Serge Loncar started CareSpeak in 2011, guided by the belief that the mobile phone, as the most personal accessory, will play an increasingly important role in managing one's health. Prior to starting CareSpeak, Serge was the President of Songbird Hearing, the manufacturer and marketer of the first disposable over-the-counter hearing aid. Prior to that, he headed up strategic business development at cdnow.com, which was acquired by Bertelsmann AG. Serge also held numerous domestic and international brand marketing and sales positions at Johnson & Johnson health care and medical device divisions, and Pepsi Cola International in the USA and Europe. Serge received his MBA from New York University's Stern Business School after immigrating from Croatia.
For DMD’s Pharma Innovators Series, David Reim spoke with Serge Loncar, Founder and CEO of CareSpeak Communications, about the value in today’s marketplace of providing patients with an effortless way to manage their health using an advanced SMS platform like CareSpeak. This approach helps to achieve better outcomes by engaging patients and caregivers, improving medication compliance, and assisting with care coordination.
Using Technology Strategically
David Reim: How is your technology supporting the patient journey?
Serge Loncar: CareSpeak supports patients through a combination of automated custom designed messaging dialogues and care coordination triggers that engage their caregiver, family and friends, and/or the clinical staff (where this is part of the program offering).
Our modular architecture allows us to quickly build programs to support most patient journeys and clinical workflows, facilitating rapid development and deployment of custom programs that are scalable. This built-in flexibility allows for quick changes post-launch to accommodate for new learning from patient interactions. In addition, our rules engine allows us to develop a variety of personalized automated interactions with the patient and/or their caregivers. In programs that involve a clinician, our rules engine can help triage patients to take that engagement to the next level.
Reim: Customization of patient management is key in healthcare today. How are you helping pharmaceutical companies rethink their patient programs?
If a person lets you into their messaging stream, that means you are important and they will engage with you
Loncar: Traditionally, pharmaceutical manufacturers “talk to the patient,” and the patient doesn’t really have the ability to have a “dialogue” in that process. We were able to show to our clients how we can have automated dialogues that provide timely and contextually relevant information to the patient. For example, if we know that the median days to onset of a side effect is 15 days, and the patient has told us via a message that they have started their therapy on January 1st, we can now send a message on January 9, setting the expectation for that patient and educating them on how to recognize it, urging them to report it to their provider, etc. This is a very customized and personalized experience.
The Value of Texting
Reim: Mobile health has been around for a while now and there are thousands of health-related apps. What makes traditional text messaging the best way to interact with patients?
Loncar: We all receive unwanted robocalls and junk email, but we never get unwanted text messages (or at least we shouldn’t) because the FCC has done an excellent job in protecting that space for us, the consumer. So, if a person lets you into their messaging stream, that means you are important and they will engage with you. Today, it’s only with texting where we see this level of engagement: 97 percent of Americans text at least once per day, text messaging has a 45 percent response rate, and 90 percent of messages are read in under three minutes. Texting is proven to work in healthcare.
Positioning for the Future
Reim: Looking several years ahead, do you think patients will be consuming information in ways that are different from today?
In healthcare, we need to have solutions that work within patients' existing behavior in order to minimize any barriers
Loncar: When delivering communications solutions, especially in healthcare, we need to have solutions that work within the existing behavior in order to minimize any barriers, as seen with the SMS engagement data mentioned above.
Messaging is continuing to evolve. It started with standard SMS and has evolved to include Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. The next evolution in SMS may come from Google’s effort to push for the new Rich Communication Services standard, which may take it to the next level and also, in time, reduce fragmentation in customer messaging applications. In short, messaging is here to stay in the near future, and CareSpeak will utilize it every step of the way, as long as it is part of the patient’s everyday behavior.
Read the complete interview here.
About CareSpeak Communications
CareSpeak Communications Inc., a digital health company headquartered Somerset, NJ, USA, with offices in Zagreb, Croatia (EU). CareSpeak’s platform and interventions are being used by leading health care companies and have demonstrated positive clinical and commercial results.
CareSpeak’s Automated Patient Engagement Platform helps patients be more compliant with their medical therapy and supports them throughout their healthcare journey via interactive messaging, and care coordination interventions.