Rise of the Chatbots: Bringing AI Into Pharma Marketing

Looking for a low risk, low overhead, but high impact way to introduce AI into your pharma marketing? Then consider the chatbot.

Customer service is one of the most obvious applications for automation — and companies have been ruthlessly efficient in its deployment. Newer tech-based firms, in particular, have opted for near-total customer service automation, at least for routine queries. Most consumers are no doubt familiar with the lengths one must go to in order to get an actual carbon-based life form on the other end of a phone or computer interaction.

While dealing with endless irrelevant computer-generated questions is tiresome now, consumers are about to get some relief. AI and natural language processing (NLP) are growing exponentially smarter. Soon, consumers will have difficulty discerning silicon-based vs. carbon-based customer assistance. As chatbots and other automated programs grow more capable, brands will also be able to extend their functionality into the realm of pharmaceutical marketing.

How Chatbots Can Help Brands Incorporate AI Into Pharma Marketing

AI is playing a critical role in pharmaceutical industry product development. Major companies such as Pfizer and Google are using AI to help with early disease diagnosis. Artificial intelligence is also used to accelerate timelines for new drug discoveries. AI is also positioned to play a critical role in the emergence of personalized medicine, where tailored therapies are created based on a patient’s genetic profile.

Heady stuff, to be certain — yet also fairly far outside of the bailiwick of your conventional pharmaceutical advertising agency or pharma marketing department.

There is, however, one AI implementation that is both effective and viable for marketing purposes: The chatbot.

Today’s chatbots have come a long way from the rather static and limited versions consumers first encountered. Part of this is due to a gradual shift away from rules-based AI (where a chatbot responds according to pre-determined rule sets) to a fully realized NLP implementation. In the latter, a chatbot can continually learn and expand its repertoire, growing more accurate and responsive over time. 

In fact, today’s NLP-based chat applications have grown astonishingly life-like, even incorporating human-sounding conversational pauses and stammers. Some chatbots even make intentional errors to increase their verisimilitude.

Serving an Automated Marketing Role

In the context of customer service and marketing, it’s not difficult to see the benefits of having an intelligent helper who sounds like a human and who is ready to assist with patient queries 24/7. This is especially helpful in an industry where consumers frequently have simple questions about dosages, interactions, and other issues. If your chatbot is capable of seamlessly handling these lines of interaction, it frees up personnel to work on higher-value tasks — one of the core advantages of automation.

That’s merely one application of chatbot AI, however. While a well-designed bot can provide consumers with information and facilitate positive experiences, it also plays another critical role: It accumulates a vast trove of data culled from thousands upon thousands of consumer interactions.

Obviously, privacy regulations govern how first-party data can be used. Yet this information is still quite valuable in terms of identifying how processes can be improved and how consumers respond to particular messages.

Teva and other leading global pharmaceutical brands have created chatbots for their internal properties and are using them for pharma marketing purposes. Teva’s Maxbot implementation, in fact, recently won several awards from the Pharmaceutical Marketing Society.

Smaller brands should also follow suit. Though these brands may not have the internal resources to develop a chatbot, the right pharmaceutical advertising agency may be able to develop a chatbot solution that fits the bill.

The Takeaway

At BIGEYE, we believe that technology plays a leading role in the success of a modern pharma marketing campaign. If you’re looking for more from your pharmaceutical advertising agency, we urge you to contact BIGEYE today.  

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Learning from Five Key Pharma Industry Trends

The global pharmaceutical industry is experiencing profound changes — and understanding the impact of these changes is critical for those involved in pharmaceutical marketing.

According to a new industry report, the era of pharmaceutical firms succeeding with low innovation products and indiscriminate TV pill pushing is coming to a quick end. The successful pharmaceutical firm of the future will feature smaller and more agile sales staffs, products that truly add value for patients, and marketing efforts that are laser targeted.

Let’s take a closer look at some key trends shaping this future, and how brands can partner with the right pharmaceutical advertising agency to develop campaigns that fit this evolution.

Projecting Pharmaceutical Industry Trends

A recent report compiled by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) outlined the tectonic shifts altering the pharmaceutical industry. Some of these dynamics are associated with broader societal change; others are tied to new technology or evolving consumer preferences.

