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The Medflix Principle

How to use curated content for healthcare

Netflix excels at attracting users to its platform and hooking them on to the content it provides. For several years, pharmaceutical companies have wanted to achieve the same thing with specialised medical content. But is it that easy to transfer the “Netflix principle” to the pharmaceutical industry? What kind of data do we need to make this possible and which mechanisms are required for curating and customising content?

Let’s start at the beginning: Pharmaceutical and healthcare companies are looking for increasingly sophisticated and more relevant ways to connect with one of their most important direct target groups — doctors. Because there is nothing worse than encountering reactance from doctors, at least from a pharmaceutical company’s perspective. Therefore, it is crucial to have a data system that enables specific target groups to be presented with content that actually interests them and which will support them in their daily work. Similar to how Netflix only suggests content to its users, which is suited to the individual and is as relevant as possible.

In recent years, the focus in multi-channel marketing has been on using as many different channels as possible to reach a high percentage of the target audience, such as congresses, sales force, emails, ad words, online ads – just to name a few. However, repeatedly sending the same content via all channels has been a frequently made mistake. The so-called multi-pipe approach, a development of the multi-channel concept, tailors the message to specific channels and, most importantly, to the user group being targeted. Nevertheless, the database structure has not always been optimal, and campaigns haven’t always reached their full potential either.

In other words: Underlying data will become crucial in deciding whether doctors engage with content or reject it. Data stored in silos and not available to all stakeholders will prove increasingly useless, at most being suitable for implementing one-off projects. The aim must be to create a complete picture of all targeted individuals, stored in their personal profiles. These personal profiles should be the only starting point to develop specific measures.

Personalization is the key

To achieve this objective, a customer data platform (CDP) is required. This is a central database that compiles and processes all data from all touchpoints and makes this available via interfaces.

And this does in fact mean “all touchpoints”, including conference attendance, mailings, field calls, emails, web interactions and other means used in marketing – the list could go on indefinitely. Of course, CDPs are not just databases. They can be used for measuring KPIs, for visual analytics and predictive modelling as well as for content shaping and marketing. If CDPs are additionally equipped with artificial intelligence, many multi-channel and marketing processes can be completely automated. Anything from the selection of specific target audiences to delivering content tailored to individual users.

CDPs therefore become central hubs that not only collect data but also share it. In turn, the shared data is used to learn about specific target groups and to provide an ever-improving service. The Medflix principle is an important milestone on this data path.

What does Netflix do?

1.8 seconds, that is how long Netflix has calculated a film has to persuade a user to watch it. The film’s preview image was identified as the most important factor in this persuasion process. For a perfect match, AI automatically searches for film frames and selects an image based on user preferences that is most likely to appeal to the user.

You may also have noticed that Netflix users often get different thumbnails for the same film. For example, the film “Good Will Hunting” presents a romance watcher with a kissing scene whereas a lover of comedies is shown a smiling Robin Williams.

Doctors want to medflix

As Digital Natives enter the specialised, medical target groups, the demand for the level of digital sophistication is constantly set higher. In their private life, they are familiar with services like Netflix, Uber, Lime and Spotify and expect the same or a similar level in their daily business.

Static websites that provide a handful of content at launch, and then only add new content on a monthly basis, need to be rethought or removed. Classic website navigation, from homepage via landing page to desired content has also largely served its purpose. And as long as the website does not serve the direct sale of a product, which is rare in the pharmaceutical market, then web competition in terms of content solely revolves around the user’s attention, dwell time and duration of use.

A modern content and service hub should adapt to this changed usage behaviour. High-quality, wide-ranging content is essential. But to distinguish itself from other web content, it needs to be accurately tailored to user interests and must adapt flexibly to user behaviour in real time. The good thing is: Even without the resources Netflix and similar companies have to hand, the basic principles can be adapted and applied efficiently. Software development is making enormous advances and offers similar mechanisms. The challenge lies in finding the right tool to fit your own needs. Because the “data lake” is followed by a “software river”. New tools come onto the market practically every day, enabling even better, faster performance.

Success factor: Curated content

Curated content is the key. Each user of a portal is presented with the content that is most relevant and interesting to them. So, instead of content pages, let’s think in terms of article streams. Each stream can be curated according to a topic, for example a specific discipline or indication, content type, such as written articles or videos, or as a package, i.e. a combination of both elements.

By using high-performance tracking, we can find a user’s interests as well as their preferred content and can then curate the matching content in customised streams. What a user reads, rates, downloads, watches and comments on says a lot about their interests. With the help of so-called “shared characteristics”, two different users can be identified, who display a similar interest behaviour. As a result, even users who rarely use the platform and reveal little about themselves can be provided with suitable content.

By consolidating multiple data sources within a single CDP, the information gathered can be used for curating different offers. Not only does the accessing of a particular web article become more likely but the opening of an email/mailing, registration for an event and interest in a field call are more likely as well.

However, target groups will not allow a digital trend to be imposed on them. Whether your target group members already “medflix” or still very much prefer an analogue approach can only be established through mutual communication and a direct dialogue with them.

Nowadays, the speed and flexibility of the digital world can be easily transferred to the analogue world – and make the “Medflix principle” usable here as well. Through software automation, print templates (e.g. postcards or mailings) can be provided and sent via digital systems. As a result, a marketing manager can easily decide which specific target groups receive an e-mail or a mailing, or are even visited personally.

This is where the “agility mindset” comes into play alongside the “data mindset”. Co-creation methods enable ideas and digital products to be collaboratively developed, user journeys to be fine-tuned and strategic actions to be taken. The database must be considered from the outset.


Thilo Kölzer, experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the digital marketing and advertising sector – always keeping an eye on Healthcare Marketing. Internet explorer since 1995. Skilled in Forward Thinking, Digital Strategy, Digital Activation and Leadership. Current issues: Digital Transformation, Seamless experience, Marketing Automation, Customized Chatbots, Multichannel and Medical Software Tools & Services. – Contact

As Head of Digital Innovation & Activation at antwerpes, keywords such as AI, AR, IoT, VR, SEO, SEA, CTR and KPI are part of the daily life of Nils Fortmann. In 2012, he joined the Technical Project Management team of the Cologne-based healthcare agency antwerpes ag. Today, he bundles complex technical project management and the entire range of online marketing in his constantly growing department.

Veröffentlicht: 5. November 2019 // antwerpes