Specialty Pharma Can Learn from Tinder – Part I

by Yishai Knobel,

You’re at the doctor’s office, just after learning that you or your loved one has a disease you’ve never heard of. The doctor says it’s not a death sentence but in the same breath describes an overwhelming regimen of lab tests, weekly injections, nutritional guidelines and pills with scary names. Your mind is flooded: What is this? How will I pay for it? What will happen to my family? What will my friends say? How will we treat it? What will I have to change? Who can possibly understand what I am going through?

Now imagine you can pick up your smartphone, and swipe to find five other people around your age, maybe even from your city or state, who have been living with the same disease for quite some time. They can’t make the disease go away and it still sucks, but they’ve offered to lend a hand – or a shoulder to cry on – that might make dealing with it easier. Meet Jane, her daughter was born with a rare condition and she can offer insights on a helpful exercise routine or diet tips. Or perhaps Anne is a better fit – she was recently diagnosed and has already tried a number of treatments about which she has many opinions.

Companies like Uber, Tinder and LinkedIn have brought “matchmaking” technologies to dating, job hunting, networking and ride-sharing. It is convenient, instantaneous, feels personal and can be so effective that couples get married after “the internet introduced them”. So it only makes sense that such technologies may also benefit in a situation like the above, in the lobby of the doctor’s office, flooded with questions.

In the specialty health sphere, on top of sending shockwaves through the lives of the entire family, and overwhelming the daily routine with notoriously complex specialty , a new diagnosis also may bring extreme loneliness upon the individual, a result of the small size of many patient populations. In such small patient groups, the impact of successful matchmaking can make the difference between desperation and hope.

This is why we are so excited by the patent Helparound was recently granted, for our unique algorithm for matching patients with similar others. Matchmaking can be so important in helping an individual navigate through tricky insurance issues, getting used to a new, complex treatment, accessing new treatments if necessary and, most important, staying motivated. Or in our industry jargon, patient matchmaking technologies may help drive therapy Access, Activation and Adherence.

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Why I Joined this Team: Help in the Tough Moments

by Lindsay Tauber,

November 2016: I just left a routine ultrasound in week 15 of pregnancy, told that my son has a bilateral cleft lip. I’m devastated and my initial web search yields this fact: 85% of the time, it is a physical manifestation and can be surgically repaired; 15% it is one expression of a terrible chromosomal syndrome. I would now face 5-6 weeks of tests, none of which I had planned on or knew much about. I left the medical center and began researching everything I could about all the syndromes, the tests and their risks, cleft lip treatments, surgical techniques. I read hundreds of websites, some valuable and some less so. I would spend the next 6 weeks anxiously awaiting a barrage of test results; once I knew that it was not a chromosomal issue, I would spend the rest of pregnancy having more regular tests and ultrasounds than I had during the previous pregnancy, waiting to see how this would all go for us.

I joined the helparound team because I connect personally to our mission to support families facing life-changing diagnoses. When I first began discussing the opportunity with Yishai in August 2017, I had just come off of almost a year of navigating the diagnosis, treatment and surgical repair of my second son’s cleft lip. Though not a chronic condition, I identified with the issues we discussed addressing: dealing with a diagnosis, learning about a condition, navigating a complex treatment regimen, preparing for a new unknown reality.

I initially met Yishai and Shlomi a few years ago while working for a massive pharmaceutical company’s digital accelerator. We were in close touch with them and I watched as helparound iterated beyond the diabetes community to its new goal: provide stellar mobile support to small patient populations. I was impressed by many things, but two qualities stood out in particular: their dedication to helping people and their understanding of the possibilities for technology to make people’s lives easier.

April 2017: Oliver was born. As soon as I saw him, my anxiety melted away and I was enamored… and also realized that being a mother to this little guy would just be a bit more complex than my previous experience. I met with the surgeon and periodontist within a day of his birth to begin preparation for surgery. The brilliance of treating a cleft lip is they utilize the natural high speed growth of babies to close the cleft and improve surgical outcomes; in our case this would involve taping and an “outfitted” oxygen tube that would help shape his nose. We would be responsible for changing and cleaning all this twice daily. The next 4.5 months until surgery would be a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, calculated weight gain, blood tests and so on. My research regimen continued and I learned everything I could about any potential side effects of his cleft, what preventive checks I must ensure he has, how to double feed him so he gained enough to have surgery at such a young age. I spent those months organizing my son’s reality around the success of his surgery. Time passed, he grew, we got through everything and the surgery was a glowing success. We will maintain a light schedule of check-ups for the next few years and life has returned to its rhythm.

