October 21, 2022

Four Lessons from Digital Pharma East 

Philadelphia skyline at dusk

Digital Pharma East brought together hundreds of the best marketers in the business this week in Philadelphia, along with the top digital partners serving the industry.

One of these partners, Snapchat, has been working with healthcare brands to create augmented reality filters for disease awareness. During an intriguing conversation in the exhibit hall, Snap revealed they’re working on a new pharma offering that will allow regulatory-safe branded interactions within the platform. Conversations like these are why I return to work full of ideas! 

Of course, the many great speakers were the main offering of the conference. Here are the four top issues I saw being discussed, along with some of my favorite quotes – brilliant, funny, edgy, and thought-provoking. 


Speakers had a strong focus on “defining omnichannel” – what it means, how we get there, where it’s headed – with some very experienced healthcare marketers sharing their views and learnings. Some definitions that stood out to me: 

  • “Omnichannel is about contextual relevance – reaching customers at the right time with the right insight and content.” – Steven Xie, Biohaven  
  • “When you leave this 1:1 conversation, you will continue having that conversation with us across all the different touchpoints.” – Michael Kirzhner, AbbVie  
  • “Omnichannel means my brand is there for them when they need the information.” – Shirley Lin, Dermavant  


Nearly all conference speakers are trying to get their organizations to become more agile. It mirrors the conversations I’ve had with my own clients the past two years at EVERSANA INTOUCH. While I’m working on ways to help clients put the right frameworks in place to enable greater agility, it was helpful to learn this remains a universal challenge: 

  • “We don’t live in a world anymore where we build plans once a year. We need to be reevaluating our environment every day. This agile mindset can put people off, but we are in a dynamic environment, so our teams need to act that way.” – Michelle Kehily, Merck  
  • “Pharma brands are like a bathtub with the drain open. You have to build the brand quickly before the patent expires.” – Dave Paragamian, Health Monitor Network  
  • “Covid was a watershed experience for Sanofi, and we’re never looking back. Machine learning, personalization, content velocity: they’re part of the picture now.” - Craig McGettigan, Sanofi  

Customer Fatigue 

My favorite speaker was Katherine Atkinson from Evofem, who spoke about the creation of the award-winning Phexxi birth control brand – an inspirational story of empowering women, set against the backdrop of women losing rights in the U.S. and around the world. The TV spots starring the smart and hilarious Annie Murphy, paired with a digital campaign that centered around TikTok influencers, drove a 94% increase in prescriptions six weeks after launch.  

To battle customer fatigue, our industry must consider the values, concerns, and context surrounding healthcare decisions, so we can create work that breaks through. I’m particularly inspired to look at how our teams are leveraging machine learning (another popular speaker topic) to more deeply understand our customers – who they are, what makes them tick, and when to engage with them. 

  • “We’re moving from an era of reach and frequency to one of timeliness and relevance. If there’s too much ‘spray and pray,’ people are going to opt out.” -Andy Kennemer, GSK  
  • “It definitely makes your omnichannel campaign more effective when you use personalization. When you really understand your customer, you know when you’ve exceeded their limit.” - Crystal Bullard, Genentech  
  • “It’s all about personalization for us; for patients wanting to opt in, versus flooding their inboxes and TikTok feeds. It’s more about them saying, ‘Oooh, that’s cool, I want more of that.’” – Rebekah Carty, Takeda  


It was great to hear from the best in our industry, to see clients in person – and to strike up conversations with new acquaintances, only to hear them eagerly share that they’re happily working with EVERSANA INTOUCH teams too! My experiences underlined what we heard from speakers about the importance of high-value partnerships in getting great work accomplished:

  • “It isn’t enough to build a digital solution and hand it over to them. You have to bring them on the trip with you.” – Shola Oyewole, UTC  
  • “Our days are super busy. If cookies ‘disappear,’ what does that mean for me? I rely on my partners to provide the information I need to do my job better.” – Shirley Lin, Dermavant  

If you weren’t able to make it to Philadelphia, there will be a virtual version of the conference Oct. 25-28. Don’t miss it!