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Novartis To Close The GISTearth Community

From the email:

“Since the launch of in May 2009, the mission of the social network has been to provide members of the GIST global community with a place to give and receive support; make valuable connections and share personal experiences; as well as connect patient/caregivers members to patient advocacy groups for further support.

At this time, Novartis Oncology, sponsor of GIST Earth, has decided to close the social network (on or about May 15, 2013). The platform is not optimized for current technologies (such as mobile devices and tablets) which compromises the user experience and lessens the value of the platform.

Thank you for your participation, dedication and support of the GIST global community.

Your GIST Earth Team”

Surprised to see this community go by the wayside. The utilization must have not been there to justify continuing on.

Is Facebook Robbing Us of Our Political Power?

On March 25th the Human Rights Campaign launched a social campaign to raise awareness for the marriage equality debate currently being deliberated by SCOTUS. You probably saw the campaign, which asked users to change their profile picture to that of a red square with a bold equal sign.  When I checked Facebook Wednesday morning, my entire feed was covered with these logos, as a good portion of my Facebook friends had decided to participate. As I thought about it over my morning coffee, I was struck with the thought that all this activity, while potentially raising awareness inside the walled garden of Facebook, might not actually result in anything of substance. And in fact, it might just be completely meaningless. After all, changing one’s profile picture is a transactional gesture, regardless of the scale. It costs nothing, takes no time, and involves very little risk on the part of the participant.

To which, I posted this: “Changing my profile picture was what really tipped the scales on that political issue” – said nobody ever.”

And then a few minutes later, I pushed the idea even further: “If only Abraham Lincoln had the ability to change his profile picture, perhaps the civil war could have been avoided.

And finally, teasing out the thought to its most ludicrous conclusion, I wrote: “Can everyone on Facebook please change their profile picture to a non-perishable food item? This way we can ensure that the starving children of the world never go hungry again.” (The Huffington Post did a spoof of this 2 years ago which lampooned the issue far better than I could have.)

A good deal of my Facebook peeps were not amused. All in all, those 3 comments generated almost 30 responses. Most of these were enraged for even daring to suggest that this act had no meaning or effect. “It raises awareness!” said one person. “It’s a show of solidarity!” said another. And, in the mother of all ironies, some wrote (on my wall) that I shouldn’t express my opinions (on my wall) about the things they choose to support (on their wall).

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Calm Down. The FDA is Not Trying to Regulate Facebook

Over the past few days, several articles have popped up with the alarming headline that the FDA is now issuing warning letters due to brands use of Facebook’s ‘Like’ function. You can read one of the takes on it here, in Scott Gotleib’s Forbes article “FDA Wants to Regulate Drug Firms on the Internet and It’s Targeting Facebook ‘Likes’.

The problem with this article, and with so many of the others I’ve read, is that the ‘Like’ function wasn’t the reason that the FDA issued the letter. Mr. Gotleib actually describes the issue, but ignores it.

He writes, “In its latest Warning Letter, FDA cited a multitude of serious violations against the marketer of a drug product called Poly-MVA. The company had sold its product through the use of testimonials that were not substantiated by good science, according to FDA. One seemingly blatant abuse, still found on the company’s website when Gaffney checked, was a testimonial from a “Mr. Doug Wray,” whose improper endorsement suggests that by taking Poly-MVA, he was cured of his multiple myeloma. In the Warning Letter, FDA also made a novel mention of the company’s Facebook “Like” of one of these exaggerated testimonials. Until now, it was never clear whether FDA would treat a “Like” (or a re-tweet for that matter) as an endorsement of the underlying content. That question seems to have been answered.”

The problem, from FDA’s perspective, was not the ‘Like’ button. It was the exaggerated claims and unsubstantiated testimonials. The FDA will ALWAYS flag those. Yes, Facebook was the medium some of these claims were issued, but Poly-MVA would have gotten that warning letter if they had pushed these claims in print, radio or whatever.

In pharma, the use of social media is a hot button issue, which brands are mostly terrified of using. I would hope that as industry observers cover issues like this one, they would more accurately describe situation and circumstances, rather than publishing mis-leading headlines that are alarmist and inaccurate.

The FDA isn’t sanctioning Facebook, it’s sanctioning false claims. So all you social media nay-sayers and alarmists out there, please calm down.

Social’s Role in Driving Healthcare Innovation


Industrial design plays such a huge role in the healthcare community.  These designers and engineers are providing medical devices designed for doctors and nurses to make a difference in people’s lives.  Things like hospital beds, surgical devices and data collection systems are all designed to reduce user errors while improving speed, accuracy and patient satisfaction. These devices are changing the lives of doctors and patients while impacting the bottom line of hospitals and medical centers by driving efficiency through innovation.

Today we’re seeing the community aspect of the social space playing a big role in driving innovation of product design. There are three major trends:

The blogosphere is a major influence in driving designers spirit of innovation: Designers and engineers are reaching out to their peers and influencers to find motivation in things like competitions, inspirational designs, useful links and student work which are often the most innovative. Some great examples are core77, medGadget  and open IDEO .  This open IDEO video clearly articulates the purpose of these blogs being a community to solve problems by drawing on designers’ optimism, ideas, inspiration and opinion for collective good.

Healthcare companies are driving social conversation amongst designers and influencers: Mayo Clinic is hosting a Transform Symposium, which is their single most focused conference on innovation and design applied to health care.  The conference has a strong presence on Twitter @ #TXFM.  Both Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic have a Facebook presence.  Building the trust and advocacy of these fans allows these companies to empathize with their influencers and understand their behaviors and motivations from a social perspective.  Being a part of your consumers dialogue gives rich insight into what people are responding to and talking about which are often the best areas for innovation.

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