Mobile apps or mobile optimization – do we have to choose?

In a recent article on published on the Pharma Marketing Blog by John Mack the author, also known as @pharmaguy discussed the subject of health-related mobile applications and the mobile optimization of online content. To decide which one is more important to pharma is not the main task at hand. Our first and most important concern should not be whether one or the other could achieve a higher ROI. Simply because even if it turns out that online content optimal for mobile consumption brings higher ROI, pharma cannot deny the increasing popularity of health apps and the potential they provide. The same way mobile optimization cannot be ignored if health applications turn out to be the holy grail of patient engagement.

The article mentioned above refers to the Mobile Health 2012 survey published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project which showed that “half of smartphone owners use their devices to get health information and one-fifth of smartphone owners have health apps.” The study also pointed out that only around 9% of US adults have health applications on their phones. And @pharmaguy is right, this does not mean that these apps are used. How many times do we download an application and later find it impossible or even annoying to use?

Although the data about mobile health apps does not seem too promising, the percentage of smartphone owners who use their devices to access health-related information almost doubled. But does this tell us to focus exclusively on mobile optimization because that is what the current trend tells us? In my opinion this should be more of a wake up call or a warning sign that while online content has to be accessible on mobile devices, there is also a lot more to do to develop truly user-friendly health apps that users don’t just download but actually end up using as well. With only 19% of pharma websites being optimized for mobile platforms it is clear that there is a lot of unfulfilled potential in that area as well, but pharma companies are going to have to divide their efforts and make sure to achieve progress in both developing apps and optimizing online content.

Do you think pharma has the resources to conquer the challenges of the mobile era? Make sure to leave a comment below!

(Source: Pharma Marketing Blog)

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Infographic – Pharma marketing to physicians

The vast majority of physicians today are digitally active, accessing multiple devices and networks as part of their day-to-day activities. Physicians are increasingly interested in video and social media for personal and professional use. These trends have numerous implications about what pharma cannot miss in creating its marketing plans.

  • According to recent studies 72% of physicians use social media sites for personal and professional reasons. Based on current trends 81% of doctors will own a smartphone by the end of 2012.
  • 73% of physicians use their smartphones to search content online while 55% of them use mobile apps.
  • 35% of physicians said they think tablets are a useful tool for pharma reps. According to their answers they find presentations a lot more effective when carried out with the help of a tablet device.
  • Online videos are also more and more popular among physicians. 82% of them prefer video content on WebMD while 50-50% of them watch videos on pharma websites and YouTube as well.

 

(Source: publicishealthware.com)

Why Dive Into Developing Mobile Health Apps?

While digital marketing solutions and social media projects became the center of attention in pharmaceutical communication recently, it is also important to notice the growing popularity of everything mobile. Below is a list of reasons why pharma companies should invest considerable time and energy into developing effective, creative health-related mobile applications.

The mobile trend is here to stay: Based on a recent study by Comp TIA, half of all physicians use smartphones for professional purposes and the use of mobile applications is steadily growing as well. According to another study, mobile technologies can be utilized especially in healthcare. There are many factors that influence mobile adoption on different markets. These factors include “consumer adoption, clinical adoption, evidence of efficacy, costs of deployment, and regulatory climate.”

High demand for healthcare and drug-related information online: Patients are looking to find valuable information about different treatment options, drugs and medical conditions online. According to a recent survey looking for health-related info online is the third most common activity of internet users. Maybe the biggest issue when it comes to treatments is medication adherence, which can be managed with easy-to-use, always available mobile devices in a very cost-effective way.

Mobile devices during clinical trials: A recent article emphasized the role mobile apps could play in the entire process of clinical trials. “The recruitment of patients, transmission of clinical trial records, and the reporting of adverse events in a prompt and accurate manner” can be all managed with creatively developed mobile applications.

Mobile apps can help communicate with HCPs more effectively: Tight budgets, digital solutions and the demand for time-efficacy resulted in big number of layoffs in the pharma industry with decreasing number of sales reps conducting in-person visits with physicians. “The significant decline of sales force presence has created an educational void for prescribers.” The need for a more effective educational method and better understanding between pharma and healthcare professionals could be managed with mobile apps created specifically for medical education and delivering prescriber information.

