Feb5

Follow Me on Instagram

Social media presence is no longer an afterthought for companies and organizations. All brands from every industry have a presence across numerous social media platforms, and are actively interacting with their customers. So why is the healthcare industry behind the curve?

The biggest barrier to breakthrough into social media for healthcare companies seems to be patient privacy, aka HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Keeping patient information confidential proves to be difficult on social media platforms everyone can use. Additionally, the FDA requires fair balance in any post a company makes, meaning stating benefits with potential risks. This past summer, Kim Kardashian promoted a drug called Diclegis, used to treat morning sickness during pregnancy, on her Instagram account, and only stated the benefits of the product. The FDA immediately issued the drug company a warning by the FDA, and required it to take down the post, but not before nearly 46 million followers saw it.1

How are drug companies supposed to interact with their audience with such limited options and strict HIPAA regulations? The trick is education. Social media can be a great way to spread awareness about public health issues. Unique campaigns such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral for this reason; 440 million people alone viewed thesevideos on Facebook.2 Because the Ice Bucket Challenge was an unbranded campaign determined to raise awareness of a disease, and not a promotion for a product, the organization avoided FDA regulations. Limiting self-promotion and focusing on ways to help your audience certainly takes away some of the barriers discussed earlier. Giving your audience key content can drive a brand home. Video tutorials on how to take a drug, product demos for medical devices, and infographics highlighting wellness tips are just a small sample of the endless possibilities to create meaningful content. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc, can all be an endless hub of constantly updated information a consumer can use to become more aware of their condition, leading to a healthier life.

Though social media is not the definitive answer to improved patient engagement, it can easily become a major component in communicating with target audiences. Like most technology, social media is perpetually evolving, and should now be a required marketing tool for healthcare.

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Resources:

  1. Thomas M. Burton, The Wall Street Journal; “FDA Sends Warning Letter After Kim Kardashian Touts Morning-Sickness Drug”, viewed 2/3/2016; http://www.wsj.com/articles/fda-sends-warning-letter-after-kim-kardashian-touts-morning-sickness-drug-1439401985
  2. Ngan Ton, Mavrck; “The Social Media Statistics That Fueled The Biggest Topics of 2014”, viewed 2/3/2016; http://www.mavrck.co/social-media-statistics-that-fueled-the-biggest-topics-of-2014/
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Jan25

Top Picks From CES 2016

Author Pic CES

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens (left) and Nelson Figueiredo (right)

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens, senior engagement strategist and Nelson Figueiredo, VP, director of technology, applied their experience as a healthcare communicators to identify the most impactful technologies from their year’s CES.

Each year, technologists, strategists, start-ups, major manufacturers, and consumers gravitate to Las Vegas for CES. This is becoming the premier event to showcase new consumer electronics, technology, and products. With the growth of healthcare as a key technology topic, CES is also an important venue for healthcare brands and influencers.

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens and Nelson Figueiredo spent several days on the floor at CES and have curated the following list of products and technologies to watch:

CaptureProof: like HIPAA-secure Snapchat…only better

CaptureProof is a new HIPAA-secure platform for sharing media and data between patients and providers. CaptureProof allows doctors to monitor patient progress and symptoms, triage via media, consult colleagues, and link to wearable devices and EHRs.

It’s recently been used in pilots for remote physical therapy (reducing in-person appointments by 75% and resulting in an overall cost savings of $7,500 per patient) and its diagnostic capabilities are currently being studied by the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at MAYO Neurology.

Currently an invite is necessary to set up an account. However, we’re in discussion about the various ways brands and agencies can utilize the platform and looking forward to developing partnership opportunities with them.

CaptureProof

Holograms still have show-stopping power

With the exception of Shaq walking the showroom floor, preordering robots, when it comes to show-stopping power, hologram technology still reigns supreme.

The Kin-mo booth caused the steadiest stream of pandemonium and buzz at the event, literally, stopping hordes of people in their tracks and compelling them to ask questions and snap pictures and video.

Here at Ogilvy CommonHealth we’re exploring the practical application of Holograms in medical education and are working on making the technology less cost-prohibitive for use in the field.

Holograms from CES2016

Meet flic, the wireless smart button that could revolutionize the way patients communicate with providers

Flic is a small wireless button that you can stick anywhere. It can be programmed to send data and commands to apps on Android or iOS devices.