Sitting across the table from Yishai in August 2017 talking about the navigation of complex treatments for chronic diseases, I felt connected to the idea that these people need mobile support. I did everything on my phone with Oliver, from research to setting appointments to ordering taxis, but I used a combination of apps that I found to serve my needs. Easily finding information on a disease in the initial shock following a diagnosis or the ability to ask others with the same experience questions at any time is an invaluable resource, especially on your phone as you rush to to the next appointment or test. Knowing you have a comprehensive resource and a peer community can make the whole picture seem less daunting. As we began brainstorming more possibilities this mobile support platform could potentially offer, it was blatantly obvious that this is the way I want to spend my workday: making it easier for mothers* to navigate their children’s treatment.

*Disclaimer: Of course I want to make it easier for all caregivers, but in that moment I have to be honest that as a mother I thought about the mothers.

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In Specialty Pharma, a Sleeping Bear is Waking Up to Digital

by Yishai Knobel,

Pop quiz: who picks up the phone when you call a Pharma’s Patient Support Program? Hint: it’s usually not the Pharma itself.

Here at Helparound, we focus on the challenges a life-changing diagnosis brings upon individuals and their families, when an entire family’s life is turned upside down by the news of a disease to manage, and thrown into a whirlpool of Providers, Payers and Pharmacies to navigate their new reality. Yet one massive stakeholder in the newly diagnosed patient’s world is struggling to reach them: the Patient Hub, the therapy manufacturer’s patient-services proxy.

Because regulation blocks Pharmas from talking directly to patients – but specialty therapies, frequently biologics, require guidance and patient services so treatment regimens are carried out correctly and safely – Patient Hubs are the intrinsic patient communication arm for the Pharma. Hubs are an extremely important piece of the puzzle for people dealing with chronic disease and high burden therapy, yet many people don’t even know they exist or what they can do to help.

Speaking to numerous Hubs, we found that while other patient-facing players, e.g. providers, have been adopting patient engagement technologies , Hubs mainly work through traditional CRM systems and call centers. Hubs offer wonderful “wrap-around” services to patients by staffing their call centers with credentialed nurses and pharmacists, according to the 2017 Hub Services Report (Pharmaceutical Commerce). But there are many ways to support patients beyond their bi-weekly or monthly call from the nurse. (Full disclosure: Helparound fills the gaps between these calls through mobile: http://helparound.co)

Hubs are projected to support a $165B industry of specialty therapies in 2018. Specialty therapies accounted for 28% of the pharmacy industry’s prescription dispensing revenues in 2016 according to Drug Channel. With the current expansion of specialty treatments, this percentage is projected to grow to 42% by 2021. Yet today only 19% of patients are even aware of Hub Services (Accenture). Patients should know there are support channels available to them – and It’s time to bring this indispensable aspect of the patient communication chain to a mobile, patient-friendly platform.

About Helparound: We believe families facing a life changing conditions need more than an online brochure and a monthly phone call from a nurse. Helparound is activating the Hub-revolution: to extend patient Hub services through a highly personalized mobile platform, to deliver the support these families deserve.

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6 Patient Support Rules-of-Thumb for Pharma Marketers

by Yishai Knobel,

Recent Deloitte Review on patient services paints a clear picture on patient services by Pharmas:  70% of surveyed life science executives indicated that their organizations were moderately/somewhat ready to implement effective patient engagement strategies, and more than half (55%) felt they needed to be “extremely ready” in the next two years.

And indeed, some initial efforts by pharma companies have emerged around it:  Biogen’s Above MS, Genzyme’s MS One to One, AstraZeneca’s AZ & Me clinical education and prescription savings programs and Abbvie’s Humira Complete support program for all of Humira’s autoimmune indications.

Such patient services span many different aspects of the patient’s life, but Deloitte highlights the following key needs to address in patient services: Financial, Clinical, Engagement, Therapy, and Education.  That said, in conversations with our pharma partners at HelpAround,  we often see good ideas running into unnecessary user-experience pitfalls.

So we set to summarize these conversations into 6 patient support rules of thumb, regardless of therapeutic area.

And here it goes:

  1. Frequent – securing recurring slots in your patients’ attention is one of the most challenging tasks nowadays.  However, marketing a therapy for a chronic condition has the “benefit” that the patient has already allotted a mental slot to squeeze into.   The more frequent your services are used, the stronger the connection you would build with the patient.  The task for frequent usage medication is easier than for bi-weekly injections for instance, but the latter has a greenfield of opportunity in between.
  2. Timely – just like an effective push notifications on your smartphone, patient services need to be timely.  Does taking your therapy require travel?  call them an Uber;  does it require fasting?  find them a breakfast spot for the morning.
  3. Personalized – consumers have zero tolerance to copy-paste offerings.  The personalization bar is incredibly high and requires an effort to personalize service offerings.  Age, sex, behavioral profile:  all these are available today by companies like HelpAround, Neura, Medisafe, HelloHeart and more;  don’t ignore them.
  4. Actionable – a patient service that is not actionable leaves the patient in passive mode.   Ask the patient to claim the offered service.   They’d appreciate it more if they “worked” for it.
  5. Bold – patient services is where brand teams can go really wild.  Look at the patient journey that you have developed, and find friction points to alleviate.   Is it prescription refills?  a free Uber ride to the clinic?  what else?
  6. Consistent with your message – living life to the fullest,  sense of security, etc. – you have already positioned your therapy in your DtC communication.   If it has worked well, then your patient service offering should be consistent with your message.  If it’s about lifestyle, then offer lifestyle services;  if simplicity – find ways to make their life easier, etc.


