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Every year, the world’s largest gathering of cancer specialists including oncology professionals, patient advocates, industry representatives, and major media outlets worldwide, come to Chicago for the annual ASCO Meeting.

This year, ahead of the meeting, we had our in-house experts share their perspective on some of the most prevalent discussions in oncology. From payment models to social media campaigns to clinical trial recruitment, we unpacked key insights and trends. Take a read below.

Alternative Payment Models, Shrinking Reimbursements and Continued Innovation

Across healthcare today, the struggle for providers and health systems remains focused on providing the highest quality of care at the most effective cost.

Community Oncology: Finding a Regimen that Works for our Patients

Dive into the importance of finding the regimen that works best for oncology patients.

Clinical Trial Recruitment in the Age of Personalized Medicine

Discover how to navigate clinical trial recruitment in the age of personalized medicine.

How-To Create a Successful Social Media Campaign for Oncology Patients

How can you successfully reach oncology patients on social media? A recent campaign promoting Celgene’s Magic Tree App offers up key tactics.

[Podcast]: Top 2019 ASCO Themes

From early stage biotech data to learning from every patient, we discuss the major themes from ASCO 2019.


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It’s no secret, relevance is the new reputation.

Gary Grates, W2O’s Principal, joins What2Know and dives into the importance of relevance. Also, he dissects the unique position it plays in healthcare and he discusses how W2O is partnering with clients to prioritize their organizational relevance. Take a listen below.


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ASCO 2019 is here! From early stage biotech data to learning from every patient, Patrick Ryan, Group Director at W2O and Christiana Pascale, Associate Director of Media & Engagement at W2O, discuss the major themes for this year’s meeting.

Take a listen below.

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Breast cancer is an overwhelming diagnosis. For mothers with young kids, an additional stress is how to tell their children about this diagnosis. Identifying this as a way to support the community, W2O’s client, Celgene, created The Magic Tree App for children ages 5-8 who have a mother with breast cancer. The app was designed to help guide moms through these tough conversations, the app allows parents to talk with their young kids about the diagnosis through games, videos and other educational tools.

A recent social media campaign to promote the app provides key learnings on how to reach this audience.

To efficiently reach patients with Breast Cancer, specifically moms, W2O Group collaborated with Celgene to create and execute a multi-faceted social media campaign. This included influencer partnerships within the breast cancer community as well as organic and targeted paid social posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Top Tactics Contributing to Success:

1. Learn from Affiliates and Partners

The Magic Tree app was originally developed by Celgene’s affiliate in Germany and noting it’s success, the U.S. team decided to translate and adapt it for patients in the United States. Kimberly Jewett, a two-time breast cancer survivor and mother of two, says The Magic Tree “explains the disease in a kid-friendly way so mothers don’t have to navigate the conversation alone”¹

2 .Seek Input from Advocacy Groups and Clinical Experts

Patient advocacy groups and clinical breast cancer experts provided input to help with the development and launch of The Magic Tree app.

*Key Learning: Parents, specifically mothers with Breast Cancer, often have difficulty discussing their diagnosis with their young children, The Magic Tree aims to help with this by providing resources as well as links to patient groups, ultimately serving as a conduit for broader discussions that are parent led, not replacing but rather helping support difficult conversations

Susan Rahn, an influencer with metastatic breast cancer, describes The Magic Tree as “a charming cross between a video game and a chapter book, which has a friendly and fun feeling, like many interactive learning games.”2   The app features a house, playground, library and hospital.

