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Most leaders agree that great execution, actually getting things done, is the key to success.

Here’s some hindsight (“presight” for you) from the world’s best project managers, complements of Lindsay Blakely from BNET. Her article, Lessons From The World’s Best Project Managers, provides the most important lesson managers working on change initiatives at GM, Nokia, Facebook and Method learned from launching projects with maximum success. But don’t limit yourself to thinking that these lessons only apply to game-changing initiatives. Because for much of the work that you do day in and day out, these lessons still ring true.

Summarizing each of the contributors:

• From Bill Wallace, engineering group manager for GM’s Volt battery: perfect is the enemy of the deadline.

• From Lisa Waits, Nokia director of corporate business development: know whose problem you’re solving by knowing your customer.

• From Josh Handy, head of industrial design at Method: make sure the right people are talking to each other.

• From Peter Deng, product manager at Facebook: is this additional feature really necessary?

Are there other important lessons that you’d add to this list?

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Thought I’d recap the highlights (at least mine) from the 10/26-27 e-Patient Connections 2009 Conference.

While all speakers provided new insights and perspectives, I’m summarizing (paraphrasing) the highlights from the speakers and presentations that particularly resonated with me:

Jason Hwang, MD (Innosight Institute, co-author Innovators Prescription); The Innovators Prescription
- we suffer from malpractice, but a different type, i.e. “business model”
- must understand difference between sustaining innovation (performance improvements, historical value dimensions) and disruptive innovation (that lets companies appeal to new rings of customers)
- enabled by technology, we have an opportunity to disrupt/move healthcare out to non-experts to let them do things themselves, e.g. facilitated user networks (like Facebook), a currently underutilized model to serve chronic care patients

Thomas Goetz, Executive Editor, Wired Magazine; Decision Tree: Smarter Patients, Better Choices
- proposes a new strategy for thinking about health, applying cutting-edge technology and sound science to put us at the center of the equation
- today, unfortunately, most healthcare information comes to us in cascades of do’s and dont’s

Dr. Jay Berhnardt, CDC; Social Media & The H1N1 Flu Pandemic

- H1N1 as example of why CDC’s engaged in social media as part of their strategy
- Customer Centered Communication Strategy: how, when, where people want and need to inform about health and safe decisions, i.e.
• information that is accessible and relevant
• mix of high repetition with deep engagement
• combination of high-tech and high-touch
• traditional/vertical media (though harder to have impact given lack of trust) combined with social media (horizontal and spreadable; higher level of trust)

- some interesting stats across CDC social media channels:
• approaching almost 500 million web site page views since H1N1 outbreak
• 5.07 million H1N1 flu-related emails sent, once consumers opt-in
• 19 videos posted on Youtube; 2.33 million views since 4/22
• 25, 322 Facebook fans since CDC page launched 5/1; value is in comments from people
• 917,579 views of CDC H1N1-related podcasts since 4/22
• 928, 412 followers on 3 CDC Twitter profiles
• CDC Health-e-cards (15,433 since 4/22)
• just launched mobile-based text messaging (1,155 opt-in subscribers since 9/14); subscribers receive about 3 messages/week

Susannah Fox, Pew Internet & American Life Project; The Social Life of Health Information
- people just diagnosed are looking for just-in-time “someone like me”
- patient networks can be powerful, early warning system
– marketers should think of e-patients as colleagues, not as people being marketing to (if you’re ready to listen to them)

Mark Bard, Manhattan Research; The Rapid Growth of Health Consumerism
- pharma info seekers have increased from 45 million in ’04 to 100 million in ’09
- majority of e-health consumers now use the internet to confirm/learn after seeing doctor
- health 2.0 can’t happen on web 1.0 websites; need to be able to evaluate, exchange, connect, create community, participate
- mobility is huge trend, certainly on physician side
- key questions to consider: how balance content with community; is it more about initiating a conversation, or a lecture
- it’s not a community unless you’re having a conversation; much of pharma is still one-way

Lee Aase, Mayo Clinic Manager of Syndication and Social Media; Marketing The Mayo Clinic
- consider social media “power tools” for doing what we were already doing as organization

- found that patients are “honored” if you ask them to share their stories
- great example of exponentially growing views of YouTube video by using multiple channels (Mayo Clinic Atrium Piano video)
- one of the keys to success is all about repurposing content

