About Alfred O'Neill

Ideas are King. Measurement is Queen. User Experience is the Jester fooling us all.

The AI Judge holds a digital gavel: can you trust them?

So, you have a small claims court 8K law suit against a neighbor. The verdict? In Estonia, it could be “guilty” from an A.I. judge.

AI and Justice is a subject discussed from the most recent WIRED magazine: In Estonia, the 28-year-old chief of data sciences for Finland’s government, believes AI can make all aspects of government run more efficiently – to the benefit of saving money and serving citizens better. But while we hear about all sorts of efficiency applications of algorithms and AI, Mr. Verberg has a new challenge: he was asked to create a “robot judge” to handle small claims court backlog.

Why is this hot? Well, first, according to the U.N., a formal system of Law is the backbone of a democratic society (along with a free press and open education to all people in a society). But does using AI instead of a human to make a monetary judgement undermine the belief in the fairness of the law?

WIRED note other examples already exist, but nothing that goes this far: “Estonia’s effort isn’t the first to mix AI and the law, though it may be the first to give an algorithm decision-making authority. In the US, algorithms help recommend criminal sentences in some states. The UK-based DoNotPay AI-driven chatbot overturned 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York a few years ago. A Tallinn-based law firm, Eesti Oigusbüroo, provides free legal aid through a chatbot and generates simple legal documents to send to collection agencies.”

But as we all know, no matter what the backlog is, I do not see anyone trusting an AI judge with their 6k to 8K lawsuit — unless they turn Judge Judy into a robot.

Predicting Malaria outbreaks from outer space

While only 10% of all malaria-related deaths happen in the Amazon region, that equals around 100,000 lost lives each year. So, as the rainy seasons begin, and temperatures rise, forest fall, and a thousand other factors occur, no one has really been able to get ahead of predicting where an outbreak may occur or even when it may occur — until now.

Bring in N.A.S.A.!

From Engadget: The tropical disease can bring on severe fever, headaches and chills and is particularly severe for children and the elderly and can cause complications for pregnant women. In rainforest-covered Peru the number of malaria cases has spiked such that, in the past five years, it has had on average the second highest rate in the South American continent. In 2014 and 2015 there were 65,000 reported cases in the country.

Why is this hot?

  • Good for the world: using U.S./NASA Landsat satellite systems for the greater good of the world’s poorer, more needy populations and their horrifying diseases is using existing technology in new ways.
  • Good for living: just think, if they can detect the outbreak, the government can disseminate NGO’s and supplies and perhaps minimize the death toll and the debilitating nature malaria has on the economy of struggling nations.
  • Good for reputation: this is a model for what a good-hearted world leader does.

Merck And Alexa challenge to solve diabetes care crisis

Diabetes is a scourge. And Merck through the gauntlet down. (Though only for $25K).

Reviewing the snippet of the infographic in the hero photo only teases the immensity of the diabetes  problem. It is without a doubt THE health issue in our country, and sadly, for most of the world. The complexity of the condition is endless — it touches nearly every organ — eyes, feet, heart, kidney — and part of our body’s system in a negative way.

One truth is well known: patients need help with this complex condition. Frankly, many diabetics “game” the system with their medications so they can maintain at least a portion of the unhealthy lifestyle that got them. For others, despite good effort, many patients do a terrible job staying on their medication, or following their exercise and diet regimen, and thus, the codition progresses where the costs to their body and society are overwhelming. But while some of these issues are ingrained, there are many people who would welcome a helping hand — however it is packaged.

So, Merck, makers of several effective diabetes medications, decided to differentiate itself by thinking like a consumer company:

The Alexa Challenge. The Challenge calls on innovators to create Alexa voice-enabled solutions to improve the lives of those with type 2 diabetes

They just announced their finalists.

Why is this hot?

  • Each finalist cover a wide range of potential applications and technology platforms.
  • While several of the large pharma companies have done something similar, the maturation of Merck’s approach teamed the leap of ease and sophistication of technology has Merck doing it the right way.
  • This needs to be watched; from a marketing perspective, diabetes drug manufacturers have often been quite innovative. But they often did so internally and with their PR group. This smells of a change in direction towards the ascendance of consumer technology and consumer thinking.

Raise a beer to a healthier belly!

Beer has never associated with health. Until now. Two researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have created a sour beer that has a highly effective probiotic as part of the brew.This new specialty beer incorporates the probiotic strain Lactobacillus paracasei L26, which was first isolated from human intestines and has the ability to neutralise toxins and viruses, as well as regulate the immune system.

“The health benefits of probiotics are well known. While good bacteria are often present in food that have been fermented, there are currently no beers in the market that contain probiotics. As a believer of achieving a healthy diet through consuming probiotics, this is a natural choice for me when I picked a topic for my final-year project,” said Miss Chan, who will be graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours (Highest Distinction) from NUS in July 2017. (A first year grad student that does a study on beer? Hmmmm…)

Why is this hot?

Health and alcohol co-existing: this shifts the mindset that those indulgences like beer have negative associations with health. As a race, we are not good at trade-offs, thus once major reason for the obesity epidemic that is driving the massive  number of diabetic patients in the U.S. With this beer, you can have both!

Probiotics: more and more research shows probiotics as having many health benefits beyond just helping with digestion. It has been suggested they and other acids in the gut have a relationship to chronic diseases, though much research needs to be done.

Sensitive stomach? Raise a beer from Singapore.

Source: https://goo.gl/vE5yH3


Can these 5 Brain Hacking companies give us immortality?

Brain-hacking? Kind of a Frankenstein term.

The human brain has 100 billion neurons firing away all day and night. Can they be channeled, stimulated or directed in some way that benefits society? No surprise, here comes Elon Musk and Neuralink. His and four other companies are all approaching the idea that human-machine interface can change everything — especially for those suffering neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, these could be life transforming.

Here is Elon’s mission statement (and this site is a one-pager!): Neuralink is developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers. Initially, the Brain Computer Interface (BCIs) will be used for medical research, but the ultimate goal is to prevent humans from becoming obsolete, by enabling people to merge with artificial intelligence — perhaps even avoiding death.

Sounds amazing…but what does it really mean? Basically, why is this hot?

First, because they all seem to be heading towards an even more grandiose vision; avoiding death. No joke.

Second, the four companies means the competition is real:

FACEBOOK: a few weeks after Neuralink was launched, they announced an initiative to “let people type their thoughts”. Imagine a child with autism, someone with a mental disorder, so many sufferers, being able to “speak” this way. The news reports say it will take two years for a prototype medical implant and is being developed in their top secret Building 8 facility.

KERNEL: Kernel plans to build a flexible platform for recording and stimulating neurons, with the goal of treating diseases such as depression and Alzheimer’s. 

EMOTIV: (Their home page says it all):

EMOTIV Mental Commands and SDKs makes our technology an highly effective Brain-Computer-Interface and can put EMOTIV at the center of the Internet of Things and the ability to control the world around you.

DARPA: Ok, the government, but still, they are investing in several companies to develop a device that will record 1 million neurons and stimulate 100,000 in the brain. DARPA wants it the size of a nickel. Since they ‘invented’ the Internet, I’d say they have a good chance of pulling it off.

