Downfield With Digital: What Does the Future Hold?


With Moderator Paul Murasko, Senior director, Multi-Channel
Marketing, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


Our Panel of Experts:


Vice President, Director of Interactive Technology Abelson Taylor



Chief Strategy Officer Dudnyk



Former Group Chief Digital Officer Omnicom Healthcare Consultancy Group



President Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, Inc.



EVP, Chief Creative and Innovation Officer GA Communications Group



Open Innovation Manager Avant Healthcare


Paul Murasko: Colleagues, we’re here to tackle some of the issues around the constantly growing and ever-changing digital world we live in and contend with. I want to thank you all for agreeing to engage with this broad, deep and challenging area, and bring your diverse expertise to our audience. Obviously, we won’t cover the digital space in its entirety and will not get in depth on any one topic or channel, but let’s try to take a bird’s-eye view of some of the most compelling topics our industry is facing today. For instance, here’s where every company has to start:

What does it take to effectively implement and maintain a digital strategy/ecosystem?


Augustine Fou: For most organizations this should involve some short-term wins followed by a roadmap for organizational change — to break out of the silos that prevented the effective operationalization of digital marketing.

Kylan Stuck: When incorporating digital initiatives for our clients, we start with what they are trying to achieve and then ensure that all proposed strategic tactics have the appropriate measurements in order to capture data real-time and allow us to continuously perfect the approach. Whether to help refine the medical story we are telling, determine the effectiveness of one channel over another, or better target based on the user preference, it’s an ongoing process, and digital measurement allows us to get smarter through immediate data insights.

Jose Andrade: The most important thing is to understand the key points across the journey – and those who experience the content across those points. This is philosophically a gift: I consider moving from “responsive” design, which can be considered to be device- and screen-specific, towards “responsible” design, which focuses on the user.

Paul Murasko: All great points and things to consider. I would also contend the key is a cultural shift, an acceptance from both top down and bottom up in an organization to incorporate new ideas and be open to using technology to help effectively and efficiently reach its customers. And let’s not forget that a key component in any successful digital strategy is making sure it supports overall business strategy. The two cannot be separate: they need to be linked to achieve the organization’s goals and return value.

Let’s discuss the value of bought, owned and earned media. Is there an optimal mix?

Augustine Fou: Earned is always better than owned, which is always better than bought. Given how modern users have evolved, they trust recommendations from peers (earned), more than they trust content on advertisers’ sites (owned), and more than they trust ads (bought).

Paul Murasko: I’m in full agreement. Are there any additional elements to consider in the optimal mix?

Geoff Melick: The key is to effectively engage customers to build relationships and trust. Engage customers at touch points (paid, earned and owned) where they can find your content.

Deliver relevant, engaging content that is looked upon as subject matter expertise. Marketers need to understand when, where, what and how to appropriately balance engaging customers with value added content and brand content that helps HCPs manage patients’ health conditions and deliver positive outcomes.

Jose Andrade: Like any qualifier of information or quantifier of metrics, all points should arrive at the same conclusion or at least complementary conclusions to ensure their reliability, credibility and ultimate usability. Not unlike the ecosystem, it must also focus on the critical points and should achieve the same “responsible” outcome.

Paul Murasko: How effective is social media in the healthcare space, and how should we engage in this channel?

Jose Andrade: This in a lot of ways is a Catch-22. Social media has given rise to an evolution of authorship as well as searchable dialogue-based content. That said, it can be a bit of the wild wild west. The general consumer/ patient content is not as highly regulated as the healthcare professionals and pharma, bio and med device companies. As such, their information risks being opinion-based or worse, not based on clinical facts or FDA-regulated information. As such, it is critical to find a reliable and responsible way (there goes that term again) to properly guide and inform users seeking content through social channels

Geoff Melick: Social media is incredibly effective for patient awareness and has great potential for driving patient-to-physician conversations. I think of social media as a must for most patient outreach, however, effective social media programs and engagements in highly regulated industries need to manage social media from the top down. Social media management shouldn’t be individualized by franchise and brand. Life science companies need to have a company-wide social media policy and management approach that is applied across the entire company. Social media should be used to support other communications and provide content that is socially viable and aligned with customers who are socially active.

Paul Murasko: Agree with both of you. But let me push the question. Should companies in the healthcare space actively engage in social?

