare holiday calendar. If you’re a W2O client, ask your account team for a personalized calendar, and we’ll happily edit this document down to fit your needs.

For all not-yet-clients*, enter a tiny bit of info to grab yours right now.

* P.S. – why aren’t we working together? Contact us to talk about your marcomms needs.

We’re offering the holy grail: a downloadable healthcare holidays calendar.

You’d be hard pressed to find a marketing and communications network with broader expertise in healthcare than W2O Group. And as a content strategist at W2O, I fully appreciate the regulatory challenges of healthcare marketing.

It’s tough, and we get it.

You often can’t mention the drug by name. Or the indication. So we have to figure out how to communicate the brand promise through topics that ARE allowed.

Often, when we’re putting together an editorial calendar or social strategy for clients, we recommend peppering in stories related to healthcare holidays / observances, but Twitter stopped creating their Healthcare Holidays Calendar a few years ago.

We figured there’s no one more qualified than W2O to release a comprehensive 2018 healthcare holiday calendar. If you’re a W2O client, ask your account team for a personalized calendar, and we’ll happily edit this document down to fit your needs.

For all not-yet-clients*, enter a tiny bit of info to grab yours right now.

Subscribe me to this blog

Please leave this field empty.

* P.S. – why aren’t we working together? Contact us to talk about your marcomms needs.

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As a physician who spends his days taking care of patients, Dr. Albert Chan, chief of digital patient experience at Sutter Health, knows his colleagues are burnt out—and it’s not hard to see why. For every 3.08 hours of patient visits, physicians spend an additional 3.17 hours on a desktop machine, Albert told attendees at W2O’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon on January 8, 2018, referencing a recent Sutter Health Study.

“Fifty percent of doctors have more than one sign of burnout,” said Albert, who shared the stage with a handful of health IT experts to discuss the potential for blockchain in healthcare. And while it might not be a panacea, as Ted Tanner, chief technology officer and co-founder of PokitDok, pointed out, he agreed with Tony Scott, former federal chief information officer and senior advisor of Squire Patton Boggs, in that blockchain is simply one of a number of building blocks that will change the way the healthcare ecosystem works.

Healthcare thought leaders also discussed what’s on the horizon for direct to consumer genomics and explored if AI is the key to freeing up healthcare’s state of friction. As Jonathan

As a physician who spends his days taking care of patients, Dr. Albert Chan, chief of digital patient experience at Sutter Health, knows his colleagues are burnt out—and it’s not hard to see why. For every 3.08 hours of patient visits, physicians spend an additional 3.17 hours on a desktop machine, Albert told attendees at W2O’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon on January 8, 2018, referencing a recent Sutter Health Study.

“Fifty percent of doctors have more than one sign of burnout,” said Albert, who shared the stage with a handful of health IT experts to discuss the potential for blockchain in healthcare. And while it might not be a panacea, as Ted Tanner, chief technology officer and co-founder of PokitDok, pointed out, he agreed with Tony Scott, former federal chief information officer and senior advisor of Squire Patton Boggs, in that blockchain is simply one of a number of building blocks that will change the way the healthcare ecosystem works.

Healthcare thought leaders also discussed what’s on the horizon for direct to consumer genomics and explored if AI is the key to freeing up healthcare’s state of friction. As Jonathan Bush, athenahealth’s CEO, told attendees, “Any time you have millions of examples and a relatively finite set of outcomes, you can use machine learning.” But as Jonathan also noted, the key to AI’s success lies in the availability of data, advising attendees to design their business so that there’s a lot of data flowing into the environment.

For more insights from W2O’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon held during the J.P Morgan Healthcare Conference (#JPMHC18), please see below for video highlights and full panel replays, see here for the recap, and be sure to follow #W2ODH18 and @W2OGroup for the latest updates.

Highlights: W2O’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon

AI: The Key to Freeing Up Healthcare’s Friction?

Blockchain: Healthcare’s Next Great Disrupter?

What’s Next for Direct-to-Consumer Genomics?

