Each year, I use this column to publish my annual
Predictions for the New Year. I’m proud of the accuracy of my historic predictions.
To judge for yourself how I’ve done, visit our blog at www.ehealthcaresolutions.com/blog and search “Predictions.”
While 2012 will bring the continued fear of patent expirations, it will also hold a ray of hope with several solid drug launches starting on solid footing. The pipeline too, is improving and is not as bleak as it once was. Optimism is on the horizon.

So what does 2012 have in store? Here are my top 10.

Predictions:

Prediction 1

Mobile: The trends in mobile continue to impress and the shifting consumption habits of users becomes too much to ignore. By the end of 2012, pharma’s exploration of mobile will reach “meaningful use.”

Prediction 2

Video: Big agencies will lead the charge for pharma into online video doing what they do best—TV. Experimentation with shorter ad formats, while challenging, will be necessary to capitalize on the captive and highly targeted online video audience.

Prediction 3

Retargeting: In an effort to better reach target physicians, pharmaceutical marketers will work with their ad network partners to create targeted retargeting segments of high value customers and bring online targeting of physicians and HCPs to a new level.

Prediction 4

Authentication: Continuing with the improved targeting of physicians, an increasing portion of the online advertising spend will be directed toward reaching authenticated physicians online as publishers roll out more sophisticated registration systems.

Prediction 5

Privacy issues: The FTC and others will continue to cause a stir in the online world over privacy issues by taking enforcement actions on violators who do not meet with accepted industry guidelines.

Prediction 6

Presidential Election: Obama will win the 2012 election by default, because the Republicans will fail to unite as a party and bring a viable centrist candidate to the ticket. Obama won’t win, as much as the Republicans will lose.

Prediction 7

Pharma’s pipeline: While 2012 will bring the continued fear of patent expirations, it will also hold a ray of hope with several solid drug launches starting on solid footing. The pipeline too, is improving and is not as bleak as it once was. Optimism is on the horizon.

Prediction 8

Publishing: Publishers will continue to embrace eBooks, iPads and other electronic handhelds as digital sales will exceed 25% of revenues for those with strong digital offerings.

Prediction 9

EMRs: The EMR land grab will only intensify as physicians rush to find, learn, pilot and commit to their EMR of choice. EMRs will create opportunity throughout the healthcare value chain for improved outcomes, efficiency and safety through the analysis of better data and information. Electronic Medical Records will rapidly move healthcare forward.

Prediction 10

FDA Guidelines on Social Media: In late December, the FDA issued draft guidance for the industry titled, “Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices.” This guidance was essentially the long-anticipated social media guidance that pharma has been seeking in order to understand how they can be part of the online communication, particularly when their brands are being mentioned, discussed inappropriately, or when customers have questions. In 2012 we will see much debate and interpretation around this guidance and the many questions that are still left open and unanswered. While you may see clarifications in the final guidance, don’t expect major enhancements or expanded guidance this year. It will be up to pharma to become more comfortable operating in uncertainty.

2011 Predictions…How’d I do?

Prediction #1

“The piloting of mobile programs will become mainstream for pharma.”
With over 5,000 medical apps and over 7,500 health & fitness apps in the iTunes store alone, mobile has clearly exploded in healthcare. Pharma, while a little slow out of the gate, has been piloting aggressively in this area.

Prediction #2

“The FDA guidance on social media and online, when it finally is released, will likely generate more questions than it answers.”
This one came true with just days remaining in 2011 when in late December the FDA released guidance titled, “Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information…” which caused the blogosphere to acknowledge that it left more questions than answers…

Prediction #3

“Online video will continue its explosive growth and be the second wind for large brand marketers to continue the shift from traditional to digital media.”
While not necessarily true for pharma, who is struggling to get fair balances and ISI into a 10 second clip, it is certainly true for other brand marketers.

Prediction #4

“The pharmaceutical industry’s reputation appears to have bottomed out.”
A recent APCO worldwide survey showed a one percentage point increase in pharma’s reputation among 3,000 surveyed.

Prediction #5

“Verifying and authenticating online physician audiences so that advertisers may target specific customer segments will become increasingly important.”
More clients and agencies are searching for this hard to obtain inventory. Finding it and securing meaningful reach is still challenging but improving.

Prediction #6

“Consumer privacy and the use of behavioral targeting, or ‘interest-based targeting,’ will come under increased scrutiny.”
Just read the recent headlines where both Google and Facebook came under attack for changing their respective privacy policies.

Prediction #7

“Expect to see more sales of medical publishers at low valuations, as well as closures of unprofitable titles.”
While this does not typically get promoted or advertised, both closures and low value sales have continued.

Prediction #8

“The economy continues to recover and accelerates the pace of improvement. Specifically, unemployment will fall to under 9% and the GDP will surpass 2.5% by the end of 2011.”
We had a 2.8% annual GDP rate during Q4, 2011, and 8.5% unemployment. When I wrote this one year ago, my Prediction seemed almost impossible. This too shall pass.

Prediction #9

“There will be at least one very big merger/acquisition in 2011 among the struggling old or exciting new online players.”
To my surprise, of the six major players I mentioned (AOL, Yahoo, Facebook, Groupon, Foursquare & Twitter) this really didn’t happen, though rumor spread about several, but it looks like they are instead selling to the public. Groupon already IPO’ed and Facebook is getting ready too.

Prediction #10

“Even with Republicans now holding a majority in the House, there will be no major changes or rollbacks to healthcare reform.”
Obamacare rolls on…

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