Category: Uncategorized

Buffy the Asthma Slayer

In our previous post, we talked about the need for pharma to be increasingly creative in its “visual storytelling” if it expects to get its message across to jaded consumers in this Zoom fatigued, hyper video streaming world. So here is a great example.

What you see here is Teva going all out to communicate appropriate use of its “smart” asthma inhaler that allows the collection of “objective” data, in an effort to eliminate the overuse, underuse, and misuse of inhalers which is apparently very prevalent among asthma patients. Start with hiring Sarah Michelle Gellar, who last time around was seen slaying mythical creatures. (Remember Buffy the Vampire Slayer???)

Add in a talking pink inhaler, roll it all up into a compelling (quick, clear, accurate) storyline, and away you go. 

Bottom Line. Good stuff! Like I said in the last post, the production elegance is now as important as the message. Spend a minute watching the video, and you will see that this visual story clears that hurdle handily.

Storytelling in a Zoom Fatigued World

Check this out. What you will see is a piece on how pharma needs to work extra hard in 2021 to capture attention. Much of our population suffers from pandemic-induced Zoom fatigue. Virtually everyone is awash in streaming media from hundreds of sources. The result? The bar for attention-grabbing has been raised significantly. What to do? Get over using simple graphics and move on to emotion-grabbing “visual storytelling.” Sophisticated cinematography. Speed, clarity, accuracy. These are all boxes that must increasingly be checked if we are to grab our increasingly sophisticated customers’ attention. As this piece points out, the elegance with which a spot is shot is now as important as the strategy underlying the message. 

Bottom Line. BUT. This is not just art for art’s sake. Powerful renditions, it is argued here, draw people into the story, raise emotions, let the viewer experience what the people in the story they are watching are experiencing. 

Gone are the days of “Pop Pop Fizz Fizz, oh what a relief it is” being all you needed to sell Alka Seltzer. 

Long gone! 

Please Listen to Me!!!

In my most recent On Doctors’ MindsSM Executive Summary, I surprised some of our subscribers by reporting out that in the COVID-related conversations that I had with office-based physicians in September, most of them told me that while a majority of their patients had already been fully vaccinated for COVID, they had basically stopped trying to convince the remainder of their patients to get their shots. Why? Because, the doctors explained, after a year of preaching the gospel, they felt that continuing to try to convince holdouts was, quite simply, a waste of their time. 

But check this out. What you will see is a doctor’s recounting of a conversation in which he tries to convince an unvaccinated couple to get their shots. You will see that the doctor is not only wasting time here, but getting “hurt more than I care to admit.” How? By having the patients include this physician, by implication, as a perpetrator of the great COVID/VAX scam that they believe is being perpetrated in America.

Bottom Line. Read this doctor’s post carefully. Think about it. Digest it. If you were this physician, how many more traumatic encounters like this would it take to shut down your vaccine evangelizing?

I’m guessing not too many! 

Is a Pandemic About “War” or “Natural Disaster???”

The answer actually matters. Check this out. Here we have a blogging cardiologist arguing that we should not be making the mistake of dealing with COVID as if we are in a war with the coronavirus. Wars give governments pervasive powers and often turn citizens against each other. Rather, we should deal with the pandemic as a natural disaster. Something that we expect citizens to ban together to deal with, rather than fragmenting into factions. And the government to focus on helping the citizenry, rather than issuing mandates.

Bottom Line. Interesting. Metaphors can have very important and pervasive psychological consequences. See how we have been (mis!)-handling COVID-19 for reference!

There’s $$$ in Serving the Underserved!!!

Check this out. What you will see is that substantial funding is being captured by Cityblock Health, a company that specializes in providing care for “marginalized patients with complex needs.” Keep reading and you will see an interesting strategy. While many organizations are attempting to “disrupt primary care,” most of them focus on more well-to-do patients. Going where the money is makes sense, but so does Cityblock’s strategy of shooting at the other end of the financial spectrum where there is less competition and plenty of Government funding.

Bottom Line. This is another one for us to keep our eyes on. If Cityblock Health can deliver on its vision to serve 10 million patients by 2030, they will become a major force to be reckoned with in Primary Care. What impact will this have on other models, like Federally Qualified Health Centers and Free and Charitable Clinics, that are currently serving the underserved? And how will we promote to this new practice model?

It may be time to start thinking about the answers to these and other important, related questions!