Robert Halper, J&J Director Video Communication; J&J on YouTube
- company is on YouTube because:
• reputation: caring, socially responsible, trusted source for health care information
• engagement: comments, listening, responding
• community: linking to other sites, including non-branded operating companies; subscribing to other related channels, videos embedded in external sites
- not easy getting started: cultural (control of message), legal & regulatory (environment, adverse events, medical advice, fair balance, comment mediation), business (ROI, resources, staff, commitment)
- more risk not being part of the conversation; funny when CEO’s talk about not putting brand out on social media, when they’re already out there

Dave DeBronkart, e-Patient Dave; Cofounder Society for Participatory Medicine; Special Presentation
- very moving talk about his “free replay” after beating his cancer
- his treatment [cure] options were based, in part, on his incredible outreach, research, open sharing of his health records
- now evangelist for “participatory medicine”; first edition of Journal of Participatory Medicine (his new publication) forthcoming
- accessed tremendous amount of information on acor.org (which didn’t exist anywhere else)
- key message is authenticity; don’t pretend, impersonate; be real, contribute value
- best information is a smart patient community; and patients love to give back

Brian O’Donnell, Klick Pharma, Top 1o Trends
10.  social media is becoming more mainstream (about the power of one, not so much followers)
9. pervasive use of technology in solving marketing challenges (can be a multiplier)
8. From wait and see to try and learn (try pilot programs)
7. patients and HCP’s online usage is increasing (balance of marketing mix)
6. data and intelligence becoming underpinning of marketing programs (make data planning part of your kickoff)
5. shift to multidisciplinary solution teams (make effort to reach out early)
4. branded mobile apps are becoming next CRM (think beyond the keyboard)
3. technology can make reps more powerful (integration is key)
2. value add beyond the pill (solutions, not just products; broadly supporting patients)
1. regulatory bodies embracing 21st century, e.g. FDA

Kerri Sparling, sixuntilme.com author, Patient Opinion Leaders
- diabetes has been part of her life since age 6; but wouldn’t exactly call it her buddy

- she started sixuntilme in May, 2005; felt like she was only diabetes patient on the planet
- now more than 350 sites dedicated to diabetes lifestyle and management
POL’s (patient opinion leaders) don’t blog because they have to, but because it helps us heal
- finding emotional support online is everything
- don’t consider patients a “target market”, but a consumer base being marketed to
- until there’s a cure, there will be a blog

Tricia Geoghegan, Johnson & Johnson/Ortho-McNeil-Janssen; Facebook ADHD Allies
- what social media isn’t: the shiny new object
- what it is: consumer democracy, sharing/not selling, creating foundation for new kinds of relationships, reinforcing commitment to disease awareness
- people trust other people, e.g. Mom-bassadors™
- metrics will answer questions, the best ones will compel more questions
– users will tell you what’s relevant
- what’s unmet need for patients, what’s business case and risk/benefit analysis, how define ROI

Lisa Tate (CEO Womenheart) and Robert Schumm (Marketing Director Bayer Healthcare); Facebook Strong@Heart
- cardiovascular disease is #1 cause of death for women
- was each organization’s first foray into social media
- why social: target was online, patients wanting to speak about/share their own experiences
– c
ombination of traditional (eyeballs) and online (conversations) drove success (key theme reinforced by other speakers)

Dennis Urbaniak, VP Innovation & New Customer Channels Sanofi-Aventis; From Patients To People: What it Takes for  True Shift to a Customer-Centric Approach
– must challenge current mindset within organization; new ideas built on top of old models are doomed to failure
– stop thinking patient and start thinking people; most have their own values, belief systems, etc.; must understand their perspectives
- preference and choice doesn’t fit with one-way approach (typical pharma model; e.g. Model T)
– challenge mindset of patient vs. person
- how to move ahead: change approach
- choice (need to get perfectly comfortable with content, dialogue, listening opportunities)
- what’s the job: what are the hiring criteria and who are the candidates (framework for presenting sustaining and disruptive innovations); start to identify gaps and then pinpoint opportunities; actionable insights from customer pov (vs. brand and product pov)
need to get extremely comfortable living in glass house if you’re change agent inside company
- create the example (very powerful means to drive real change): step back and honestly answer each point:
• project description (elevator speech; not powerpoint deck)
• project objective (what’s the job to be done)
• project metrics (must be prospective; here’s how assess progress, learn and adjust)
• project status (build in points of adjustment as you go)
- sets dynamic that rewards failure; everyone was aligned
- Net:
• change the mindset, change the approach, create the example

