Apple Watch Series 4 “first ECG product offered OTC”

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At its autumn keynote event last week, Apple announced upgrades to several of its products, including the Apple Watch Series 4. The smartwatch’s potential as an essential healthcare device is now being more fully realised, with Apple receiving Class II “de novo” FDA clearance for the Apple Watch’s innovative ECG and atrial fibrillation (AFib) features. COO Jeff Williams called Apple Watch Series 4 “the first ECG product offered over-the-counter directly to consumers”, though AliveCor has contested this claim.

One of the announcements that drew the greatest applause at the event was the unveiling of the new ECG app, which can take a reading and provide results in around 30 seconds. Results are derived not just from the second-generation electrical heart sensor in the back crystal of the watch, but also electrodes in the Digital Crown, which must be pressed down by fingertip during the reading. Users are then given a heart rhythm classification, with a normal rhythm classified as “Sinus Rhythm”.

Apple Watch ECG

A new operating system (watchOS 5) also ensures that the new electrical heart sensor intermittently works in the background, notifying users if their heart rate appears to be too high or low, or if there are signs of an irregular heart rhythm, such as those suggestive of AFib. If detected, the new Apple Watch prompts users to “talk to your doctor”, while also ensuring that all recordings, along with associated classifications and any noted symptoms, are stored in the Health app in a PDF that can be shared with health professionals.

Another innovative healthcare feature is Apple Watch Series 4’s ability to detect falls, thanks to it new gyroscope and accelerometer. This hardware allows for analysis of wrist trajectory and impact acceleration – after a fall, an alert is sent to the user, which can be dismissed or used to initiate a call to emergency services. If no movement is sensed for 60 seconds after the alert, the new Apple Watch will automatically call emergency services and send a message along with location to emergency contacts. Such features are likely to broaden the appeal of the Apple Watch among an older demographic, and more importantly have the potential to save lives.

Nicholas Hall will visit the stunning city of Vienna on 2-4 April 2019 to lead our 30th European CHC Conference & Action Workshop! Focusing on the central theme of Keeping Up with the Digital Consumer, this meeting will also feature a workshop from The CHC Training Academy, enabling you to Embrace Digital Transformation. To find out more about this pivotal meeting, early bird booking rates, and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Elizabeth.Bernos@nicholashall.com

 

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Apple and Google make new healthcare moves

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Two stories emerged last week that underlined the importance of healthcare to tech giants Apple and Google. First, CNBC reported that Apple was hiring engineers tasked with developing new health sensors, while later in the week it was reported that Google is working on a new healthcare and fitness AI assistant called Google Coach.

As both companies well know, healthcare is a notoriously tough market to crack, given the need for precision technology and the regulatory hurdles. In Apple’s case, some of the disappointment that accompanied the launch of the Apple Watch was related to the lack of healthcare features – the device’s optical sensor only tracks heart rate – so the beefing up of its health sensor team could mean new features further down the line, such as heart rhythm monitoring or even non-invasive blood sugar monitoring.

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As for Google, despite the failure or lukewarm reception of previous ventures like Google Health and Google Fit, the company remains committed to the healthcare market. Reports indicate that the company is working on a new venture, Google Coach, which will leverage AI technology to offer not just fitness tracking, but also workout routines, medication reminders, meal plans, etc.

Like Apple, Google is planning to integrate these new features with its wearable devices, known as the Wear OS range, with support for other Android devices likely to follow. Google is also reportedly working on “conversational notifications”, which group several alerts into one larger notification to avoid turning off users with information overload. Perhaps the AI performing these conversations may one day recommend OTCs.

Nicholas Hall will visit the stunning city of Vienna on 2-4 April 2019 to lead our 30th European CHC Conference & Action Workshop! Focusing on the central theme of Keeping Up with the Digital Consumer, this meeting will also feature a workshop from The CHC Training Academy, enabling you to Embrace Digital Transformation. To find out more about this pivotal meeting, early bird booking rates, and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Elizabeth.Bernos@nicholashall.com

Further FDA delays to NSURE guidance on Rx-to-OTC switch

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One of the key topics at our North American OTC Conference to be held in Morristown, New Jersey this week (20-21 June) is Rx-to-OTC switch, and opportunities for marketers in the dynamic US regulatory climate. Hopes that the FDA would publish guidance this year on the Nonprescription Safe Use Regulatory Expansion (NSURE) were recently dashed after the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking date was changed to February 2019.

NSURE was introduced in 2012 to encourage utilisation of technology to “ensure” the safe use and self-selection of innovative Rx-to-OTC switches, but the programme has been stalled for several years.