Aging in Place

Check this out. What you will see is a reminder. A reminder of the depressing state of the “nursing home crucible”, in which many senior citizens unfortunately end their days. Nursing homes, by whatever name, have always been unfortunate places. But the COVID-19 pandemic, with residents locked away from relatives and disproportionately dying of the coronavirus, nonetheless, brought to this physician blogger a clearer image of the wrinkled fingers pressed against windows, longing to be back in the real world with their relatives in their final days.

Bottom Line. The message here? As a society, we need to do a better job of helping our seniors to “age in place.” We have the tools that are necessary to do that. 

We just lack the commitment! 

Pandemic Positives

Check this out. What you will see are the responses of one doctor’s patients to the question “What is a positive that has come for you and/or your family from the pandemic?” posed at the beginning of telemedicine sessions before any talk of “What’s wrong with you?”

Notice what many of these answers have in common. The appreciation of being able to spend more time with loved ones. The ability to take better care of oneself. The circling of the wagons that I described in a previous post, to focus on the “near and dear.”

Bottom Line. You know what’s coming next. Your assignment for today. Think of a “pandemic positive” with which you have been left as COVID-19 mercifully heads over the horizon, at least in the United States. I bet it won’t be hard for you to come up with one.

Or more!!!

On the Other Side of the Knife

Check this out. What you will see is the story of an ophthalmologist, pictured above, who had his own cataract surgery performed by his former partner. With several others on the surgical team who he had trained himself. Sounds like a comfortable situation at first blush, but read the post and you will see the extra pressure that is actually imposed on everyone by this turnabout set of circumstances. 

Bottom Line. Perhaps the best summary of the psychological factors at play here is the admonition given by one of the surgical assistants to the nurse anesthetist for a procedure that is usually done under mild sedation.

 “Snow him.” 

Are Physical Exams Obsolete?

Sometimes! Check this out. What you will see is a post by our friend, The Country Doctor, who argues that such examinations are often conducted without a good reason.  and perfunctory. As evidence, he offers the successful journey that most physicians made into telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic, successfully treating patients without laying eyes or hands on them. 

BUT. The conversations I have been having with physicians for my ongoing On Doctors’ MindsSM project have clearly indicated to me that many of them feel otherwise. For them, telemedicine was a necessary, temporary adaptation to permit their practices to go on rather than being put under, in terms of both patient care and finances, by the coronavirus.  Now that offices have reopened to personal visits, telemedicine is being relegated to extremely limited use, if any. Doctors report that they need to observe their patients to get the full picture of what is going on. Specialists in fields from cardiology to neurology have specific evaluations that they want to make, and they have to be done in person.

But is the same thing true for PCPs in a “routine” office visit? A brief story. When my wife and I moved to Hilton Head Island almost a decade ago, we promptly joined the concierge practice of what we were told (and it is true!) was the best Internist in Beaufort County. On my wife’s first visit, the physician laid her hands on my wife’s throat and “felt something.” Scroll forward and her cancerous thyroid was summarily removed. A good “routine” physical exam? Damn straight!

Bottom Line. I get the Country Doctor’s point.  Sometimes physical exams look a lot like “going through the motions” for no reason whatsoever.  BUT. To catch the unanticipated, as well as to build patient relationships, they are probably about as far from obsolete as they could possibly be!!!

Segmenting the Non-Vaxxers

Non-vaxxers are not necessarily anti-vaxxers. Nope. They are just people who haven’t received the COVID vaccine.  Yet. For various reasons. And the variety of reasons is actually the theme of this NYT article.  

As I pondered each of the segments described here, my main thought was to question which of the reasons offered by these four behavioral segments makes the least sense. The largest segment, amazingly, hasn’t gotten the vaccine because its members deny that COVID presents a significant health risk. What? With over 500,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus???

And look at the other segments. Nine percentreport that they couldn’t afford the vaccine. Last I looked, “free” was the going price at most injection sites. 

Eight percent are in wait-and-see mode. Almost a year and a half into this, one wonders what they are waiting for.

And then there is the final segment. The 4% who believe that the health care system has not been fair to them.  Quite possible, but of questionable relevance. 

And there you have it. Several different “personas” that all wind up inhibiting the overall population from reaching herd immunity. As is pointed out in the article, the “psychobehavioral” segmentation approach being  used here permits better targeting and tailoring of pro-vaccine motivational messages than does an approach based on demographics. 

Bottom Line. But hold on a second. All of this leaves me wondering just how different these personas really are from one another. I’m thinking that all of the reasons offered here for vaccine avoidance might simply be different ways of saying “I don’t want to” or “I’m scared to.”

How do we drill down to find out what is really going on here?