10th November, Royal Society of Medicine

The fourth Digital Works meeting brought together over a hundred delegates from the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare agencies to listen to six experts share their stories on how they are “Proud to be making a difference” within the industry.


Kai Gait
Senior Global Multi-Channel Director, GSK

Ben Blackmore
Be More Creative, on behalf of James Holah, Franchise Lead, Shire UK

Daniel Conacher
Digital Marketing Lead, Novartis UK

Becky Reeve
Head of Professional Relations, Sanofi

Ian Hamilton
Medical Affairs Global IT Account Manager, Eli Lilly

Pamela Penn
Business Development Director, Health Unlocked


Carwyn Jones – Co-chair and Digital Lead, PM Society

Carwyn Jones

Carwyn started the meeting by welcoming our guests, colleagues and peers from agency and pharma industry.

He reinforced the PM Society’s mission, recapped on current initiatives and welcomed new advocates to join the Society to continue to recognise and promote pharmaceutical excellence within the industry.

He set the agenda for the day and also enlightened us to some interesting facts about our speakers, which for legal reasons cannot be posted online!


Kai Gait – GSK

MyAsthma - Supporting patients in understanding their asthma

Kai Gait

Kai opened the first session by presenting GSK’s MyAsthma site which, built over 5 years ago, was designed to support patients via a library of asthma content and tools to score levels of control.

The site had amassed a wealth of content but needed a complete revamp which Kai’s team tackled by analysing how patients were interacting with it and recording their user experience.

From this they set out on an ambitious mission to turn MyAsthma into the most sophisticated and successful mobile health application available, with the platform supporting not just asthma but other GSK therapy areas.

Working in collaboration with physicians from the Nottingham Respiratory Research Unit and The Earthworks, they developed a new framework using the latest mobile technology which allowed patients to input their health data, track and monitor their condition, along with environmental data provided by their phone, which alerted them to potential triggers allowing them to take appropriate precautions. This functionality and clinical support meant the app had to be treated as a Class 1 medical device with all the additional process required for development and approval.

Kai outlined the challenges faced when launching such an ambitious program, given the rapidly growing number of health applications available to smart phone users (currently over 259,000); combining the complexities of the disease area with the continuing development of mobile technology to ensure a quality and trusted app which doesn’t put patients at risk. This is further complicated when building the app on a global level which needs to be approved, deployed and managed at a local market level.

So what was the end result? MyAsthma is GSK’s first Class 1 medical device app and GSK is now the first Pharma company to have created a standalone medical device app. Kai attributes the success to the continual support of a cross-functional team comprising Agile IT, Global Regulatory, IT Risk and Medical & Commercial teams.

Already the data being collected from the MyAsthma app is allowing patients to build a better understanding of what triggers their asthma, helping them to share their data in a simple PDF format with their HCP which has saved up to 20 minutes of consultation time.


Ben Blackmore - BMore Creative on behalf of James Holah, Franchise Lead, Shire UK

Finding a rare patient

Ben Blackmore

Sadly James couldn’t make it on the day but Ben, from bmore Creative, did a fantastic job at the last minute to present Shire’s medical education campaign ‘Bringing Fabry into Focus’.

Ben started by highlighting how challenging it is to identify patients with rare diseases; on average it can take around 16 years of being bounced around the NHS due to confusing signs and symptoms.

Fabry disease (an uncommon inherited metabolic disease) is even rarer and harder to identify and so Shire created an educational tool to help equip their sales force to support HCPs and patients earlier on in the process.

Ben shared the challenges Shire faced due to the usual compliancy regulations, tight budgets and timelines, plus getting access to the KOLs for their input. However they have succeeded in developing a comprehensive app, supported by a website to host a wealth of material which raises awareness of the disease. The interactive tool takes into account a patient’s gender, and then uses different trigger images to launch a relevant version of the Augmented Reality APP that is easy to use and quick to navigate to the different manifestations of Fabry. Built to be displayed in app and replicated online in the website, the content is extremely versatile, allowing it to be tailored to different audiences via different formats.

Ben went on to report that initial user testing has been well received and the tool is already being used at specialist training events for HCPs, 100% sales team engagement and 100% key account engagement. Shire plan to support the app with a marketing campaign using targeted patient emails, increased key AdWords to signpost the tool and potentially launch a social media campaign along with global Shire adoption in 2017.


Daniel Conacher - Novartis UK

Cosentyx Connect Homecare Patient Support Program

Daniel ConacherDaniel gave us a very insightful presentation into the challenges they have faced with their project CosentyxTM Connect and its access to the market using the Homecare drug delivery service.

This is the first time Novartis had worked within the homecare space so they commissioned some research to identify what their core customers (dermatologists and dermatology nurses) liked / disliked about the service. They then reviewed Homecare providers who were open to working with new processes, along with appointing an agency who could manage the program with the necessary stringent technical infrastructure to support the data management requirements.

The team identified many areas where the process could be digitalised and set to work creating simpler registration forms, developing a central hub for patient records to be stored and the ability for both HCPs and Homecare nurses to access and update with evaluation forms and care plans.