I encourage you all to visit their web sites and learn more. After all, can brain hacking help us live forever? Or is it hype?


Beyond The Pill is moving to Game On!

Can conservative Pharma companies becomes Gamers? Although a large investment by Merck and AMGEN was announced several months ago, the repercussions are now being felt. This could help open up the long pent-up demand for innovation by Pharma manufacturers.

The investment news came last summer, as quoted in FierceBiotech: “Akili Interactive Labs, the Boston-based startup developing nonpharmacological therapeutics for various cognitive disorders like autism and Alzheimer’s disease, got an $11.9 million boost in funding, raising its total Series B proceeds to $42.4 million.” Basically, they use gamification to improve cognitive function.

Recently, the new Pharma and gamer partners announced their first accomplishment, EVO, the game:

The first game application for children with a cognitive disorder has proven highly effective. This gives the marketers a differentiating aspect to their Rx. Being a fact-based industry, this is big news.

Why is this hot?

  • The terms “Beyond The Pill” has become the industries code for “innovation” — trying to offer some technology or service to make their drug stand-out in the minds of doctors and consumers. “Innovation” is a word that is intensely frightening to most Pharma marketers. For several years, as more and more blockbusters (drugs with sales over $1 billion) become generics (70% of ALL drugs are now generics), Pharma has been haphazardly explored partnerships and technologies, but has often failed due to cultural entropy and conservatism in the C-suite. This is a first.
  • Change needs to come from the C-suite: $11 million is a lot of money, especially for an industry so conservative and ROI-obsessed.  Every company, even MRM-McCann clients, are looking for ways to engage patients from clinical trials through drug adherence — the entire product lifecycle.
  • I have been “selling” into one of our Pharma clients an Artificial Intelligence platform from a company that did Sgt Star on the U.S. Army site; we have had several meetings to try and issue AI as their Beyond The Pill strategy for launch of a new ADHD drug; this success with Akili may make that path easier.

Doctors media preferences…Social? Maybe. Print and email? Yes!

When  it comes to digital adoption, it seems a no-brainer; isn’t everyone engaged? No. A notable exception are medical professionals. Doctors and nurses (NP/PA’s) tend to lean towards the conservative — not only politically, but in terms of their digital adoption. A recent study by HealthLink Dimensions, an email list and Big Data firm, produced a study on their information-gathering preferences among 700 medical professionals.

Email may seems so…yesterday. Yet, 75% of NPs and PAs and 66% of MDs prefer email for communication regarding the following:

• Industry news

• Product updates

• Research opportunities

What device is favored for reading email? Specifically, almost 52% of NPs/PAs and 46% of MDs utilize mobile devices; while almost 53% of NPs/PAs and 51% of MDs use desktop computers to comb through their emails.

Social Media? They love their closed, private peer-to-peer communities, such as SERMO (600K doctors)

Per the survey, 66% of NPs/PAs and 63% of MDs don’t use social media to communicate with patients. Instead, only one-third of these medical professionals are active on social media – mainly Twitter, LinkedIn, SERMO and Doximity – primarily for networking with their colleagues and peers

Last is print: 50% of NPs/PAs and 46% of MDs frequently use printed materials provided to their practices

Why is this hot? As with all customers we strategically serve, their content consumption habits have a major impact upon our planning. Knowing this, we must always realize to be customer-centric is to not fall in love with a shiny media object or a cool platform…

  • Time is a critical factor for HCP’s which drive what they consume and how; with an average of less than 15 minutes per patient, you know when it is a mobile device, they are on the move, doing rounds, trying to solve problems in real-time; your content and experience should embrace that. So, snippets of content are smart when you want them to be consumed at POC (Point-of-Care); conversely, HCP’s often have to consume intense medical journals, clinical studies and dense scientific content, which requires a desktop or laptop
  • Using Performance/Analytics to see how your clients’ content is consumed by time and device provides an invaluable insight into content strategy; if you want it to be useful in the NOW, then snippets, mobile-first; if you want to provide deeper content, then plan for desktop, but always offer email/download functions to account for mobile



Hey can that robot make me live forever?

Robots, nanobots, human-looking robots…the race is on. It’s not a race to market. It’s actually a race to immortality. The Japanese pioneered the robot development as early as 2005…with RI-MAN: 

But the evolution has gone much further and, like so many things, is accelerating.

As the author, Peter Nichol says on CIO.com: Medical nanotechnology is expected to employ nanorobots that will be injected into the patient to perform work at a cellular level. Ingestibles and internables bring forward the introduction of broadband-enabled digital tools that are eaten and “smart” pills that use wireless technology to help monitor internal reactions to medications.

Robotics for healthcare are classified in three main categories of use:

  1. Direct patient care robots: surgical robots (used for performing clinical procedures), exoskeletons (for bionic extensions of self like the Ekso suit), and prosthetics (replacing lost limbs).  Over 500 people a day loses a limb in America with 2 million Americans living with limb loss according to the CDC.
  2. Indirect patient care robots: pharmacy robots (streamlining automation, autonomous robots for inventory control reducing labor costs), delivery robots (providing medical goods throughout a hospital autonomously), and disinfection robots (interacting with people with known infectious diseases such as healthcare-associated infections or HAIs).
  3. Home healthcare robots: robotic telepresence solutions (addressing the aging population with robotic assistance).

Why is this hot?

  • Robotics, pioneered by the Japanese as early as 2005 (RI-MAN above) is fast moving to nurses with human features and AI ability to do Q&A. They are already in research and university hospitals.
  • While the 3 categories are a general framework, the nanobot itself crawling through your bloodstream, checking for cancer cells, knitting your arteries, oxygenating our blood, preventing them from hardening and causing heart disease.
  • For those of you under 30 who think your immortal, you may have a chance.

I leave you with a forward-looking TED TALK on this topic from January, 2017:


What is the most dysfunctional conversation? Between Doctor and Patient.

As communications experts in the healthcare vertical, from strategy to creative to even Search, we all struggle with language. Not just because of regulatory/FDA restrictions on what you can and cannot say — no, this is more fundamental. I’m talking about actual language — how people speak to each other about their health and treatment. There is a huge chasm and a few companies are trying to cross it.

Basically, no one is satisfied with the current state of communication. Get this stat: in a typical 15 minutes consult, the doctor will speak for 11 of the minutes. They dominate. Partially because of that, 50% of patients do not retain what their doctor said to them, and if given a new prescription, 1 in 6 will not fill or pick it up. Why? They simply don’t understand or believe.

