Innovators 2014: People

The Harvard Business Review recently interviewed 58 CEOs in the healthcare sector, and the words they most used to describe the keys to their organizations’ futures: Change and innovation. What else could it be? As the healthcare system continues evolving and becomes more focused on delivering value, companies need to find new ways to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs. Innovation may be more important to this industry’s success than ever before—and marketers are not exempt from this challenge. Not only should they help find ways to provide more value to customers, but they must also continue to adapt to the ever-changing means by which people communicate. This requires new solutions, offerings and thinking that can solve the problems life science companies currently face—as well as problems they are sure to face right
around the corner.

We highlight these forward-thinkers in our third annual Innovations in Pharma Marketing special issue and provide a guide to the Companies, Divisions, Products, People, Services and Strategies that can help create success in the New Year. Once again, our call for innovation did not go unheard. We were bombarded with remarkable submissions from across the industry. The following represent a select collection of today’s best industry innovations and innovators. These range from exciting new ways to speed up drug discovery and development to a platform that can revolutionize rare disease marketing. That’s just a taste! Between the 62 innovations/innovators in this issue and the directory of some of today’s most innovative companies, we believe you’ll find plenty of ideas to help make 2015
a great year.

Here are our picks for people. Visionary leaders, rainmakers, trendsetters and change-agents who ensure that the industry continues to move forward with new technologies, methods and strategies.



The savviest marketers in the pharma industry know they must become the center of customer truth by connecting the brand’s goals not only with the journeys of every patient, but with the key impact points of targeted physicians as well. To make a successful connection, they need to completely understand the customer experience as it exists today. Because once a positive experience is created and a customer becomes a “trusted advisor” to your brand, the brand becomes synonymous with delivering value.

Michael Adelman is one of these savvy marketers. He recognized the challenge of connecting the lifelong journeys of those afflicted with hemophilia B to the critical support his company has to offer. He understood that in order to create great experiences, he must first establish some infallible ground rules:

  • Understand the total view of the customers and realize their “stories” are at the core of the decisions that affect their lives.
  • Offer a consolidated, enterprise view (versus a single-product view).
  • Manage the “customer experience” at all touch points.
  • Share information across the organization—beyond marketing.
  • Drive success for the business.
  • Deliver business intelligence.

In essence, Michael knows that by making patients and healthcare professionals the heroes in their own journeys, he will create positive experiences that are at the core of a customer’s willingness to engage with his brands, remain adherent to therapy, recommend his brand to others—and never switch when exposed to competitive promotion.

THE BRAND BUILDER: Julie Cottineau


How do you innovate in a highly regulated category such as pharma? You look outside of the industry for the twist. That’s the strategy that Julie Cottineau follows with her brand consulting firm BrandTwist. Julie likes to shake things up. And that’s what she did for five years working with the ultimate entrepreneur, Richard Branson, as the VP Brand for Virgin before she started her own venture in 2011.

BrandTwist helps companies think and act more nimbly no matter what their size. The secret? Looking at lessons from well-loved brands such as Virgin, Apple, Starbucks and twisting those lessons to create ideas that break through in crowded categories.

Before Virgin, Julie honed her branding chops with powerhouse agencies such as Grey Global and Interbrand. At Interbrand, she led numerous branding projects within healthcare such as The American Heart Association Go Red for Women branding as well as branding projects for Novo Nordisk and the rebranding of C-Change (formerly the National Dialogue on Cancer).

BrandTwist’s approach removes the “brand blinders” that come from working day in and out in the same category and obsessing about the same competition. In addition to services such as brand differentiation workshops, brand strategy, inspirational brand safaris, naming and keynote speaking—BrandTwist also offers a complete A to Z brand learning program through Brand School. This master class combines an online high-tech approach with high-touch, one-to-one student attention and is perfect for executives of any level. Julie can be reached at



Venkat Gullapalli, MD, Founder and CEO of Medikly, is a pediatrician and serial entrepreneur who has been active in the pharmaceutical marketing space for more than 14 years. Dr. Gullapalli identified pharma’s decreasing face-to-face access to physicians combined with the increasing use of online channels by physicians, as an unprecedented opportunity for pharma to gain a new, more significant understanding of its audience. Determined to impact the $60 billion pharmaceutical promotions market, Dr. Gullapalli worked tirelessly over the past three years to build Medikly, an operating system for pharmaceutical marketers to help track and ultimately predict physician behavior.

