The courage to fail in order to innovate and ultimately succeed was a recurring theme at iPharma 2015—starting with former Olympian and Eagles football player Jeremy Bloom who talked about learning from his own failures to succeed in the world of athletics and business.

Focus on Value, Not Running from Risk

This theme was continued by Walgreens product manager Todd Schmeling sharing his very exciting work on the Walgreens mobile app. Alleviating the pain points in the pharmacy experience is his main focus. He stressed the importance of an increased focus on positive patient outcomes and how to leverage digital to support those outcomes.

Speaker Bill Evans, whose firm works for J&J, challenged pharma marketers to take the necessary risks in order to innovate. Evans acknowledged the reality within most organizations that there is a conflicting desire for both innovation and proven, safe tactics. The line “do something new, but get me 3 case studies to back it up” was repeated on the podium and in breakout sessions. To get a crazy idea off the ground he recommended taking a page from the “fail fast” start-up world: focus on prototyping, minimum viable product, and iteration. He spoke to the fact that brand planning needs to be more of an iterative framework, rather than a grid of tactics in November, which don’t make sense in May.

Supporting HCPs and Patients

Monique Levy spoke about the increasing demand among HCPs and patients for real support from brands. She reinforced the idea that marketers need to focus on pain points to add value to the patient and doctor experience. Her data showed that high quality web experiences increased patient confidence in the brand, that patient support programs increased adherence, and that all things being equal doctors would choose the drug that had patient support.

The panel on HCP marketing highlighted the fact that brands don’t feel like they’re winning with professionals. Part of the problem is that brands are only telling one story, and in the digital world where a doctor may see the same banner in his/her EMR several times a day, the message wears out quickly. Getting organizations to buy in to content strategy and getting channels working together to distribute a consistent message were key pain points that marketers discussed in breakout sessions.

In the mobile panel with Tim Garde, marketers discussed the future of mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) applied to medical tracking devices. Despite the technology fast becoming available to track patient health, the general consensus was that concerns around privacy and meaningful use continue to be a hurdle that will have to be overcome.

Overall, the message at iPharma 2015 was clear: the path to success is a commitment to outcomes for both patients and professionals by smoothing over pain points in the customer journey using the dynamic and always-on nature of digital channels. To do so requires a certain amount of courage in this brave new world of digital ubiquity to try something that may fail in order to arrive at something that has a meaningful impact on patients and doctors.


About Caleb Freeman

Caleb brings 7 years of search engine optimization experience to the Calcium team. Connecting brand goals to a content strategy that meets customer needs is his passion. Relying on his background in web development he has developed tools for gauging organic search competition and streamlining keyword research. His technical background allows him to uncover and solve for the most complex search engine accessibility issues. He has worked with clients such as Astrazeneca, Abbvie, Pfizer, Mylan, Teva, and Reckitt Benckiser. In his free time he enjoys playing guitar, wakeboarding, motorcycles, and coding in JavaScript.

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