Augmented reality without glasses

Diagram of artificial lense

Artificial lens diagram via

Six months ago, Omega Ophthalmics did a small trial of seven patients outside of the US. Their goal was to test for adverse effects of a surgery similar to lens replacements that often accompany cataract removals. The difference? Rather than replacing the cloudy lens with a normal artificial lens, surgeons instead implanted a lens that could be used for augmented reality, interactive sensors, or drug delivery.

Why it’s hot

Although widespread adoption of this technology is unlikely in the near future, scientists, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists hope that there is a market for such implants in an aging population that wants to be independent for longer. Whether this small trial is successful may pave the way for larger trials to test additional possibilities and risk.

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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?

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!