As the communication dynamic between doctor and patient changes, so too must the model of pharmaceutical promotions—offering a challenge for not only brand communications but also, critically, the agency that drives them.
Thirty to thirty-five years ago, in what some called the heyday of big pharma communications, the model was clear: sell to the doctor, everybody else in the system will follow the prescription. Today, communications must be exquisitely integrated across all channels to ensure receipt of a single and consistent brand message that will align understanding for all. A market where the presumption of even a compelling story of the drug benefits, aligned with a novel diagnosis, would have doctors falling over themselves to prescribe to their presenting patients has passed! Through the decades we have seen an accelerating shift from this—not least with the payer/insurer growing the influence of cost pressure and real evidence-based medicine—but perhaps more subtlety with the changing dynamic between the more savvy and informed patient and their own healthcare professional. As late as the 1980s the primary source of specific medical information for a patient was from their doctor. This moderated a level of control not only in understanding of disease but importantly in the awareness of available treatment options. Today, surveys have consistently indicated that more than half of patients will seek an alternate opinion on a doctor’s diagnosis or recommendations. Surveys reported from Pew Research have indicated that the online medical information services, Google, webMD, medicine.net, NetDoctor, etc, have become the de facto second opinion (and, increasingly often, initial diagnosis) for many patients seeking healthcare information. Balance this with the increasing limitation of the pharma industry presenting similar information to the doctor—through restriction of access by representatives—and we recognize the tension in the market space that must be met to ensure the HCP and their patient remain fully and appropriately informed on drug treatments and medical information. Branded communications must operate in this evolved environment—and the agency of the future likewise.
I joined the team here some 100 days ago, and it is clear Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide stands uncommonly aligned with this demand, with an ability to deliver excellence on communication service across channels from one single business footprint. This is clearly a differentiating feature owned by OCHWW. In a market where single-channel communications have become more and more commoditized, the agency that can truly deliver an integrated communications program will lead. James Chase, Editor in Chief at MM&M, commented in an interview a year ago that “the agency of the future would be able to align communications from one point. To deliver a relevant and targeted brand message to the HCP, the patient, the payer and all of the relevant stakeholders in a way that offers a seamless understanding of the brand, and that will be the reason for its choice—above others.” This doesn’t mean driving a one-size-fits-all approach to messaging and communications. Quite the reverse! It demands building communications in which each customer will see his own nirvana, but will all appreciate this around a single brand hub. In the savvy patient marketplace it is critical that when the patient asks about a treatment or solution in his/her disease management, their appreciation must clearly vocalize the same entity that the HCP is considering, though not necessarily for the same reasons. The agency that is able to deliver that for brands is one where borderless collaboration of Professional, Payer, Patient and Consumer can build a seamless alignment of brand communications to ensure optimal impact in-market, and drive consistency of a singular message through all media—digital, social, traditional or personal. Few agencies or communication networks have the capability, or indeed passion, to do that. The OCHWW philosophy of creative excellence in communications demands that each of our agencies across the globe and across customer and media communications channels work in harmony—aligning a core strategy to drive impactful creative that is designed to change customer behavior across all communications channels. The structure here is wonderfully built to achieve this, but at the end of the day it relies on a personal commitment to achieve this success. In a market that demands the agency of the future, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide is set to offer itself to meet the new communications challenges. Our success, however, depends on the most critical asset of any agency…you!
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at email@example.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.