Kylan Stuck: There certainly remains an underlying fear of this medium, mostly driven by the inability to completely control or contain it. There must be a presence, but the presence must be strategic and not a blind push of information: we have to allow the channel to be true to its very essence; that “social” piece is critical. One way to truly optimize the social space is to identify and engage with digital thought leaders who can help satisfy your business needs. Physicians and patients who have a large social media footprint can have significant online impact, but be careful of perceived kickbacks or “buying the business.” Their partnership with you should be based out of a mutual collaboration to ultimately impact patient care, not solely to influence social media discussions.

Augustine Fou: Social media is effective in certain types of products and services. It is very useful for consumers/patients who have chronic conditions that need to be managed. It is also becoming increasingly important in the DTP space, marketing to physicians, as well, since physicians also rely on their peers to discover and decide.

Paul Murasko: Great conversation and points for us to think through as organizations continue to evolve and use this space. My parting comment on social would be that recommendations and shares from peers or third parties of your content is always the best kind of viral spread.

What are the most common misunderstandings or misconceptions about digital technology today?

Geoff Melick: Digital is not and should not be static. The great advantage of digital is that it offers endless flexibility to adapt, iterate, optimize. It grows continually. Start simple. Learn. Improve. Repeat. Websites can grow. In fact, that helps their ranking. Ad campaigns can morph to increase CTRs. Drip campaigns can grow in complexity to be more personalized and relevant. Social can become more conversational as more is learned about the people we are engaging. Digital is best when it is fluid.

Michelle Keefe: I agree. When done right, digital communications can strengthen the personal connection with the HCP or patient. For example, we are seeing more and more of our clients augment their field sales teams with virtual representatives. These integrated teams are connected via a common SFA/ CRM platform so there is transparency in call history, coordination of call planning, and fully unified communications. The feedback we have been receiving on these highly integrated field and virtual teams is that it deepens that personal connection.

Paul Murasko: It’s almost like we rehearsed this. I couldn’t agree more. Let me add to the question.

What role does mobile play?

Augustine Fou: People search for info on their smartphones just like they would on their desktop computers. But if your site does not show up or is not very usable on a smartphone, the users will not get the info they need at the moment they need it. So it is not only about making new apps or chasing digital “shiny objects,” but also about making sure your very basic marketing vehicles still work in digital.

Kylan Stuck: True. We’ve absolutely learned that you cannot simply take the content that has been created for offline use and expect it to have the same effectiveness online. It is a different experience that is controlled by the end user, and knowing that user’s drivers, behaviors, motivators are critical for true impact. A deliberate and functional approach is imperative: a consumer has different behaviors online versus offline: digital solutions must consider the user experience first and foremost to be influential.

Geoff Melick: I believe mobile technology will be the central hub to access all other communication portals and technologies. As interconnectivity between patients and their doctors expands to improve the health management of patients, marketers will be challenged to utilize mobile connectivity to market to HCPs, health consumers and patients. As more health systems switch to a patient-centric model, it will expand the roles of nurses, physician assistants and other ancillary HCPs in treating the “total care” of patients. Health systems will look to provide team-oriented approaches to patient condition/disease management, and life science marketers could benefit from innovative digital communications to engage with these additional HCPs.

Paul Murasko: What trends do you think are evolving over next 1-2 years that will impact marketing and sales?

Augustine Fou: As is already evident, the lines that separate marketing and sales are not only getting blurred but may be eliminated entirely in the next few years. Marketing must understand what “worked” (led to sales) from the sales teams; and sales must understand what content and marketing messages need to be put out into the ecosystem to generate qualified leads for them to nurture through to the transaction.

Kylan Stuck: In the near future, I see the use of social listening expanding in the healthcare industry, as more physicians increase their digital footprint, patient opinion leaders become more prominent, and patients amp their engagement with both of these online influencers. Sales and marketing teams can better recognize trends, brand health, customer experience, and strategic risks through social listening tools.

