Jonathan Bush Urges Pharma to Take a New Look at the Pharma Business Model

//Jonathan Bush Urges Pharma to Take a New Look at the Pharma Business Model

Jonathan Bush Urges Pharma to Take a New Look at the Pharma Business Model

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Jonathan Bush tells it like it is to pharma by Lois Drapin, CEO, The Drapin Group LLC  See the whole blog here – I just take some quotes..;-)


First, let’s not forget his reasons for being there.  As he stated, ‘I am the proud owner of Epocrates, Epocrates, Epocrates (product announcement).”   But now let’s take that a bit further.  He presented himself as a pharma outsider.  Indeed.  And pharma is now finding itself more on the outside of the healthcare delivery process than ever before. ..

“Our business model, said Bush, “depends on the patient doing the thing that the doctor wants… in order for us to get revenue.  So we may use a web app, carrier pigeons or trained llamas to get that outcome in the office, to get that patient  to come into the office or a patient paying the bill or a patient picking up their prescription, or a patient coming back after an abnormal blood test.  That is the revenue event for Athena, not the app. “..

Pharma needs a conversion: “Pull the good thing through”

According to Bush, and you could hear a pin drop in the crowded room, pharma needs to “converts its incredible set of cures into a sustainable new business model in this era.”  In fact he had already made this statement: “There are fetters to the business model that will pull the good thing through….and this …whole sub-sector is a casting about for a business model to pull the good thing through.”

…hospitals exit the theater.  2013 is well over 150 mergers now where there are only 4,350 hospitals left and now we are down to less than 1800 decision makers in the entire two trillion dollar market or something like  1,700 and some actual buyers. …

According to Bush, these enormous systems are faced with a similar dilemma.  “Hospitals are realizing that they actually can’t produce enough sick people by buying up primary care doctors to do this so they’re sort of struggling with ‘How am I going to expand the number of patients that I touch this hospital with?’.. 
You have seen an explosion in marketing efforts by health systems to try and to get to more patients and an explosion in accountable care efforts to get smarter about reducing hospital days. …

Bush asked the pharma marketers in the room to not only focus on hospital days, but on hospital stay.  Here is the three-step process he admonished the community to take:


Take every drug you have and organize it by disease by the number of hospital days that could go away.  “Find the moments that matter financially and clinically.”Jump into the moment of care with a cure.  “There is more than one definition of the ‘cure’.”  At this point, armed with a true understanding of hospital stay, pharma can market directly to the “biospheres”…the same systems that are shutting down the ability to go doctor by doctor, the gatekeepers.  Bush says what once was your enemy, will become your friend.Follow up on the prescriptions that are written and make sure the patients get those drugs but also ‘don’t end up in the hospital.”  “Relentlessly follow up on all conditions for success,” said Bush.


According to Bush, athenahealth has a ‘higher percentage of patients connecting to our clients online than anyone else…much higher that Kaiser…which used to be number one at this.”  What’s in the secret sauce?


Pharma can sponsor a medical home program with any doctor that wants it or with any biosphere that wants it.  Using Athena’s ability to bring the right pathway to the physician and his/her patient, and to get the patient to do the thing the patient is supposed to do, pharma can activate being at the right time and at the right moment…with a cure. Find help with analyzing the hospital stay, it could be athenahealth, it could be others.Jonathan says that pharma’s marketing  style to physicians and to consumers is the turn off.  The experience of Epocrates is 12 pt. font.  Simple. Essential.  Relentless. “Think of advertising on NPR…you are extremely constrained on what you can do and say on NPR but the impact it makes when you just get down to the facts and cut all the fluff is higher in some audiences.”  To be clear, athenahealth advertises on NPR.   Physicians have learned to deconstruct, then reconstruct for a living.  “It is deconstruction discipline.”Bush believes that pharma can serve the doctor by knowing how the drug works.  Pharma can knows this too–not just that it works, but in what population and how it works best.  Pharma can know the hospitals days and stay, the deflection point, so to speak.athenahealth has the cloud and the technology.  They are able to pop up on the doctor’s portal, powered by athenahealth and have the physician message the patient as they pass a Walgreens…even if they filled a prescription at CVS last week.  Remember, athenahealth is going to get to that patient no matter what depends on it.  That is their business model.Lastly, Bush praised pharma for their clinical trials.  Too bad they don’t resemble real life.  “Of course as soon as your drug is legal, well then of course everything else is in play…the smog, the stress, the location, the fashion…everything is now part of whether your drug works.”  Therein is the market opportunity in “working the way in which drugs are fit into real life and so you become a welcome sponsor again.”    He said, ‘if this doesn’t work, if you’ve eaten already, if this doesn’t work if you miss a dose, if this works better if you cut down on animal facts, you (pharma) are in play for that.”  This is where pharma can excel.  “The more you can do to wrap real life around your drug, make your cure actually cure, the more you can point to hospital days that went away, the more those biospheres will actually be your accelerator, not your preventer.”


Pharma marketers are taking a new wave of “beyond the pill” marketing solutions into healthcare.  Is this really new?  …  I think it’s time we stopped using marketing buzz words to describe what pharma needs most.  What pharma needs most, according to Bush, is a sustainable business model that pulls “the good thing through.”Lois Drapin, MPS-H.S.A.


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By | 2014-05-27T13:46:17+00:00 May 27th, 2014|Healthcare Marketing Strategy|Comments Off on Jonathan Bush Urges Pharma to Take a New Look at the Pharma Business Model

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