Highlighted developments in the PwC report include the following:

  • Chronic disease rates are growing at a rapid pace, creating a larger — and sicker — population of patients/consumers.
  • Healthcare payers are giving physicians less latitude in terms of prescription decisions.
  • The “pay-for-performance” model is also becoming more established in the industry, as payers seek to tie reimbursements to actual health outcomes.
  • Healthcare boundaries are now overlapping and an interdisciplinary approach to patient care is gaining favor.
  • Demand for pharmaceutical products in the developing world is robust, as globalization raises wages and technology increases access to healthcare. Demand for medicines, however, varies widely in global markets.
  • Governments across the globe are placing a greater emphasis on prevention rather than treatment, hoping to control costs and improve patient outcomes.
  • Regulators are assuming a more risk-averse posture.

All of these developments are collectively transforming how patients are treated, and changing the underlying business dynamics across multiple related industries. Most importantly, if you’re a leader within a pharma brand — or a pharmaceutical advertising agency — these trends provide a lodestar of sorts to help inform your industry marketing and advertising campaign strategies.

Marketing and Advertising Through the Lens of Trend Analysis

As industries evolve, advertising and marketing must evolve in parallel. In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s important that advertisers stay away from a product-focused approach rooted in yesterday’s industry model.

Instead of being overly focused on follower products, brands should invest in developing innovative new products that fill an unmet or underserved market niche. PwC describes innovation in the context of drug development as products which:

cure a disease or condition; prevent a disease or condition; reduce mortality or morbidity; reduce the cost of care; improve the quality of life; are safer or easier to use; or improve patient compliance and persistence.”

PwC claims that a mere eight new medications meeting those criteria were launched in 2018. In the absence of innovation, patient outcomes suffer. Yet this also creates an exceptional competitive opportunity for brands capable of innovating.

Other core imperatives for today’s pharma marketing and ad departments, according to PwC, include:

  • Recognizing how payer, provider, and pharmaceutical value chains work together.
  • Developing the capability to effectively market specialist therapies, which will become more important in the coming years. 
  • Introducing products with multi-nation launches and live licensing.

Deeper, cultural changes are also critical. Brands need to foster a modern marketing and advertising culture capable of supporting a knowledge-based commercial organization. 

Such initiatives are certainly ambitious, especially in an industry where firms have been able to make margin by developing low innovation follower products and pairing them with tired, yet tried-and-true, marketing techniques. Yet ambition and innovation are exactly what’s called for, given the massive structural changes that will alter the shape of the pharmaceutical industry in the coming years.

The Takeaway

If your pharmaceutical advertising agency isn’t pressing you to think three moves ahead, it’s time for a re-evaluation. The pharmaceutical industry will experience a sea of change in the coming years, and brands that begin adapting early will be in the best competitive position.

At BIGEYE, we have the right combination to help pharma brands win: Domain expertise, a sophisticated suite of technological tools, and a full range of pharmaceutical marketing services.

Contact us today to learn more about BIGEYE, and what a forward-thinking pharmaceutical advertising agency can do for your brand.

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Why Direct to Consumer Pharma Ads Remain a Global Anomaly

Direct to consumer prescription drug ads are everywhere in the US — and almost unseen everywhere else. Here’s why.

In the U.S., consumers are bombarded with ads for pharmaceuticals — so much so, in fact, that the very form has become a cliché (think about “active seniors” pursuing their favorite activities while a narrator rattles off a list of side effects). If you work for a pharmaceutical advertising agency that isn’t based stateside, it’s an entirely different world, however. 

The U.S. is the only large market where direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising is permissible. Only one other country (the ‘tiny by comparison’ New Zealand) allows the practice — and that nation has seen repeated efforts to ban consumer prescription drug ads.

Let’s take a closer look at why direct to consumer drug marketing works, and any changes that could lie ahead.

The Power of Direct Advertising

While direct advertisements for pharmaceuticals are now inescapable, the truth is that they’ve only been around for 22 years. The practice of marketing medications to consumers was made legal under the Clinton Administration in 1997, immediately unleashing a torrent of new advertising on the public in a previously unseen category.

The rationale behind this move was simple: When people suffering from a certain affliction would see an ad for a product that treats their symptoms, they would ask their physician about the product, opening up an important dialogue about their health in the process.

However, the reality hasn’t always proved so simple. When direct advertising certainly works in terms of generating brand awareness and sales, some physicians have raised objections about the role it plays in patient health.

In a Food and Drug Administration survey, 65% of physicians reported feeling that direct advertising sent confusing messages to patients; a smaller number of physicians reported feeling pressure to prescribe as a result of direct ads.