Drew Desjardins: Finding ways to bring value to HCPs doesn’t mean new gadgets. It means creating digital tools that enable reps to gather as much information as they communicate, providing meaningful analytics back to marketers, and integrating more effectively with HCP workflow. In the future, the focus will be on creating simplified CRM and CLM systems that can aggregate data from the reps, company databases and third party sources to facilitate more compelling and relevant conversations. In the “old days” (not long ago) doctors would consult with a colleague when they wanted help with a patient case. Today they can crowd-source responses using Doximity or Sermo, or they can tweet their question using hash tags like #hcsm. All of these conversations can be tracked, analyzed and leveraged to create value for HCPs.


Michelle Keefe: The growth in nontraditional field sales teams will also continue to take hold. In addition to the traditional role for the field sales reps, we are seeing more and more blended teams that inter-mix these teams with a combination of customer service teams, clinical nurse educators, virtual representatives of all types, and hybrid representatives who reach HCPs in a given geography through a combination of face-to-face and virtual channels depending on HCP preferences.

Paul Murasko: What do you see happening over the next 3-5 years in how marketing and sales benefit from digital gadgets and processes?

Kylan Stuck: One specific area sales and marketing will benefit is through the collection of big data and having more predictive models in order to determine demand. One example of this can be demonstrated by taking geographic data that shows the incidence of a specific disease compared to location of target physicians. By seeing the overlay of data, sales and marketing can take a proactive and focused approach to deliver live education, and continue to support the remaining population through digital resources.

Michelle Keefe: We see digital advances continuing to enhance communications with HCPs and patients. In face-to-face dialogue, we see digital advances continuing to make these personal interactions even more effective with technology expanding how health information is communicated. Digital technology has also enabled many of the channels that virtual teams now use such as live video detailing and live chat care counselors. We anticipate significant growth in how digital channels expand and enrich health information engagement as technology continues to advance.

Geoff Melick: Shared data for better engagements. Sales data is informing marketing outreach through tools like Veeva. Marketing analytics and segmentation information is being shared with sales teams helping to inform and refine their engagements.

Paul Murasko: This has been a great discussion and I want to thank everyone for taking the time to share your ideas and thoughts. In closing, I am sure we all agree that digital does not replace the salesforce. Digital marketing through effective use of the correct channels provides an effective and efficient set of tools to supplement their efforts.

Let’s wrap up by discussing the sales rep as a digital multichannel quarterback.

Michelle Keefe: We see the role of field sales representative changing to that of a “quarterback” who strategically manages a variety of in-field and virtual channels used to engage HCPs through the channels and times that are preferred by each individual physician.

Kylan Stuck: As sales representatives have the most face-to-face visibility in the field, they can showcase and direct customers to available online and offline options. As a multichannel “quarterback,” the rep must know all the potential plays in advance and be able to select the best solution based upon the individual physician’s needs. This is why field rollout and orientation to new digital resources and tools is essential: if they don’t know the item exists, or when best to share it, they’ll never use it.

Drew Desjardins: It’s about the customer and how we drive stronger engagement, better relationships, and greater customer satisfaction. The first step is to stop reproducing paper sales aids for the iPad. By the time you apply your creative concept, claims language, and Important Safety Information (ISI), the font size just becomes too small even for one-on-one detailing. A better approach is to design a tool that starts a conversation, with either a large chart of a graph or some sort of survey question, and allows the rep to bridge to their paper sales aid where all the claims and ISI can be found. The benefits of this approach are multifold: you can create the graphic that’s easily seen from a normal detailing distance, and you can capture response information, which can then be aggregated and shared in person or via email so the HCPs can see how their answers compared to their colleagues. All of this can be built in to the app, so that marketers can get more actionable analytics enabling tool optimization. Furthermore, this approach puts reps back in control of the conversation so they can provide real value to the customer and choose the tools they need for whatever situation they find themselves in.


Geoff Melick: I see the rep’s profile changing from selling brands to providing services that assist health systems and providers with the patient’s health management. They will be more in charge of accounts and will lead expanded teams that will interact with health systems and treatment teams. This will require different skills than the current reps, that they will need to be more medically and clinically-equipped. This will require them to be digitally savvy as they will be looked upon to “quarterback” the engagements and will need to understand the value of digital oriented products and services that help their healthcare customers practice medicine more effectively and efficiently.