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During this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with Vice President and Head of Communications, Pharmaceuticals at Bayer, Steven Immergut, and PRWeek Vice President and Editorial Director, Steve Barrett, to discuss a wide variety of topics including tax reform, the CVS-Aetna merger, the specter of Amazon and how these industry activities are making a substantial impact on the healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&A) landscape. Additionally, we chatted about the importance of communications and reputation throughout every stage of M&A.

Check out our discussion via PRWeek’s podcast or read the transcript below (thank you to Bayer for sponsoring!).

Steve: Hi, this is Steve Barrett, editor-in-chief of PRWeek, reporting from San Francisco. We’re in town for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. We’ve just had a roundtable discussion about M&A and communications supported by Bayer and delighted to introduce Steven Immergut from Bayer who’s head of U.S. Pharma Communications. Hi, Steven.

Steve: We’re also joined by Jim Weiss who is chief executive officer of W2O Group. Jim, welcome. Great discussion. One of the big themes this week, Steven, was tax reform and the impact that that’s going to have on M&A

During this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with Vice President and Head of Communications, Pharmaceuticals at Bayer, Steven Immergut, and PRWeek Vice President and Editorial Director, Steve Barrett, to discuss a wide variety of topics including tax reform, the CVS-Aetna merger, the specter of Amazon and how these industry activities are making a substantial impact on the healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&A) landscape. Additionally, we chatted about the importance of communications and reputation throughout every stage of M&A.

Check out our discussion via PRWeek’s podcast or read the transcript below (thank you to Bayer for sponsoring!).

Steve: Hi, this is Steve Barrett, editor-in-chief of PRWeek, reporting from San Francisco. We’re in town for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. We’ve just had a roundtable discussion about M&A and communications supported by Bayer and delighted to introduce Steven Immergut from Bayer who’s head of U.S. Pharma Communications. Hi, Steven.

Steve: We’re also joined by Jim Weiss who is chief executive officer of W2O Group. Jim, welcome. Great discussion. One of the big themes this week, Steven, was tax reform and the impact that that’s going to have on M&A and the logical extension of that for us, for our discussion. Communications over the next 12 months is tax reform. There is repatriation of cash. A lot of companies already may be sitting on a bunch of cash. What’s that going to mean? Is it going to be a big spike in M&A? How are companies going to spend that money?

Steven: Yeah, it was a big theme this week at the conference, Steve. And, you know, it remains to be seen how it’s going to actually play out. I mean it certainly seems like the stage is set for more activity, whether it’s M&A, large-scale M&A, or in-licensing agreements, or bolt-on acquisitions. You know, it kind of remains to be seen. There’s also a lot of talk about investing that cash back into R&D. One of the reasons why we were here as a company this week is to talk about our global innovation program. There’s a lot of investment and longer project, longer-term projects, in the innovation space.

Steve: Jim, what are you seeing from your clients? Because, obviously, the administration has brought in tax reform. It’s the repatriation of cash. They presumably want that to stimulate jobs and maybe even have some impact on drug pricing. I’ve heard a lot of talk about share buybacks and… But what’s your take from talking to your clients and your sort of experience in the sector over many years?

Jim: Well, talking to clients, helping them get ready for this meeting, but also going to many of the presentations and breakouts where many were grilled, “What are you going to do with this cash that will inevitably be there?” I think most of them are planning to stay the course at least for the next year too in terms of how they were going to allocate capital. And what I kept hearing over and over was that would be reinvested into the, you know, R&D function or to strengthen that in the pipeline and their people.

I think where there’s an opportunity to do the share buyback and do other things with the money, they will. But that’s all part of a…you know. And publicly traded global companies have very prescriptive long-term plans for that cash and they’re not… I didn’t hear plans to change that, at least not publicly as much. But like what Steven was saying, I do think companies are here talking about their goals and innovation. They’re talking to very different types of companies. It’s not just talking to other little biotechs which is what a lot of the big pharmas are doing here looking for partnerships or to fill their pipelines.