Swedish developers, Shortcut Labs, designed flic with simplicity, accessibility and safety in mind. It’s currently being used to streamline everyday tasks like controlling your connected home, selecting entertainment and ordering food and taxis.

But the ease of use makes it an intriguing solution for things like symptom reporting and tracking between patient and provider, treatment adherence, atmospheric or environmental controls, and accessibility for patients with limited mobility.

VR was king at CES and controller tech is on the rise

This year the Virtual Reality headset manufacturers exhibiting at CES were too numerous to count and VR environments demoing experiences in space, tech, automotive, entertainment, health and fitness were among the most engaging booth draws on the showroom floor.

While everyone seems to agree that VR is going to revolutionize medical education, it’s recent advances in VR controllers and the impact that they might have on rehabilitation and treatment methods that we found most inspiring at CES this year.

Two groups in particular, 3DRudder and Rink, are leading innovation in foot and hand controls, respectively, and are excited to explore applications for their devices in the healthcare space. Each offer the opportunity to gamify the treatment process in new and exciting ways and extend mobility exercises into the VR realm.

RINK

Sensum, the marketing industry’s new emotions experts

Turning emotions into data, measuring advertising’s effect on the subconscious, tracking the cognitive unconscious, things that used to be qualitative can now be quantitative thanks to Belfast-based Sensum.

They’re already working with some of the biggest media companies and agencies in the world to measure the effectiveness of messages, customer engagement, and usability.

Whether it’s a live event, or a product that needs to be tested for implicit response, new packaging, or a video message, Sensum has the platform and technology you need to capture the real-time emotional response from your audience.

They’re also the creators of the EmoCam.

CES is proving to be a venue for innovators and entrepreneurs to showcase their solutions for healthcare. As the empowered patient and modern physician begin to leverage new technology for better outcomes, there is an increasingly more important role for connected medicine, wearables, and mobile technology to help us live healthier lives.

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Oct5

At the crossroads of health, wellness, technology, and marketing

2015 Marketing Summit Template_BLOGIt was a privilege to attend the 2015 Marketing Summit hosted by Ogilvy CommonHealth and eConsultancy. As the producer at the event, I was able to spend some time with each of the presenters. I was also able to hit the 10,000-step mark on my Fitbit by 3 pm—I’ll circle back to wearables later. I was most impressed by the diversity of speakers who are playing at the crossroads of health, wellness, technology, and marketing. The people I met and the messages I heard made me extremely excited on two different fronts: as a human being, and as a marketer.

As a human being, I was excited about the ideas surrounding personalized health that we heard throughout the day—especially since I moonlight as a fitness instructor.

Among them was Jeff Arnold from Sharecare, who is empowering consumers to take charge of their health by delivering personalized resources and expert advice through their online health profiles. Melissa Bojorquez of Physicians Interactive talked to us about technology’s unique power to help people connect with each other, and in doing so, defying the isolation and fear that accompany serious health conditions. Bill Evans from Watson Health showed us how Watson is changing the face of medical research with its ability to “read” thousands of medical journals and white papers in unimaginable speeds in an effort to increase the safety and efficacy of clinical trials drugs.

Our Healthcare Startup Sharktank brought innovative thinking to the forefront of consumer health. Movi Interactive is incentivizing fitness tracker users in unique ways by gamifying their experiences to drive usage. Through their platform, Medprowellness is connecting consumers with clinicians, nutritionists, and personal trainers to provide a personalized layer of accountability to their 360-degree approach to health and wellness.

The marketer in me was excited about all the new ways data will continue to fuel our insights. Finding new ways to visualize data is critical, according to David Davenport Firth, particularly since 75% of physicians admit to not understanding the statistics in journals. Back to the topic of wearables… For a while now, marketers have been talking about the endless data streams being collected from wearables. Patrick Henshaw and his startup, Strap, can aggregate data from wearables, smartphones, and other apps, allowing marketers to draw insights from real-time human data. On a similar note, there was Pranav Yadav, whose company Neuro-Insight can help marketers and brands optimize their creative by analyzing the neuro-responses of their consumers.

We are at the crossroads of health, wellness, technology, and marketing. Ryan Olohan from Google reinforced the fact that like all successful companies, healthcare brands need to innovate or die. Companies like Kodak and Blockbuster didn’t, while companies like Uber and Expedia have changed their respective industries forever. As marketers in the healthcare space, we all need to look beyond our comfort zones. We need to encourage our brands to look beyond, as well.

This article was originally posted on Ivan Ruiz Graphic & Web Design.