At the Consumer Healthcare Product Association’s recent Regulatory, Science & Quality meeting, FDA Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, Dr Doug Throckmorton, assured attendees that the 5-year delay had “nothing to do with our interest and support”, but was a result of administrative priorities. He encouraged sponsors to bring ideas to the FDA. This request has been voiced for several years, but manufacturers appear to be waiting for the draft guidance.

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For those that can’t make this week’s meeting, Nicholas Hall’s Opening Address will be live-streamed here at 8.30-9.10 on Wednesday 20 June.

Following this, you can also view these live presentations:

Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group, will be presenting on Independent Pharmacy Opportunity: Myth or Reality? on Wednesday 20 June 09:40-10:10 here 

Join the CHC Institute Launch with Steve Sowerby and Ed Rowland on Wednesday 20 June 14:15-15:15 here 

See Joseph McGovern, Everything Health, review the Key Issues of Switch on Thursday 21 June 09:00-09:30 here 

Plus, join Everything Health’s Mary Alice Lawless & Joseph McGovern to review how you can Change the Words to Change the World in the move from OTC to Non-Prescription, followed by Nicholas Hall’s Summary & Close of the meeting on Thursday 21 June 12:40-13:30 here 

All timings EST. To ensure you enjoy the event in full (download the brochure here), including panel sessions and networking opportunities, reserve your place now by contacting lianne.hill@NicholasHall.com

AESGP meeting 2018: Key learnings

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OTC INSIGHT Europe Editor Sarah Carter reports back from this year’s 54th AESGP Annual Meeting, which was held in Amsterdam and served as a farewell to Dr Hubertus Cranz, who retired as Director General after 30 years in the role.

Below are 8 key learnings from the meeting:

  1. Representatives from Pfizer and Hexal / Sandoz demonstrated how Rx-to-OTC switch can act as a growth driver for the consumer healthcare industry, with Nexium Control (EU Centralised Switch) and MometaHexal (Germany) given as case studies. Both asserted that the Rx heritage of the brands was instrumental in their successful switch, with both market leaders in their respective Rx spheres.
  2. However, while switch offers growth opportunities, several speakers stressed that the limited 1-year data exclusivity available with a switched product in the EU can deter marketers from making the timely and costly investment needed to switch their product.
  3. Digitalisation has transformed the rules of the healthcare industry and education. According to Google, search engines and online videos are the most important touch points for OTC purchasers, with one in 20 searches on Google related to health. In 2017, there were 40bn healthcare queries in EMEA alone.
  4. The global volume of healthcare data doubles every 18 months. It is crucial that we build trust with consumers regarding Big Data, ensuring that our industry uses this in a responsible manner, particularly salient given the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation on 25 May 2018.
  5. Low levels of health literacy act as a barrier to self-care. We must empower consumers with the tools and knowledge necessary to play an active role in their health management, healthy ageing and prevention. Healthcare systems need conscious individuals who actively pursue a healthy lifestyle, and seek HCP advice where necessary.
  6. Technology such as wearables and apps has helped to raise health awareness and engagement among consumers, driving the trend for wellness and encouraging people to become key actors in their health management. In the industry, we see increasing purchases of long-term preventive products, rather than OTC treatments.
  7. It is vital that we understand the consumer at a much deeper level than we have done historically, as they no longer want to be sold to, but engaged with. The advent of Big Data and AI deliver us new tools to generate insights and ultimately create more meaningful connections and stronger relationships.
  8. There is little to report on regulations — still no decision on botanicals, and no real update on medical device regulations.

Only two weeks to go until the annual North American OTC Conference! Hosted by Nicholas Hall and Everything Health in Morristown, New Jersey, 20-21 June, this highly-anticipated meeting will review crucial topics impacting the competitive landscape around the central theme of The Future of Consumer Self-care: New OTC Solutions. With topics on the agenda including the e-commerce revolution, a presentation on “Magical Marketing in Healthcare” from Google and a look at the industry’s ‘Switch wish list’, this promises to be an event you can’t afford to miss. To receive a copy of the full meeting agenda or to reserve your place now, contact lianne.hill@NicholasHall.com

Barcelona Conference Report

In this week’s blog, we report back from Nicholas Hall’s OTC INSIGHT 29th Conference & OTC Training Academy Workshop in Barcelona, the first to ever see Nicholas Hall’s keynote address livestreamed to an audience across the globe via YouTube.