They’re also talking to health tech companies, digital health companies, companies that are focused on communicating or reaching patients. All of those things are, you know, in play as to what companies are going to do with the money. And I also heard a lot about opening innovation centers, partnership centers, places, incubators, where companies can flourish and grow under, you know, the tutelage and guidance and financing of larger company.

Steve: What does this mean from a corporate reputation and communications point of view, Steven? You know, if the…let’s say a company did invest a load in share buybacks that might not be what the administration was wanting that money to be spent, you may have the danger of a 3:00 a.m. tweak if you’re on the West Coast from the president or something like that. How do you react to these things? How do you prepare yourselves for things like that happening?

Steven: Well, you know, it’s never been a more exciting time to be in this industry, to be honest. The technology is amazing. The opportunities we have for curing diseases is unprecedented right now. And it’s just really exciting. So you focus on the difficult problems, meeting the unmet needs and patience, and investing in research and the science. And that’s what we’re focused on. I think that’s what’s really most important.

The other thing, as Jim mentioned, was a lot of discussion this week on technology and the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, these kinds of new technologies in healthcare where we’re probably a bit behind the curve compared to other industries. So it’d be really interesting to see how that plays out going forward.

Steve: Jim, what’s your take on it? And this is going to mean cheaper drugs at the end of the day.

Jim: You know, I think the industry is obviously looking at ways to develop drugs that can, you know, not only help patients but also alleviate additional costs on the system. But I don’t think that that’s their foremost goal, right? It’s always been about their pipelines and patients and their people who do that so that I feel like that theme, I kept hearing those three P’s over and over in a lot of the presentations and discussions. I think that, you know, pricing the fourth P matters more than it ever has, and I think it’s the thing that’s keeping the executives up at night in terms of how do we solve this for the patient community and our physician community.

And the payer, another P, payer community, that they’re beginning to really, I think, acknowledge from the beginning. So they’re not developing the drugs the way exactly they used to and they know that an FDA approval does not mean or an approval in Europe does not immediately mean there’s going to be wide-scale use and distribution. They’ve got to work on the whole pattern of reimbursement and distribution and access. And I know that’s a function that we’re very focused on. We’ve created our own media platform called the Value Report that actually is designed to track what the industry is doing in this regard. And it did come up in many many of the presentations I saw.

Steve: Steven, how would you communicate around this issue about this sort of repatriation of cash in tax reform, the extra money in the coffers? How are you going to communicate around that?

Steven: Well, we’re going to continue to talk about innovation and driving value to meet unmet needs long term and even in shorter terms. So we’ve got a very ambitious high-level innovation program that’s tackling the toughest challenges worldwide facing humanity, both on the healthcare side and on the agriculture side. And the layer below that is our R&D program, phase 1 to phase 3.

We’ve got 50-plus projects in development across oncology, cardiovascular disease and others. And so you put those two together plus partnerships that we have in place here in the U.S. on the East Coast and our West Coast innovation centers. And that’s really the most exciting part about our story right now that we’re talking about. It’s to the whole R&D spectrum.

Steve: Jim, if you look at last year, 2017, it wasn’t a great year for marketing services holding companies. They were suggesting that companies were keeping their pocketbooks closed and budgets were under more scrutiny than ever. Do you think this extra cash is going to cause all boats to rise and, from a sort of selfish marketing and communications point of view, they were going to meet larger budgets available from your clients?

Jim: Well, you know, as we talked about in our roundtable earlier, I think the money will go, as it always has been, in pharmaceuticals and biotech into research and development. That’s where it always goes first. I think, you know, more scientists, more partnerships, more investment in innovation. But I think, of course, that will open up opportunities for communications firms like ours to help the companies spend that money wisely. And, you know, the opportunities may be a little bit different.

I think I mentioned that we’re looking at having a stronger clinical trial recruitment capability because, obviously, research and development is the priority of these companies and getting patients enrolled, and sometimes it’s very difficult. To enroll trials is job one. So it’s being nimble and capable of pivoting with the priorities of the industry that we have to be and then we can have the double-digit growth I know we’ve experienced because we’ve done that.