Joe Shields, Pfizer: New Ideas For Patient Adherence
– e=empowerment
- process for developing programs:
• what’s your pov?
- Patient (me), Health care provider, Payer, Pharma
• what’s your process?
1. Gain insights (strategic advantage from this work; doc/patient interaction; motivations/barriers)
2. Set objectives
3. Audit current stuff
4. Align current stuff with 1 & 2
5. Identify gaps
6. Fill gaps
7. Measure programs
8. Improve and keep testing
- what does good look like? from different perspectives, as everyone has different agenda/incentives
- make up of strong adherence program:
1. Insightful (patient and doc; does it really solve a problem)
2. Systematic (things that talk to everyone else, things accountable to whole system)
3. Multi-channel
4. Scalable (how easy is it to get work done, get out to most people, return on hassle – is it worth it if you can’t scale it)
5. Social (with regard to adherence, it’s a team sport; some accountability beyond patient itself; service of better patient outcomes)

Marc Monseau, Director, Corporate Media Relations J&J: Connecting J&J To Twittersphere To Tweet or Not To Tweet
How this came together; what he/J&J hoped to achieve, how it fits together
- Steps:
• Create business case
• Connect with other initiatives
• Establish a personality
• Set guides
• Gain legal/regulatory support
– What kind of Twitter account do you want to be?
• customer service
• expert source
• news gatherer
• suggestion box
• special offers
- establish a personality
- have to be yourself
- not just recitation of PR’s
– Multiple platforms (tie Twitter back to all else company is doing); so nothing is one-off
- setting controls:
• took social media biz plan to lawyers/regulatory  (one of the do’s/don’t’s)
• have to work with attorney’s to gain understanding
• how to manage adverse events/offlabel uses?
- Concept of “content guardrails” (gave credit to his associate for this concept):
• within predefined scope: self-management
• outside predefined scope: legal, regulatory, management
• both = publication for tweets

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“Before all else listen. The pathway to change is through relationships, and you can’t form a relationship if you’re not at eye level.”

These are the words of Tim Shriver, Chairman & Chief Executive, Special Olympics. He was featured today in “The Boss”, a regular column in Sunday’s NY Times Business section.  In talking about the start of his career he states: “I probably started my career on a big white horse, thinking that I was a social change agent. The kids (who he taught in an after school program) taught me a fundamental lesson: Get off the horse.

Interesting how things come around. His words from many years ago, you can’t forge a relationship if you’re not at eye level, describe perfectly the changing nature of the relationship between customers and companies.

Today, eye level translates to:

• understanding customers and their pain points
• letting go of control (actually, realizing your not in control)
• providing content and experiences that help them do more and achieve more
• responding with real time customer service and support
• being the conduit for customer conversations with others who have similar interests and needs
• actions that build transparency and trust

Are you at “eye level” with your customers?

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Crumpleitup is Humana’s consumer innovation team, a group within the company dedicated to building a healthier world with innovative thinking. As they say on their About Us page, we realize it’s not always easy to eat right and exercise regularly. So, we’re putting our heads together to come up with creative ways to help people be healthy while having fun.

I’m a big fan of this initiative for a number of reasons:

1. Changing the game. Humana’s changing the basis of competition, from a reactive payer to a proactive provider of products that create new and greater value for customers and company.

2. Differentiation. It helps the organization stand apart within a largely undifferentiated category of healthcare providers.

3. Deeds vs. words. Rather than campaigning about themselves or merely talking about the benefits of being healthy, the organization’s actually covering the backs of its members by helping them be healthier.

4. Promise. They [over] deliver on their promise of Guidance when you need it most.

5. Humanizing the Company. This group puts a human and approachable face on the organization.

6. Brand Engagement. They encourage participation from everyone who’d like to contribute to the initiative. In fact, anyone can join The Crumple It Up Innovation Network on Linkedin.

7. Constant Innovation. Rather than wait until transformation becomes necessary, they  integrate innovation into their everyday business.

8The real issue. They’ve uncovered (whether intentional or not) the problem behind the problem. Improving health takes a community of friends and supporters.

9. Passion and drive. These guys want to make the world healthier.

10. Belief in change. They know that change (better health) is necessary.

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“It has changed the culture of our company”

In a post on TechCrunch titled Comcast: Twitter Has Changed Our Company, this is how Comcast CEO Brian Roberts described Twitter’s impact on the company at the Web 2.o Summit on 10/20.

Comcast is a great example of a large company using Twitter to engage with customers as they tweet about their experiences (well frankly, complaints). Roberts goes on to say that their online engagement goes beyond Twitter, to Facebook and some other (not named) networks.

Lessons learned for health brand marketers include:

Embrace the negatives. Engaging customers in real-time as they tweet complaints should be embraced as an incredible opportunity. Consider how long it takes a complaint to be routed through a typical call center to someone who can actually handle your complaint. Sometimes, just letting them know you’re there can often represent a huge step forward.