Information to bigger groups and institutions: With mobile applications it is easier to deliver a big amount of data to a wider audience in a manageable way. This is especially important when it comes to communicating with hospitals, healthcare organizations, patient or physician communities. Pharma can utilize this when providing information about products, treatments and different conditions.

(Source: The Digital Health Corner)

Mobile Healthcare – An Infographic

We read a lot about how mobile technology is the future, we see fascinating numbers and statistics about how smartphones and tablets are becoming more popular than desktop computers and laptops. It is hard however to really put a finger on how these trends will change healthcare.

The infographic below – other than piling up evidence about the sheer force with which the mobile market is growing – shows how mobile solutions can influence healthcare in different ways. Here are the key findings in connection with mobile in healthcare:

  • Mobile health has the potential to change healthcare in a revolutionary way with making patients more engaged in their care and transforming the patient-provider relationship.
  • Main features of smartphones that could be used in healthcare: physician finder, applications to view claims, to fill our medical forms, and other apps to follow treatment plan and help adherence.
  • Revenues from remote patient monitoring services that use mobile networks will rise to 1.9 billion globally by 2014.
  • Users with wireless connections are more likely to monitor their health with the help of their cell phones.
  • People owning a smartphone are more likely to be an active content contributor related to healthcare, that means mobile technology boosts participation.
  • According to predictions by Juniper Research the number of downloaded health apps will reach 44 million by the end of the year, and by 2016 there will be 142 million downloaded health applications.

 

(Source: Healthworks Collective)

mHealth in Europe – Where Is The Disconnect?

There have been several reports on mobile playing a significant role in healthcare. New health-focused apps seem to appear out of thin air and winning over physicians who would like to prescribe these applications for patients. Virtually everything is possible to squeeze in an app – self-monitoring, calorie-counting, self-diagnosing, educational material for patients, database of drugs with interactions, and the list could go on and on.

A recent study published by GSMA research suggested that mobile health is so popular it is predicted to be worth 23 Billion dollars by 2017. Other staggering surveys showed the fast-paced growth of mobile use: there are 4 Billion mobile phones in use worldwide and 1.08 Billion of those are smartphones. These numbers show clearly the potential of the mobile and app market. Other predictions point out that by 2014 mobile internet use should take over desktop internet usage, which means more and more people are using their mobile phones as the primary tool for web browsing, social networking and getting information.

So given all the data mentioned above I was surprised to find the not-so-promising findings about mHealth apps in Europe. Based on the study Citizens and ICT for Health in 14 EU countries ICT consequences published the following data about internet users in Europe and their use of health, wellness apps:

  • 77% stated that they never use it;
  • 7% stated that they were not aware of it;
  • 6% stated that they use it less than once a month
  • 5% stated that they use it at least once a month (but not every week)
  • 4% stated that they use it at least once a week (but not every day)
  • 1% stated that they use it every day or almost every day

So where is the disconnect? What makes Europeans reluctant to use health-related applications? It is clear that this is not an issue of awareness. Other than the numerous articles published about mobile applications every day and the speedy growth of smartphone purchases the data above points out that only 7% of respondents were not familiar with health apps.

So if it is not awareness than what is causing the disconnect? A possible assumption could be the lack of user-friendly or user-centered applications. According to a study carried out by Consumer Health Information Corporation (CHIC), the top reasons why users quit an application are the release of better versions and lack of user-friendly features. But what does that mean “user-friendly”? According to the findings the key elements are: easy to navigate, informative and interactive. This means that the main goals while developing a mobile app should be to keep it as simple as possible while still being informative and use the advantages of interactive features. The fact that users like an app to be interactive can’t come as a surprise since social networking and playing games on mobile phones are in the top 5 favorite activities on a mobile device.

So we can conclude that just because an area of innovations is considered trendy, doesn’t mean it has reached its full potential of providing important features for users. The speed of growth of a market cannot be an excuse for the lack of user-friendly and useful, creative solutions.

(Source: ICTconsequences.net)

eMarketing Europe & Mobile 2012 Conference In Tweets

The 7th annual eMarketing Europe & Mobile 2012 conference organized by eyeforpharma drove a lot of attention to subjects like social media risk management, digital strategy building, regulatory issues and mobile devices in pharma. The discussions were lively and thought-provoking both at the conference and on Twitter under the #e4p hashtag.