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Oct1

4 Key Takeaways From the OCHWW Marketing Summit 2015

Martha CMO Blog2_ED

Behind the scenes look at OCHWW’s Innovation Lab

The OCHWW Marketing Summit took place on September 24, when attendees from all over the world came together to discuss marketing in the age of person-centric healthcare. Throughout the day, speakers from the pharmaceutical and technology industries echoed four main themes surrounding the state of healthcare today: innovation, personalized medicine, social healthcare, and the vast amounts of health data being generated every day.

Innovation
Innovation must play a larger role in healthcare organizations going forward. According to Chris Halsall of OgilvyRED, it cannot just be a hobby of an organization, it must be the core. As Ryan Olohan from Google Health puts it, “Technology comes at us like a train—you’ve got to innovate or get run over.” Innovation in healthcare comes down to courage, and we must change the culture of healthcare organizations to embrace digital innovation.

Personalized medicine
Personalized medicine is the intersection between biology and technology. With today’s technology, we have the tools to get the full picture of the patient—molecular, clinical, and demographic, according to Niven Narain of Berg Health. With that, we can deliver personalized precision medicine, giving the right patient the right drug at the right time to lead to better health outcomes. Jeff Arnold of Sharecare states that this ultra-personalization of healthcare will empower consumers to take control of their own health.

Social healthcare
Health is the most personal thing there is, but as it stands today, healthcare is the least personal. One of the most significant benefits of technology is facilitating human connection in healthcare. Health is now social, and patients are talking about your pharma brand whether you are part of the conversation or not. Be part of the conversation.

Health data
Vast amounts of health data are being generated every day, and we need a system to parse it to make it useful, according to Bill Evans of IBM Watson Health. David Davenport-Firth of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide states that patients can’t make health decisions if they don’t understand their health data. Cognitive systems like Watson can democratize health insights to better patients’ lives, and responsive and dynamic representations of health data can personalize and humanize patients, leading to better health outcomes.

Healthcare is undergoing a transformation unlike any it’s seen before. Looking to the future, healthcare organizations must be disruptive by embracing innovation and putting patients at the center of everything that they do.

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Jan23

LIVING THE BRAND—Awakening the Senses at Congress

conventionIt seems that the time has passed when having more sales reps and a bigger booth at a major congress was enough to attract physicians to learn more about your brand. Beyond the financial and compliance challenges that the industry has encountered in the past decade, leading in part to decreasing attendance from physicians, clients as much as agencies are continuously looking for new ways to catch physicians’ attention.

What if physicians were just like us: curious and playful

At times, new data just doesn’t make the cut in the clutter of a congress…and let’s not mention when there is no new data to present. Of course, physicians are interested in learning more about a new product, indication or technique. However, in today’s reality, it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Having physicians engage with the brand in a fun and truly unique way can actually set the ground for a deeper relationship and more memorable experience.  What if detailing on touch screens, offering games or iPad quizzes, to name a few, were already not enough in this rush for new things? What if physicians were just simply looking to (re)connect with brands whilst having fun?

Success lies in the story you tell and how you tell it

Going beyond the usual techniques to drive interest at congress requires us to take a step back and look to the core of what the company, brand or product stands for. What it means for your client and physicians. After all, congresses are a great opportunity to reach a maximum of physicians while bringing your vision to life. The booth and activities around it, including symposia, then are used to articulate this story.

But how to define the story you want to tell? One way to do so is to look at the company or brand ambition. What they want to change or bring in this world, where they make a difference. Another way is to leverage the unique features of the product (eg, physical properties, MOA, mode of administration, unique manufacturing process, etc).

What do you do once you have a clear story? You offer physicians a sensory experience. This is when curiosity and playfulness come into place. Perceiving, feeling and doing will create a true brand experience. Knowledge is only one part of a person’s understanding.

Two client cases can help illustrate how senses can create emotional connections. An ophthalmic pharmaceutical company, living by the vision of “leading a brighter future,” and whose main products are hydrating eye drops, articulated their booth activity around a water light graffiti. As physicians were writing on the wall with water, the surface of the wall made of thousands of LEDs was illuminating. The client got their main message across: water is essential for the eyes to properly function, and light is an important medium for sight.  Another client, a leading dermatology company, developed a full sensory experience to differentiate its new dermal-filler range at launch and demonstrate that each product was customized to fit physicians’ needs. During a major industry event, physicians were welcomed into an experiential room. They were able to walk around and visit various custom-made “tools” to feel and see the products (eg, an injection bar,  a gel texture tool to touch the products, and a visual tool  to play with product elasticity). Both cases were based on the core of the brand vision and did create a memorable journey for physicians.

