By Diane Hayes, PhD
I am pleased to be at the PMRG 2012 Annual National Conference in Orlando, listening to invigorating speakers and making important connections. Here are some of my thoughts as I listen to speakers and attendees.
This year’s theme is innovation and the speakers are hitting the theme from different angels. One of the most significant approaches for addressing this topic was focusing on the enormous impact new technologies are having on innovation.
Our future is clearly being driven by technology! Innovations are occurring at a breakneck pace in telemedicine, home diagnostics, virtual hospitals, wireless everything, and so many other innovations that we can’t even imagine today! Much of today’s revenues in many technology companies are from something that was impossible to do two years ago – wow – impossible two years ago. Think about what that means: the near-term future of our company will be funded by innovations that do not even exist yet. That makes it so very important that we stay ahead of the innovation curve.
A full day of speakers covered topics such as integrating and understanding the role of social media in healthcare and the annual state of the industry survey. There was a great afternoon panel discussion including Patricia Choumitsky (UCB), Arnnie Friede (Arnnie Friede & Assoc.), Eric Schultz ( Quantia), and Peter Pitts (Center for Media in the Public Interest). The moderator, Mark Bard (Digital Health Coalition) talked about the technology and huge mobile Internet huge adoption curve that we are currently in the midst of experiencing. In the US, many new phones are Smartphones, but in Japan ALL new phones are Smartphones!
There is no denying that we are all spending more time on social networking sites and our industry must find new ways to deal with the challenges social media creates. A few takeaways for me were – we need to create some agreed upon guidelines or principles for social networking. Key features that require attention include full disclosure, off-label promotion, accountability and affiliation, adverse event reporting. If we focus on doing the right thing, it will get us started on the right path. Several panelists described innovative approaches for engaging patients and physicians in ways that allow you to more about your subjects. It is clear social media is here to stay so let’s figure out how to leverage it. We have the opportunity to listen passively and engage actively now that we have this new platform to exchange ideas!
While technology is clearly a big driver for innovation in our industry, we should also keep in mind the social aspects of innovation.
An idea that I keep returning to was brought up in Monday morning’s initial keynote address, delivered by Daniel Burrus, the Founder and CEO of Burrus Research. Daniel sought to help the audience distinguish between hard and soft trends in healthcare, a distinction that will assist us as we develop strategies to take advantage of real opportunities.
One of the key questions brought up by Daniel was, “Is the problem you have your real problem?” This resonated strongly with me. We are currently living in the most uncertain times ever. It does seem that often times the real problem is hidden by some surface distraction and you need to drill down to find out what is really hanging you up. Don’t get distracted by this white noise – get to the issue! Understanding the forces of change can show you where you might leverage opportunities to manage the future.
We are market researchers, accustomed to analyzing data. We need to pay attention to change data and continue to sharpen our forecasting skills. Forecasting depends on knowing certainties and one certainty is that the future is all about relationships. Keep trust high with clients and employees because lack of trust will truly fuel a change that we are less interested in generating.
There was quite a bit of buzz following a breakout session in which industry leaders discussed how to be creative and innovate in this changing landscape. After the session, attendees were sharing their experiences and challenges and were discussing ways they might innovate. Everyone seems very focused on the customer experience and developing relationships – certainly a shift from servicing clients to a more interactive connection.
Day one ended with speaker Bob Kodzis (Flight of Ideas, Inc), providing a lighthearted, creative discussion about how to use change to your advantage. He inspired me to not take myself too seriously, to maintain my sense of humor, and to take care of others. I find customer service to be our most important focus and Bob’s talk reinforced that for me. I will take a deep breath and really focus, listen to those I serve and work with. They deserve for me to be engaged 100% – that is what sets companies apart from their competitors. To survive we must work together to change – and innovate.