The Digital Health Coalition’s Midwest Summit was held on the afternoon of June 28 at Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ U.S. headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, IL. The theme of the afternoon was, “How to successfully implement technology innovations in digital health marketing — looking under the hood at what’s really working.”


As always, the DHC curated a thought-provoking event, full of probing questions, forward-looking discussions and creative insights from leaders in the industry. Below are a few of the highlights that our attendees found the most compelling:

Value-Based Care in the Real World
Dr. Griffin Myers of Chicago’s Oak Street Health illustrated his organization’s revolutionary value-based care approach to health, describing Oak Street’s surround-sound model of care in which physical, mental and social well-being are addressed in a health-clinic-meets-community-center setting. As Dr. Myers explained, Oak Street Health is “getting paid to provide only the care that works.” With a hospital stay costing Medicare 100 times more than a primary care facility visit, in Dr. Myers’ view, “money spent in hospitals is a failure of care,” and an investment in prevention can save money across the board. Therefore, Oak Street’s goal is to keep patients from needing hospitals, ERs or specialists — all very expensive, yet often preventable, scenarios. Medicare pays Oak Street a lump sum per patient, from which Oak Street pays for their care, and the savings created by focusing on prevention and primary care is what powers the entire model.

With a 92% Net Promoter Score and rapid expansion underway, Oak Street seems to be working, and it will be interesting to see if this becomes healthcare’s new normal. The unspoken question: where will the pharmaceutical industry fit into this future model, and what can pharma do to prepare?

What Matters Most to Innovators
Moderated by Klick Health’s Michael Spitz, this panel included Amanda Phraner, director of digital communications at Baxalta; Jim Lefevere, director of global marketing strategy and services and head of global digital marketing at Roche; and Tracy Yedlin, senior manager of the customer engagement and marketing innovation team at Takeda.

These pharma innovators, when asked for their pithiest insights, pointed out that pharma must learn to compete with tech giants like Apple, Google and Samsung. They pointed to telemedicine, in particular, as a field to watch. But it all comes down to personalization: using data, reaching both patients and HCPs on mobile devices, and re-wiring pharma marketing to be customer-centric no matter what.

But how do you engender change? “From the top down, from the bottom up, and meet in the middle.” Senior leadership pays attention when business declines and when innovation proves itself, and “pharma can evolve into a better provider of innovation if we overcome the handcuffs of presumed risk aversion and uncover opportunities where risk is welcomed.”

Knowledge Is Power
Smith & Nephew brand manager Nick Martin shared how he and his team created a digital platform for SANTYL®, an ointment for ulcers and burns. He focused on the importance of building partnerships, creating content and developing a rock-solid CRM platform. But while he noted the importance of tactics like building internal advocacy for multichannel marketing and celebrating wins as they happen, he pointed out a fundamental truth about customization: “If you don’t know anything about your customers, then you can’t treat them differently.” He suggested information might be the currency to focus on, ahead of ROI.

Tech-Phobic Docs and Other Truths
AMA digital health strategy director Meg Barron had some plain truths to offer about HCPs and technology. Simply put: they don’t love it. But she and the AMA are working on it. As she pointed out, there are 165,000 healthcare apps available in the Google App Store, but 63 of those apps account for half of the downloads and 42 percent of HCPs won’t recommend any app to their patients. How can we make what’s out there better in order to change those statistics?

In the discussion following her presentation, she was joined by panelists Barbara Senich, senior vice president of research at PDR Network; Damon Basch, vice president of life science marketing solutions at Practice Fusion; Michael Tapson, chief technology officer at Closerlook; and moderator Mark Bard, founder of DHC. The group pointed out that the aggregation of data is one of the most exciting aspects of the promise of EHRs. As an example, Practice Fusion recently partnered with a pharma company on an adverse-event monitoring program that was reviewed and approved by the FDA.

Intouch and DHC Go #ALLin
Intouch Solutions’ Wendy Blackburn closed out the event by sharing the agency’s ambitious journey to affect healthcare change, dubbed #ALLin.

“Our industry gives a lot of lip service to being patient-centric. But how can we be patient-centric if we don’t talk to patients to understand the challenges they face?” Blackburn said. Driven by the mantra “the answers that will revolutionize healthcare aren’t found at our desks,” Intouch is traveling the country in an Airstream trailer customized as a mobile studio. The #ALLin team visits health-related events — walks and runs — where emotions run high and people are excited to share their inspiring stories. From these, Intouch will select a specific healthcare challenge that digital technology can address. Research conducted with DHC will provide a deeper dive into the issue. Finally, through a series of hackathons and accelerators, stakeholders will work together to “hack” the challenge and serve up a solution. Intouch and DHC will co-present the outcomes of #ALLin at the Digital Pharma East conference this fall.

“Answers that will revolutionize healthcare aren’t found at our desks.”

Full Session Details

Congratulations to DHC on creating such a successful agenda for their inaugural Midwest event! We enjoyed the opportunity to learn with and from all of the speakers and attendees, and are particularly appreciative of the efforts of Mark Bard and Christine Franklin of DHC and Dan Gandor of Takeda for making this great afternoon happen.

A full listing of sessions follows.

For a detailed review of any or all specific sessions, or to discuss how these topics can take shape in your activities, please contact any of our participants: Wendy Blackburn, Molly Buczynski, Gabriel Cangiano, Joanna Derma, Morgan Hartzell and Angela Tenuta. For information on future DHC events or to sign up for updates, visit the DHC website.