Steve: Yeah. Let’s change the conversation a little bit to general communications around M&As. One of the big themes of the discussions seem to be, Steven, that employee engagement and internal communications was absolutely vital if you’re going to have a successful transaction or merger or acquisition. Just talk us through a little bit why that is so important and some of the top tips that you would offer to our listeners.

Steven: Sure. I mean many…the employees are the key audience, really. They are paramount to the culture and paramount to the success of any integration. So, first and foremost, you need to really understand where they’re coming from, what’s in the hearts and minds of your employees pre-deal and throughout the process. So research is really important to be tracking the sentiments internally and then engagement. And it starts at the top.

So you have to have true genuine engagement from leadership with employees. Not necessarily to give status updates on a given deal, because many times there’s not much you can say, but just engagement. Answering their questions, talking about the status of the company overall, what’s been going on. And that really helps put people to ease. And I think employee engagement, starting at the top, is critical.

Steve: Certainly, you’ve learned during this ongoing months. And so by a deal, it speaks to those things and some of the things you’re doing in your department.

Steven: Yeah, that it helps. I mean when our leadership engages, we hear from employees that they really, really appreciate the effort that they’re taking to stand in front and answer their questions. And, again, not necessarily give an update on the status of the deal but to give an update on the business and where we stand and what’s important and on his mind.

Steve: Because, Jim, the internal messages then become the first line of external communications often [crosstalk] The people really naturally think about, “Well, what does it mean for me? What’s going to happen to my benefits? Where am I going to be working? Will I still have my same seat, same colleagues?” So how does that work from your point of view as an agency supporting clients in terms of helping them out [crosstalk]

Jim: Well, our job, and I was thinking about it when Steven was just talking, listening is probably the…one of the most critical parts of all of this. And I think, you know, this concept of being accessible to the employee population and hearing all of the various concerns because, again, there are many cultures within these very large organizations in tailoring communications and in specifying what you say to different groups is critical. And I think an agency can help analyze and listen to what’s going on, what the concerns are. There are now many more channels where employees can talk about their issues, concerns, questions, without going directly to management.

So we can, you know, track that, bring it to the client in a way that’s actionable. And we’re able to help, I think, in a lot of cases, you know, do a lot of that arms and legs and block-and-tackle work that our internal client is often stuck in meeting after meeting after meeting or traveling a lot. We can keep a certain level of continuity and be that canary in the coal mine if an issue does arise that they can address quickly.

But at the end of the day, listening and having a sense of empathy for the people going through the process of M&A on both sides is really critical. And I think we can play a big role in it.

Steve: Yes, Steven, one of our panelists today said that, actually, they struggle to find that internal communications expertise in some of their agency partners. Is that something you think there’s a…the agency should pay more attention to in terms of offering services to clients?

Steven: Well, I mean I think they do. I think a key role of the agency is to tell us what we don’t want to hear. So open our eyes because very often we’re running around to meetings and head down and writing the next plan.

Steve: Especially during a deal.

Steven: Right. Or talking to external folks, which is always a focus. So we need partners that will sit us down and say, “You need to be paying attention to these issues that are happening inside the company.” And that’s going to be really helpful.

Steve: Let’s finish by looking forward. Another big deal going on at the moment is the CVS Aetna merger. We have talked of Amazon and Walmart coming into this space. What do you expect…just to start with you Jim, what do you expect to see in the next 12 to 18 months with deals like that happening and new players coming into the market?

Jim: Well, I think it, you know, is an exciting time as Steven said. I think it acknowledges the power of the patient and also preventive medicine and wellness and, you know, the evolution of healthcare and how if you can sustain your health, we can reduce costs theoretically by being healthy or longer until a point where, you know, we can pretty much become more masters of our own health.

And I think we are going to see more deals that put the power of medicine into the hands of the patient or the physician or direct caregiver. And it’s a lot easier. And there’s a lot of things you don’t have to go to the doctor for or to the hospital for. Be it flu shots or taking care of some very basic needs. And I do think we’re going to see the continued evolution of that. I mean how far that goes and how fast I think will depend on some regulatory and other factors.

