This past Thursday, December 6th, I had the honor of being invited (a HUGE thank you to Ellen) to speak on Pfizer’s Digital Advocacy Panel, as part of their end of the year Corporate Affairs meeting.
Here’s an inside look at what happened throughout that day…
Starting with the previous night, I strategically planned to wake up early and make sure everything was set to run smoothly. Of course, I naturally woke up with a massive headache… due to my nerves.
Fast-forward to arriving in the city where traffic was thick, the sun was shining, the stratocumulus clouds (I wanted to get at least one long word in this piece) appeared in the sky, and the weather perfectly summed up a typical December afternoon.
As I exited the car on the corner of 42nd and 5th Avenue, I was ready to take the New York Public Library by storm. Unfortunately, as someone with a horrible sense of direction, I entered the side where the employee’s check-in. When the security guard noticed I wasn’t wearing a catering uniform, I didn’t know whether he wanted to laugh or pity the fool (me being the fool) for not realizing this side entrance looks more like a garage as opposed to a library door that was the actual entrance. But the quick detour and stroll through Bryant Park’s Christmas Market couldn’t have been more perfect, as I went over certain talking points in my head. Off to the ‘correct’ entrance, I’d gone.
Upon entering, Nick Schaper, one of the two other panelists I shared the stage with greeted me. Nick is the President and CEO of Engage a digital agency based in DC. He’s a pioneer when it comes to digital media. He previously worked for the Speaker of the House John Boehner, named to Washingtonian Magazine’s Tech Titans list, and listed on Forbes “40 Under 40” list. Needless to say, he’s a visionary who understands digital trends and was a perfect fit for this panel.
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Next, Andrew Hamilton, the Principal Managing Partner at Workday waltz in, as his office was only a few blocks away. Some of you may have heard of it, does the Empire State Building ring a bell! Workday is all about the cloud eliminating (old school) paper filing, and easy access to managing information helping HR departments and other companies function a lot smoother. It was recently ranked #1 on the Fortune’s Future 50 list. Andrew’s knowledge of data, analytics, and profitability made him a perfect fit for this panel too.
Following this, the incredible Pfizer team walked us through the process of events before we took the stage. As we entered the room the atmosphere was extremely vibrant with an eclectic mix of government policymakers, journalists, Pfizer leaders, and more.
Once we were mic’d up, and introduced by Ellen Gerstein (the GOAT), it was showtime!!!
Chad Parizman, the Head of Social Media and Digital Communications was our moderator and it didn’t get any better. He had a smooth way of transitioning from one topic into the next, which was very comforting and kept it conversational.
We each introduced ourselves, describing our backgrounds and then dived right into the extreme importance of digital advocacy in today’s world, through our perspective careers.
(I was also praying I didn’t sound like this…)
As a patient and blogger, I really wanted to emphasize how the pharmaceuticals/medical industries MUST focus on a patient-centered/patient focused future. I mentioned that in a world of Amazon and Netflix, patients want services brought to them. No one wants to schlep to CVS or Duane Reade, only to stand in a long line and listen to people who are combative and outraged over their insurance not covering their medication, the risings costs, or any other major issues. (see videos below, it really sad)
I briefly mentioned companies with better solutions, such as PillPack. This company has redesigned the pharmaceutical experience by handling your insurance, sorting your prescriptions into small packs, and shipping it right to your door.
Another topic I touched upon was breaking down the 4th wall that large corporations are known for. Think of the Wizard of Oz. This character was unseen, the ruler, and did all sorts of things to make himself appear “great and powerful.” Due to this, all sorts of rumors were spreading as people were overly cautious, fearful, and avoided seeing him. Until four brave friends traveled to Emerald City and pulled the curtains back.
If companies and professionals start to pull the curtains back and give the public an inside look behind the scenes, it will build a trust factor.
In other words, Doctors, Pharmacists, and other professionals should start engaging with their patients/clients or anyone willing to learn about their professions. People LOVE Dr. Pimple Popper (Dr. Sandra Lee), Dr. Oz, Dr. Mike, and The Doctors TV show for a reason. It allows us, outsiders, to see what really goes on behind the scenes, building a genuine connection and a barrier of trust.
Medical professionals should join social media to give their perspective on how they treat certain conditions, based on scientific facts. I say this because the counterculture has a really strong presence online. Everyone wants to be their own advocate, which is great. But not when it’s to cure life-threatening illnesses. Especially if they’re trying to treat something without truly knowing how harmful the disease/condition is.
(An example would be Belle Gibson, who claimed to her 200,000+ followers that ‘clean eating’ cured her brain cancer… one that she was never diagnosed with)
During the panel, a woman sitting at a round table (her name escapes me), about what people are doing in emergency situations when it comes to medical attention. I mentioned how many people in the eczema community reach out via social media posts, live-streams, documenting pictures, or going to forums such as reddit.com about their conditions and seeking suggestions on how to treat their condition.
Another idea I forgot to bring up was the idea of a virtual doctors office. My friend mentioned that her husband had a sinus infection and booked an appointment online through a virtual doctors office.
Imagine a world where you don’t have to:
– wait weeks for an appointment
– take off from work/school to drive to the appointment
– fill out forms
– sit around a boring waiting room filled with germs
Only for the doctor to take all of five minutes to review your symptoms, then write a prescription or give a suggestion. Virtual doctors offices… GENIUS!!!
Being a digital advocate gives me a platform to spread awareness, crush stereotypes (eczema being contagious), and most importantly allows me to have access like never before. I plan on continuing to use my voice through social media to help suffering patients and the eczema community.
This was a tremendous opportunity that I will never forget and the perfect way to end 2018 with a bang.
A HUGE thank you to Ellen, Chad, Nick, Andrew, Pfizer, the Pfizer Team, and my awesome drivers for navigating NYC traffic.