What will experiential activities do for physicians and your clients?

Physicians are keen to interact with their peers and such activities will make them want to share and tell. Word of mouth will not only drive traffic to your activities but also create brand awareness. Physicians will remember your client’s brand and the experience they had with it. They will probably want to engage with it after the event. Creative executions will also differentiate your client and position them as innovative and bold.

Brand experience is about going back to the basics: our senses

OCH Paris won a 2013 Global Award in the category Art & Technique: User Experience (click here to access the Global Awards website http://www.theglobalawards.com/winners/2013/index.php).

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Jan16

True Integration of Excellence — the Key to Advertising Success

thumbnailAs 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!

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Dec10

Asia and the Art of Pervasive Perseverance

singapore thumbnailIn less than two months, a religious festival takes place that is so fantastically crowded and celebratory that it seems unreal. Officially listed as the largest human gathering in the world, the northern Indian city of Allahabad at the confluence of the Yamuna, Ganges and Saraswati rivers will witness as many as 100 million people participating in an ancient Hindu festival known as the Kumbh Mela. The pilgrimage, which dates back millennia, attracts a staggering 10 million people in a single day, who congregate by the Ganges’ banks to ritually bathe in its sacred waters.

The Atlantic’s Quartz website places this event in an easier-to-understand global perspective: “Imagine the entire population of Shanghai—about 23 million—camping on a 4×8 kilometre field. Add to that mass of humanity every last man, woman and child in New York City and you’re getting closer to the Kumbh’s expected attendance.”

Some 3,000 miles away at nearly the same time, the world will also witness the biggest annual human migration, known as Chun Yun (or Spring Festival Migration). Some 700 million Chinese, or roughly half the country’s population, are expected to make 2.85 billion passenger trips during the 40-day period to celebrate Chinese New Year with their families.

What is it that drives hundreds of millions of people, an ocean of humanity, voluntarily through unimaginable hardships—sickness, disease, loss of life even—every year? On one side, the biggest “act of faith,” while on the other the biggest need to just “be back home.”

These two events define for me the spirit and tenacity that is Asia—the need for inspiration, the need to define oneself in a community, affecting in turn the way lives and health are managed.

A recent new study revealed that the average Singaporean has a particularly high desire for inspiration, albeit on a more material scale. Indeed, 69% of Singaporeans want to be inspired when they shop/read/surf, compared to only 49% of Europeans and 51% of Americans—but then the “kiasu” Singaporean culture is what keeps it so vibrant.

In a separate study, in Tier One China cities, when comparing the cost of a critical vaccine against pneumococcal infection vs a new iPhone 5C, it’s no surprise that Jobs’ inspirational device won hands down. The seemingly everyday contradictions with which Asia works start to become a way of life for us who call this part of the planet home. It doesn’t seem unusual, just the way it’s meant to be, really…

How, then, do we apply the norms of behavioural-change communication in an environment as diverse and fragmented as Asia Pacific? Where religion, environments, languages—along with budgets and regulations—are both simultaneous drivers and barriers, be that to an oncologist in the Philippines or a midwife in Indonesia, a GP in Beijing or a regulatory official in Sydney.

Asia forces you to innovate, to find a new way, to uncover an insight that is universal in application and precise in its expression. In a way, Asia offers us a sort of social petri dish in which we can incubate ideas/tactics/strategies in ways not thought of before. Big ideas with small budgets, with the ability to change or save the lives of millions…now isn’t that a challenge worth waking up to?

The formal launch of Ogilvy CommonHealth Asia Pacific in a way is representative of everything we see, hear, feel and smell in this region. From many brands operating as one; from 6 different countries working in unison; from Med Ed & PR to Branding & Creativity. We’re looking ahead to 2014 with hope, promise and most importantly the chance to help define Asian health communications in ways not thought of before.

Join us in this journey, as we rediscover Asia Pacific through the lens of health behaviour change. Reach out and offer your thinking, your ideas. Tell us whenever you’re making a visit: you have a place to call home across the region—India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney. The closer we become, the sooner we’ll realise just how small the world really is. Even the taste of Balut or Durian won’t seem so bad (well, maybe those are two things that just cannot make sense any which way you look at it).