What are some of the effective (or ineffective) patient support strategies you have seen out there? 

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Hit by stroke while driving, man gets hold of his family members using Alert app

by Shoshana Nacass,

South Carolina, April 2nd, 2016.

Charles, 53, was driving on Ashley River Road, Charleston SC on Saturday when he suffered a stroke. He had the presence of mind to reach for his phone and tap the Alert button.

One tap was enough for the life-saving app to send an Alert to his family. Both his daughters and wife’s phones buzzed at once with alert text messages notifying them of Charles’ exact location. A phone call automatically followed, and everyone was conferenced-in. Charles’ daughters acted fast: they instructed him to pull over and quickly alerted the emergency services. In no time, Charles was able to receive treatment and was thankfully out of the hospital a few days later.

”I had to use an alert this past weekend when I suffered a stroke on the side of the road. The app worked beautifully to notify three members of my family, call them, and provide them with my exact location where I was located. I cannot thank you enough for the help this little app provided me. Quite literally, it may have saved my life.” (Charles, South Carolina, April 2016)

Following a stroke last May, Charles had done some research before choosing the Alert app.

“ I tested several apps to see which one provided the fewest key strokes to activate while providing multiple forms of contact to my support group (family and/or Doctor). Your app was a hands-down winner.”

An Alert can be triggered seamlessly by tapping the Alert button or shaking the phone — a simple tap on the wrist does it as well for Apple Watch holders.

In critical times, every second counts. Charles is doing better; his recovery was actually quicker since he was allowed to receive treatment so quickly:  ”I am much better now. Because I was able to receive treatment so quickly, my hospital stay was short and my recovery has been much faster.”

About Alert by HelpAround

Alert is the Simplest Way to Call for Help. A simple tap on the Alert Button notifies three emergency contacts, texts them your exact location and conferences-in all of them at once. Alert is a free app available for iPhone, Android and the Apple Watch; unlimited Voice Alerts are offered to premium users. Download the Alert app for free here.

Learn more about the Alert app at www.helparound.co/alert

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Alert your family from your Apple Watch

by Yishai Knobel,

When we launched the Alert app back in July, we wanted give our loved ones a way to reach us easily.  Our children, parents and grandparents needed a better way to reach us when in distress.  The existing, antiquated panic buttons we gave our aging family members screamed, ‘I might need help!’.  As a result, many forgot or refused to wear them due to the stigma associated with them, not wanting to come off as dependent and helpless.

Today, we are super excited to introduce Alert for the Apple Watch, offering our aging population a convenient, accessible, and elegant way to reach us in times of need.   Alert for Apple Watch gives them back their independence and allows them to go around freely with peace of mind, and while looking as elegant as ever with a beautiful Apple Watch!

Alert for Apple Watch is available on the App Store, which can be found on the Apple Watch app on iPhone under the Featured tab. The users’ alert contacts don’t need to use a smartphone to receive alerts. The basic app is available for free and includes the text message service and three conference calls. An upgraded subscription is available for $9.95 a month and includes unlimited calls.

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Knowing when your loved one needs you

by Yishai Knobel,


“It’s not just for me, it’s for HER”, Bethany pointed at her 6-year-old daughter who was having lunch with us outside HelpAround’s offices last week.  “If my sugars ever go too low and I pass out, I would want her to press ONE big button on the iPad in order to alert my husband, my mom, and our neighbor”.

Since we developed Diabetes Helpers, we’ve seen thousands of strangers stepping up to help each other, but we also learned how much fear our users have to cope with.  We came to realize how imperative it is for anyone to get a hold of the people they trust the most, in times of distress. This is why we built Alert.

The app is very simple:  pressing a big red button or shaking the phone allows anyone to alert and conference-in the people they trust.  And we designed it not only for the diabetes community, but for anyone living or caring for someone at risk of experiencing physical or emotional distress:  Asthma attacks,  severe allergic reactions,  addiction relapses, panic attacks, dementia-related confusions, Crohn’s flare ups, and the list goes on and on. In all of these moments, our fine motor skills deteriorate and our thinking can become muddled, which makes it difficult to properly navigate a smartphone.  So we made it as easy as a shake of the phone to send an alert.

We hope you like it, and we hope it makes you feel safer and closer to the most trusted people in your lives.

— Yishai & Team HelpAround


Alert is available for download on iOS, and Android mobile phones.



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