So Pharma stepped in. Starting in 2002, Pfizer was the first to try and own the issue of health literacy — based on the U.S government declaring all patient communication should be written to a 6th grade reading level, the average in the U.S. (Now that is scary). Many agencies adhere to that rule. They have kept their focus on this even at MRM-McCann. This is how Pfizer defines it, which is merely common sense:

Clear health communication between health care providers and patients can help to improve understanding. Techniques that providers can use include:

  • Speak in simple language and avoid jargon terms
  • Focus on key information needed for the visit
  • Listen to patients or families about their needs or concerns
  • Make information relevant to the family’s culture
  • Use simple educational materials that have pictures to help explain things
  • Use interpreters, language lines, and language specific information for those that don’t speak English as their main language
  • Work together with patients to make decisions and set goals
  • Ask patients to share back information learned or plans made

Last year, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) launched UPL.org (Universal Patient Language) and called it an “open source” for creation of better conversations. Both companies have decided to share their secrets — their research and framing.

Why is this hot? The issues of the dialogue that occurs between patients and doctor’s is pervasive in all Pharma marketing. On one side, clients ALWAYS say “We need to craft the shared language so they talk about our treatment.”  If you speak to doctor’s they will say, with such limited time they have to get their questions asked and answered to properly help the patient. If you ask a patient, more times than not, they will either forget their questions, or try and squeeze them in at the end of the appointment — what is called the “hand-on-the-doorknob-conversation”. Even more so, in the age of the empowered patient, who needs to understand the science, can we really dumb down such complexity for the conversation?

As communications experts, these are incredibly valuable tools to use and consider in our client work. Yet, they need to be filtered through the lens of a science-based organization trying to be patient-centric — always a battle. Last, is the daunting reality of patient non-compliance — over 50% of ALL patients stop taking their treatments as prescribed within 100 days. even cancer patients!

Cost to society? Over $250 billion dollars in lost productivity per year.

Theory has it, if the patient truly understood the what and why they are taking a drug, they would be more compliant. Even though Pfizer started this effort in 2002, the situation is just starting to change. Or as BMS declares about the future: “Always ready, never finished.”




Frazzled? Struggling with mental illness? Have a cup of tea and talk.

In the U.K., the famous venerable retailer, Marks & Spencer, has teamed up with a comedian, Ruby Wax to convert their cafes on Fridays to places where people are encouraged to discuss their mental illness…talk and tea therapy..

It is called “Frazzled Café”. Minus stigma nor judgment, come and talk.

Why is this hot? Because it comes at a tough juncture for the issues around mental illness. Among many advocates for mental illness, the rising awareness and funding to treat it also occurs is at a tipping point. Mental illness is all over the news. The VA of all places lead the way in innovation due to PTSD. But by 2020, there will be 50,000 less psychiatrists. Multiply that by the number of patients a psychiatrist might see over just a decade and you see the collision — awareness rises, help diminishes.Not a successful formula. So people are looking for different ways to support the cause. From a marketing perspective, it is a forward-looking example of a major brand taking a stand on an issue and putting money behind it

.Of course humans are very resourceful.Telehealth is playing a role by creating remote workers who have an M.S. in psychology or social work — but by law they cannot prescribe. Minus psychiatrists, this is a good substitute since talk therapy is an effective way to manage mental illness. But it is only half the answer.

Visit the site. The crowdsourcing element and Ruby’s words are good reading.



What is better? Doctor as authority or shared decision-making?

The Wall street Journal ran a piece this week about the power of shared decision-making and the impact it has on patient satisfaction, cost savings and healthier outcomes. While it was a simple and positive report, the findings are radical in that it is another herald of the transforming healthcare system.

Why is this important? Take Mass General, rated the #1 Hospital in the entire U.S. last year. They are not just doing one thing right to make the healthcare system work better for all, but they are doing neatly everything right. The hospital — and many others — have come to realize that the old model of “Doctor-as-authority-figure” does not really work any more — patients don’t feel in control, they often regret decisions, and last, they often end up NOT following the doctor’s orders and stop taking their medication, the impact of which is said to be over $200 billion in lost productivity every year.

Enter shared decision-making, which has had a radical impact on patient satisfaction. This visual aid is used to help patients make cancer treatment decisions:

Why is this hot? Because this heralds a major shift in a decades-old communication model, one that the entire U.S. society incorporated into their medical relationship with their doctor and thus, their health. This shared decision-making is not a mandate, but common sense; but even common sense in this case is a disruptor of the doctor-as-authority, which is how doctors are trained and inculcated into their own mindset. Radical that the doctor cedes this control; radical that the patient engages in complex decisions and comes away satisfied.

So, for Mass General, the results have been dramatic:





Lung cancer? Complex and scary. So how should Pharma engage patients?

It is often said that when a person hears the word “cancer” anything following goes unheard; the topic is truly that scary and that emotional. In our culture, until recently, lung cancer = death. Yet now cancer treatments are going through a revolution; in some cases many can live with this disease – even recover from it! Several giant pharmaceutical companies are investing heavily in this new immuno-therapy science. How do you communicate that complex science to patients? Especially when then U.S. government claims the average American reads at a 6th grade level.

Given the high expense and other issues patients have, connecting with them and caregivers is crucial to creating product awareness and advantage But the brand-centricity usual to Pharma has given way to patient-centricity, forcing the industry to explore new engagement strategies. Here are a few:

  1. Start with science. Merck has created the “Test. Talk. Take action” campaign. In a short animated video, they do their best to simplify the complex, then drive the patient to discuss with their doctor — arming them with testimonials and discussion guides.



2. Dumb it down: Novartis uses even simpler animation to lecture you (a British accent helps make it acceptable) on how cancer works and how immuno-therapy works. Think of that 6th grade reading level and view the video with that limitation. Is it too dumb? Complex that is rendered simply?


3. Be Human: AstraZeneca (led by Richard’s story….even his Pinterest postings covering his journey to recovery!) The UX is well done and the content of text and video stories is quite emotional and compelling.



The singular focus on the humanity of suffering and treating lung cancer is a very lean-in experience. AstraZeneca gives voice to the miracles these treatments create and engages across several Social Media platforms. Now we are getting to the essence of Humanity at it’s most raw and hopeful.

Why is this hot? Disease education from pharma companies minus mentioning any specific brand is not a new strategy. What is different, is the overt use of humanity, interactive education, and Social Media – separate or mashed together. This shows that these companies are trying to educate, and in doing so, motivate patients to ask for their therapy — the early stages of true consumer marketing: engage, be personally relevant and drive-to-sale. For a highly conservative industry, this is a good evolution.

Last, this has the foreshadowing of a disruptor. Pharma sales reps for decades had easy access to doctors to deliver scientific and branded messages; today, access to those doctors is under 50%. Is it possible that a well-informed, empowered patient can actually act as a proxy for a sales force rep. that can’t get in the hospital door? Is this a movement to make the patient their own sales rep?

Gilead uses Tumblr and Snapchat to talk HIV, sex and find potential patients.

Truvada from Gilead is going to be the first pharma brand to expand its social footprint aggressively by using Snapchat and Tumblr. Truvada is a breakthrough treatment for the HIV market. But it is also highly controversial – why?

Let’s start with what Truvada does. Did you know you can prevent HIV infection? Up until now, Gilead has led the revolution in producing ever-more effective treatments for HIV, culminating in Truvada. But this drug does not treat it prevents. That is very powerful.