Proactively tweet the negatives. Transparency and honesty are hugely important “trust-building” traits through social media. If customer tweets are gravitating around similar customer service themes, consider proactively addressing the issue(s) by starting your own conversation. There aren’t many companies who will openly admit their shortcomings.

Use the channel as an online research tool. Ask questions and ask for opinions, and you’re sure to get customer feedback.

• Use it as an early warning system. Monitoring the chatter can give you a sense of the issues surrounding your products and services.

• Don’t limit to departments. Twitter helps you get closer to your customers, on their terms – whether through their complaints, compliments, feedback, suggestions, etc.  Rarely are these limited to “marketing.”

Use TweetBeep. Similar to Google Alerts for Twitter, you can monitor conversations that mention your company, your brands and your competitors.

Are there other lessons learned to add to this list?

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As part of our “Insider Insights” series, I feature the personal perspective of a health brand CEO, senior marketer, digital or social media expert. I’m pleased to have Nancy Cawley Jean as this month’s participant. Nancy is a senior media relations officer for Lifespan, a health system in Rhode Island, splitting her time between social media for Lifespan and its affiliate hospitals.

Each guest addresses the same four questions, so that we build a wealth of perspectives and knowledge around these four issues. Here’s what Nancy has to say about the future of health brands and social media:

1. The organizations and brands that will thrive in the future are those that

realize that consumers now have a voice and expect to be heard. Brands must be aware of the conversations taking place all around them that could damage their brand. Hospitals and the healthcare industry are no exceptions.

With today’s technology, communication has changed rapidly, and not only do consumers expect to be heard, they also expect a response. Social media is a way to do that – it is a way to build brand awareness, expand customer service, provide vital public service information and engage on a personal level with people not only in our own community but around the globe. Unless brands are willing to recognize the power of social media, they will be left behind.

2. Specific to social media, how has it impacted the way your organization conducts business?

While healthcare is a business, it is unique in the service it delivers, and we are governed by strict rules surrounding the protection of patient information. While it has not changed the way we do “business” it does offer additional areas of concern for potential violations of HIPAA policies, and that is something hospitals in particular must be cognizant of when entering the world of social media.

In our business, the tools we are offered through social media do not offer new ways of conducting business, but they allow us to expand our efforts in the realm of marketing, customer relations and communication. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube now provide new avenues to engage with our community, and hear back from them. It is another avenue through which we can receive feedback as well. As a result of social media, we can listen more to consumers, and this certainly creates the potential for an impact upon policies and procedures that will enhance the patient experience based on suggestions we hear.

3. What are the key challenges your organization is grappling with as it considers participation?

The sensitivities surrounding protected health information of our patients is always a top priority and a great concern. Our risk management and legal departments have expressed concerns over liabilities that exist in social media. As with any other new procedure, service or technology, communication to staff is vital to ensure that expectations are clear and that they are aware that even in this world of social media, HIPAA regulations and patient privacy must remain top of mind. In other words, if an employee has their own blog or is commenting on a Facebook fan page, there are certain things that are still off limits, even if it is on their own time.

4. What are your top lessons learned for implementing a social media strategy?

Sometimes the best way to learn is to jump right in, but in social media, the best approach is to start by listening – listen to what people are saying about you and your brand, listen to what other brands are saying and doing, and look to those brands in the social media world who have emerged as “leaders” – those who have figured out this new world and have been able to truly experience an impact on their reputation and improve customer relations through this medium.

Management may be hesitant to implement a social media strategy because of what is viewed as the “loss of control” but the fact is that they have already lost control given the plethora of communication vehicles available to the consumer today. Important messages to senior management must focus on acceptance that there is no longer any “control” and social media is a way to be involved in the conversations surrounding the brand.

Even in a large organization, getting the right people around the table will go a long way in developing a social media strategy. By having discussions and getting buy-in from folks like legal, human resources, risk management, and medical directors, you will have the support you need to develop appropriate policies and guidelines to help you move through the ever-changing world of social media while maintaining the focus on your overall company mission.

Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share?

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How can you create new and greater value for customers by looking across complementary product and service offerings?

This post from Abe Sauer on brandchannel – The Smart Logic of Disney Products And Apple’s Retail Genius – led me to think about how health brand marketers can set themselves apart and change the game for customers by looking outside their traditional industry boundaries and seeing things from a fresh perspective.

As reported this past week, Disney is planning to spend $1 million per store over the next five years, with Apple’s help, to convert each existing Disney-branded outlet from a simple retail location to a complete “experience.”

