While this year’s Digital Pharma East isn’t the event’s first post-pandemic appearance, it might be the first one that feels normal.

“You won’t have a mask wrapped around your hand,” quipped Akeel Williams, VP of strategy and operations at GoodRx.

But beyond the easing of COVID-19 anxiety, Digital Pharma East 2023 arrives with less of a sense of uncertainty about the future.

“What I’m looking forward to is getting on with the business of the business, so to speak, and to actually make plans that don’t have these disruptive, unpredictable, highly variable activities to plan for,” Williams said.

Among the topics set to generate interest at the event are AI and machine learning, omnichannel marketing and the digital-first future. But attendees should also make time for networking and, well, fun. Here are five things to get right at DPE 2023.


Last year, connected TV was one of the main buzzwords at DPE. This year, it will almost certainly be AI. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the use of the technology has increased exponentially in the healthcare industry and beyond.

“AI is hot at every conference that’s on our radar, and DPE is no exception,” said Carly Kuper, SVP, public relations and corporate communications at CMI Media Group. “Everyone is talking about how generative AI is going to change everything in our lives, but I’m seeing a lot of content that focuses on the other aspects of AI as well.”

A Monday workshop will delve into how to harness the power of AI for brand identity design. On Wednesday, a presentation by Doximity head of commercial products Ben Greenberg will examine how real-world AI is “supercharging” healthcare marketing. 

A likely takeaway for healthcare marketers, Kuper added, is to “understand how AI is being used, how it’s evolving and how it could change the future of marketing.”

Omnichannel marketing redux

Omnichannel will remain top-of-mind at DPE this year. This time around, however, it’s less about omnichannel and more about what Amanda Preto, VP of marketing at CMI Media Group, calls “omni-dynamics.”

“We’ve moved on from the multichannel way of marketing. Omni-dynamics is an even more technology-based, seamless delivery of messaging in a personalized manner to audiences,” Preto explained.

A Wednesday panel with PulsePoint VP of platform Becky Hallam, omnichannel marketing director of vaccines U.S. at GSK Jim DeLash, and EVP, product strategy and transformation at CMI Media Group Jose Ferreira will explore next-best-action strategies for omnichannel. In another Wednesday afternoon session, marketing execs from Eisai, Moderna and Cult Health will discuss how they’ve made omnichannel work across various scenarios — including ones involving COVID-19 vaccines, Alzheimer’s drugs and Ozempic.

A digital heat-check

HCP engagement and reaching providers at the point of care will be a big part of this year’s DPE conversation. “I’ll be looking forward to hearing about what’s out there around the point of prescribing,” Williams said.

But he also hopes to get a better sense of the state of the digital transformation union, with companies having refined their innovation game during the three-and-a-half years since the pandemic hit.

“We’ve been able to see what does and what doesn’t work,” Williams noted. “I’ll be curious to hear what people are thinking, how they’re leveraging digital, how they’re living data and how they’re making it more personalized.”

The changing regulatory environment

Recently, the Biden administration released the list of the first 10 drugs that will be included under Medicare’s new negotiating power. While the implementation of lower prices is still a few years away, pharma marketers will soon need to come up with strategies on how to adapt to the new set of regulatory rules. Similarly, they will need to respond to regulatory questions around AI — specifically, how it might be used in healthcare in the long-term and what types of guardrails may be erected.

“It’ll be good to hear what people are thinking and what the atmosphere is around regulation, and what changes people are preparing for,” Williams explained. “I want to be all ears: ‘What’s the feel inside the four walls of your pharma company?’ I want to understand how much of a priority it is, how it’s affecting companies and how they’re thinking about it.”

Don’t forget to have fun

Beyond the conference content, a good part of the magic of large conferences like DPE is what happens outside the panels and sessions.

“I think these conversations can help iron sharpen iron, and make everyone better,” Williams said. “The more people you know, the more ideas you get and the more expansive your thinking can be.”

“Without the pandemic hovering overhead, you can make three to five year plans without thinking,” he continued. “That’s something that will be different this year in terms of experiencing the conference, the planning and the ideation a little more freely.”

All execs suggest taking breaks in between panels and seeking out some of the more lighthearted corners of DPE. This year, for example, there will be a puppy park.

“Conferences are always long days,” Williams said. “Anything you can do to relax or take a downbeat helps prepare you for the next long day, and that’s where the real connections are made. You have to make it more meaningful to you as a person, whether it’s a puppy park or networking and creating connections.”

And while you’re at it, come say hello to MM+M. Our editors and reporters will be on site to cover all things DPE and record a handful of podcasts at MM+M’s studio in the W Hotel. Plus be sure to join us for the third annual “Night Out with MM+M and Haylo,” set for tonight at 6 p.m. at the W. Hope to see you there.

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