3. Use a Multi-Pronged Approach to Deliver Messaging & Calls-to-Action

We needed a way to reach audience in a very crowded and noisy space, ultimately aiming to raise their awareness of The Magic Tree app and then encourage download. The final approach was three-pronged:

    • App Install Campaigns – Paid App Install campaigns were created and run across social media, such as Facebook, to drive app downloads from our core targeted audience. The App Install campaigns were an efficient way for us to not only drive targeted awareness of the app, but to offer the app to the Breast Cancer community in an easily accessible manner.
    • Instagram Takeovers – Patients in the breast cancer community took over Celgene’s corporate Instagram channel during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, to share their personal story and the impact of having a breast cancer diagnosis on their children/family utilizing the hashtag #MagicTreeMoments.
    • Influencer Partnerships – Partnered with patient bloggers to publish blog and social media posts on their personal channels, producing multiple pieces of content.

4. Work with the RIGHT Influencers and Micro-Influencers

Using analytics, W2O identified the most influential patients within the Breast Cancer community, specifically those who were the most relevant, publishing content that consistently resonates with their audience and all with varying audience sizes.

We partnered with four patient bloggers to develop blogs and social media posts on their personal channels, each speaking about their personal experience of telling their young children of their diagnosis and how the Magic Tree App was (or could have been) beneficial for their family. All posts were cross-promoted by Celgene, ultimately sharing these influencer posts to an even greater audience.

The coverage of the app resulted in the generation of three additional blog posts (earned media) from a top breast cancer influencer, a breast cancer advocate and Breastcancer.org.

All influencer partnerships included compensation for the influencer for their time, which was transparently shared on every blog and social post (i.e. “This blog post was sponsored by Celgene Corporations. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own” or “#sponsored” on social posts).

5. Test and Learn Across Social Channels

As the campaign progressed, we saw Instagram producing significant success and performing most efficiently versus other social channels, so we were able to nimbly shift budget and further amplify efforts on Instagram to increase engagement.

The learnings from Instagram in the early stages of the campaign also served as the impetus for the Instagram Takeovers (by the three breast cancer influencers) which took place in Phase 2 of the campaign.

The Magic Tree campaign’s multi-pronged approach across social media (paid and organic), influencer channels and earned pickup, resulted in an extremely successful campaign. This brought the unmet need to life for families within the breast cancer community and offered patients an important tool to meet these needs in an easy and accessible fashion.

Campaign Success Highlights:

  • The Magic Tree app resonated positively among all engaged bloggers who encouraged their readers to download the tool to use as a resource for their families
  • Allowing bloggers to incorporate their personal perspective as mothers who have experienced breast cancer (including using original photos) resulted in thoughtful, engaging content generating a positive reaction among their audiences – including using original photos
  • Leveraging the Facebook Branded Content tool and boosting posts resulted in a larger number of impressions
  • App Install campaign drove additional awareness and downloads that exceeded KPIs

This blog post was co-authored by W2O’s Group Director of Social Media, Jessica Vanner, and Eileen O’Brien, W2O’s Managing Director of Social Media.


Sources:

  1. Celgene Newsroom. “How This Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivor Told Her Family About Her Diagnosis.” 27 September 2018. https://www.celgene.com/how-this-metastatic-breast-cancer-survivor-told-her-family-about-her-diagnosis/.
  2. “Making a Difficult Conversation Less Scary – There’s an App for That.” 28 March 2018. https://stickit2stage4.com/2018/03/28/making-a-difficult-conversation-less-scary-theres-an-app-for-that/
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Advances in personalized medicine over the last decade have made substantial changes to oncologists’ treatment approaches across most oncology disease states with notable benefits for patients. However, with this progress comes a number of challenges, including more complexity in recruiting for clinical trials. This is because more personalized therapies often equate to more restrictive eligibility criteria, making it difficult to identify and successfully enroll qualified patients. With an estimated <5% of adult patients with cancer enrolling in clinical trials, it is unsurprising that ASCO has multiple sessions this year focused on how to improve enrollment (Biden Cancer Initiative Colloquium, Overcoming Barriers to Clinical Trial Enrollment).

At W2O, our solution is to partner with clients to harness the power of data science, accelerating clinical trial recruitment through a number of data-driven advanced targeting optimizations.