Despite success (nearly $3 billion in sales) , the controversy is based upon the two-sides of the prevention coin. On one side, Truvada can add its Social Voice to sites where sex and dating are discussed freely and reach many people unaware of its benefits. Yet, the debate rages because one side take embrace that they can have unsafe sex — in fact, many advocacy groups argue Truvada encourages unsafe sex. There is actually a hashtag dedicated to having more sex due to Truvada (I will not publish as it is offensive).

In the most prevalent HIV city, San Francisco has embraced using Truvada. Officials in San Francisco have attributed some of the success in lowering the HIV rate to the adoption of Truvada as the preventative part of the city’s broader “test-and-treat” strategy. But data shows that many underserved inner cities with high prevalence of HIV lack awareness of Truvada.

When you type in “Truvada” into Tumblr Search, you can see people saying they can have unprotected and as much sex as they want now! No more fear of HIV! With one tidal force going that way, another is equally strong: prevent HIV now.


Why is this hot? This is a first time pharma is using these social channels. For a conservative industry, this is a bold move to educate and increase sales but do it in a very dynamic and no-holds-barred social arena. So not only are the experimenting, Gilead is jumping into an angry debate.  In pharma, when one brand pioneers, the others follow. Is this an effective way to engage and help shape the conversation around HIV and prevention? Or is this a company using Social Media just to sell more? Pharma companies are deeply worried about their poor reputation. Many lessons will arise from this first step.


Telehealth is here, it’s what next that is truly…

Scary? Amazing? Ruined by bad user experience? Right for some not for others? Revolutionary?

Telehealth video calls surpassed 50 million in the US last year. Telehealth video visits will reach 158 million by 2020. Just pick up your phone and you get a video consult with a doctor. There are two points to be made: it is not that Telehealth is big news, it is the dramatic rate of adoption starting…now.

A recent study done by AmericanWell, a major Telehealth provider, basically proves an aggressive adoption rate, but with caveats.  One of the major barriers? A doctor is really not allolwed to diagnose you over the phone. Another? Telehealth also weakens your relationship with a doctor, who uses visual observation as a key tool for diagnosis. But here are the stats that make it hot:

  1. Today, 50 million U.S. consumers would switch providers to one that offers telehealth.*
  2. Willingness to switch to a doctor that offers Telehealth is highest among parents of children under age 18 and 35-44 year olds.
  3. 60 percent of consumers who are willing to have an online Telehealth visit would see a doctor online for help managing a chronic condition.
  4. 67 percent of adults ages 45-64 who are willing to have an online Telehealth visit would see a doctor online for help managing a chronic condition.
  5. 79 percent of consumers currently caring for an ill or aging relative say a multi-way video Telehealth service would be helpful.

Why this is hot? Not because it is accelerating in use, but for what comes next: biometric sensors for your phone so when you do a video tele-consult, any of us will allow the doctor’s network to hook into all your health data, perhaps resolving the “no diagnosing” barrier. But there are real concerns. Is convenience gained but something lost? Would you like the world better if you didn’t have to go through the hastle of arranging and going to a doctors office? How do the doctors feel? And who is this doctor anyway — do you medical advice from someone you know and trust?

This year, with our IPG health insurance, we all received a plastic flyer offering the service to all employees, 24/7. Please share any experiences you have, if you feel comfortable doing so.

A great strategy endures

HS J Donne image 8.11Have any of you read John Donne’s poem “No Man Is An Island”? Whether you have or not, what is amazing is although from the 17th century, most of us, across the generations have heard or used a phrase or two from it nearly 350 years later.

It is superior content.

Why is this hot? This poem endures because he crafted incredibly moving content that spoke right to the heart of Humankind’s defiance and denial of death. It is content that is not posted and curated, it endures. He articulated what we all would wish and believe was true about Humankind and Death.

In healthcare, a strategist, among others, is often motivated by a personal story, a loss, a feeling that maybe, just maybe your helping lives. Why is that hot? Because passion drives the best strategy.

Why is this relevant? Too recently, MRM-McCann lost a wonderful, generous soul. He was defiant and positive to the end. The loss of one touches us all.

The poem:

“No Man Is An Island”

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.



Doctor Millennial and email (mobile-first of course!)

Millenial on smartphone 4.28.16

By now, everyone has heard that Millennial’s now outnumber every other demographic cluster (the Boomers are dying fast). Two recent studies crossed my desk that when combined tell us much about how, in healthcare, Millennial doctors can be engaged in the mobile-first world.

First, a little background: in Pharma, brands are struggling with an outdated Sales Force model based on relationships and the one-to-one ability to sell directly to a doctor. But that door is closing fast; as of 2017, it is predicated that up to 53% of doctors will no longer grant sales reps access. So, that one-to-one model is quickly being replaced with NPP (Non-Personal Promotion) of which email is a major part.

Yes, good old email. It seems doctors like it more and more every year — in fact, in a recent HealthLink Dimensions study, 68% of doctors said they preferred email contact from a brand more than another channel.

Next fact: as of 2016, 35% of doctors are under age 39…basically Millennial’s.

Now, the fun part…Adobe did a recent White Paper on Millennial email habits. Mobile is a must:

  • 88% check email on smartphone
  • 98% check personal email every few hours at work
  • 80% of doctor’s receiving an email from one of our Pharma clients use a Smartphone

Timing is everything. Millennial’s are also more likely than any other age group to check email from:

  • Bed (70%)
  • Bathroom (57%)
  • While driving (27%).

Why is this hot? Because while email cannot replace the impact of a face-to-face sales call, CX and “smarter’ data/event triggered email can have a immediate impact and be a key channel in the multi-channel mix of engaging these younger no-see doctors. Simply because the doctor is proving to be an always-on customer; their consumption of brand content not only has to be mobile-first, but also move past the traditional email metric of click-through-rate and move to a model where we are providing value in the email and measuring it with tools like Litmus. Also, given the demographic habits native to Millennial’s, the emails need to me more visual, snackable and allow for all those varied experiences — from a glance in the car to a longer engagement in bed. Or in the bathroom.


Excedrin Migraine Experience uses Empathy and Virtual Reality

Excedrin is aspirin, one of the first miracle drugs. As one of the US largest and most memorable brands it is well positioned for headaches, but also for low-level migraines.

To stay vital and relevant, large older brands often reach into the “insight hat” and develop a campaign around that insight. Clearly, in the case of the Excedrin Migraine Experience, the insight was: “as a migraine sufferer, no one really understands what you go through, but let us help.” The impact of empathy can be a strong brand differentiator.

The brand chose different pairs of people — loved one’s, couples, friends — and used the VR experience of what a migraine feels like (which is nauseous and awful) to those people who don’t understand how bad it truly is. The execution is well done and the strategy is powerful: Technology delivering empathy, with a brand helping to bridge the empathy divide between those who do an do not suffer.

“I’ll never doubt you again,” is the title of one testimonial.  On YouTube in less than a week they have over 300k views.



Excedrin mifriane VR HC hpome page 4.14.16Why is this Hot? This demonstrates that even large, older retail brands are trying new strategies to stay relevant and gain new attention. Relevance, in this case, is embracing technology to deliver emotion. The amalgam of Empathy and VR technology is a strategy that while in its nascent stages, is important to watch as it evolves and matures as a strategy for differentiation.