Medikly is a cloud-based marketing operating system for pharmaceutical marketers that allows them to better reach, engage and understand physicians on an individual level, enabling brands to find, understand and replicate their high-value audiences.

For example, MediklyOS:

  • Tracks content consumption patterns of physicians visiting a brand’s paid, owned or earned digital assets.
  • Creates a transactional, behavioral and attitudinal view of a single physician that takes into account disparate data sources.
  • Enriches each physician profile by integrating all public information available as well as off-line information such as sales data, publication history, etc.
  • Assigns a brand value to each physician based on level of engagement with the brand, prescribing habits and influence level.

Thanks to Dr. Gullapalli, pharma marketers now have an enhanced ability to truly understand their physician audience and make and measure their engagement decisions in real time. He can be reached at



There are a lot of very smart people in the pharmaceutical industry. Boris Kushkuley is the cream of that crop.

Boris Kushkuley heads Intouch Solutions’ multichannel marketing practice and has more than 20 years of multinational experience leading state-of-the-art digital, marketing and eCRM providers in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.

Russian by extraction, Boris earned a PhD in biophysics from the Sackler Institute of Molecular Medicine in Tel Aviv and began his career at the Weizmann Institute of Science, designing and developing groundbreaking online interfaces to biological databases. Later, he joined SoftWatch, a pioneer of eCRM and disease management solutions for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.

Boris is known for building, growing and leading energetic and innovative marketing, agency and technology organizations. He has a strong understanding of how business and marketing interweave with innovation and technology. Boris’ years of multichannel and digital strategy are complemented by his extensive, hands-on technology experience with architecting and building eMarketing solutions for Fortune 500 companies.

Boris recently launched INTUNE MCM, the proprietary methodology that sets Intouch clients apart in multichannel strategy. INTUNE MCM fuses brand, creative, medical, CRM and analytics to create a focused strategy, a multichannel ecosystem, and tactics to deliver an integrated marketing mix that meets brand needs, reaching customers at the right moment with the right messages. He can be reached at



When Jenn Mason joined the Snow Companies, the agency had already made itself a name in the DTP space with its Patient Ambassador programs. Nevertheless, Jenn has clearly left a lasting mark on the company’s profile within both the life science industry and the patient community, bringing novel ideas to the table.

First, Jenn reformed the outreach and recruitment process from the ground up, implementing a new CRM and establishing performance benchmarks. In fact, under her auspices the team has turned into a full-fledged advocacy relations department with an increased profile as the patient community’s trusted partner and intermediary to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, preserving the Snow Companies’ paradigm of customizing everything they do to patient needs.

Second, Jenn established a bold new approach for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to find that proverbial needle in a haystack. This is most relevant in rare and orphan disease categories, in which low numbers of patients overall paradoxically mean high numbers of patients who remain undiagnosed and untreated. Jenn recognized the need for a dragnet approach to reach those diverse and dispersed populations. She oversaw the setup of a call center that brought connections between patients, prescribers and the life science industry to fruition without the need for pharma clients to undergo large investments in in-house solutions.

Jenn Mason has clearly established herself as a leader in patient relations for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. She can be reached at



Creating a unique value proposition for a women’s healthcare brand in today’s crowded and competitive market is fraught with pitfalls. Many marketers try to create clever approaches that often appear differentiating but, in reality, are simply re-packaged versions of the same. Rather than trying to be different for different’s sake, Herm Cukier decided to focus his team’s time and budget on four fundamental, but significant, strategies:

1. Understand and predict current and potential customer needs and behavior patterns across all channels.
2. Develop and execute plans to interact with customers and prospects in a manner that delivers what they need, when they need it, and how they want it.
3. Fully leverage both inbound and outbound customer touch points to support and deliver the optimal customer experience.
4. Transform data and analysis into business intelligence.

By maintaining a laser focus on these four strategies, his team was able to create added value specific to desired experiences and support, rather than spend time on creating better window dressing. Working with patients and physicians to build a roadmap of support helped create a transformational campaign that allowed the brand to better predict existing and future behaviors. This experienced-based approach also helped create a trusted advisor relationship and high degree of loyalty among patients and healthcare professionals that became much stronger than any “bells and whistles” campaign could achieve.

A MERGER MASTER: Steven Michaelson


Innovators are creators. Innovation is continuous. Great chefs do not serve the same dishes year after year. They consistently create new ones. No different in our industry. And perhaps no one is a better example of this than Steven Michaelson who knows we have to change with the changing times.