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Nov19

The Global Awards Ceremony

blog thumbnailAs you enter this welcoming, creative environment, you are immediately humbled by the amazing creative work on display. The best work from around the world. The creative directors from many of the world’s top agencies are in attendance. It is a true creative event in every sense of the word.

The work is brilliant, and it is judged by only creative eyes. The judging takes place at 3 locations: Sydney, London and New York. And while you are here mingling with creative royalty, there is this great sense of community, as only creatives can experience. It is a chance for us to share stories, discuss the work, and enjoy each other’s company without the daily politics we are so used to dealing with.

This show is a very special one. They do it right, by getting a true global perspective on the work and then putting that judging through even more scrutiny at the regional level. Once it gets past the regional level, only the very best moves into the executive judging in New York. This is where the Global finalists and Grand winners are determined.

The debates over which work deserves to be considered the best are fun and filled with an intense passion. What is special is that we are fighting for someone else’s work to be recognized as the best. No other show does that.

And after we are done with the marathon of judging, we all go out and get to know more about each other, share our stories, and build friendships. Yes, we are rivals during the day, but during this prestigious event we are part of a special group that has a tremendous amount of respect for each other.

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Jul5

Will Health Plans Of The Future Take Care Of Widows And Orphans?

“Widows and orphans” is a long-established phrase that connotes one of the neediest segments of societies. Throughout time, communities have been asked (or commanded, as in the Bible) to support them in some way. One modern-day version of this support takes the form of estate planning. In the 20th century, stocks that provided a relatively high degree of safety (from declines in price) and steady dividends were nicknamed “widows and orphans” because they were good to have in the portfolio and provided relatively steady income. Prevalent among this type of stock were utilities. Utilities offered consistent returns because state or federal governments had established these companies as monopolies. In return for their monopoly status, governments regulated (or seen another way, guaranteed) a specific level of profits after fixed and variable costs were covered.

In 2012, a new group of companies that may fulfill the role of utilities is health plans. The Affordable Care Act fixes the medical loss ratio (MLR) of health plans at 80%, or 85% for large health plans. Here, the medical loss ratio is a metric that means 85% of health plan revenues must be spent on patient care. You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that 15% of revenues is left for overhead expenses and profits. So, the level of profits is regulated, just like those of utilities.

The business leaders of health plans are not settling for lower profits, which are estimated to fall from the 7-8% range to 3-5%. Health plans are already diversifying and are either acquiring or developing higher margin businesses. Here are a few examples:

Information technology (IT) or information management (IM) is a popular area. The thought here is: instead of assuming the financial risk of insuring patients, acquire the financial and actuarial know-how to do so, and sell that expertise to others who will assume the risks (and the lower profit levels). The Wall Street Journal says that managed care plans have made about 20% of their merger-and-acquisition deals with IT firms since 2010, up from about 7% in 2007. They’ve reduced their M&A of other insurers from 39% to 27% in the same period.

  • Aetna purchased Medicity in 2011, a company that sells software that transmits health care data across the different systems in different provider offices
  • Aetna also purchased Prodigy Health Holdings, which will allow midsize companies the financial and information knowledge to offer self-insurance options

Other insurers are purchasing physician practices. Humana purchased Concentra, which runs urgent- and occupational-care clinics. The thinking here is to exert more control over physicians and other providers, optimize their approach to patient care, and lower costs (and fatten profits).

Some insurers are expanding internationally, where legal and regulatory (and profit) constraints may be less onerous. Cigna has entered India in the form of a joint venture with TTK.

And recently, WellPoint acquired a contact lens company. Simply, the margins in vision companies are higher, and this is also an opportunity for health plans to cement relationships with consumers without the “middle men” of physicians or external opticians.

What does this mean for marketing communications?

Payer marketers traditionally target 3 audience levels: the payer level, the provider level, and the patient level. While these audiences will remain in the evolving health care landscape, they may need to be approached differently:

  • At the payer level: analytics groups may possess powerful data that show differences in cost or performance for specific drug therapies. Can marketers acquire and leverage these data to reinforce the value of our drugs or other therapies? Conversely, if sophisticated IT systems detect physician deviations from practice protocols sooner, traditional formulary controls such as prior authorizations or step edits may be enhanced and present bigger obstacles to prescriptions
  • At the physician level: if physicians work directly for health plans, their flexibility to practice or prescribe will be constrained more than if they worked on their own. Will drug marketing messages that only contain safety, efficacy, and effectiveness be enough, or will additional message components be needed? How will sales force pull-through campaigns need to be engineered if a greater degree of control binds both formularies and prescribers?
  • At the patient level: cost pressures may make insurance plans a bit more rigid. Out-of-network (or non-formulary) options may be sparse and much more expensive. What value proposition will convince the member/patient to pay for the appropriate therapy?