Working in the health vertical, it is clear that between poor reputation, bad User Experience, and stale content, the entire healthcare industry could really use the power of empathy. At the very heart and soul of empathy are the many employees, the creators of miracle after miracle, who could channel that passion to communicate to patients and create greater connection and perhaps treatment favorability. Delivering Empathy through technology might be having a VR experience of how the brain of an ADHD sufferer is wired is one example — for a parent with a child just diagnosed with ADHD that would be very compelling.

It is important to note that Excedrin is an “aisle” brand — pure retail. The real strategy is re-activating awareness of Excedrin and downloading coupons.

Excedin samples page 1 GHS 4.16.16

Cameras in the body. (Get my good side!)

Body Sensors Daso 3.9.16

There have been several Sci-fi movies over time that tell the story of people being shrunken down to then ride the blood stream and fix some horrific problem someone is suffering from. Well, forget shrinking people, the healthcare industry device manufacturers and many small start-ups have started an upward swing in using micro-cameras and sensors to help play the first line of defense in detecting diseases.

Examples? Sensors that are either ingested or inserted under the skin that can detect breast cancer, COPD, sight degeneration: that is just a sample of the Gold Rush to get a sensor or camera in your body.

One camera, created in Scotland, is using infrared to detect cancer growths in certain parts of the body. Said research associate Dr. Mohammed Al-Rawhani, in a university news release:  “The system could also be used to help track antibodies used to label cancer in the human body, creating a new way to detect of cancer.”

As of today, the FDA approved PillCam COLON2 (you really have to wonder who picks these names) which will be used for hi-risk colorectal cancer patients, a disease which is the 2nd biggest killer in the U.S.

HS Medtronic pill 4.1.16

Why is this hot? For two reasons: first, it is a sign that the reliance on technology is changing the observational role of the doctor — they are trained to watch your every gesture, emotions, words, all weighed against experience and intuition to lead a doctor down the detective path to a diagnosis. Sensors and cameras start to make them health technologists. Second, this will also enable to get ahead of many diseases, not behind. Don’t we all secretly, in some dark moment, wonder if a tumor is growing somewhere in your body, unknown and lurking?  That fear and the thousand shadows of uncertainty will be gone in a decade or less.

Humor and health do not mix. (Or maybe it’s what we need!)

Sickness, disease, health in general, is anything but humorous. Attempting to make a joke or take health lightly is an approach all of us — especially brands — know can be a dangerous strategy. While no Biopharma company would get near humor as a marketing strategy, another sector of healthcare is attempting to break the mold.

One sector of healthcare has evolved from minor-league marketing to full-fledged competitive strategies that boast of new doctors, new equipment, new specialties. You see it on billboards, local TV, even on the radio with the same strategy: ” Our hospital is the best at  (fill in the blank)!”

Yet humor has been used to differentiate many brands — and the current hospital strategies seem functional at best. One hospital network in the Northwest, GroupHealth (recently purchased by Kaiser Permanente) used humor in a recent TV and YouTube campaign to acquire new patients — and it worked!

Why is this hot? In the ever-changing healthcare marketing landscape, hospitals were always the laggards. Traditionally, they did not as a category advertise they just let patients come to them. Now, to be competitive they are becoming more innovative than Biopharma companies in many ways — even innovative in using acquisition strategies alien to their “culture”. And using humor is almost heresy! Yet, it works. GroupHealth set themselves apart and has been successful.

The maturation of any sector is always interesting to watch — the marketing learning curve for healthcare as a whole is occurring in fits and starts. In this case, one hospital is starting to break new ground. Laughter is healing.


Ten Ways IoT is here! (And consumers may not like it).

The Internet of Things (IoT). Across many industries this is at the core of their tech, data and innovation strategies – from refrigerators to cars and on and on. Everyone is excited and cannot wait! Or do we really know what we are getting into? (MRM already works with a facial-recognition software company). For the most part we focus on consumer products and they impact of IoT will have; but there are many more areas that IoT is actually in place or about to be — and one issue looms large: what about privacy? Who owns all this data that will collected? Here are 10 good examples from TechRepublic:

1: Transportation infrastructure

The insertion of sensors at key points of highways and railways is enabling cities to monitor the wellness of their transportation infrastructures, along with events like traffic flow and congestion. The information these IoT sensors send back to headquarters is used to notify motorists of heavy congestion points and alternate routes.

2: Safety of sensitive goods during transport

Foodstuffs and medical supplies often require stringent temperature and humidity controls during storage and shipment. To facilitate climate control, logistics companies use environmentally controlled, sealed containers. The containers are equipped with sensors that emit status reports to a central network so they can be monitored for adherence to humidity and temperature controls.

3: Logistics tracking and performance

Major logistics carriers now use trucks that are sensor equipped so shipments can be tracked along routes, optimum delivery routes can be used, and timeliness can be tracked. In some cases, sensors are also used to track speeds, braking habits, etc., of drivers to ensure that the safest and most environmentally friendly driving practices are used.

4: Equipment diagnostics and preventive maintenance on the factory floor

As manufacturers adopt new 21st century practices, equipment within the factory is being outfitted with sensors that automatically flash an alert into the central factory operations monitoring network when a weakening component or other failure-inducing condition is detected.

5: Smart street lights

Street lights with IoT capability now “communicate” with city utility managers who are miles away, sending IoT data on energy usage and enabling remote adjustments to lighting to compensate for local environmental conditions—such as dimming the lights on a moonlit night or increasing lighting during rainstorms and fog. The ability to climate-adjust street lighting economizes energy usage and reduces energy costs.

6: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Aerial drones equipped with IoT sensors are being used by oil and gas exploration companies, mining companies, and agribusiness to chart and monitor remote, difficult to access areas and to measure elements such as soil composition and moisture content. The ability to perform these operations remotely saves field time and reduces the safety risk incurred when personnel are dispatched to remote and uncharted areas.

7: Inventory tracking during shipment

In areas of the world where the theft of inventory from trucks in transit for sale on the black market is widespread, transportation companies are attaching IoT sensors to packages and are making the practice known to locals. In one case, a transporter reported that the theft rate had fallen from 50% of inventory to 4% after IoT sensors were installed.

8: Home and business energy monitoring

The devices assist them in controlling energy consumption—whether it be for an individual home, a business, or a data center.

9: Mobile device tracking

In 2014 alone, more than 10 million mobile devices were lost in the UK. The worldwide total of lost or stolen mobile devices is undoubtedly staggering.

10: Safety monitoring/tracking of Alzheimer’s patients

Individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or other mentally debilitating disorders can now be tracked via IoT sensors in case they leave the home and can’t find their way back. In addition, IoT sensors can serve as a safety net for potentially dangerous situations. For example they can be attached to stove gas burners in case a burner is turned on and left unattended.