This has occurred against a backdrop of massive expansion in direct pharma advertising dollars. According to a Journal of the American Medical Association study, total direct pharma ad spending grew more than 360% from 1997 to 2016.

The reason for that ad spend is simple: It results in sales, and lots of them. Another federal study showed that for every $1,000 pharma companies spend on direct advertising, they add 24 new patients. Pharmaceuticals supported by direct consumer ads add patients at a rate seven times higher than drugs without ads.

Alternative Approaches to Direct Ads

One alternative to direct pharma advertising that has gained traction in recent years is the Disease Awareness Campaign (DAC). This model eschews product-specific direct ads in favor of a less commercial advertising approach that aims to heighten awareness.

Gilead, one of the world’s leading drug developers, has used the DAC approach in support of its new hepatitis C treatment. The ads encourage people to seek testing for the disease without getting into the merits of Gilead’s product. 

Ultimately, it is unlikely that we see a move to significantly restrict direct pharmaceutical advertising in the US. In fact, it seems likely that other nations may follow the lead of the U.S. and New Zealand and loosen regulations. The European Commission, in fact, has undertaken hearings to explore that possibility, though any approved ads would likely be much less promotional in nature than what is seen in the U.S.

If you’re running a pharma brand or a pharmaceutical advertising agency, perhaps the best approach is one of moderation. Take advantage of the reach and efficacy of direct advertising, but make sure it’s done in a way that stresses awareness and maintains a sense of professional ethics. 

Ultimately, drug companies, physicians, and patients all need to pull in the same direction to create better health outcomes.

The Takeaway

At BIGEYE, we believe that a great pharmaceutical advertising agency offers its clients three things: Domain expertise, advanced technological tools, and a sophisticated understanding of the existing marketing landscape.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about what BIGEYE can do for you.

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Medical Marketing Agency: A Partner That Provides a Healthy Impact

Even with the help of a talented medical marketing agency, health insurance companies are never going to be sexy, or set consumer pulses racing. Most Millennials report that they would rather go 24 hours without using any social media than sign a stack of healthcare insurance forms. Yet this industry does have a major ace in the hole in terms of brand perception and audience engagement: healthcare is a social good, and Millennials are pro-social consumers who expect brands to do their part.
By developing a compelling medical marketing campaign, brands in the health field can get the message out about the differences they are making in people’s lives — something that’s good for both society and business.

How Cigna positioned itself as a healthcare champion

Speaking at the recent ANA Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Florida, Cigna’s Global CMO, Susan Bacus, said that 81% of people believe global brands have the power to make the world better, according to recent research. Additionally, from its own internal research, Cigna discovered that roughly 70% of healthcare costs are linked to lifestyle choices.

Given these numbers, the company took action in a few key areas to transform how the brand operates and is publicly perceived. The first step was a stronger attempt to improve health outcomes through prevention. To help accomplish this, Cigna devised a clever “TV Doctors” marketing campaign featuring some of the most famous fictional physicians from the small screen, all of whom encouraged people to get regular checkups.

The results were impressive — and not merely from a patient care perspective. In the aftermath of the campaign, preventative visits jumped 18%, customer growth spiked 6% and revenue climbed 9%.

In addition to the campaign, Cigna also placed a new emphasis on discussion of larger societal issues affecting wellness while also taking a more empathetic approach to its health guidance and advocacy efforts.

Bacus said Cigna’s campaign and subsequent changes proved that caring for people and good business are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a more empathetic approach is actually better for business; it not only drives superior health outcomes,  but it improves how a brand is perceived by a public that’s increasingly cause conscious.

Using the power of medical marketing to make the world a better place

Cigna’s “TV Doctors” campaign is a good example of how a medical marketing agency can serve the business interests of an enterprise, while also serving a larger societal good. Brands can choose to pursue cause-related marketing by partnering with a non-profit or follow Cigna’s example of reorienting its marketing messaging and business processes to improve real-world outcomes.

This kind of altruistic, cause-related marketing offers a variety of benefits: It attracts new customers, it deepens the loyalty of the customer base you already possess and it enhances a company’s image. It also helps brands stay aligned with audience expectations. This is especially true in the medical field, where access to affordable insurance coverage is not universal, and the “business” side of medicine is often a sensitive subject.

What a top medical marketing agency can do for you

Being a top Florida advertising agency, we help healthcare firms create the kind of compelling marketing campaigns that engage audiences and win new customers. If you’d like to see what a dynamic new medical marketing approach could do for you, please reach out to us today.