Paul Murasko: Thanks to all of you. This was not an assignment for the faint-hearted, and I appreciate your willingness to tackle a broad, deep and complex topic. We’ll be looking to see how some of your insights play out – and maybe we’ll do this again in next year! •



Senior Director, Multi Channel Marketing, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


Paul is a Marketing and Sales Leader experienced in Digital Strategy, Integration and Activation. A cross-functional leader with comprehensive sales and marketing experience in delivering innovative solutions that drive revenue growth, profit margins, market share, client acquisition, and customer satisfaction to new heights. He has a solid understanding of the digital ecosystem (Web, Social Media, CRM, SEO, SEM, Media, Mobile and Analytics) and its importance in driving business results, achieving efficiencies, and building a competitive advantage. Paul has served as Director of Digital Marketing for DePuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Group Product Director for DePuy Orthopaedics, and Division Manager and Global Launch Leader for Gynecare, a division of Ethicon Inc.


Vice President, Director of Interactive Technology, Abelson Taylor  


Jose has 20+ years agency experience, mostly in life sciences and healthcare. He is a multi-disciplined industry veteran with rich experience in leading technology teams, building initiatives that are scalable and cutting edge,and ensuring they meet client and agency objectives. He works across brands and in channels such as iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle, Windows tablet, web, social media, and event technology. This includes medium and enterprise level environments often tethering databases, content management, and 3rd party solutions together.


Chief Strategy Officer, Dudnyk  


With nearly two decades of experience on the client side launching several mega brands, Drew is an innovative marketer and skilled strategist, specializing in product launches, strategic planning, multichannel marketing, managed markets, and branding initiatives. Dudnyk was named 2014 Most Creative Agency in the healthcare communications industry by Med Ad News, Healthcare Agency of the Year for its revenue category by Medical Marketing & Media, and one of the Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania. Dudnyk specializes in developing motivating brand experiences for specialty physicians and their patients.


Former Group Chief Digital Officer, Omnicom Healthcare Consultancy Group  


Dr. Fou is a 20 year veteran of New York’s Silicon Alley and a digital marketing strategist. He also teaches Digital Marketing in the Executive Education programs of Rutgers and NYU. Dr. Fou founded Marketing Science Consulting Group, Inc. in 2000 and continues to serve Fortune 1000 clients with a data driven approach to digital marketing. He leads executive roundtables with clients to formulate digital strategy and then works with implementation teams to execute the tactical plans.


President, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, Inc.  


Michelle has overall responsibility for Publicis Touchpoint Solutions’ centers-of-excellence that include promotional and clinical message delivery, as well as field and contact center channels and support solutions. She has over 25 years of experience in the life sciences industry, having served as Vice President, Business Development with The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, and spending more than 20 years at Pfizer, most recently as regional president, Midwest. Publicis Touchpoint Solutions designs and implements customized, cross-channel, healthcare sales, service, and clinical teams. Its centers-of-excellence include field sales and service, live video detailing, inside credentialed sales specialists, inside sales and service, clinical health educators, and medical science liaisons.


EVP, Chief Creative and Innovation Officer, GA Communications Group  


Geoff joined GA in 2010 with oversight for the creative and user experience departments. He has a long history developing interactive/digital marketing solutions including Tribune Company where he served as the SVP/Health, with oversight responsibility for health across all of the corporation’s media companies and channels. Prior to that he worked for Omnicom where he was founder and Managing Director for Kinect, a digital agency that creates integrated channel strategies and online communication solutions. Geoff ’s interactive career started in 1991 at McCann Erickson where he formed their first digital agency, McCann Interactive. In 1995, he founded Two Way Communications, a digital agency focused on developing eMarketing solutions for pharmaceutical and CPG clients.


Open Innovation Manager, Avant Healthcare  Kylan has over 10 years of digital leadership. He started his career as a creative and technology engineer. With a mix of right and left hemisphere brain waves, Kylan appreciates the strategic, front-end user experience and the back-end systems that bring functional, analytical power. He has helped boost year-to-year digital sales by 100%, introducing new touchpoint strategies for Avant’s pharmaceutical clients. Kylan has a strong pulse on current trends and those poised to be disruptive. Illustrating the success of these efforts, Avant Healthcare was a finalist for the PM360 Trailblazer Awards in 2014. Avant Healthcare is a new generation of medical communications agency, partnering with pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients to educate and engage healthcare professionals through personalized solutions that maximize marketing strategy, medical expertise, creative acumen, and customizable technologies.


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