Why is this hot? While there is a lot of buzz and excitement around IoT, most of the mass public is unaware of these advances – beyond the news and hype around driverless cars. But the IoT is in direct conflict with privacy concerns consumers have. While the examples given do not seem like the sources of personal data, they are the tip of the iceberg which is showing. Just imagine what is going on in the world of medical devices, trackables, wearable’s — Pandora’s Box has been opened but no one is quite sure what the results of doing so will be.

The chart below, from Globalwebindex.com highlights the collision of hype and fear:

Global Index consumer data worries 3.3.16







For Healthcare, empathy is THE strategy in a cynical customer-centric world

HCP empathy 2.19

Empathy is considered one of the high attributes of emotional intelligence; it is the foundation of strong relationships. These days, great brands work hard to align their message to provoke some emotion — joy, aspiration, sadness, outrage — but the hardest emotion to communicate is empathy. While it is used as a means to bond with a brand, it usually is packaged with cause-related marketing like raising money for a disease research.

What more apropos industry to embrace empathy as a differentiating strategy than Biopharma and healthcare? It is an industry that ranges from high science to high emotion. Why not use empathy to say to patients, “We get you. We care. Trust our medication. Trust our hospital.” What’s more is the government is rewarding doctors and hospitals on empathy.

Let’s go through some examples of how technology is creating the path to applying empathy as a business strategy. In fact, at many hospitals, they are training doctors to be mor empathetic. Patient satisfaction scores are now being used to calculate Medicare reimbursement under the Affordable Care Act. And more than 70 percent of hospitals and health networks are using patient satisfaction scores in physician compensation decisions.

First, Healthloop, an App that is in beta but has great promise. Hospitals in the post-Affordable Care Act world, have new metrics for both reimbursement and are rated (yes, up to 5 stars!); Biopharma companies are being judged by insurers on Outcomes (did the treatment actually work?) — it all comes down to being gaining competitive advantage for doctors, hospitals and even Biopharma.

This video for Healthloop says it pretty well:

Next is Ginger.io…a mental health support App. This is an amazingly human digital experience; unlike so many (abandoned) Apps, this one actually covers a 360 degree view of your day-to-day mental health. It stays relevant. It offers contact and human contact; advice that is simple, exercises that are based in cognitive behavioral sciences.

Giiger io HS 2.19.16

Calm down kit HS 2.19.16

The Calm down Kit (above) is the best! How human can you get? If I were in a depressive funk, “watching cute puppies” may seem frivolous but it is reinforcing the need for positive thought.

Why is this hot? For CXM, how do we account for this? How do we understand that this is core emotional driver for patients in choosing hospitals and doctors — even treatments. Technology and good UX is finally enabling the ability to deliver an emotional experience. But all good strategies need measurement for validation and optimization: Do we need to evolve the definition of ROI? Should it be ROI which accounts for Empathy and UX? Return on Empathy? Can we measure this? Is this the ultimate Engagement metric? Healthloop caring, helpful content and interaction is reminding us who really cares. The patient testimonial on Healthloop says it all:

HL HS tstiminal 2.19.16

$4.5 Billion in DTC TV? Is this business-driving model nearing it’s end?

In 2014, Biopharma manufacturers spend $4.5 billion in DTC advertising. Yet there is growing chasm between what Biopharma marketers want and what patients are doing. Or at least such is the finding from a new study from Finn Partners (an quasi-PR agency) shows.

It all starts with DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) marketing. Biopharma brands spend billions each year on creating awareness and driving patients into the doctor’s office. Since it’s inception in the mid 1990’s, DTC TV alone has created millions of new patients, driven drugs to become blockbusters and in some cases, even created disease conditions that did not exist before! Most of all, DTC efforts across all channels are single-minded in getting the patient to ask for their treatment.

This model has worked for nearly 20 years — until the Affordable Care Act and its focus on cost control and shifting costs to the patient. This has forced the patient to be more aware of drug prices and more cautious in what they spend — and open to anyone offering them ways to stay healthy and save money. In many ways, moving the burden of cost to patients has also created a fair amount of anger about pricing and non-transparency around what everything in healthcare costs, not just treatments.

Anger index 2.12.16 HS

Basically, the power has shifted from Brand/doctor/patient, to a new model of brand/insurance company/pharmacy/patient. In other words, brands are spending billions, driving in loads of patients only to have the pull-through fall apart because the insurer of pharmacist basically say, “No, that treatment is too expensive, unproven to be worth it, and we have something cheaper.”  DTC TV creates the need, insurers blunt it. And patients? They are confused and somewhat angry.

Money in pill bottle 2.12.16

Let’s look at some of the study findings that identify the chasm:

  • 1 out of 2 patient ask a doctor questions about a prescription
  • 1/3 also ask a pharmacist their opinion, especially on if they can save more with a different medication
  • 43% say that their pharmacist always or frequently recommends an alternative brand or type of medication in order to reduce out-of-pocket costs
  • 48% of Americas usually or always will accept that recommendation.
  • Only 8% visit a Brand.com site
  • Only 19% are aware of copay savings programs

The power has shifted, and the impact is being felt across the industry.

ACA chart 2.12.16

Just take Express Scripts, the largest PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Manager or the folks who send you drugs in the mail) isn’t issuing any apologies for its role in stirring the conversation about pricing. “Clearly we have played a big part in generating that,” says Dr. Steve Miller, the company’s chief medical officer. “But we also believe the conversation has taken a shift and we hope we’re part of that.” Express Scripts is actually rejecting FDA-approved medications because of expense and that the manufacturer did not make the health economics case for why their new, more expensive treatment, is better than what exists.

Why is this hot? For McCann, one response was to create a pharmacy-focused marketing agency to address this ever-increasing influencer. But there is a larger vision of what is needed: instead of relying on TV (usually with a weak call-to-action) the focus has to be on the entire Customer Experience and how we insert ourselves into the flow of decision-making. Clients are beginning to understand that a Patient Journey is good to have, but to truly do CX Marketing, knowing as much about each influencer, how we engage with them on their terms and their needs and measure all those myriad touch points. The good news is then that while the old business-driving model may be fading, CX and those who know it best, our time is here.

Customer Service = $$$

According to a study from eMarketer and the CMO Council, there are a wide range of metrics being used by marketers to measure customer engagement.

If you or your brand or company just runs to “Did I make a sale?” bottom line, that is too one-dimensional an approach in a time when marketing is like a game of playing poker with a blindfold on.

Let me start with their conclusion: customer service is the key. Before we just nod and say yes, let’s all understand that this is a heavily nuanced strategy. Customer service is an end-to-end commitment — it runs on a platform of Customer-Centricity, insight, content and analytics that all line up to a great (and competitively differentiating) Customer Experience. Customer service is at the heart of Customer Experience Marketing (CXM).

  • Here’s my bottom line: 81% of customers just want their questions answered yet for companies they rank that as only valuable 10% as a valuable metric for customer engagement. 
  • For Biopharma, the lack of true customer service at the point of treatment initiation could help explain why nearly 25% of all Rx do not get filled or used.  Why doesn’t Biopharma use AI Bots like AlMe from NextIT? Or Sgt Star, from the U.S. Army? Intercept the patient at the point of doubt, don’t just assume the doctor convinced them of anything besides going to the pharmacy.

