By NextLevel Life Sciences - July 09, 2018

Leading up to NextLevel Life Science’s 6th Edition MedTech Commercial Leaders Forum 2018, we are conducting interviews with selected members of our prestigious speaker panel to learn more about their thoughts on this vital issue.
*Opinions below are those only of the individual and do not reflect upon corporate strategy or positioning.
For more information regarding NextLevel Life Science’s 6th Edition MedTech Commercial Leaders Forum 2018 click here!

Tim McGough, Vice President Global Marketing & Sales, Vitruvian Team Consulting

NextLevel: How would you describe your expertise in digital marketing, specifically in mobile technology?

TM: I have broad industry expertise at the senior level when it comes to the marketing and commercialization of medical devices. I have implemented many strategies and tactics, one of which is the use of digital marketing, social media, and apps, smartphone apps in particular. This is now integral to many medical device companies. Smartphone apps have become entire businesses to drive companion diagnostic use or to drive compliance or adherence. These are the trends that I am seeing with some of my clients now who are asking for help in creating the right digital strategy. Sometimes it’s the basis of their product, for example, by offering greater adherence to medication or some other kind of therapy. So, my expertise lies in novel medical devices, things that are first to market, second to market, or which are truly paradigm shifting technologies.

These kinds of technologies are products which healthcare providers did not realize existed and therefore didn’t know that they needed. My focus has also been on educating and procuring the clinical data to educate the healthcare providers, and to prove their superiority with evidence so that the providers will make the decision to change the way they practice healthcare. Many times that process involves digital marketing, digital data collection through smartphone apps and things like that. So, I’ve used smartphone apps in a whole variety of things, from the very end user, patient interface to the sales and marketing team on an iPad using it to deliver content, to capture opportunity data, or CRM data.

NextLevel: What is the main challenge for medical device companies looking to integrate mobile technology into their strategy?

TM: The biggest challenge is to set the goal for that project. So, is the goal to increase patient awareness, increase brand identity, increase patient or healthcare provider usage of a given product, or is it simply to deliver marketing content in a financially efficient fashion? There are many ways. The biggest challenge is often to determine a concise set of goals. That way you are able to later evaluate the return on the investment you are making. It seems like a huge investment when you get a quote from a developer and he says we need $100,000 or $200,000 in developing costs. That might seem huge if your goal isn’t clearly defined or if you have nothing to compare it to.

So, how would you accomplish the same objective in another fashion such as radio, tv, advertising, direct mail, or SEO? What would it cost you there? I have seen lots of companies try to use smartphone apps for things that just won’t get adoption. They won’t find a lot of downloads if it’s not a purpose-built smart phone application designed to do 1, 2, or 3 things and be useful to the provider, the patient, or the salesperson. Remember an app can be for internal customers or external customers. I’ve seen great success with internal-use only iPad applications for the delivery of clinical studies or tracking KOL engagement. This is especially the case wirh younger or early career investigators.

NextLevel: How can you best measure the ROI on a mobile technology strategy?

TM: You can’t evaluate what you don’t measure. Internally, your organization has to have some way to assign value to either acquiring customers, selling a box, or selling a piece of capital equipment. That’s super easy if someone first engages your sales organization or your company via your smartphone app or via some other social media and then later buys $100,000 worth of capital equipment and you can directly relate the two.

A greater challenge is also in the branding exercise. For example, once I introduced a smartphone application which was designed to demonstrate how medical technologies can improve, in real-time, the CPR quality with the capture of chest compression data. This was not easy to track the ROI, but maybe a little bit easier in one sense. Our branding partner integrated the app as part of a broad public awareness campaign to help improve survival from sudden cardiac arrest. In doing so, they started tracking the number of reported incidents and survivors. After about a year and a half or so, they had 28 survivors who had used some portion of their public awareness CPR campaign, including our app. That means 28 people who survived cardiac arrest who otherwise probably would not have. That was an incredible measurement. How do you put a price on the value of 28 lives?

The very difficult part is for the provider of the technology to measure the “umbrella effect.” We can’t really say how many new monitors or defribillators, for instance, we sold because of this campaign effort, but certainly there are 300,000 to 400,000 more people that are more aware of our brand than before, based on the number of downloads. Putting a price on that brand awareness or that corporate identity awareness is very challenging.

I would say that measuring ROI in digital marketing, but specifically in using smartphone apps, is one of the more challenging exercises in digital marketing all together. Just to put it straight out there, if you spend $100,000 in developing a smartphone app, how do you ever tell if you got that money back, unless you are specifically monetizing the data that you capture, which is one way and that’s an easy way. So, if you are capturing 100,000 patient histories and you are able to monetize that data, you are now able to tell some medical device maker, or pharmaceutical company, or CRO, that you have data on 100,000 people who all say they have diabetes and who are all tracking what they eat and when they eat it. That data monetization is fundamental to many peoples’ strategy and it works.

You do have to be comfortable with your end-user licencing agreement as well, so that you are using the data appropriately and your customers, the users of your data capture device, understand how you are using your data. We have all heard the controversies of how Facebook uses your data and, to a lesser extent, how Apple uses the health data acquired by their devices. But we haven’t heard a lot about all the other mobile devices that are out there. They are also capturing your data. How many people in the world right now either carry an iPhone or some other wearable sensor on the body like an Apple Watch, a fitbit, or any of the other products that are out there? They capture a tremendous amount of data: heart rate, temperature, where you are, your altitude, how often you’ve moved and at which hour. From that data, an incredible amount can be extrapolated. The more data is accumulated, the more that mathematical patterns emerge and the more predictive and better quality that data becomes.

For example, imagine if you had 30,000 patients wearing a heart monitor, all day every day. There is one which is an automated external defribillator that the patient wears on their body when they are at high risk of cardiac arrest. Imagine the kind of data that device is capturing – every heartbeat of that patient is being captured. So, should something critical happen, or a life-threatening event occur, you are able to look back an hour, a day, or maybe a week prior and look at the patterns of heart rhythm prior to the life-threatening event. If you get enough of that data, then it becomes predictive. Pretty soon, you can say with some degree of certainty that say, in the next 48 hours or the next 5 days, you are 85% more likely to experience a life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia so you better go get checked out.

So, it’s hard to evaluate ROI from smartphone applications, unless you are specifically monetizing the data or you are specifically selling the actual product, the app itself. But typically apps are free, and maybe you have some advertising data or the apps are low cost, but you are not going to have a huge revenue stream by selling $1.99 iPhone applications.

NextLevel: What are you looking forward to most about our event in London?

TM: I look forward to meeting my colleagues, seeing what other people are doing in other fields, and exchanging ideas. There can be a great exchange of ideas with people of senior level experience and who have a broad level of experience across many different medical industries.    

For more information about this MedTech Commercial Leaders Forum Europeplease click here!