1.PUBLISHER/SEM OPTIMIZATION

We leverage data from the digital landscape to determine which advertising publishers are most relevant and valuable to patients. We analyze what websites patients most often reference in their online conversations and search activity related to their disease, treatment, general health, and broader non-health topics, giving us insight into where to place clinical trial ads for optimum reach. We also optimize paid search ad copy and keyword strategy for clinical trial enrollment by incorporating the actual language of the patient, garnered from linguistic analysis of real patient dialogue online, as well as the terminology actual patients use when searching for information.

2. LANGUAGE MODELING

We also use AI to model patient language so eligible patients navigate to the right clinical trial faster. Employing established language modeling techniques, we estimate whether an individual account can be classified as a patient based on the way they write. We tap into our audience first platform, mDigitalLife, to validate language patterns of known patient usage on social media, forums, and blogs, ensuring the model’s accuracy in identifying eligible patients. Upon discovery and validation, we can then target identified potential patients directly using social advertising tailored to their online profile.

3. LOOKALIKE MODELING

Another mechanism for identifying potential clinical trial participants is to personalize targeting based on brand, activity, and content affinities. We develop a normative audience of known patients to determine audience interests and behaviors based on publicly available data. These insights feed the algorithm we use to model other probable patients across social networks. From there, groups of people whose collections of interests match that of verified patient populations are targeted with messaging about clinical trials for which they are eligible.

4. INFLUENCER ACTIVATION

The last optimized targeting approach we will highlight is discovering and activating online influencers to engage patients in search of a clinical trial. This begins by completing an influencer analysis to determine who can most effectively engage potential patients for a particular disease state/clinical trial based on a complex set of metrics. This analysis offers a detailed view into who drives decision-making and behavior shifts – and thus, who patients look to for advice (directly or indirectly) when considering their next treatment choice. The most authentic, engaging partnerships between influencers and companies are produced when both parties have mutual priorities and interests. Clinical trial opportunities in the oncology space are a frequent topic that influencers discuss and disseminate, making it an optimal engagement area for pharmaceutical companies looking to efficiently extend the reach of clinical trial enrollment messaging.

Using digital technology and innovative, data-driven techniques can increase speed in finding patients for the highly targeted and specialized trials common in today’s oncology landscape. The good news is that data is readily available to efficiently inform these decisions – we just have to listen to what patients are telling us through their online behaviors.

Stay tuned for more 2019 ASCO content! Check Ujwal Pyati’s perspective on community oncology.


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ASCO always represents the pinnacle of intellectual engagement within the oncology community, and this year’s conference should be no exception. We will be able to see, scrutinize, discuss, and decode the latest developments in cancer diagnosis and treatment, with the impacts changing the trajectory of lives around the world. As a scientist, I am always fascinated and amazed by the efforts and rigor required to translate laboratory hypotheses and findings into late-stage and approved therapeutics that address fundamental mechanisms of cancer biology. While the field is becoming more and more complex everyday with many new options, algorithms, and precision medicine approaches, the upside is that community oncologists will have more and more tools to attack cancer, with a greater runway of therapies that can preserve quality life for as long as possible.

Two particular approaches are of great interest but are seemingly at the opposite ends of the intellectual spectrum—chemotherapy, the old tried and true “blunt object” approach to killing cancer cells, and immuno-oncology (I-O), the intelligent, “holy grail” of cancer treatment. As disparate as these modalities appear to be, they both need to be evolved and optimized in order to broaden their reach and affect more patients who are still in dire need of better outcomes. We will no doubt see details of many of these efforts in the coming days.