Nicholas’ opening address to delegates explored the 4 elements of PACE, which all marketers need to adopt in order to increase their pace and move faster:

P = Pharmacy and retail, the bedrock of the OTC market = 80% of revenue outside US (70% if inc US)

A = Adjacency, reaching beyond the 6 core categories of OTC and seeing where we can branch out (i.e. diabetes, Alzheimer’s, hearing screeners, etc)

C = Consumer (Nicholas was joined on stage by Luca Pagano of BeMyEye who explored how social changes have impacted how and when people buy, and the power of crowdsourced insights to transform in-store execution)

E = Engaging with the consumer and e-commerce (as Nicholas said, the topic of e-commerce would be deserving of a whole conference of its own)

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Nicholas Hall encourages OTC marketers to pick up the PACE

On Day 2, another packed schedule of speakers was rounded off with David Blair, Google’s Head of Industry Heath. His presentation to delegates explored three major trends which are impacting everything we do: chip, cloud computing and AI / machine learning.

Today we practically live online, and the smartphone is now the consumer’s main device – through which nearly all traffic passes – a fact that is having a massive impact on the health industry. Blair said that voice search is going to become the next key driver and could have implications for healthcare marketing (see our recent blog on this topic), as we move from Point of Care, where we expect the consumer to wait for appointments, visit the doctor and then the pharmacist, to a space where we can have care anywhere.

In 2017, there were 160bn searches for healthcare globally via Google, with 2bn alone just for the allergy category! Almost two-thirds of these searches were conducted via a mobile device. There was also an increase for searches for “best non-drowsy allergy medicine”, “best cold & flu medicine” and so forth. Last year, Google also saw a 60x increase in searches for “near me”, highlighting the shift towards immediacy.

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Google’s David Blair closes out proceedings

For more updates on consumer healthcare trends, and a full round-up of Day 1 and Day 2 proceedings, be sure to follow Nicholas Hall on Linkedin

Competition rises in sleep devices category

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Now available to buy in the US and selected European markets via the Nokia Health store, the new Nokia Sleep device is a sensor pad that can be placed under the mattress to monitor sleep patterns, track heart rate and detect snoring. 

It also syncs up to Nokia’s Health Mate app and provides smart home control via IFTTT (if this then that) integration, which allows for automatic thermostat regulation and light adjustment. The app also allows the user to view their Sleep Score to get an insight into what makes a good night’s sleep and how to improve night after night.

Packaged as a sensor pad with USB charger, Nokia Sleep retails at $99.95 (USA), €99.95 (Europe) and £99.95 (UK), and the brand website indicates that there are plans to roll out the product in key Asia-Pacific markets like China and Japan.

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Facing stiff competition in the smartphone market from Apple, Google and Chinese manufacturers, Nokia – the former king of mobile phones – is looking to further diversify its business.

Nokia Sleep was due to launch earlier this year, but news of a strategic review of Nokia’s Digital Health business in February 2018 put the rollout in doubt. Nokia will be monitoring closely how this new product fares against established competitor Beddit, which was acquired by Apple in 2017.

Whether you want to find out more about the latest innovations, benchmark the competition or simply keep abreast of new launches, Nicholas Hall’s extensive OTC New Products Tracker is an essential competitive intelligence tool that you simply must trial. Subscribers can also benefit from a newsletter highlighting the key product innovations affecting the industry. Find out more or set up your free trial today by contacting david.redford@NicholasHall.com

Will the new WebMD Symptom Checker impact self-care?

WebMD has recently launched a new version of the iconic Symptom Checker. The tool, which has been available since 2005, has been redesigned to make it easier for the user to operate and help generate more accurate results.

The site receives on average 75mn visits per month and provides people with access to the latest health information, news and trends. The Symptom Checker aims to help people find out more about possible conditions to be best informed on what steps to take next.

The new WebMD Symptom Checker features an improved interface designed to provide visitors with a simple and seamless experience, powered by a professional-grade diagnostic engine used by physicians to support their point-of-care decisions.

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WebMD’s new, improved interface

The new Symptom Checker features three times more symptoms and potential conditions than the previous version. WebMD has also added a search bar, which allows users to manually type in how they are feeling rather than having to connect specific areas of the body with specific alignments, for example in the case of general bodily aches.

WebMD redesigned the tool based on feedback from WebMD users, medical experts and leading academics and researchers. Additionally, an article by The British Medical Journal regarding symptom checker tools was also consulted.

Steven L. Zatz, CEO of WebMD, said: “Our redesign reflects our commitment to continually improving the experience of consumers when seeking answers to their health questions. We take very seriously our role in the consumer healthcare experience, and we have enhanced the tool to deliver the most accurate results possible.”