No one knows what the future will bring. Even if health plans do transform themselves in the 21st century and “take care” of widows and orphans in a hypothetical role as “utilities,” we can probably guess that many payer audiences will still be eager for high-quality information that demonstrates value for each health care intervention. Most likely, health care marketing communications will have challenges and goals that are similar to those of today, yet slightly more difficult.

Readers, will heath plans’ transformations affect drug and device marketing significantly?

 

 

Sources:

  1. King James Bible (James 1:27).
  2. Do “widow and orphan” stocks still exist? Investopedia.com. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/analyst/121802.asp#axzz1x7O6I4Dw. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  3. Reforms prod insurers to diversify. The Wall Street Journal. May 12, 2011. http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703643104576291022457851278.html. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  4. To find new revenue streams, insurers are branching out into nontraditional areas. From Health Plan Week. http://www.henryloubet.com/news030512.htm. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  5. WellPoint to buy 1-800-contacts. The Wall Street Journal. June 4, 2012. http://professional.wsj.com/article/TPBWR0000020120604e8640002u.html. Accessed June 4, 2012.

 

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Jun28

Why Does The Pharmaceutical Industry Have A Promiscuous Relationship With Its Communication Agencies?

Hard to believe that in the consumer goods, financial, and motor industry sectors many client/agency relationships have lasted up to 50 years, in some cases, and in many instances average at least a decade.

Compare this to the hire-and-fire approach taken by some in the pharma industry. While there are some long-standing pharma/agency partnerships, it is not uncommon to replace agencies on an annual basis. Neither it is unusual to remove them if something relatively minor occurs or the chemistry isn’t right.

Is it sensible to believe that creativity and price competitiveness can only be achieved by wielding the sword of Damocles over the heads of the agency with the constant threat of repitch?

Currently there is huge pressure on the pharma industry to improve innovation and efficiency, and sustain or gain competitive advantage. Can this be achieved by continuing to engage with communications agencies in such a promiscuous manner?

At a time when there is a reduction in internal resources in the industry, the true cost of an agency change should be considered. Beyond just the monetary cost, each agency change will involve:

  •  Writing a brief
  • Selecting agencies to take part
  • Q&As in the lead-up to pitch with each agency
  • Pitching 3 to 4 agencies with a minimum half-day each, involving multiple internal stakeholders
  • Bringing a new agency on board with medical and marketing briefings
  • Familiarizing the new agency with company and team processes

All the above can impact what is a condensed marketing lifespan for many products. In addition, companies often lose the knowledge base, continuity of talent, and learning that are some of the benefits of a long-term relationship.

However, it is a true sense of partnership that is often missing on both sides. Why do clients and agencies behave any differently than they would upon entering and sustaining any other relationships?

All successful long-term relationships rely on trust, solving problems together, communication transparency, working out where things are going wrong and resolving them in partnership for a better outcome.

Then there is creativity: how do you keep each other excited in a relationship? It takes hard work and planning—date nights, trying something new together, having fun! This would be hard to do if your partner was constantly threatening to look elsewhere, telling you that others were far more attractive and exciting, and perhaps cheaper to keep!  Why would you want to give your best to a partner who focused on blame, didn’t give you a second chance when things were not going as well as expected, or was not willing to see that “it takes two to tango”?

On the agency side, when there is little belief in the long-term partnership, it is too easy to change the talent resource, be closed to investing in the relationship, not give your absolute best, and not be flexible in the remuneration model. This behavior in turn leads to an unsatisfied partner, and the vicious cycle continues.

With true partnership, the pharma industry and agencies can only gain. Open and trusting communications, a belief that problems can and will be mutually fixed, a sense of loyalty and collective focus on the brand will reap rewards. This includes the agency’s willingness to invest in the relationship, the best talent wanting to work on accounts with clients who behave in this way, a desire to go the extra mile, and a focus on creativity and innovation rather than worrying about the wandering eye of the pharma industry!

 

Also posted in agency life, Clients, Creativity, Great Ideas, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, pitching, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment