I'm at the e-Patient Connections conference in Philadelphia this morning, and Joe Shields from Pfizer has the floor. He's talking about his new role at the pharma giant as director of worldwide innovation, a lofty title that he admits makes him a bit sheepish. But the position gives Shields what he calls a "license for disruption": a mandate to identify cutting-edge ideas and technologies that can help Pfizer become a more patient-centric company.
And he's looking for a certain kind of help.
"I don't really need an ad agency right now," Shields says. "I think the problem is more complex, and I need a different set of people, a different set of solutions."
He tells the audience—which includes some of those very ad agencies, along with patient advocates, healthcare media companies, and his pharma colleagues—that he is setting an innovation agenda for the next 6 months ... and he wants all of us to send him an e-mail with our suggestions, ideas, and advice.
Because Shields is asking, and because I can use the power of blogging to fast-forward several hours into the future, here are a few innovations that I'm pretty sure will make an impression on me today:
- Mobile integration: Connecting cell phones to disease-monitoring tools, such as glucose monitors, may become an easy way for pharma companies to get “beyond the pill” in the near future. I have a feeling that Brian Dolan from mobihealthnews will tell us that mobile operators abroad, including Orange and Airtel, have already joined the mobile health movement. Pfizer’s gravity should be more than strong enough to attract a US wireless carrier, enabling the launch of a monitoring partnership that would ensure patient adherence and probably save lives. (And when Shields is done brokering that deal, I would of course invite him to read more about mobile opportunities in pharma on the HealthEd blog)
- Mining online conversations: My peers at ListenLogic truly recognize the wealth of data that can be mined from patient conversations in the social media. It wouldn't surprise me if founder Mark Langsfeld shares a powerful graph with conversations about Victoza plotted next to actual prescription data ... a graph in which the volume of “switch”-oriented Victoza conversations accurately predicts the growth curve of Victoza. Shields should pursue development of a corporatewide social media listening program that proactively seeks to bring analysis of Web conversations directly to brand teams and patient marketers
- Social tools: If Shields does tap into the power of online conversations, then he also needs to provide some conversation starters: namely, sharable info bites from Pfizer Web properties. He should give a close look to share>>send>>save, a simple yet elegant widget recently launched by Intouch Solutions. Wendy Blackburn from Intouch will almost certainly explain how the tool provides a DDMAC-friendly approach for brands seeking to enable content sharing on their Web sites. Pfizer has both the breadth and the depth in its portfolio to pilot share>>send>>save across multiple disease categories and learn whether “safe” patient sharing can drive corporate business objectives
Shields' brief presentation is coming to a close now, and I can already hear the gears turning at nearby tables. He has created a buzzworthy challenge that deserves much more thought: Where should patient marketers innovate first?
What will you tell Joe?
Director of Strategic Services