Untapped value can often be found in complementary products and services. In this case, it’s the value that comes from providing a richer shopping experience (a Disney magic-like experience) to Disney customers.

The key to thinking more broadly about your role in customers’ lives is to consider the total solution they seek when they choose your product or service. One simple way to do so is to think about what happens before, during, and after your product is used. Map out the total “journey’ that customers take when using your (fill in the blank). When you look from their point-of-view, you’ll open up new possibilities to create new and greater value, e.g.

- why must a doctor appointment be limited to the “appointment itself” (consider that Virgin Atlantic has a limo take you to the airport)

- why do you need to call on the phone, and be put on hold for five minutes, to book a doctor appointment (when you can book everything else on line)

- why must patients wait in waiting rooms (do other professional service providers put their clients in “waiting rooms”; and why do you need to “wait”)

- why must a drugstore be a “drugstore” (isn’t their much more value, for the customer and the organization, in being a “healthstore”)

- why is a diabetes patient a “disease-specific” patient (aren’t they individuals with other important healthcare needs and desires)

How are you looking through your customers’ eyes to create new possibilities for them and for you?

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The Democratization of Online Social Networks.

This presentation is from Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist at Pew/Internet.
Important to health brand marketers, key findings include:
• 79% of American adults 18+ use the internet in 2009, up from 67% in ’05
• 46% use social networking sites, up from 8% in 2005
• 73% have a Facebook account
• 45% have a college or advanced degree
• 51% are between 25-44
• usage skews more female (56% vs. 46% male)
Key conclusion for health brand marketers:
These are your audiences participating in online social networks. Ignore how they choose to interact and share with others and seek information, don’t engage them on their terms, and you risk losing your relevancy.

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Health brands are ideally suited to social media.

Across this broad category (from disease management; health care systems and hospitals; home health services and products; medical devices and equipment; nutritional and wellness products; pharma and OTC) there’s the common denominator of people really needing and wanting what these tools allow health brand marketers to provide:

- informative, even life-changing content
- talking back and forth, sharing stories and even emotionally supporting people who share common interests, ailments or illnesses
- learning from friends and providers (locally and from around the world)
- saving precious time and expense

Ultimately, social media allows you to help create healthier communities. Which leads to healthier co-creators. Which leads to a win-win for your customers, your company and society at-large.

For those brands interested in maintaining their relevancy and their value to their customers (meaning everyone), social media must be integrated into your mix. The extent of your social efforts is based on many organizational factors. But at a minimum, you need to get in the game.

Here are seven big opportunities (reasons why) for health brands to use social media:

1. Demonstrate that you practice what you preach. Social media allows you to demonstrate that you live up to the promises you make to audiences. As the traction around “engagement” continues to grow, actions will continue to speak much louder than words.

2. What benefits your audiences benefits your brand. The future of marketing is about doing things for and with audiences – on their terms. There’s simply too much opportunity for conversations, comments and collaboration for traditional one-way, tell and sell communications to work the way they did years ago.

3. Build loyalty through your brand. This is not the same as trying to build loyalty to your brand. Key is to help people achieve more than they can on their own. Helping them do this is how you gain their attention, loyalty and trust (as well as forgiveness if you ever find yourself needing it).

4. Help people live longer. Research has shown that greater social engagement helps people live longer, healthier lives. Pretty important benefit for a brand to be able to contribute to.

5. Your participation invitation is already extended. Whether you sent a formal invitation or not, participants are already gathering around the conversation (and your company).

6. Listen for rich category and brand insights. Social makes it easy to find out what people really want and need – from the category and from your brand. Which makes it easier to listen for ways to make your offering better. Covet the opportunity to collect and act on this information.

7. It’s all about establishing and earning trust. Which is one of the most important and sustainable advantages a company can build in this environment. The companies who understand this, and pay it off with the right “social” etiquette (doing for others), will see the most benefit.

Are there other reasons that should be added to this list? Please contribute your ideas.

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This post refers back to Are You Really Satisfying Your Customers, written by Scott Monty, at his Social Media Marketing Blog. Scott is the head of social media for Ford Motor Company.

Scott’s point is that as it becomes harder for consumers to distinguish one company’s offerings from another, customer service is one (remaining) way to create greater value and gain competitive advantage. And social media channels, particularly Twitter, are well suited to help companies do this. He cites these three examples from Comcast, Best Buy and Zappos.

What do you think? Is the situation among health brands any different? What organizations are providing superior customer service experiences? And which are doing the best job of integrating social media into their efforts?

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