Or if you are a hospital network being rated on Outcomes and satisfaction scores, which hit the bottom line of reimbursement and positive word-of-mouth, Customer Service begins at check-in and continues post-release.

To some this may all seem like the blinding glimpse of the obvious, but how many Biopharma companies or hospitals really embrace this strategy? CXM is an enterprise-wide strategy hospitals and Biopharma need to adopt with C-level sponsorship, instead of building bad electronic Health Records or one-off patient apps.

Why is this hot? First because it shows a disconnect between customer expectations and what companies value as important measures. To bridge the gap, in a Customer-centric organization, you tie the dollars-made metric to customer engagement and satisfaction. So you need to measure both. In today’s marketing complexity, the formula is straight-forward:

Customer Service = $$$

Thanks to eMarketer and CMO Council for the data!

It’s not a video game: Your next surgery may be done through Virtual Reality.

There are upwards of 70 million surgeries in the United States each year. While many are somewhat safe — knee replacement, open-heart surgery, gall bladder and organ removals– a large number are extremely risky and depend upon the skills and confidence of the surgeon. Surgical Theater is a leader in pioneering the use of Virtual Reality in the actual surgical theater. By bringing in new leadership who pioneered the use of VR in aviation the adoption of Virtual reality use in surgical settings is now accelerating.

How does it work?

VR Hot sauce 1.27.16

While the YouTube video portrays the VR “view”, the real magic is the actual process of how it is applied. Surgical Theater’s Virtual Reality and Image Guidance extends into the operating room. Coupled with intra-operative navigation systems, Surgical Theater’s platforms provide dynamic visualization capabilities in real time, allowing surgeons to perform a real-time “fly-through” of the surgical pathway, establish multiple views, and rotate and interact with the navigation image.

Why is this hot? Bottom line? The surgeon “performs” a highly difficult surgery before they actually do it.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, Virtual Reality got a lot of press and buzz. But beyond gaming and the marvel of the sheer immersive experience, the use of it for doctors is another ripple of the wave of digital innovation that will allow for more accurate surgery, better outcomes, and happier patients. After all, if you had a rare brain tumor, you would want the surgeon not to use an old CT scan or MRI, but a 3D ‘experience’ – no guess work, identify the exact tumor within millimeters.

As one doctor aptly put it: (Dr. John G. Golfinos): “The Surgical Theater system was crucial in determining whether an endoscopic approach to this tumor would be possible. With this technology, we were able to distinguish the tumor from the surrounding ventricles. Using the Surgical Theater system, we planned our surgical corridor and endoscopic approach which enabled a much safer and effective resection of the entire tumor”.

Human-speak? The doctor walked into that surgery confident and with a much smaller margin of error.

The Internet of Medical Things Partnership Between Novartis and Qualcomm Takes Off

COPD patient 1.8

Last year, Novartis formed a partnership with Qualcomm to use it 2Net wireless platform to develop innovative clinical trial tools. Now they are moving from R&D to Commercial work. The focus on one disease and treatment portfolio, ,Novartis’ COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) products, and the shifting Biopharma business model makes this partnership the most compelling to date. They are testing wireless inhalers that allow doctors to track a patient’s biometrics around how well they are breathing. (To give this context, COPD affects over 210 million lives worldwide and is the 3rd leading cause of death.)

This is of interest because, on the whole, the idea of wearable’s/tracking devices has not gained much if any traction in Biopharma. Perhaps the abysmal failure of so many apps to help patients manage their conditions — over 10,000 — only to have, on average, 75% of them abandoned after 3 months (IMS data).

This partnership hits the strategic trifecta of patient-centricity, product advantage and using the data to gain pricing advantage with insurers. With Qualcomm providing the “piping”, data collection, privacy and feedback to doctors with The Cloud, Novartis is creating the service Some call it “Beyond-the-pill”, the strategy of adding service to treatment as part of the drug value proposition.

Data plays a huge role in this partnership. There is great pressure from insurance companies and government on Health Economics Outcomes Research. HEOR basically states: you need patient data over time to prove that your treatment is more effective, thus justifying it’s higher cost. While everyone is talking about this, few are moving as fast as Novartis. For a patient, this partnership means their doctor will know, in real-time, how they are doing — and with a disease that involves progressive loss of breathing capacity, that is critically important: less frequent and stressful visits to the doctor. Aggregate this data across thousands of patients and the true effectiveness of the treatment becomes quantified.

First, there is the 2Net from Qualcomm:

Then there is the Novartis inhaler device due out in 2019:

Novartis Qualcomm inhaler 1.7Why is this hot? First, Novartis is demonstrating what all Biopharma needs to do (as stated by Deloitte, PwC, Accenture) is to partner outside the culturally siloed industry to meet several objectives: better Connected Health, giving doctors the means to track in real-time how their patients are doing and proving the efficacy of their treatment. But as the SVP at Qualcomm put it:

“This is an exciting time for health care as we see the proliferation of the Internet of Medical Things,” said Rick Valencia, senior vice president and general manager, Qualcomm Life, Inc. “Through our expanded collaboration with Novartis, we are able to deliver a frictionless digital health experience to their COPD patients.”

The bottom line is often about $$$. But in this case, this kind of real-time monitoring will save lives. Technology is not about technology, it is about the impact it has on lives.


IoT and Health…magic answer for health or privacy hell?

The Internet of Things is here. While it seems so inevitable and welcome, in many ways it is a nightmare waiting to happen. In an article on CIO.com and a report from Goldman Sachs, the authors outline the positive impact IoT/Big Data on transportation and healthcare. One author, Bruce Horsham claims a utopian — and a rather naïve — view of the IoT: “Far from being a gimmicky way to collect more data on customers – and sell them more things – IoT technology has the power to transform industries, manage costs and deliver quality outcomes to up and down the supply chain. Here’s how two industries are doing just that.”

While the advances IoT is doing for transportation is noteworthy, the risk/reward equation for healthcare is still to be determined. Consider this fact: Goldman Sachs recently estimated that Internet of Things (IoT) technology can save billions of dollars for asthma care. If 1/3 of all healthcare spending is on disease management, this is also a place where IoT can have the biggest, most immediate impact on cost and quality-of-care. The chart below shows how Goldman views it:

IoT Goldman savings H sauce 12.11

Why is this hot? Are we focused on the wrong thing? With 80 million wearable devices already being used, the flood of data is here, it is only the interconnectivity of all the healthcare systems that prevents its use. While everyone may rush to saying such data will provide savings and better health outcomes, the bottom line is we live in an era of data flood and data theft. At this time, there is NO widely accepted privacy policy or hack-proof software that protects us, our parents, our families. Why is privacy and theft an issue? Because of scale!

Example: Excellus, a health data provider, got hacked. If each individual health record is valued at $50, then the theft is worth $500 million.

Example: if true connectivity occurred, then millions of users with implanted monitoring devices, or those who use remote insulin devices or remote monitoring of their heart could be hacked and killed. It is that ugly and that simple.

