What's Your Digital iQ

Putting technology and trends to work for healthcare marketing

Technology is Putting Control into the Hands of Patients | Digital Pharma West

Digital Pharma West

Sean Ahrens in an ePatient and software developer. He’s combining those experiences to build platforms and solutions for patients like him.

Today, Sean preaches his belief that we are experiencing a patient revolution; a revolution that is prompting a democratization of medicine where patients become more participatory in their care.

Sean is a sufferer of Crohn’s disease…and he’s aggravated. There is no cure or really effective treatment for Crohn’s today. And it’s his belief that physicians are designed to execute solutions, but not discover them.

When Sean asks his doctors about the effect of diet on Crohn’s, 5/6 of them reply with: “There is no clinical data to suggest diet has anyting to do with Crohn’s”

If you ask his fellow patients, it’s a completely different answer: “Diet plays a big part in my Crohn’s”

Consumers Are Now Producers

Traditionally, solutions came from a producer and sent on to a consumer. Today, though, consumers are the producers. They are developing their own messaging around brands and products.

In medicine, that means patients are producing their own treatment to their poorly understood conditions. Crohn’s End is a documentary featuring people with digestive conditions (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) who have opted to use alternative treatments when nothing else is working. They have listened to their gut and took a proactive approach to ending their condition.

They are producing their own treatments.

Real Relationships are Key

While forums are great, it is the real life connections and relationships that are crucial for patients. Sean’s project, Crohnology.com is basically the Facebook for Crohn’s sufferers. The difference is that it is based on an in-person Meetup group. It takes the interactions to an entirely new level and builds a deeper sense of community.


Innovation Inspiration: 5 Questions with Sickweather


Innovation Inspiration is a monthly highlight of startups, entrepreneurs, and new products that we feel are changing digital marketing in ways that we all can learn from. Enjoy!

Sickweather Social Health

Here at iQ Headquarters, it’s a sunny day with temperatures expected to be in the low 80′s. Sounds almost like paradise, right? Yet, for some reason, sounds of coughing and sneezing are filling the hallways. What gives?

According to Sickweather.com, it seems that allergies are flaring up in the area. Sickweather, one of the latest social health networks to hit the market, uses real-time information from Twitter and Facebook to forecast illness outbreaks.

We thought that was a pretty neat idea so we decided to chat with CEO and co-founder, Graham Dodge, to hear how his team is innovating new solutions for better healthcare.

iQ innovation lab of GSW Worldwide Tell us about your background and how the idea for Sickweather became a reality.

Graham Dodge SickweatherI started in web development and online marketing during the dot-com bubble and I was on the team that developed the first interactive US Crime Map for a site called Crime.com. My career took many turns since then, including some time as an Art Director for MTV. Almost two years ago, I was sick with a stomach bug and when I wanted to know if what I had was going around (as opposed to some crazy Martian Death Flu) I turned to Facebook. I had become accustomed to seeing my friends post updates when they were sick, and sure enough, I found a friend nearby in DC who was experiencing the same symptoms as me. That’s when it occurred to me that this was a search that could be done on a much larger scale using the public APIs for Facebook and Twitter.

iQ innovation lab of GSW Worldwide What’s your favorite story about the impact that Sickweather has had for users?

Graham Dodge SickweatherThere was a mom who sent us a message on Twitter, thanking us, saying that she saw her local Sickweather forecast was calling for allergies, so she preemptively stocked up on allergy medication for her children. Sure enough, her kids started experiencing allergy symptoms later that week, and she was already prepared. That was the best testimonial we could ever ask for.

iQ innovation lab of GSW Worldwide Describe the feedback that you have received from the marketplace?

Graham Dodge SickweatherEarly on, AdWeek dubbed us the ‘Facebook for hypochondriacs’, which to be the Facebook of anything just out of the gate was a huge compliment. Otherwise, our concept has resonated very well with the general public and the media. Many of the pharmaceutical brands who have contacted us see an advantage to having an engaged audience of people currently dealing with the symptoms and illnesses that their brands treat, while also allowing the brands to be part of the social media conversation without having to curate their own pages and deal with off-label reporting. To me, the brands are also there to help close the feedback loop for our members who have an immediate need for their products, which is exactly why we’re developing our advertising program simultaneously with the rest of our service rather than just layering it on as an after thought.

iQ innovation lab of GSW Worldwide What digital trends should we watch out for that have the potential to produce positive health outcomes?