Top tweets were published by @LionelREICHARDT, @jamesmusick and @KayWesley. Among the 2400 tweets shared throughout the event @whydotpharma, @gaborgy and @KayWesley were mentioned most frequently. Check out the analytics and the Twitter feed and share your thoughts about the conference.

(Source: Symplur.com)

The Shifting Business Model Of Pharma

A recent study carried out by Booz & Company and National Analysts Worldwide showed a lot of interesting data on how pharma executives see the industry, what they think are the most pressing challenges and how they are planning on changing their business according to the new economic environment.

They survey gathered answers from more than 150 pharmaceutical decision makers working in the US and Europe. Among the respondents were directors, vice presidents and managers. Their replies suggested something that is part of the pharma conversations for a long time now. Namely that the current model of doing business is not effective anymore and there is a significant need for transforming the industry.

Key findings:

  • 44% of respondents suggested that the pharma industry’s business model is not working, 24% strongly agreed with this notion. Only 6% disagreed.
  • When asked about the biggest challenges pharma is going to have to face in the coming years, 76% of respondents mentioned the pressure from cutting budgets and the rising price of healthcare. The second issue most decision makers (70%) were concerned about was delivering cost-effective solutions and demonstrating success in finding these alternative solutions. 60% of respondents said they fear the competition coming from generic products, while 53% finds less access to physicians a pressing issue. Interestingly with higher healthcare pricing being such a big concern, only 50% of respondents were worried about how patients are going to pay for their medications.
  • There is no agreement between decision makers about how these changes are going to effect the actual time that pharma representatives will spend with physicians. 43% of respondents said they believe face time with doctors will decrease, while 26% of executives thought the opposite.
  • According to the data gathered digital solutions are going to be the go-to sources to cut costs and to be more cost-effective. 58% of respondents plan on spending more on social media aimed at physicians, 55% are going to increase spending on mobile solutions while 52% of executives mentioned e-detailing as one of the main areas to focus on.

The shift from the old model of the pharma industry toward a digital, more social and interactive way to do business seems inevitable. The question remains how different companies are going to face the challenges of change and how effectively they can implement new solutions into their business.

(Source: Pharmalot.com)

Physicians Using The Internet On Mobile Devices

On both the American and European market the role of smartphones in medical-professional information-seeking is becoming more and more important. According to the result of a study published by MD Marketing Research 64% of American doctors own a smartphone (the rate is 67% among family practitioners, and 61% among specialists). Every fifth physician owns a tablet (27% of both family doctors and specialists have a type of tablet device).

Among physicians who are more open to new technologies findings show even higher rates. According to a Manhattan Research study published in 2011, 81% of American „ePharma doctors” (physicians who use digital channels to keep in touch with pharmaceutical representatives) own a smartphone, 30% of them have an iPad, and 28% of physicians plan to purchase a tablet in the coming 6 months. The 5 biggest countries in Europe are falling a little behind with 69% of doctors using smartphones.

American ePharma physicians clearly prefer mobile devices when it comes to keeping in touch and communicating with pharmaceutical companies:

  • 45% of them would rather communicate with pharmaceutical representatives using a smartphone or iPad.
  • When it comes to getting the information about certain products they also clearly prefer online channels.

Physicians more frequently rely on the possibilities presented by mobile devices in Hungary as well. When it comes to using the internet desktops (82%) and notebooks (56%) are the most popular, while 15% of doctors use smartphones to go online, while the rate of tablets and PDAs is 5%.

Smartphone owners among physicians – Physicians going online using a mobile device in Hungary

Source: MM&M (August 2011), Szinapszis MedNetTrack 2011 (n=909 physicians)

 

Age is a significant factor when it comes to mobile devices: younger doctors go online on mobile devices more and more, 19% of them using smartphones and 3-5% using tablets or palmtop computers.

(Katalin Kiss)

Why Social Media? – Andrew Spong Shares His Thoughts With H2onlinehu (Part 1)

With this post we would like to start our first interview series on H2ONLINEHU. Our aim is to discuss the idea behind pharmaceutical online communication and the recent trends of the field with experienced professionals and influential experts. And what better way to start, than to talk about the importance of social conversations in pharma with one of the founders of #hcsmeu, healthcare social media Europe, Andrew Spong.