This year, Steven helped merge three agencies—Star Life Sciences, Vox Medica and Calcium NYC—together to create one—the new Calcium. Together, these agencies are known for their strategic thinking; creative, medical and scientific acumen; digital technologies; and second-to-none client service.

As the CEO of the new agency, Steven is thinking beyond developing award-winning campaigns and technological solutions. The agency has been implementing inventive new concepts, including:

  • Being among the first to deliver a mobile-native experience in the respiratory category, with relentless pursuit of innovation that keeps them at the top of the class.
  • Evolving online systems to track and refine the practical use and functionality of field force tools and detailing.
  • Data-sharing partnerships to measure the impact of promotional messages in specific message environments.

Steven makes sure his employees understand that it is no longer innovative enough to create great strategy, creative, message, tactical execution and just push it out to customers through traditional and technologic delivery systems. Today, you have to get customers to ask for your product message and be there when they do. Because, as Steven knows, sometimes the times are forced to change with us. He can be reached at



Tim Nelson has been innovating in the digital space since the days when Internet cafés were considered a cool convention experience. Over the years, regardless of the latest technology, he is focused on crafting unique customer experiences by bringing together multiple avenues of communication—ranging all the way from giant screen displays that literally dominate the convention floor space, to immersive iPad walkthroughs that provide personally directed levels of engagement and learning.

For Tim, each point of customer engagement—large or small—needs to connect the audience with the overall story. To build engagement, at the beginning of each project he asks, “How can we completely immerse customers in the story?” One source of Tim’s inspiration is theme parks such as Disney and Universal Studios. In his eyes, the best theme park experiences are able to engage people directly inside a story—so much so that they don’t even realize how much they are learning. The key is to weave the plot directly into the flow of the ride or exhibit.

Looking forward to 2015 and beyond, Tim envisions a marketing communication environment in which customers can experience a seamless story as they move from device to device. He wants to be able to anticipate where the audience will be at various moments during the day, and message them appropriately. Technology is evolving fast enough so that we can finally tell a story in a truly immersive fashion. He can be reached at



Sander Flaum could easily rest on his laurels. After all, he established the first programs for indigent patients, co-pay and persistency programs—all of which have become industry standards.

For example, when sales for Buspar were struggling, he started a persistency program in which patients called an 800 number to hear physicians speak about the clinical benefits of Buspar and its lack of side effects compared to competitors. And when Searle’s Calan CR was the third beta blocker on the market he developed a patient guarantee program in which Searle promised to refund the cost of the Rx and pay for the patient’s next Rx if physicians did not get the desired outcome in 14 days.

But despite these accomplishments, Sander cannot rest. His renowned creativity oozes out of his thinking and discussions with his now select, hand-picked roster of clients as he offers suggestions anchored in his prior experience launching and turbo-charging pharma products. He can be reached at



If you’ve ever searched the drugstore aisles, you’ve probably seen them: Dispensers that extend from the shelf and contain printed information about pharmaceutical brands. You may be surprised to learn that this “in-store pharmacy marketing” business has served more than 65 pharmaceutical manufacturers since its inception in 2002, encompassing 140 brands and 67 categories in a network of over 30,000 pharmacies!

What began as a small pilot with a Merck brand in a few CVS stores grew to what it is today for two reasons: 1) Every program is quantitatively measured to provide data-proven impact on prescription volume and patient value. 2) The person behind the company believed in the premise, cultivated it and had the vision to keep it relevant in an ever-changing pharmaceutical marketing landscape.

That person is Jim O’Dea. He has long been an ambassador for raising awareness about the retail pharmacy’s significance as a vital healthcare destination and as an ideal channel for patient education. Jim can be reached at



Matthew West has been a talent acquisition leader in the healthcare advertising industry for nearly two decades. Unlike other third-party recruiters, Matthew was actually born and bred in a pharma advertising agency in a non-HR role. But what really sets Matthew apart: His passion is people.

As a former account manager at McCann Regan Campbell Ward, Matthew is fluent in all therapeutic categories. And, having spent years as the agency’s Director of Talent Acquisition, he is attuned to the politics of the industry as well as the personalities of the agencies’ higher-ups. He takes the time to get to know everyone and has an uncanny ability to know where each talent would best be served.

Currently, Matthew is working on creating a proprietary screening tool that not only evaluates skill sets, but also hones in on personality traits that will ensure a better fit in a prospective organization. The goal: To increase retention and productivity. Matthew is truly the talent connector of the healthcare advertising industry. He can be reached at


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