Health IT

Hey pharma marketers, want to reach nurses and docs on social media? Data startup with the secret gets backing

venkat_g_lrgOncology nurses have one of the most vibrant online communities. After a conference, their social media traffic jumps for up two weeks to talk about the data presented. Did you know that? No? It’s just one of the things one technology startup has learned since it set up its software-as-a-service platform to help pharmaceutical marketers find target physician and nursing audiences online and gauge their attitudes.

The founder and CEO of Medikly, Dr. Venkat Gullapalli, doesn’t view what his company is doing as anything more radical than bringing consumer marketing techniques to the medical industry, which is pretty disruptive. Gullapalli had set out to develop a platform to help healthcare marketers engage providers with relevant information on digital channels in real time and concluded he had something much bigger. He was also aided by the fact that digital marketing in the healthcare industry has languished years behind consumer marketing.

The company takes a three-pronged approach to marketing:

1. An engine that helps marketers identify and understand nurse and physician behavior patterns, relationships across multiple touchpoints;


2. A personalization component that leverages insights from the engine to get targeted and relevant information to physicians using their preferred channels when and where they want.

3. An analytics component that helps marketers make better business decisions, identify gaps and opportunities and predict campaign attrition, according to a statement from the company.

Medikly’s decision to go down the venture capital investment route was made reluctantly, says Gullapalli, but once the decision was made it took a short amount of time. It was only four months ago that the group graduated from Blueprint Health’s class and presented at demo day. Gullapalli recalled: “We got the term sheet in December and I accepted in late January and here we are.” The company just raised $1.2 million, closing a Series A round led by Easton Capital Investment Group, according to a company statement

In a phone interview with MedCity News, Gullapalli said its platform is the top investment priority. The rest of the capital will go towards building strategic and corporate relationships. “We’re looking for relationships with holding companies and with large organizations with subsidiaries. We want to be able to partner on that level.” Those that are curious to know what companies will form these relationships with Medikly won’t have long to wait. It plans to announce the first one in a couple of weeks.

Emphasizing the uniqueness of its approach, Gullapalli describes the opportunity as “an untapped goldmine. It’s such an open and new space.” Different physicians in different specialties and practices all have their own way of using social media and connecting with each other and, for the most part, there’s no correlation between them. Some doctors favor SoundCloud and Slideshare, but oncology nurses groove on YouTube and Oncology TV.

Among the analytic information the company can gather, it can assess the sentiment of conversations about a pharmaceutical company’s campaign between physicians and nurses, whether they like the pharmaceutical company’s marketing information, its relevance to them, how many are talking about it, to what degree and how often. It can also use predictive analytics to determine predict how doctors and physicians will respond to marketing campaigns based on their habits.

Although its service will be provided through an annual subscription it’s still working out the pricing structure. “It is so new people say we are creating marketing space that hasn’t existed before.”

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