Predictions 2015

This marks the fifth year that I’ve offered my annual predictions through this column. I encourage you to judge my accuracy for yourself. Prior predictions can be found at (go to to see last year’s). Here’s what I think 2015 has in store:

1. As medical data rapidly moves from paper files to electronic records, it is anonymized and leveraged in multiple ways, including for marketing purposes. Claims data, Rx pharmacy data, EMR/EHR data and other data sets will be at least partially accessible in a HIPAA compliant privacy-friendly way. Geo-medical targeting, whereby small geographic segments are indexed and ranked by disease propensity to improve digital advertising targeting is just the beginning.

2. More brands will focus digital efforts on reaching authenticated prescriber and list match targeting. The use or abuse of such data could lead to a public relations fiasco if brands’ collections, intentions and data use are not clearly communicated to end users.

3. EMR attention shifts from doctors toward pharma as a revenue source. As one pharma executive interviewed for my pending book, Results, said in reference to pharma’s brand-centric marketing approach, “I’m not sure how we’ll ultimately play within the EMRs, but I’m pretty certain whatever we do, will ruin it.” Adapting to a customer-centric service provider role could maximize this emerging platform.

4. Outcomes-based medicine evolves as a viable go-forward business model as early efforts yield positive results. Most companies today are hedging their bets and experimenting with multiple approaches to the changing healthcare landscape including outcomes-based medicine, the evolution of niche specialty medications that can still command a premium price and a focus on generics. Some will start to concentrate their bets on a new future based on outcomes.

5. Pharma industry consolidation will continue as companies experiment with the best path forward results in winning and losing business models. Companies that struggle or seek more competitive scale may seek acquirers.

6. Digital micro targeting is ever more important for specialty pharma brands with small patient populations and harder to reach pockets of prescribers. Digital is an ideal medium for these brands—and the shift to digital accelerates.

7. As healthcare records data become aggregated into an increasingly consolidated data set, a first significant data breach of healthcare records will occur—similar to the Target and Home Depot credit card breaches. While I can’t say this will happen in 2015, I can say that it will eventually. When it does, the privacy debate within healthcare will restart.

8. The tech industry titans—Google, Apple and Facebook—will continually move into healthcare and increase the competitiveness of all incumbent players. These titans focus on disruption—simply competing might not be enough.

9. Wearables improve and evolve their wireless connection with mobile devices to create more interesting opportunities for healthcare marketers and those trying to influence outcomes. Led by the Apple Watch, a new breed of wearable devices begins influencing healthcare.

10. Vendors who have not provided any digital offerings capitulate. Although beyond their core competency, most vendors will offer some type of digital “add-on” going forward. Buyer beware.



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