But a very exciting time, you know, to see healthcare finally truly impacted by technology as Steven referred to. So they’re going to have to be more innovative in how they deliver the care and the drugs that they’re…the drugs, devices, and services they’re delivering.

Steve: Steven, a lot of this seems to be driven by convenience and the modern consumer really wants that. They don’t want to have to wait a month to see their physician, for example.

Steven: Yeah, convenience and access. I mean it really is driven by the need for increased access. You do have a much more informed consumer these days about their health care. And so this deal, the Aetna CVS mega-merger, really taps into that more informed consumer, more powerful consumer. And, you know, what they’re talking about is pretty interesting in terms of offering that in a one-stop shop approach where you go into the clinic and also get access to your coverage as well. It’s a pretty interesting model.

Steve: If Amazon does come in, how disruptive do you think that would be to the market? And would it be a net positive or negative?

Steven: Really hard to say but it certainly…you know, Amazon is a platform that basically offers convenience. And, again, back to what is really needed in the marketplace and our focus is access. So when you put that together, it opens up interesting possibilities.

Jim: I think it’s a net positive in every way. Just like I think it’s impacted…you know. I think it’s impacted the growth of local economies and the global economy, and I think it’ll put healthcare, you know, much more front and center with consumers. I think it’s going to have a tremendously positive impact overall and it’s going to help the industry engage in technology. It’s going to probably force that a little faster than they might have ever wanted to.

At the same time, the more things change, the more they’ll stay the same. And, you know, we are still subject to regulatory and scientific hurdles that a lot of other industries aren’t. So nothing will replace good science, nothing will replace a good focus on the patient, and why we’re really here, which is, as Steven said earlier, the potential to cure disease or certainly completely prevent it is still the major goal. And the more players that are in that, the better.

Steve: Well, Steven, Jim, thanks for joining us. It’s been a great discussion here at the panel and on this video. Thanks to Bayer for supporting this program. You can check out more content podcasts and write-ups of this session at PRWeek.com. But this is Steve Barrett signing off from San Francisco.

 

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A little less than three year ago, with minimal fanfare, we began throwing ourselves into the value and access conversation in health care. We’re W2O, so we started by hoovering up hundreds – then thousands – of stories about drug pricing and reimbursement and patient access and sticking them in a huge, searchable database. Then we began producing a weekly newsletter for our clients (shout if you’re not a subscriber, but would like to be on the mailing list).

But all this was low-key, and I was frequently asked why we didn’t do a podcast. My answer was practical: I didn’t think there was an appetite for a public discussion about pharmaceutical value, especially not one led by a strategic communications firm.

I assumed that the audience was limited for a full-on discussion of gross-to-net spreads, point-of-sale rebates, or the proper assessment of health-state utilities in value frameworks. I mean, it’s all important stuff, but it’s no Serial.

But in the past three years, we’ve seen this debate escape its usual confines. It’s not just managed markets folks and formulary committees. Martin Shkreli, EpiPen and gene therapy have meant that these are now conversations for the

A little less than three year ago, with minimal fanfare, we began throwing ourselves into the value and access conversation in health care. We’re W2O, so we started by hoovering up hundreds – then thousands – of stories about drug pricing and reimbursement and patient access and sticking them in a huge, searchable database. Then we began producing a weekly newsletter for our clients (shout if you’re not a subscriber, but would like to be on the mailing list).

But all this was low-key, and I was frequently asked why we didn’t do a podcast. My answer was practical: I didn’t think there was an appetite for a public discussion about pharmaceutical value, especially not one led by a strategic communications firm.

I assumed that the audience was limited for a full-on discussion of gross-to-net spreads, point-of-sale rebates, or the proper assessment of health-state utilities in value frameworks. I mean, it’s all important stuff, but it’s no Serial.

But in the past three years, we’ve seen this debate escape its usual confines. It’s not just managed markets folks and formulary committees. Martin Shkreli, EpiPen and gene therapy have meant that these are now conversations for the water-cooler and the dining-room table. Heck, USA Today dropped a discussion of “spread pricing” into a story this week. This is officially a thing.