In the case of I-O, various therapeutic options including anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy, anti-CTLA-4 therapy, CAR T-cell therapies and oncolytic viruses have become incorporated across many aspects of the oncology treatment landscape, yet sizeable gaps still remain. These approaches– largely focused on the adaptive immune system at the moment– work well for a significant number of patients, but durable efficacy is still elusive for the majority (an interesting article here). Part of this may be due to tumor heterogeneity and part may be due to the lack of immunogenicity in specific tumor types, among other causes. Regardless, there are new  approaches (including combination regimens and/or innate immune system activation) required to successfully deploy I-O in these patient groups, and I’m tremendously excited to see the latest data on these approaches at ASCO. Whether it’s combinations with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or natural killer cell engagement, there is certain to be a whole new range of mechanisms that will be interrogated in the coming months and years, ultimately being available for the community oncologist to tailor appropriate treatment to the right patients. Additionally, further efforts should be aimed at optimizing the safety of I-O regimens so that an ideal duration of therapy can be achieved.

Beyond I-O, chemotherapy remains a mainstay of treatment for a broad range of patients, whether it’s in Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or other tumor types (interesting article here). As we all know, the collateral damage from these treatments can be severe, but optimizing antitumor activity while mitigating this damage offers great potential to change outlooks and outcomes for patients in dire need. For instance, approaches to minimize damage to hematopoietic stem cells and allow the blood lineages to repopulate appropriately are rapidly being optimized. And new combinations with biologics or small molecules can reduce the level of chemo required for tumor shrinkage and perhaps allow for specific toxic components to be eliminated. A vast number of lives have been saved or extended through the judicious use of chemotherapy over the decades, so the idea that chemotherapy will be made obsolete with new approaches is a bit naïve. Rather, giving patients the benefits of cancer-cell elimination without inducing short or long-term toxicity represents a whole separate but equally important effort. In this way, innovative science in oncology is not limited simply to the most novel mechanisms, biomarkers, or personalized therapies—rather, there can be great value in innovating on what is already effective and making it less burdensome for a broader population.

The result will be far-reaching impact for oncologists who are bravely confronting the most difficult challenges in patient care every single day.

Stay tuned for more 2019 ASCO content! Check out Rita Glaze’s perspective on offering the highest quality of care at the most effective cost.


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Across healthcare today, the struggle for providers and health systems remains focused on providing the highest quality of care at the most effective cost. This struggle is even more real in oncology – where it feels like we have a rising wave of innovation across all aspects of care while also experiencing what feels like downward pressure in the form of alternative payment models and changing reimbursement rates.

Our leading institutions and providers are facing times of great progress – having at their disposal more groundbreaking innovations than ever before to deliver highly individualized therapy for cancer patients. But at the same time facing times of great economic chaos and change in trying to move toward value-based and alternative payment models while maintaining the financial “health” of their practices and institutions. A constant tug of war behind the scenes, and some days in the headlines, all while patients and their families grapple with trying to understand, manage, and fight their greatest battle –cancer.

Every day across W2O, our teams work in every part of the healthcare ecosystem, using our analytical power, industry experience and integrated, channel-agnostic marketing and communication skills to help clients understand and balance the benefit of their innovation with the economic realities and risks within and around our healthcare system. We understand that most days our clients are caught in the middle of this tug of war – and working to navigate both sides – while doing their best to serve the needs of patients. Some of this will be explored in one of the key seminars this week.

The theme for this year’s ASCO meeting is “caring for every patient, learning from every patient” – our hope for the meeting is that the latest innovations and leading clinicians have their moment to shine, teach and learn, while we all continue to work together to make sure the investments in innovations generate the value that we anticipate – for the short- and the long-term for patients and for the system.

Stay tuned for more 2019 ASCO content!


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Looking beyond treatment is key to improving the cancer care journey. This week on What2Know, I was fortunate enough to sit down with two guests, Entrepreneur Bill Rancic and Astellas Pharma’s Oncology SVP Mark Reisenauer.

During our time they discussed the challenges of being a caregiver and why they are excited about Astellas Oncology’s C3 Prize, a global challenge that aims to address the complexities of the cancer journey by funding the best ideas in cancer care beyond medicine. Take a listen below, and visit www.c3prize.com to learn more.


