Modernizing Healthcare Communications

Blog-Summit 160x160Remaining Relevant In an Age of Ubiquitous Information

Last month, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide hosted our first marketing summit in collaboration with eConsultancy. This conference was initiated to bring healthcare leaders, marketers, and innovators together to discuss the changes that need to be made to build more effective patient communications. The summit showcased a massive well of talent, enthusiasm, and vision our industry has already in its ranks and a vision to deliver relevant healthcare information to patients and caregivers.

The Shackles of Our Own Making

Several years ago, healthcare marketing was years behind in its adoption of technology. Where many packaged goods brands had already adopted mobile, social, and eCommerce solutions, healthcare and pharmaceutical brands were still working with self-addressed postage solutions and print-your-own coupons for patients. Today, we are moving at a much faster pace, but there is still room for improvement.

Healthcare and pharmaceutical leaders are no longer trying “me-too” solutions to compete with consumer brands. We are now writing our own rules. Many brands are leveraging both the healthcare start-up culture and our “veteran” status to build strong partnerships for companies new to the space. We are also taking on the burden of regulation with a new vigor — by educating our teams and developing thought leadership around managing communities. We are also playing to our strengths and authority in disease categories and research. We are innovating in this landscape in spite of the burden of being “regulated brands.”

Digital is not separate

Digital is not a separate marketing platform. People don’t generally view experiences with their smartphone, TV, magazine, or desktop computer as unique “experiences” or “channels they engage.” They do see themselves as intelligently choosing the optimal channel to achieve a goal or move back and forth between mediums. This is normal, healthy, and a clear sign that these mediums and their users have matured. Its unfortunate that many clients and agencies compartmentalize their strategies and plans. Regardless of age, our patients are going to begin to question and express frustration as to why different channels have their own messaging, tone, and offers (in the case of coupons or reimbursement).

This is a pain point for the agency as well. If we are unable to unify our messagingand present a fully informed, multi-channel brand experience, we not be prepared to engage the next wave of the “digitally native” patient. We will also miss the opportunity to align the multi-generational conversation that will be more and more common as the digitally-centric children evolve into caregiver roles for the exploding baby boomer population. Our role as healthcare communicators is to unify channels and bring a channels agnostic message to our audience.

What is changing that model

There is a bright future ahead: Stimulus from the start-up community, a new type of self-educated patient, and a trend towards wellness in our culture are all fueling a new kind of healthcare marketing. This new perspective is focused on content and delivering a value that is rooted in supporting the patient with what pharmaceutical and healthcare brands can provide best — information about their products, the efficact of those products, and guidance to help patients manage their therapy through pharmaceuticals.

It may seem trite, but content is truly king. For brands looking to reach patients, content, when executed properly, is channel agnostic, portable, and scalable to every stakeholder in the chain of care. It is also something that can unify the phases of a patient journey and support a segmentation model for improved ROI of paid media

To not be lost amongst the WebMD’s, Dr. Oz’s, and patient influencers of the world, brand leadership needs to develop a vision for their brands. Specifically, a content strategy that will result in an “ownable” space that is the brand’s own and provides a strong foothold for patient interaction and discovery. From this place, brands can carve out a meaningful role in the patient’s journey that builds trust and provides a valued source of information about the product, disease state, and broader meaning to wellness in the patient’s life.

Changing the healthcare marketing model

The presenters at the Ogilvy CommonHealth Marketing Summit represent leadership from every facet of our industry. Each of them, from the perspectives of technology, content, company they work for, or patient service, all echoed the same refrain: The healthcare industry is at a pivot-point. Patients have access to a near infinite amount of information of varying degrees of utility. Our physician population is under new types of pressure to care for patients while managing group policies, provider requirements, mounting financial pressures, and patients equipped with massive amounts of their own data. Let these challenges be a call to action for marketers and content creators: Our focus needs to be building communications that are relevant to each phase of a physician’s journey and creating content based on the authority we have as drug manufacturers or brand management experts.

See more insights and opinions from the Ogilvy CommonHealth Marketing Summit at https://tagboard.com/OCHWWSUMMIT/245462?.

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