So we’re going to be more public about our voice in that discussion. To that end, we launch “Redeeming Value” today. It’s a podcast hosted by me and Rita Glaze, our practice leader for U.S. market access in our Value and Access group.

The first episode focuses on the news – or the lack of news — from the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference, along with an introduction Rita and what she’ll bring to the firm.

Please give it a listen.

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How real is blockchain’s potential to improve healthcare? “It’s really real,” said Tony Scott – the former chief information officer of the United States and senior advisor for Squire Patton Boggs – at W2O Group’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon. Held in tandem with the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference (JPM18) – which effectively marks healthcare and life science’s annual pilgrimage to San Francisco, CA – this year’s luncheon explored what practitioners and patients alike can expect from blockchain, AI and genomics, and where we will continue to see the digital health investment dollars flow in 2018.

Jonathan Bush, athenahealth’s chief executive officer, kicked off the event, talking to attendees about how AI can help reduce healthcare’s state of friction. He also spoke about the industry’s tendency to put the cart before the horse when it comes to advancing new technologies.

Jonathan noted that “when we see a break, when we see an invention, when we hear a new keyword, we run with it in our minds so much faster than the gears of society and marketplace can move, that we find ourselves alone on a deserted island, with none of the things that we wanted.” However, he was also

How real is blockchain’s potential to improve healthcare? “It’s really real,” said Tony Scott – the former chief information officer of the United States and senior advisor for Squire Patton Boggs – at W2O Group’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon. Held in tandem with the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference (JPM18) – which effectively marks healthcare and life science’s annual pilgrimage to San Francisco, CA – this year’s luncheon explored what practitioners and patients alike can expect from blockchain, AI and genomics, and where we will continue to see the digital health investment dollars flow in 2018.

Jonathan Bush, athenahealth’s chief executive officer, kicked off the event, talking to attendees about how AI can help reduce healthcare’s state of friction. He also spoke about the industry’s tendency to put the cart before the horse when it comes to advancing new technologies.

Jonathan noted that “when we see a break, when we see an invention, when we hear a new keyword, we run with it in our minds so much faster than the gears of society and marketplace can move, that we find ourselves alone on a deserted island, with none of the things that we wanted.” However, he was also candid in saying that, when it comes to AI, “it’s okay to get excited.”

“Any time you have millions of examples, and a relatively infinite set of outcomes, you can use machine learning,” said Jonathan, though designing for data flow is a necessary piece of the puzzle. With the right flow of data and application of AI, “we can take tens of thousands of hours of work, and make it instantaneous,” he said.

What about blockchain? As John Moore, founder of Chilmark Research, shared at the start of the panel, “Frankly, there’s a lot of noise and not a hell of a lot of signal,” noting that most people do not yet understand blockchain technology in the context of healthcare.

Chief technology officer and co-founder of PokitDok, Ted Tanner, was clear to make the distinction that blockchain is not bitcoin, explaining that the former is an infrastructure and the latter is a cryptocurrency. Ted described blockchain, a distributed ledger technology, as a distributed database that allows all participants on a network to see operational transactions in a secure digital environment. So secure, Ted said, that blockchain “adds a level of resilience over and above anything that was previously applicable in tech.”

Tony, who was responsible for federal cybersecurity strategy and is credited with creating the first government-wide open source policy, agrees with Ted in terms of blockchain’s potential to disrupt the industry. Tony predicts that blockchain will change the way that the healthcare ecosystem works, highlighting the billions of investment dollars going into the space as one indicator of what is to come.

Something to watch for when it comes to blockchain’s impact on healthcare, said Tony, is elimination of the middle-man. He believes that blockchain will facilitate a more direct connection to the ultimate service provider, cautioning attendees that, “If you’re in the middle, you’re on thin ice.”

Sutter Health’s chief of digital patient experience (how great is that title?), Dr. Albert Chan, introduced the concept of human ROI to the blockchain panel discussion, explaining how blockchain can help combat the crippling effects of physician burnout. “Fifty percent of doctors have more than one sign of burnout,” said Albert, who spoke to the findings of a Sutter Health study that found for every 3.08 hours of patient visits, doctors spend 3.17 hours on a desktop medicine each day.

