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Connecting with Kevin Kruse, Founder Krū Research: Insights into e-Patients & Health 2.0

Krū is a noun that means healing shaman thought to cure illness.  It is also the name of Kevin Kruse’s company, Krū Research. Why did you decide to launch Krū Research?

Our mission is simply to help people connect with e-patients. We support life science marketers, healthcare or hospital communicators, and public health educators – intentionally trying to benchmark best practices across the different groups. They may all have different reasons for wanting to connect, but at the end of the day they are all trying to engage with a health consumer or caregiver with the ultimate goal of improving someone’s health. We offer publications, events and advisory services to help them connect successfully.

You help life science and healthcare organizations stay on the leading edge of healthcare communications tactics.  Why is this so important today?

At this point, I don’t think e- and social media marketing should be considered even leading edge. It’s crazy that more healthcare marketers and communicators haven’t yet adopted practices that will put them where their audience is.

This doesn’t mean we should stop older forms of marketing, but it does mean that for relatively little money we should be where our customers are, and where they are being influenced, and that’s online.

You recently issued a complimentary E-Book “Using Twitter for ePatient Communications, a guide for Pharmaceutical Companies, Hospitals, Public Health Organizations and other Healthcare Professionals. What do you feel is the biggest misconception about Twitter?

The biggest misconception is that Twitter is for general corporate communications, but you can’t use it for brand marketing or disease education. There are many examples of public health organizations with large followings on Twitter, and our own research clearly indicates that people will follow specific pharma brands, although they are 3 times more likely to follow a specific person who shares their health condition.

You are offering two bootcamps, tell us about “Social Media for Pharma” and who should attend.

Yes, our Social Media for Pharma workshop sold out within days, so we’ll have to get another one on the calendar soon. The attendees are a mix of marketers from both agencies and from within life science companies. It’s a true bootcamp in that we start the morning with the basics, but very quickly get into case studies. Everyone will roll up their sleeves and visit sites, compare and contrast different approaches, and walk away with a really deep understanding of how and why social media should be part of the marketing mix.

You are also offering “Social Media ROI for Healthcare Marketers.” What are the relevant KPIs?

Relevance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, right? For some organizations, a relevant KPI might be total number of fans on Facebook. For another, a key metric could be the number of click-throughs to a specific web landing page. The most rigorous will want to actually track back new patient starts or hospital visits or book downloads through the trail of clicks that come from SM. It all comes back to your goal…is it to increase brand awareness and recall? Is it to distribute coupons? Make a sale? KPIs definitely come as a result of goal clarity.

What do you feel are the best tools for Social Media Measurement and why?

Well it depends on what you are trying to measure. A safe recommendation for most health marketers is to start by “listening.” There are about 180 million websites that need to be monitored, however, so a listening program is definitely in order. Begin to listen to mentions of your brand, your competition, the therapeutic area you are working in, etc. When you choose a listening platform you want to make sure it has good quality sentiment analysis, and that it can return results in near real-time—things move pretty fast on social networks!

When will the 2010 ePatient Connections Conference take place?  What were the lessons learned in 2009?  What will be the focus this year?

The 2009 conference was really incredible. We built a lot of bridges across the different health communication domains, and made new connections between patients and pharma, pharma and the FDA, and in other ways.

The 2010 conference is back at the Bellevue in Philadelphia, and it will be held on September 27 through the 29th. We want to keep the rapid fire short-talk format, the creative pecha kucha sessions and continue to benchmark from other industries. But we’re also going to be adding even more programming with a special emphasis on mobile health and health games.

If you could give one piece of advice to healthcare communications professionals, what would it be?

Approach your social media initiatives with the intent of providing a ton of “authentic value.” It’s actually OK to be a marketer and to promote, but you need to be transparent about it and do it from a “what’s in it for the health consumer” angle. Make it about them, not you. And spend time to really understand your audience – not just market research about their treatment behaviors, but really understand who they are as adult learners, what their online behaviors look like, who influences them, and what types of things are they talking about and looking for.

You can follow Kevin Kruse on Twitter @kevinkruse.

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