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Effective communication is critical to truly enable and promote healthy people and communities. However, nearly nine out of ten adults lack the literary skills needed to effectively manage their health and prevent disease. With low health literacy linked to poor health outcomes, the healthcare industry must prioritize delivering and personalizing healthcare communications so that they can be understood and used by all Americans. To learn more about delivering effective healthcare messages, particularly as it relates to digital health initiatives, we sat down with Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM and Sandra Rosenbluth, MS, Digital Health Communication professors at Tufts University School of Medicine to learn more.

1. What are some of the biggest challenges reaching targeted populations with effective healthcare messages? How have digital and social tools made a positive impact?

The biggest challenge is that not everyone is online, and even when people are, they may lack the digital literacy skills to use technology effectively. The increase in smartphone and tablet use has certainly brought more people to the internet. Often individuals will have one of these devices even if they don’t have a computer. But digital literacy is a whole new arena. From our own research, we’ve found that a high-touch approach works best. A little hands-on guidance with new health technologies works better than any instruction manual and helps overcome barriers to use. Once people start to feel some confidence in the digital space, they are better able to receive effective healthcare messages.

2. What digital health trends excite you the most and hold the potential to really improve care and health for people? 

We love the digital health field because of the rapid changes taking place in both technology and adoption. Because of our interest in wearables, that is one of the areas where we see the most potential from the perspective of self-management. We also see the potential for more tailored patient counseling once physicians have access to condensed displays of patient data integrated into EHRs from patient wearables. At the same time, we see the grassroots efforts to bring people together for social support as one digital health area with the greatest potential to help people through peer support.

3. What is the connection between effective digital health communications and health literacy?

The key word here is “effective.” Effective digital health communication must consider the target audience, and part of that is knowing the health literacy level of said audience. What is the point of crafting a health message if the recipient of the message cannot understand and act on it? In general, digital health communications should be simple and engaging, regardless of audience. A well-educated individual could be dealing with a health issue outside his or her field and be unfamiliar with specific healthcare jargon. Or someone with high literacy skills may be in shock from a devastating diagnosis and unable to retain information. It’s impossible to predict the exact circumstances of someone on the receiving end of your digital health communication, so considering health literacy at all times is a must.

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM (left) and Sandra Rosenbluth, MS (right), Digital Health Communication professors at Tufts University School of Medicine

4. How has healthcare communications changed in the last 5 years, and how do you envision it changing in the next 5 years?

Healthcare and technology are intertwined and inseparable. Yet technology in and of itself does little – it’s all in how you use it. The changes we see are a growing awareness of the complexity of using technologies effectively to better reach people. People better understand that it isn’t enough to create a website or app, but to start with the needs assessment, build in the promotion strategy, and end with an evaluation and iteration based on the evaluation.

5. You teach a series of professional development courses at Tufts School of Medicine on digital health communications. What are some of the most frequent questions you hear from those taking the courses?

Our students are all working professionals, and key to their success at work is learning to be strategic to achieve health goals for a target population. With technology changing so fast, mastering something like a new social media platform only has a limited shelf life. But becoming adept at selecting, using, and evaluating digital health technologies helps our students to be digital health leaders in their careers. They also develop hands on skills, which give them a deeper understanding of the wealth of digital health innovations taking place. Being able to take what’s learned and apply it to real organizations and real public health issues in an educational setting provides invaluable practice and insight before using this skillset in their actual professions.

As healthcare costs continue to rise and we push for consumers to become more empowered and engaged in healthcare, it is critical that we take communications strategies carefully into consideration in healthcare. Providing patients with access to digital health technologies is simply not enough. We must also collectively work to provide the information, coaching and on-going assistance that will enable people to adopt technologies that will help them not only manage, but improve their health and well-being.

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM and Sandra Rosenbluth, MS, both teach in the Certificate in Digital Health Communication at Tufts University School of Medicine. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Lisa is Director of the program. Learn more about their digital health program here.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

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