This is a fast-evolving topic…the Goldman Sachs IoT inforgraphic is one we should all marvel at and hope that someone is watching our back. http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/iot-infographic.html

IoT Goldman infg 12.11


Revlon pivots from me to us and owns LOVE

Revlon has had it’s ups-and-downs over the decades — in fact its stock had dropped precipitously over the last decade. Like many in the beauty industry, they used the same cliché beauty/make-up advertising. The focus always was: me. Even Maybelline’s new campaign — ‘No maybe’s” which celebrates a woman’s individual beauty, still uses all the cliché beauty ‘cues’ we are used to seeing.

Revlon deploys a new focal point: us. With the “REVLON Love Test” (https://youtu.be/F9JrNEHj558)  they have re-positioned beauty in terms of your relationship, not just yourself. They went from “me” to “us”. A brilliant, simple and genuinely charming strategy. Their YouTube channel has a core campaign video of several couples (below), and works hard at being genuine. Then Revlon goes a level deeper into each individual couple experience. The video below has over 7 million views in one month.

Why is this hot? Not only is it a smart creative strategy pivot from a self-centered view of beauty to something bigger than self, but they coordinate multi-channel campaign with real finesse: a highly engaging Web site (loveison.com), they offer several ways to draw you in and keep you engaged with the brand: a photo share that may be shown in times Square, a sweepstakes, a love test, and more.

Revlon loveison 2

Revlon love test sweeps 12.4

They just donated $1 million to a charity.

Revlon 1 $$ for lovie is on

They treat this seriously with a nice splash of silly. Very human — meaning genuine, authentic and emotional — and very smart marketing.

Ransoming my health data? Wearable’s and Cyber security

According to a recent Forrester Report on Cybersecurity, hacking health records, devices and wearable’s and using the information to ransom — yes, ransom — people’s health data is on the rise. On the face of it, it seems odd, after all why would anyone want my health data and what would they do with it? Aren’t these criminals satisfied with my credit cards or Social Security number? No. A credit card can be cancelled, your health records are permanent.

This was the headline on MedCityNews after they read the Forrester report:

The biggest cybersecurity threat for 2016 could be hackers holding patients ransom for the use of their medical device

Seems dramatic? Maybe not. Ask the 4.5 million records hacked from UCLA Medical Center — they suspected it was criminals looking for celebrities health records.

H sauce 11.19 hospital breaches

Ask the 80 million people who trust Anthem and had their information hacked.

H Sauce cyber Hack UCLA 11.19

At the heart of this disturbing trend is the rise of Ransomware, a form of malware.  FastCompany wrote about the Ransomware trend recently (http://goo.gl/bDlelc): Symantec estimated conservatively that upwards of $5 million is ransomed every year. How do they prefer to get paid? Bitcoin the favorite currency of choice.

H Sauce 11.19 hacking RansomWhy is this hot? Because as the explosion of Electronic Health Records, wearable’s, devices and the looming Internet of Things all coalesce, we see that the healthcare industry has lagged far behind others in putting proper measures in place to protect the most intimate information of all. The prevalence of the malware is accelerating faster than the security measures of the industry. Data is growing exponentially, yet protection of it is in its infancy.

H Sauce wearable growth 11.20

As Eric Cowperthwaite  the CEO of Core Strategy a security firm said: “…if the health care data stolen from these breaches was ever combined with the data stolen from the Office of Personnel Management, it would be the Holy Grail of electronic data on almost all people with government clearances,” Cowperthwaite said.

Imagine this message: “We know you suffer from major depression? How would you like the world to know?” Or if you failed a drug test, or had a preexisting condition that could hurt your job prospects. This is so scary, it just gets darker the more you think about it. Stay tuned for what the security industry reaction is.

Do Humans Respond to Life or Death? Aetna “Give 11 minutes” Positive Reinforcement Anti-smoking Campaign.

Do humans react to negative or positive stimulation to change behavior? Are we more motivated by death or life? This is a huge unanswered question for the entire healthcare industry, mostly around patient non-adherence and the resulting negative outcome. One area where a massive amount of negative motivation has been used is around anti-smoking TV campaigns. Anti-smoking campaigns are famous for their outrageous, attention-grabbing technique of demonstrating the death-related implications of smoking — anyone recall the famous actor, Yul Brynner anti-smoking ad he did right before his death? (https://youtu.be/JNjunlWUJJI) But does it work? As behavior-minded marketers, do we need to really consider how re-framing a topic through the positive versus the negative makes a great impact?

Aetna launched their own anti-smoking campaign a year ago using positive, almost joyful reinforcement of why people should quit. Now they have expanded it with a

multi-channel, highly social campaign called “Gain more time — Machine 11.” The video tells the story best. Basically, you put in a cigarette and get a paper scroll that tells you that for every cigarette you don’t smoke, you gain 11 minutes of life…then they introduce you to a “life” event.

Why is this hot? Aetna, as a major insurance company, knows that the smoking population has a enormous impact on health and cost control. What is amazing is that they turned the behavior-change model on its head by reinforcing living — and why you should live then actually demonstrating it. This is brilliant and emotionally viral — you watch this video and you get it. The positive nature is so joyful you have an empathetic moment. Then they created a Tumblr-based site to pull you in and deepen the engagement with curated and Shared content.


HS aetna 11 minutes campaign 11.13

H Sauce aetna tumblr 2







Let Doctors be Doctors! So says Rapper Dr. Zubin (With Over 1 million views!)

HSA 11.6. Dr Zubin photo

This post is about the Affordable Care Act. Or maybe it is about one doctor, Doctor Zubin. Like all major legislation, the ACA is complex and has it’s detractors and advocates. In some cases, one person can be both. Case in point: nearly all healthcare professionals agree that it is great that eventually the entire healthcare system will be tied together electronically — which will help lower costs, create healthier more empowered patients and allow doctors and others to coordinate patient care at a level no one could ever imagine.

That at least is the theory. The reality is that Electronic Health Records — the first step in Connected Health (my post of last week) — are a debacle. Hospitals and doctors offices keep installing and then throwing them out. One major criticism is the User Experience — but that goes beyond the interface. UX in this case is that doctors are trained to observe and engage with a patient, not look away and peck on a laptop keyboard. In other words, EHR’s are getting in the way of doctors being doctors.

HS EHR Use 11.6.15One doctor — Dr Zubin — is sick of it. What has he done? Gone on YouTube and taken on the broken healthcare system in musical rap videos and is trying to ignite a cause campaign to change healthcare. He has over a million views. As he states on his YouTube channel about his most recent video:  “EHR’s suck. Let’s make ’em better. Go to http://LetDoctorsBeDoctors.com and tell the IT and government folks what’s up. And check out http://zdoggmd.com for lyrics, behind-the-scenes dopeness, and all our other videos. Please SHARE…or the machines win.”

Why is this hot? First, it is radical that a doctor would create such a cause and bring it to life so creatively and publicly. Second, his use of social media, YouTube, multi-channel integration, is brilliant. Last, kudos for his boldness. He is taking on his entire industry and profession and broken many unspoken rules in his profession — decorum, keeping opinions private, even going against his own hospital employer! But I think his own video on October 19th on EHR’s speaks for itself: