Introducing myself

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Hello, nice to talk to you.

Shwen enthusiastically introduced me some time ago as co-blogger, and the first blogpost I write I already have to apologize for my late reaction. It have been hectic times for me lately, and sometimes you have to sort things out first before jumping to something new. But more about that later. Shwen already introduced me quite well, but let me elucidate on that a bit further. 

As Shwen wrote, I am based in the Netherlands. The Netherlands, a small Northern European country with some 16 million people and half of the country living below sea level. That’s right, if the dikes break half of the country is gone. We are a small yet pretty tech-savvy country. Nearly 80% of the households have a broadband internet connection, the major hub for the internet from the US to Europe is based in Amsterdam and we have some great inventions on our name (Bluetooth, Wifi, Kazaa, Skype, just to name a few). It is in this country that I found myself starting up my ow company, together with my business partner René van den Bos

Flashback 1994. I graduated university where I got my BSc in Biology. Started working in research at J&J (Janssen Pharmaceuticals) in Belgium but was bored after a year. Decided to go back to school to do a post-graduate Economics. Started my ‘real career’ in 1995 in a sales function at Diosynth, a company producing and marketing active ingredients for the pharma industry and part of Organon Biosciences. In 1998 I switched to Intervet, now part of Schering-Plough, global number 1 veterinary pharmaceutical company. I’ve had various functions within this company: Assistant Area Manager, Business Manager, Export Sales Manager, Global Product Manager en now Innovation Manager. In 2004 I graduated for my MBA at the Business School the Netherlands.

It has always been a wild ride, with many challenges. But still, I missed something in my daily job. It was only until the rise of Web 2.0 and the popularity of video that I realized there’s more in life than the marketing of drugs. In 2007 René and me started exploring the adventurous world of Web 2.0 and we established the basis for our company DigiRedo in 2008. With DigiRedo we help companies improve communication (internally and externally) by the use of new media. We write about our activities and views on this world on our blog.

Flash forward to today. This year has been an inspiring year for me. First of all because of the birth of my daughter (first kid). Very, very special. Secondly because of the change of jobs within Intervet to Innovation Manager including a scenario whereby I will be focussing less and less on Intervet and more and more on DigiRedo. And last but not least because of a fantastic first year of DigiRedo. We have had the opportunity to work on great projects such as setting up a very successful internal podcast program, interviewed great people (Len Starnes, Tim O’Reilly, Craig DeLarge…), helped people in Tanzania, went to inspiring congresses and spoke on them as well. 

2009 will be the year of truth. What will the impact of the financial crisis be on communication budgets, and thus affecting us as well? Nobody knows. Time to find out. I’m ready to take the challenge. In my view the only way to survive these times is by hard and smart working. Hard working by putting your customers in the middle of your activities (don’t know about the US, but in the Netherlands that’s kind of rare). Smart working by continuously improving your self, educating and trying new things. Don’t sit still.

Speaking of that latter, expect from me blogposts on innovation and the use of social media in the pharma business, the use of rich media to enhance your message, interesting interviews with inspiring people and a European look on the pharma world. I will be critical and direct sometimes, but that seems to be in the genes of many Dutch people. By all means, use the comment button…

Wishing you all the best for 2009 and speak to you soon!

Merry Christmas 2008…

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To all my readers, subscribers, friends, and supporters of Med 2.0, I’d like to wish you a very, very Merry Christmas for 2008 and thank you for your continued support!!!

BTW, my apologies for the 2 week hiatus, as I vacation in sunny Singapore, where I attended a wedding on the 13th of DEC and continue my extended stay through Christmas — below is a picture of me and some wonderful X’mas decor along Singapore’s famous Orchard Road in the background (note the Web 2.0 NYC t-shirt that I’m wearing :-) .

Josh Bernoff Webinar: Why Social Media is Your Best Marketing Strategy in a Recession

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Ok, now that it’s official we’re in a recession (in fact, since 2007…), it’s probably a good time to start prioritizing those budgets and figuring out which strategies will return the best investment.

So, if you’re in that mode right now, then you might find this (non-pharma specific) webinar interesting…It’s being put on by Awareness (social media marketing company) and features Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) from Forrester Research. The Webinar takes place on DEC 10th at 2pm EST.

Here’s a synopsis and link to register:

Are you a marketer looking for better ways to invest your budget during the recession? A recent Forrester Research study showed that more than 40% of marketers using social networks and user-generated content would increase their investments in a recession. To learn more about social media marketing in a today’s challenging business climate, please join us for the first public webinar about Forrester’s recent research on social media marketing and metrics during a recession, presented by Forrester Vice President, Josh Bernoff on Wednesday December 10th at 2:00 PM EST.

A few points that Josh will be discussing are:
• New research showing why and where marketers are planning to invest, and where to cut – including investments in social media marketing
• Strategies to build metrics into your social media marketing toprove your investments are working
• Examples of award-winning applications that delivered impressive, and highly measureable, results

If you’re a marketer considering adding social media marketing to your mix this is a must-attend event to learn what to do and how to justify your efforts in this economy. Join us for this free webinar on December 10th.

Click here to register.

On a related note, Don’t forget that you can also download a FREE copy of Bernoff’s report on “Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas” by registering here.

FDA Partners with WebMD For "New Online Consumer Health Information"

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So, the big news on DEC 3rd was the announcement by the FDA and WebMD about their “new partnership to inform and educate tens of millions of Americans”.

According to the press release…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and WebMD today announced a collaboration that expands consumers’ access to the agency’s timely and reliable important health information. This joint effort reflects the FDA’s emphasis on using innovative, technology-based strategies to carry out its foremost mission, which is to promote and to protect the public health…

The partnership includes:

  • A new online consumer health information resource on WebMD.com (www.webmd.com/fda): Consumers can access information on the safety of FDA-regulated products, including food, medicine and cosmetics, as well as learn how to report problems involving the safety of these products directly to the FDA. In addition, WebMD will bring the FDA public health alerts to all WebMD registered users and site visitors that request them. The cross-linked joint resource will also feature FDA’s Consumer Updates—timely and easy-to-read articles that are also posted on the FDA’s main consumer Web page (www.fda.gov/consumer).
  • The FDA contributions to WebMD The Magazine: FDA Consumer Updates will also be featured at least three times a year in WebMD’s bimonthly magazine, which reaches nearly nine million consumers. The magazine is distributed to physician office waiting
    rooms across the country.

As soon as the news broke on Wednesday (DEC 3rd) morning, it was quickly picked up on the Twitterverse and plenty of discussions erupted around the topic of this new relationship.

On the one hand, people were encouraged by the fact that the FDA was finally reaching out and “fishing where the fish are” — i.e. not expecting consumers to come to the FDA website to find important FDA-regulated product info, but to proactively publish info where consumers already typically turn to (i.e. WebMD). After all, and through their own admission, “The FDA Web site currently receives approximately 6 million visitors per month, most of which are representatives of regulated industry“, meaning that it’s not the average consumer, but mainly organizations that are regulated by the FDA (e.g. pharma, device manufacturers, etc.) that visit their website.

On the other hand, there’s also a concern about the “fairness” of a relationship between the FDA and a for-profit, pharma-sponsored organization. I mean, I have absolutely nothing against WebMD and I’m all for the for increasing public awareness by using consumer channels to engage them, but doesn’t an exclusive partnership with a for-profit company seem a bit like a bit of an endorsement?

Here’s a portion of the Memorandium of Understanding (MOU) between the FDA and WebMD that disclaims their endorsement — for some strange (suspicious?) reason, the PDF has disappeared from the FDA website at the time of posting this blog:

Focusing on point #2, there is an obvious and intentional purpose NOT to imply an FDA endorsement of the “product, service or Web site”. However, since no other health portals have the same arrangement with the FDA, wouldn’t the public perceive it that way? And wouldn’t such a relationship/partnership imbue an added level of trust and inherent promotion associated with WebMD, leading to increased traffic and, ultimately, financial gain?

Would this be similar to having a single sponsor for a CME event, instead of a multi-sponsored event? Isn’t the big reason for having multiple sponsors to show impartiality towards a specific organization?

Is it just me? Am I reading too much into this?

Having said all that, an interesting element in this scenario is that, according to their general Co-branding Agreement...

  • Co-branding arrangements are not exclusive. Entering into a partnership agreement does not restrict FDA from participating in similar initiatives with other public or private agencies, organizations or individuals…
  • Both parties agree that information FDA provides to co-branding organizations shall be public domain material. FDA shall have full rights to reuse the content for all FDA purposes, and the right to share with other collaborators or requestors.

In other words, the content that the FDA publishes on WebMD is not exclusive to WebMD — they can choose to publish it with another partner and it also belongs to the public domain, so anyone can repurpose the content. As someone on twitter said, “…so WebMD is just acting as the aperture through which FDA content can be repackaged and distributed“?

There’s also a bunch of other criteria that need to be adhered to as a partner, including the following for content display:

  • FDA Consumer Health Information should be easily distinguishable from non-FDA content. Placement of FDA Consumer Health Information on the Web or in printed publications should be clearly identified as such. Examples of clearly identifying FDA Consumer Health Information would be placing this information in a box and/or using a distinct color to distinguish it from non-FDA content, and/or otherwise clearly distinguishing the non-FDA content via an adequate disclaimer statement.
  • Printed and online pages containing FDA Consumer Health Information must be free of advertisements to avoid implying FDA’s endorsement or support for a particular product, service or Web site.

So, I’m not really sure where I finally stand on this…

Don’t get me wrong… I really like the idea that the FDA is reaching out to engage consumers in the “consumer playground” (as opposed to the old “build it and they will come” approach). But if reach is the key objective, why not partner with the top 10 health portals to give an even greater reach — just think about the Revolution Health and Everday Health merger for numbers!

I also saw another suggestion on Twitter that it “would maybe have been better done if they’d just done open source code for updates or offered RSS feed link to all? (already there)“. Indeed, why not just create a news/media feed or even a YouTube channel that can be distributed to ALL health portals, blogs, etc. At least, in that format, not only can specialized groups select relevant information, but viral distribution will also be inherent to the system, PLUS the FDA can then collect the usage data themselves (i.e. not reliant on the individual organizations to provide them the usage statistics/analytics, etc.).

It’ll be interesting to see how this evolves going forward. The way the MOU and Co-Branding Agreement is written, it does appear that the FDA has plans to grown beyond a single partnership and I sincerely hope they do. The more they can openly engage with consumers through channels where consumers are already consuming health-related content, the closer we will get to an informed and educated patient population.

Great concept!

But as for execution, I personally feel that for an organization that preaches impartiality — particularly when it comes to organizations that have a financial interest (and traffic = $$$ for a health portal) — a relationship with a for-profit company that provides a potential advantage to that company over other organizations in the same industry could be perceived as somewhat biased and unfair.

What do you think?

Google Webinar (DEC 4th) on Enterprise-Class Google Apps Deployment in Genentech

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For those of you interested in how Google Apps can be deployed in a large enterprise setting — in particular, a large pharmaceutical company, Genentech, with >12,000 distrubted employees — you will probably want to register for the upcoming Google webinar on “Achieve Success on Enterprise-class Google Apps Deployments“.


Here’s a brief description of the event and about Genentech’s adoption of Google Apps:

Achieve Success on Enterprise-class Google Apps Deployments:
Learn how Google Apps is used at a leading company with thousands of distributed employees on Thursday, December 4th, 10AM PST.  Hear from one of the chief project leads on the people, process and technology considerations that made the deployment a success.  Register here
.

Genentech turned on Google Calendar for its 12,000 employees last month. Located in South San Francisco, Genentech is a leading biotech company focused on discovering, manufacturing and delivering medicines to patients with unmet medical needs. Genentech recently decided to adopt Google Apps and wanted to make a sure the migration went smoothly.  The company deputized “Google Guides,” promoted Google Apps as superheros called the “Google Squad” and built out great training materials amongst other innovations. And even though Genentech expected a record number of helpdesk tickets to flood its “war room” given the size of the deployment, to the surprise of everyone, including Todd Pierce, the CIO of Genentech, the staff hardly heard a peep.

More and more companies are moving away from traditional/legacy infrastructure and migrating towards a SaaS approach, so for an industry like pharma that tends to lag behind,  I really think this webinar will be educational and informational, in terms of gleaming insights and experience from a company (in this industry) that is definitely way ahead of the game when it comes to technology adoption.

Also, I believe Genentech is one of those companies that adopts Salesforce.com (or Verticals on Demand on the Force.com platform) as a CRM/SFA tool. Since Salesforce.com has recently integrated Google Apps into their system, it will be very interesting to see if they demo how these tools may play a part in the overall sales detail and CRM/SFA implementation as well.

Today (Dec 1st) is World AIDS Day

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In case you didn’t know, today is World AIDS Day. Find out how you can participate over at AIDS.gov

Bloggers Unite

As part of the awareness-raising campaign, AIDS.gov and NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) have partnered with Blog Catalog to host “Bloggers Unite on World AIDS Day“. Other initiatives around this event include:

  1. Join the “Facing AIDS: World AIDS Day 2008” Campaign
  2. Linking people to HIV testing centers via Text Messaging (KNOWIT)
  3. Attending the World AIDS Day event in Second Life
  4. Telling people about CDCs new HIV incidence data

As part of my contribution to the cause, I’ve embedded below an interview I did with Miguel Gomez (Director, AIDS.gov), together with Fred Smith (from CDC), earlier this year at the New Media Expo 2008.

I was going to post the interview as a podcast episode on Med 2.0 Radio, but there was a lot of background chatter from other folks in the room and noise from the event staff shutting down the room, so I decided not to post it as an official podcast, but this occasion offers a perfect opportunity to publish the content. Here’s the interview:

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I’m also trying out a new service called VeoTag, which allows you to add chapters to the audio recording — feel free to try it out at the service and let me know what you think: Med 2.0 – Interview with Miguel Gomez (AIDS.gov) and Fred Smith (CDC). Hope you find it interesting!

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