The result was the creation of a sophisticated back end database and front end patient portal where users now have a personalised site they can access to view drug delivery times and schedule nurse appointments along with a wealth of relevant content and advice to help cope with their condition. HCPs have more insight into the care their patients are receiving outside of scheduled consultations which has given them greater confidence in the service.

Daniel highlighted some of the challenges faced when taking on a project of this magnitude, mainly around data protection, management and access of patient records between NHS intranet and Homecare CRM systems and ensuring Novartis had no access to confidential data.

Initial results have been positive, although sign-up has been impacted due to the double opt-in patients need to undertake. They have since identified that hospital pharmacists should also be utilising this service, so are looking to improve the systems further. They are enhancing the patient site, allowing greater user personalisation to give patients access to more relevant content and support groups.

Daniel credits the success of this project with choosing the right agency with the right technical infrastructure and a homecare provider who was willing to change their business model to work together with pharma to make improvements for all to benefit from.


Becky Reeve – Head of Professional Relations Diabetes & Cardiovascular - Sanofi

Teaching HCPs about social media: what we’ve learned

Becky ReeveBecky shared with us her very personal journey into teaching HCPs how to embrace social media. She set out in 2011 with the vision of a Sanofi Diabetes Twitter feed; however this is still work in progress! Instead Becky is extremely active on social media under her own personal Twitter account and is on a personal crusade to understand HCPs’ reluctance to engage in this social space.

She spent a lot of time within Diabetes online communities listening to what patients wanted from their HCPs. This gave her a voice to showcase and educate HCPs that patients don’t necessarily want answers but to be listened to. They wanted help in cutting out the jargon and looked to HCPs to share and endorse useful content, apps and support networks. What she has found was HCPs are understandably scared to share content without being certain of its credibility. They have a strong duty of care and don’t want to be personally accountable for advocating information online and exposing themselves to a digital footprint that could hold them accountable and contactable.

This has helped Becky change her mission, no longer does she try and encourage HCPs to take to Twitter and become digital experts, rather she educates them on the growing social media space and helps pinpoint what information patients find valuable, not always scientific but usually more practical advice. Diabetes teams can’t offer patients 24/7 support and the “#doc” is always there, which bridges the gap between appointments.

This still didn’t address the issue of credibility of content, and so https://www.t1resources.uk was created by a group of professionals and patients to help review all diabetes resources, along with personal opinions and blog commentary which flag safety warnings and signposts back to regulated content for clarity. This one stop shop has enabled HCPs to feel more confident recommending this resource to patients, overcoming previous fears of accountability and joining professionals and patients together in helping improve Type 1 diabetes care.

Becky concluded that social media will continue to grow and that HCPs are slowly starting to become advocates, however it isn’t for pharma or HCPs to provide or curate the content, patients are already doing this just fine by themselves!


Ian Hamilton - Eli Lilly

eMIG (European Medical Information Gateway) – industry collaboration backed by EFPIA

Ian HamiltonIan made us aware of a collaboration which is underway between the Medical Information Leaders in Europe (MILE) with initial funding from EFPIA to create a European Medical Information Gateway (E-MIG).

This informal organisation was brought about due to the increasing need to help physicians and patients who require medical information find the answers via a self-service portal.

Currently medical information support is being channeled via traditional means; telephone, sales reps, email and post and it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage across the industry. The group recognised that by bringing this online as a collaboration between pharmaceutical companies it could solve the problem, share the cost and ultimately allow improved healthcare decision making on a 24/7 basis.

Currently 18 Pharma companies are participating in this European consortium but Ian is keen to broadcast this initiative and get more pharma companies on board. They are looking to launch in early 2017 and Ian was keen to emphasise that success won’t be measured by the volume of customer visits initially; rather it’s important that this becomes a valued and trusted resource in the industry and helps engage other stakeholders to continue to evolve digital services for the future.


Pamela Penn - Health Unlocked

Health Unlocked – the journey to 2020

Pamela joined us from HealthUnlocked to talk about their established website and how digital initiatives will continue to drive change in health for the future.

HealthUnlocked is the largest social media network for health in the UK. Formed 6 years ago, it identified that although patients need professional advice there was also a great hunger for practical and emotional support. They questioned where patients went to “socialise” and flagged that other social media platforms didn’t address this problem.

And so HealthUnlocked was born, a place to allow peer-to-peer support for patients, caregivers and health advocates to connect online using credible support from organisations and institutions.

Currently with over 600 communities covering 160 disease areas, Pam explained that patient organisations helped to set up and moderate communities and super users and expert patients to help ensure information is kept up to date and accurate.

Pamela Penn

They found that although patients find websites and apps useful, they especially needed access to local support and so by investing in the latest advances in artificial intelligence and algorithms the site can quickly identify a user and make recommendations based on their location and health journey to help tailor their experience.

Pamela went on to share powerful data to showcase the site; 18 – 30% of patients said they had used professional services less, due to using the HealthUnlocked site to help answer their questions.

The site is continuing to evolve, working with CCGs to localise services available and make patients aware of different communities close to home which could help them holistically across different areas.

They are looking at ways to get HCPs to endorse “social prescriptions”, where drugs cannot be used but signposting patients to HealthUnlocked could help.

Finally they find that many patients are happy to share their experiences and are keen to receive information about medical research, making the site of further interest and potential within the pharma industry.