Decoding a Hidden World by Using a Pharmaceutical Naming Agency

When is the last time you heard someone ask a pharmacist for a refill on N-methyl-3-phenyl-3-[4- (trifluoromethyl) phenoxy]propan-1-amine? How about fluoxetine? The answer is probably more common than you think. While the scientific and generic names for Prozac aren’t particularly memorable, they do provide a revealing look into the byzantine world of pharmaceutical naming.

Many small and medium pharmaceutical researchers and producers don’t realize how important naming is until the FDA rejects their patent and sends years of research and clinical trials back to square one. A pharmaceutical naming agency can help decode the mystery and ensure your work makes it to market.

Why pharmaceutical naming matters

The FDA strictly regulates and subsequently rejects between 20 – 25% of drugs’ generic and brand names to avoid confusion that might lead to misdosing, confusion over a drug’s efficacy, or that might lead to patient stigmatization and privacy violations. Once approved, the naming process continues to play an important role in a drug’s success because a pharmaceutical company may only market their drug under a brand name, rather than a generic or scientific name, once it has been patent protected.

Competing companies may market the same generic drug under a different name to make the market more competitive. While Advil and Motrin are both brand names for ibuprofen, their name, positioning, and marketing plays an important role in which the consumer ultimately chooses.

How a pharmaceutical naming agency can boost your success

The average pharmaceutical naming agency creates between 2,000 – 5,000 names for each drug before beginning the FDA screening process and march to patent protection that will allow brands to compete in the market. A top Florida advertising agency like BIGEYE can help kick off that process by vetting names that may raise flags for the FDA or that will not stand out from the competition.

By partnering with a creative team, your brand can focus on the science and success of your product while your agency ensures your research and work does not get delayed because its name sounds too similar to another drug or accidentally includes the common shorthand for another scientific component.

Contact us today to learn more about how we’ve helped other drug producers enter the market and break through the clutter of competition from big pharmaceutical companies.

 

How hospitals & medical centers are incorporating voice technology

A smart, reliable voice assistant makes life easier — and in turn helps make us more productive. The truth is that we live in a world where mobile and smart devices are used for almost everything. By moving these functions from a smartphone to a voice assistant, the experience becomes simpler and less mediated. Having the power of the Internet not merely at our fingertips, but also ready to be activated at the sound of our voice, is a development with massive implications — not only at home, but also in the workplace.
One key example: Hospitals, where the stakes couldn’t be higher and the need for innovative technological solutions is ever-present, are on the verge of experiencing a patient-care transformation facilitated by voice apps in healthcare.

The growing presence of Alexa in healthcare

Within medical centers, the shift from desktops to laptops — and later from laptops to mobile — was a significant one. Today, voice technology is supplementing mobile and may largely replace it within the next decade. Recently Healthcare IT News took a close look at how voice technology is being deployed at several prominent hospitals.

At Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, Amazon Alexa development is in full swing. A team of IT professionals and developers have created applications that allow patients to ask Alexa (or Google Home) to call for a nurse, check what’s on the evening menu, find out when a physician is arriving and other fundamental tasks.
Normally, many such activities would require the attention of a medical professional. By using voice technology to automate these processes, hospitals are providing timelier services and freeing up personnel for value-added tasks.

At Northwell Health in New York, IT teams are developing with Alexa and Google Home. Here, they use cases for voice technology that include letting patients know how long they will be waiting in emergency rooms and directing them to nearby urgent care centers.

Once mature, the technology would allow someone who slices open a finger while preparing a meal to ask Alexa which nearby medical center has the shortest wait period. Because Alexa is integrated with Northwell’s app, she can query local hospitals and urgent cares and provide an optimal solution within seconds using real-time data. This allows those who are injured to get treatment quickly, while also reducing bottlenecks at local hospitals.

Finally, Libertana Home Health is leveraging voice technology to help elderly clients live independently. Alexa is not only a useful tool to help people remember appointments and medication schedules, but it also provides a form of social interaction.

A pilot study conducted by the organization showed that voice assistants can help reduce loneliness by interacting with the elderly. Alexa can be programmed to play cognitive games that enhance memory and deliver daily personalized greetings.

The takeaway

Voice technology is helping to transform patient care. Our agency has been at the forefront of this developing trend, creating deeply useful third-party apps that allow organizations to unlock the full power of voice technology.

If you need assistance with Amazon Alexa development or Google Home programming, we’d love to help do the same for you.