Anyone that is involved in the field of health and social media knows you mainly from your key role in healthcare social media Europe. Could you talk about the idea behind building this particular community and having the weekly Twitter chats?

I think the story behind healthcare social media is quite well-known now, so I will just re-cap it really briefly. I was looking in the Summer of 2009 for health conversations on the social web, and I didn’t find that many at that time. What I did find however was a lady, called Silja Chouquet (@whydotpharma). We found that we were using the same key words, searching for the same sort of health-related things and, as a consequence we found each other. However, what we didn’t find at the time (although the case is very much altered now) were the sort of regular conversations about social health that we were looking for. Or rather, we didn’t find any systematically organized or regularly held contexts for those conversations to take place on the social web in Europe.

We therefore decided to launch a tweetchat. We thought we’d call it Healthcare Social Media Europe, and use the hashtag #hcsmeu following the example of #hcsm, the healthcare social media conversations started by Dana Lewis (@danamlewis) in the US. Within 10 days of our initial conversation we had the first #hcsmeu chat. We promoted it quite widely through our own networks, and were delighted when a dozen or so people turned up at 1pm CET on Friday 7th August 2009 on the #hcsmeu hashtag. And that was in August 2009, and now of course we’ve had two real-life hcsmeu conferences, we’ve had a healthcare social media global conference, and nearly 120 weekly events now which take place every Friday as you know at 12:00 UK time, 1 o’clock European time.

To an outsider, how would you describe health conversations on the social web? Why social media, what are the advantages of this platform compared to other channels for health-related conversations?

The advantages of social media in connecting people are numerous really, but let’s just focus on a few of them. First is the instantaneous nature of the connection. To find and identify people – assuming that their bios are properly formed and feature the relevant keywords – and immediately connect with people across the world, but also with people in our own geographies around Europe who share our interest in the health conversation on the social web. So in terms of building community, social media has been I think crucial for all the healthcare stakeholder groups. What has been also very interesting is the way that social media has enabled those different stakeholder groups (patients, healthcare professionals, the industry, public health providers and so on) to find new ways to interact and new spaces to interact in, to share and to address some of the issues which we consider when we ask „What does improving the quality of care look like?”. Immediacy, speed and also availability of one-to-one connections is something new and something that social media fosters very effectively, I think.

You mentioned a couple of key words that stood out to me: interact, share, address issues. Why are these crucial? Why is it important for pharma companies especially to be involved in social media when it comes to health conversations?

While there are similarities across the different stakeholder groups, there are clearly differences as well. From pharma’s perspective, for example, the opportunities that social media offers include the rebuilding of its reputation, the building of a level of trust in its activities, and to credential itself in such a way as to offer tangible evidence of its commitments to patients and providers rather than some of the more abstracted and esoteric claims that pharma companies are prone to make on their websites along the lines of ‘wanting to make the world a healthier place’. That’s great, but really: who doesn’t want that? In short, you are far more likely to be convinced by a company’s claim to want to do that if they can actually demonstrate to you that they are doing it rather than just telling you that they’re doing it.

Thus perhaps the biggest opportunity possibly for the industry is to reach out, to credential itself, to build trust, and build credibility. However, that is also its biggest challenge, because when levels of trust in the pharmaceutical industry are as low as they currently are from an observer’s perspective, it is always going to be difficult for any given company to make that first step. It can be problematic for companies to find the most appropriate context within which they can begin to build all those adjacent benefits that we just identified. Being a heavily regulated industry as it is, pharma has not always found an easy route into this conversation. It is noteworthy that the companies that have succeeded such as Roche, Pfizer, and Boehringer have been those that have been most willing to put themselves out there. Not in an irresponsible way, but clearly, these companies understand that this is an experimental environment, and that unexpected things can and will happen. Let’s not forget that the conversation on the social web that Twitter drives has only been happening for five years. Twitter as a platform is only five years old, and whilst it is only the first generation of real-time information networks, what’s qualitatively different about the interactions that it creates and about what the industry is consequently having to learn to do in order to participate effectively is to get involved in a dialogue rather than merely making pronouncements, although at this time there is still far too much push messaging taking place.

Within European online health communication how do you see the position of pharma companies and agencies located in Eastern-Europe? Based on your past experiences what kind of advice would you give them?

I think from a Western European perspective we’ve seen evidence of interest arising across stakeholder groups including pharma, but on an individual level it hasn’t been a great deal of evidence, at least among English-speaking circles – obviously language is an issue – of affiliates within Eastern Europe coming online in a systematic way at a corporate level. So whilst individuals are beginning to mobilize, there hasn’t been a great deal of evidence of wider initiatives. Coming back to language issues, it is note-worthy that those conversations are conducted in English. However, I think that encouragement should be taken from the fact that companies like Pfizer, Boehringer and Roche are beginning to attempt to support their affiliates by supporting the bringing together and launching of local-language social media presences. And I think Pfizer is probably the leading example of this at the moment. They developed best practices from the head office in the US which have been expertly filtered out to European affiliates and they have been really supporting local colleagues in their desire to connect with the customers that matter to them in their geographies.

We know that the internet has no boundaries, so effectively everything they publish could be theoretically read by everybody. If they take it upon themselves to identify a need within their own territories, within their own geographies, in their own language then the more progressive companies are seeing that they have a responsibility to support those affiliates and help them grow those presences themselves. So, there’s not a massive amount of evidence thus far, but you get a sense that the conditions of possibility are being created to support the development, the emergence, and the blossoming of pharma social media in Eastern Europe.

And finally, how would you evaluate 2011 in terms of health conversations on the social web? What do you foresee for 2012?

I wrote a blog post about this subject recently. I believe that we are in this three-stage process of identifying trends that are slipping away, trends that are dominating, and trends that are emerging so it is interesting to watch this organic process take place. I’ve only been paying close attention to and participating in the social web since 2008, it was my third Twitter birthday in November. So I’ve personally been on Twitter for 3 of 5 years of its life, and do not possess a complete contextual framework from which I may speak to this question with any more authority than anyone else who has been using the platform. However, it is my observation in the three years that we have seen what were considered fundamental issues for the industry, when it was more focused on trying to orient itself rather than participating, we have seen these issues like listening and engagement becoming less important. That’s not to say that you don’t need to listen and you don’t need to engage, but it’s a prerequisite of maintaining an effective presence on the social web: that one listens, and listens well and continually refines one’s listening strategy. So it’s pointless to talk about that, you have to be doing that anyway. And similarly if you’re not engaging on the social web than what are you doing? So these are trends that I think are disappearing.

I’m hoping that we will talk rather less about mobile next year because it is beginning to seem  superfluous. Almost everything is mobile now and therefore to have a mobile strategy is a redundancy. You should be taking Google’s lead by looking to serve the interests of the mobile user first and allow everything else to follow on behind this. So we need to focus on mobile, but we don’t need to separate it from everything else that we do on the basis that is becoming the core focus of the consumption and therefore (ideally) the publication of content. Hopefully we’ll just take it for granted that mobile is integrated and incorporated in everything that we do.

I’m also hoping gamification and anything game-related will prove to be rather less fascinating for us next year. There was a fantastic paper by Chia Hwu (@chiah) who delivered a paper entitled ‘Three Major Trends in Healthcare: Social, Mobile and Games‘ at an Ideagoras conference recently. She made some great points about games – gamification doesn’t work, games do work, she was saying. You don’t want to be taking game elements and trying to integrate them into a user experience or user interface but if you can find a way of conveying a message through a game that’s appealing then maybe you’re on to something.

Search remains important as the way that we are searching and what we are searching for and the environments within which we are searching for the information is changing constantly. We all saw that statistic last year about effectively Facebook being the world’s biggest search engine because more searches are entered to Facebook than to Google because Facebook, although it does link out into Google it links to its own content first. People are looking for health information for example within Facebook. And the quality of information that they’re going to find more often than not at this point of time is very poor. So if we believe that the whole purpose of healthcare is to improve patient outcomes, then there are issues there regarding search. So search is critical, the question of where patients, healthcare professionals are looking, the environment in which they are searching for information, to inform their practice and to inform their shared decision-making and the co-creation of their healthcare.

The things that I think are important in 2012 are two-fold. I’m really interested in influence. By which I mean I’m not interested in whether Klout is better than PeerIndex or Kred, and that shouldn’t matter to any of us. Rather, what is important is the fact that secondary services are appearing now which are harvesting and processing social metadata, ‘Big Data’ analyses of the totality of our activity across the social web and they’re doing something with it. Now in the case of Klout they are just putting a big number on it, but if Klout for example becomes a trusted measure of influence – it has done a great job making itself untrustworthy recently – but let’s just say they managed to have done that, then it becomes an issue for the industry. People’s opinions of brands and companies will increasingly be informed in part by the way that the platforms harvesting, analyzing and discussing their social metadata present them.

The industry therefore will need to be growing importance of presenting itself consistently through the content that it publishes all across the web. This is not going to be easily achieved, but it needs to be something which senior employees or those with a global perspective begin to look upon as a pressing issue: to make sure that data and messages are consistent. A great start from the point of view of your readership and your geography is just to make sure that everything that they do within their own geographies is consistent. So they don’t have many different people tweeting things from different accounts. It’s not a complex matter, but there has to be a plan that everyone is aware of, takes ownership of, and that is coherent. Big Data is another emerging trend. Patient communities are – like CureTogether, like PatientsLikeMe – beginning to have access to relatively significant numbers of pieces of patient reported information which allow us to say interesting things about symptoms and treatment options for patients.

Finally, the industry has to be absolutely transparent about the reason why it is using social media. If it’s trying to represent itself in such a way as to simply redefine how it believes it may be able to control messages – which it cannot – then it will be found out and made to look foolish. Pharma needs to take a new approach to the way in which it represents itself within social web environments. Credibility is another trending issue in 2012. Direct messages are the last thing patients want to see. The social web is not for pushing messages, and it’s also not for selling. I’m hoping 2012 is going to be the year within which some of my fundamental questions – which underpin the financial planning and the growth of companies – around marketing are interrogated because to me it seems that an expectation endures that ideas forged in the offline world of the last century can simply by transposed onto the social web as if they had some sort of universal value, significance and bearing upon the fundamentally different dynamics of the social web. It is my opinion that they do not, and that they do not belong there, and that is why I advocate discussion about the subject via the #postmarketing hashtag. I think we are in a post-marketing era – people don’t want to be sold at on the social web, neither do they want to be tricked, or cajoled or persuaded. They want to converse, to be informed and they want to be heard. But they do not, for sure, want to be sold at. The transition from monologue to dialogue and all the expectations that inhere within it from the perspective of the way that businesses need to present themselves and think about their customers’ perceptions of their activities are key characteristics of the social turn in communication.

(Connect with Andrew Spong on Twitter or on STweM.com)

Pharmaceutical Industry In Hungary And The Challenges Of 2012

The Hungarian pharmaceutical industry had a rather hectic year, and 2012 seems to promise some new challenges as well. The different steps of healthcare reform have been summarized by the Semmelweis- and Széll Kálmán Plans. These proposals introduced and initiated numerous arrangements, that change the basis of healthcare, as well as the internal operation and marketing strategy of pharmaceutical companies. Not only have the target groups of communication changed, but even the nature of communication channels directed and applied to them are new.

The previous one-way communication directed only towards physicians is being replaced by a new strategy with more performers, including pharmacists, patients and customers, who all have an important role in the communication process.

Observing the different channels of communication, the significant growth of the role that the internet plays is obvious. In our experience the members of the market are interested, more or less open to online solutions, but at the same time uncertainty is prominent mainly because of the lack of experience in Hungary.

The new legislative regulations in Hungary are essentially strengthening the digital trends. Because of the forced axes on the number of representatives finding other, alternative sales activities to substitute the work of reps is crucial.

There are numerous tools for companies when it comes to sales and communication, but it is also very important to find the right toolkit – with the appropriate form and content – to meet the needs of the target audience. The opinions and attitudes of physicians about alternative channels are typically known, majority of them are open, or can be convinced about the advantages and possibilities provided by these new tools. In the meantime in-depth research to segment, and to observe the special needs of the target groups is going to be even more valuable.

Are you open to getting information through the following, new channels?

Multimedia presentation showed on tablet/iPad during personal visits

Source: Szinapszis MediJournalTrack 2011 (n=909)

Pharmaceutical decision makers also realize the necessity of online communication with physicians and patients, but their high level of mistrust toward this area is obvious which is typically caused by the lack of experience in Hungary. In the future agencies providing online solutions will have to try to ease the anxiety and to answer the emerging questions of decision makers.

(Katalin Kiss)