Dear Jane….

Dear Jane,


Congratulations to the new CEO. What a wonderful opportunity! And I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more. And thank you for asking me for some “blue sky” thinking, the way we used to do at B-School. I am honored by your request and would love to discuss. Here are my first thoughts. Please let me know if this is helpful.


“This is an industry that saves lives and yet its image in surveys does not reflect that.”


I do agree that this is the right time to re-visit some common business practices, not just for your company, but because the industry seems to be at the end of a cycle. Several things leave me perplexed, for example on the marketing and communication side of things:-

  • This is an industry that saves lives and yet its image in surveys does not reflect that.
  • That perception depends in large part on the way the company communicates with the outside world. Yet, pharma companies have not significantly shifted their approach to the outside world…or if they have, it isn’t very visible.
  • Pharma recognizes that while it is an industry based on innovation, it has been late at every step of the greatest ongoing innovation, digital revolution. It just doesn’t add up!
  • The digital revolution is bringing us to privilege relationship building. Yet, few if any pharma companies have seriously re-examined the salesforce model interfacing with professionals versus a “relationship building” strategy with all of the stakeholders
  • Digital is raising many questions about pharma’s role in online communities and tools and how long-term interests of patients and professionals can be best served, but no companies are leading a quest to define that.
  • Action and reaction time in the digital world doesn’t fit to corporate communication production cycles and structures. This can’t be swept under the rug for “regulatory” reasons.

In a word Jane, I am wondering if it isn’t vital for you to create a new dynamic, by questioning some of the fundamentals. So, where can you start? The question seems complex, but it could be a lot simpler than we think.

What if you could harness a new creativity, from more and more people at your company, and from customers as well? How so? We are surrounded by the answer.


“Every manager in your company should be encouraged to get involved, immersing herself in the digital health culture…”


Look at how much of our business and even general news concerns digital innovation, new ideas that come from concerned individuals everywhere. Whether you call it collective intelligence, Web 2.0, or brainstorming, “digital” in the broadest sense is facilitating innovation, whether in existing companies and organizations or start-ups.

So, wouldn’t your first step be to infuse a digital culture in every part of the organization and let people run with it!


  • There needs to be a way for marketing and communication to innovate, to try new things, without guaranteeing in advance the return on investment.
  • Your digital specialists need to be able to interface with talented, informed internal correspondents all over your organization.
  • Every manager in your company should be encouraged to get involved, immersing herself in the digital health culture, discussing both with other beginners and with the best, and with all of healthcare stakeholders, not just vendors, of course.

Wishing you all the best,




About the author:


An American in Paris, and former pharmaceutical manager, Denise has been an eHealth opinion leader since 1995, directing the creation of the first leading medical web sites in France while at the communications agency she had founded in Paris in 1991. Denise subsequently sold that company and returned to work on eHealth in the US. In 2001, back in Paris, Denise Silber launched Basil Strategies, eMarketing, Web 2.0, and Social Media consultancy with an events and training activity as well. Basil Strategies are founders of Doctors 2.0 ™ &amp, You, first international congress on health care and social media. In 2011, Denise was decorated by the French Legion of Honor in recognition of her trans-Atlantic work in eHealth.

A Harvard MBA, Denise is President of the association, PharMBA. organizing international speaker events and of AQIS, the association for the Quality of Health Internet Sites In France. She can be found in English and French on her blog,

Visit for more details of next year’s Doctors 2.0 &amp, You conference.

What observations do you think you would offer to the industry from an outsider’s viewpoint?