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RED HOT Contributors


Episode 24: The Growing Freelance Workforce of Patient Influencers


Estimates are that in the next 12 months, 40% of the U.S. workforce will in some way be participating in the growing freelance workforce. First AirBNB, then UBER…and quickly stepping up in the world of consumer engagement are Patient Influencers. WEGO Health is leading this effort, tapping into its more than 1 million network participants; and more than 100,000 influencers and experts.

These are individuals who have personal, healthcare, and social network experience with over 150 different diseases. WEGO is seeking such individuals, who if they meet criteria, can join their their new workshare platform; and have the opportunity to add value to and be compensated by pharmaceutical and other healthcare organizations.

These individuals, apart from supplementing their income and reaching out to help others suffering, are also helping drug and healthcare companies. The sharing economy, via WEGO’s business model, connects the high patient-centered data demands of health industries with the chronically diseased and motivated.

On this episode of Red Hot Healthcare, Dr. Steve interviews WEGO Health’s Chief Strategy Officer David Goldsmith. He has been an instrumental part in the company’s recent offering of a next-generation smart platform.

In this podcast interview, Dr. Steve and David discuss:

  • A CEO’s vision of patient influencer value and contribution
  • The power of WEGO’s patient influencers to Big Pharma
  • An ‘AHA’ moment in filling multi-industry demand
  • WEGO’s new ‘low-friction’ patient expert platform
  • The ability of many diseased and care-experienced individuals to give back and grow in the freelance economy

Below is a snippet of transcribed audio from interview dialogue between Dr. Steve and David Goldsmith. The link to the full podcast audio is HERE and also at the bottom:

DR. STEVE: “I’m going to go ahead and read your company’s mission statement – and I want the audience to hear this word for word. I find it very powerful:

To bring the patient voice into the healthcare industry, at fair compensation, to help shape the services, products, solutions, and messages that go toward a more patient-centered healthcare system

Being an engagement guy, I absolutely love that. It seems like WEGO Health has touched on the important components such as patient value, trust, and empathy. Would you agree?

DAVID: “That’s absolutely correct; and one of the things we’ve heard from pharma marketing, agencies that work with them, as well as a diverse range of other companies in healthcare, is that they recognize the importance of connecting with patients. Understanding how they [patients]view the healthcare system, and certainly how they navigate their healthcare decisions.

However, they often say it’s difficult to know how to find these people and bring them into the fold. They know that a lot of these patients are online…but they don’t necessarily know how to connect effectively with them.

How will they be vetted? How should the pharma companies be compensating them for the value they bring? These are existing questions.

…We continue to see strong demand on the pharma side of the business, where we match our influencers to pharma companies outside agencies. But what we also see [for using our network influencers], in the vast ecosystem in health care, are dozens and dozens of use cases emerging.

Some are early-stage digital startups that want to hire our patient influencers for everything from usability testing, to content development, to user experience…and we see more mature companies for research initiatives and to conduct patient engagement initiatives. So we’re really trying to bring a broad base of expertise into the healthcare system at large.”

STEVE: “This is ready to absolutely explode. I mean…9 out of the top 10 pharma companies are already your customers. I also see a big part of this, because we’re increasingly moving to a more patient-based or value-based system into areas such as payers, wellness industry, health systems, hospitals, and self-insured companies. There are so many facets of this, where the patient is a major asset.

DAVID: “One of the things we have seen, since this network has grown, is that these people [patient influencers]are people who have very diverse professional backgrounds. The initial focus we had was on their health…but the real ‘A-HA’ moment was in recognizing that the real contributions our influencers can make go well beyond just their health journey.

When you look at the demands of all the health company types you were just describing, the needs and the business challenges they have, are well aligned with the skills, ability, and passion that our people bring.

We had an agency come to us seeking to connect with 24 patients with Gaucher’s – which is a rare disease. They had a tight time frame to find, screen, and bring them in for both a survey and an intensive interview. They could have either hired a recruiting agency to cast a broad net, or they could hire a patient expert who HAS that condition and in entrenched in these social communities.

They chose the latter, and the results were phenomenal. The person selected to handle the effort was a woman with Gaucher’s, who also had an extensive social network of patients with Gaucher’s. On her sole efforts, she was able to line up, screen, and quality those 24 patients within 10 days.

STEVE: “That’s amazing”

DAVID: “That’s a phenomenal success by any measure – and it was done extremely quick and at a cost that we estimate, was at least 60% less than a recruiting agency. Multiplying that across multiple conditions and multiple use cases is a huge win for the pharma client, the patient expert who was well compensated for doing it, and for the health system when you are trying to bring the right kind of research and data to bear on new therapies and therapeutics. 


 I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Steve Ambrose on a podcast that covered a range of topics in healthcare information technology. The podcast logistics – communications, interview questions, scheduling and production – were every well managed.
A great experience that I would do again in an instance.

Dr. John Glaser
SVP, Population Health at CERNER

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