Graham Dodge SickweatherUnfortunately, I’ve signed a couple of NDAs that prevent me from talking about some of the more exciting research that’s just around the corner. But I can say that there is a lot of research being done in mobile data mining and machine learning that will lead to a healthcare renaissance. Our own advisors from Johns Hopkins University, Mark Dredze, PhD and Michael Paul, are active in this area. Also, I know from speaking with public health officials that there is great interest in “closing the feedback loop” to provide people the advice and early warnings that they need to head the spread of illness off at the pass. What also excites me is a less quantifiable Hawthorne Effect that all this technology and monitoring will have on the general public, who may begin to augment their behavior and live a healthier lifestyle if for no other reason than that they don’t want to be a statistic in a study. I look forward to clear skies in the Sickweather forecast.

iQ innovation lab of GSW Worldwide How does an entrepreneur and innovator like you stay fresh and keep the inspiration rolling?

Graham Dodge SickweatherI always look to my family and friends for inspiration first, which is why our development team have all been friends since high school. Otherwise, I read Slashdot regularly for my technology news, as well as Mashable and TechCrunch. But as someone who lived in L.A. for many years and worked in the entertainment industry, I really appreciate the creative thinking that goes into science fiction. It’s my personal M.O. that if an idea for a new Sickweather feature wouldn’t integrate seamlessly into a Philip K. Dick or Gene Roddenberry storyline, then it’s not intuitive or simple enough.


Facebook Adds Organ Donor Feature

Facebook Organ Donation

Facebook is running a social experiment…are you planning to participate?

Today on Good Morning America, Mark Zuckerburg & Sheryl Sandberg announced Facebook has added an organ donation status option for Timeline.

Zuckerberg talked about the tool’s impact with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America:

“We came up with a pretty simple thing which we’re hopeful can help out. There are more than 100,000 folks just in the US who are waiting for organ donations and 18 people on average who die a day because they don’t have the organs they need. Simply by telling your story on how you are willing to participate in this, we think a lot of people who are on the fence may just be willing to do this could be convinced. That’s a shift in society that will probably take a while to fully take hold. But I think if people choose to share these stories with their friends that can make a big difference over time.”

View Mark’s interview on ABC News

Designating yourself as an organ donor is as easy as adding any other life event on Timeline. On your personal Timeline, click on “Life Event” and then “Health & Wellness.” You’ll see the option for “Organ Donor” at the top of the list (amongst other health and wellness milestones).

Facebook Organ Donation Tool

At that point, you can add where you are registered and your personal story. If you’re not currently an organ donor, Facebook provides a link to the official registry. As with all other Timeline entries, you can make your organ donor status public, private or only visible to certain groups of friends.

Facebook Organ Donation Tool

This isn’t Facebook’s first move toward implementing more socially conscious features. Over the past year, we’ve seen Facebook add a referral system for friends sharing suicidal thoughts and an anti-bully campaign.


201: Social Media for Health

Social Media 201

Two years ago, we created a Social Media 101 class – basically, a bootcamp for pharma marketers who wanted to understand how social media was changing how people learn about, evaluate, and ultimately make healthcare decisions.

Then, the trust graph was in major flux. People were figuring out how to use social connections (not just Dr. Google) to benefit their health. And, deciding if they were willing to interact with brands in that space.

Today, social destinations are among the most popular on the web. They are an essential part of many of our lives. And, they have truly revolutionized how we think about health.


What’s Next From the FDA on Social Media


I’m happy to report that it has been months since I heard someone say in a meeting: “We’re waiting to see the FDA’s guidance on social media before we get involved.”

Sometime in 2011, we all seemed to collectively realize: It’s just not going to be that easy. Instead, pharma would have to find its own way. To date, at least 60 pharma brands have done just that. They’ve built internal guidelines, tested approaches, and actively gotten involved in social media. Still, who doesn’t want to know what the FDA might have in store next? Here’s what we expect: Read Full Entry


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