“You want your doctor doctoring,” said Albert, who discussed how blockchain can take dollars away from transactional and administrative costs and allow those resources to be spent on patient care. He also noted that what the industry really wants is better data utility and access, which blockchain can help facilitate.

Rounding out the discussions, David Ewing Duncan, author of When I’m 164, pondered the future of direct-to-consumer genomics with fellow industry experts Jessica Richman, chief executive officer and co-founder of uBiome, and Dr. Michael Nova, chief innovation officer of Pathway Genomics.

Michael considers medicine to be “a big systems problem”—genetics data cannot be used in a vacuum—and requires “a lot of other systems to make sense out of it.” In 2009, Michael was the doctor of record for the first human that Illumina ever sequenced, which at the time carried a price tag of US $300,000. In 2018, he says that will run a patient around $1,000.

Looking further at how the consumer genomics space has evolved over the past decade, Michael shared that, “When we first started this journey, I used to get a lot of questions,” but that now those questions are simply “who pays, and how much.” Jessica noted that, while wellness genomics tests are covered by insurance about 50 percent of the time, “we had to do a lot to get there.”

Clinicians attitudes and appetites for genomics have increased in recent years, with much of that having to do with patient engagement. “Compliance and patient engagement are two sides of the same coin” said Jessica, who noted that patients coming to their physicians and asking for testing is a good thing. “One in five women don’t get screenings they should,” and any kind of awareness that can drive them to stay engaged with their health over time is a positive.

In looking ahead at what is to come – and where he is focusing his writing these days – David shared that he is looking more at metanomics, or multinomics, which he described as starting with genomics and expanding to other areas, such as the microbiome. David believes that genomics is just the starting point – an important base, but one requiring far more dynamic systems (e.g., the other “omics”) to be built out on top of it.

“I’ve long been a skeptic, as you might be able to tell, of a lot of this data,” said David. But what he is no longer skeptical about today is the technology itself, nor does he feel it is what’s holding progress in genomics back. “In a lot of ways, the technology isn’t the barrier anymore. It’s really how society is going to receive this… It’s policy and politics less than technology, at this point.”

For more information on W2O Group’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon, held in partnership with Squire Patton Boggs, please see the Facebook Live replay and follow #W2ODH18 for updates. Curious what happened at the 3rd Annual Digital Health Luncheon and if the predictions about value-based care driving investments came true? Find out here.

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The JPM Healthcare Conference brings together the best and brightest minds to discuss innovations in healthcare. During this year’s conference we created a lineup of speakers who focused on AI, genomics and blockchain for our 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon, in partnership with Squire Patton Boggs. Among those speakers is this week’s guest, CEO and Co-Founder of athenahealthJonathan Bush.

Since athenahealth is a client, I am aware of the incredible work they do. It was a pleasure to dive a little deeper into Jonathan’s journey and what it takes to design a frictionless healthcare system. Jonathan was gracious enough to chat with me ahead of his keynote talk which didn’t give him much time to prepare for my questions. Since he didn’t have his book recommendations handy, I wanted to make sure and share them with you here…keep an eye out for the following: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates and Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to our podcast!

The JPM Healthcare Conference brings together the best and brightest minds to discuss innovations in healthcare. During this year’s conference we created a lineup of speakers who focused on AI, genomics and blockchain for our 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon, in partnership with Squire Patton Boggs. Among those speakers is this week’s guest, CEO and Co-Founder of athenahealthJonathan Bush.

Since athenahealth is a client, I am aware of the incredible work they do. It was a pleasure to dive a little deeper into Jonathan’s journey and what it takes to design a frictionless healthcare system. Jonathan was gracious enough to chat with me ahead of his keynote talk which didn’t give him much time to prepare for my questions. Since he didn’t have his book recommendations handy, I wanted to make sure and share them with you here…keep an eye out for the following: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates and Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II.

Jonathan is also an author and I encourage you to check out his book, Where Does It Hurt?: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Fixing Health Care. Plus, we discuss Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Take a listen below.

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