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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Innovation isn’t solely the province of the scientist

Communiqué Awards confirm comms can be innovative, creative and highly effective
Communique 2014

Over the past twelve months, there has been a strong trend towards convergence of communications channels within brand programmes. At the same time communication itself is becoming more divergent. Consequently, the shape of our work is changing with both industry and agencies looking for creative ideas, regardless of discipline, to deliver integrated solutions.

Often innovation in the pharmaceutical industry is credited (quite rightly) to the scientists who develop the drugs and devices that lead to a dramatic decline in mortality and morbidity figures. And thanks to them we, as marketers, are now working in a whole new world of wearable devices, nano technology, and ingestible devices to name but a few.  

But as last week's Communiqué Awards confirmed, our industry produces innovative, creative and highly effective work and it has been fantastic year for entries, showing exciting and innovative new ways to communicate messages to different audiences.

However, we must not overlook the need for innovation to communicate effectively within such huge change.

Under the new five-year voluntary PPRS, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to keep NHS expenditure on branded medicines flat for two years and underwrite any further expenditure by the NHS within agreed boundaries. This means the industry will need to reshape itself yet again to generate growth.

There are many opportunities that technological innovation in health affords patients, healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical, health and wellbeing industries. And this will continue to impact the industry as a whole in a very positive way, given the level of content creation and education required to match these evolutions – something set to be a new specialist arena.

Much of the interest in recent months has been focused on digital 'experiential' technology, creating user experiences enhanced by digital, such as holograms, touch-less technology, augmented reality and virtual reality.

Virtual reality headsets, such as Oculus Rift, have already been used effectively for the treatment of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) by enabling clinicians to control the virtual environments of patients in their coping strategies. Soon patients will be able to have consultations with their doctors simply by putting on their headset at home - providing the same level of support as visiting a surgery or clinic and easing the burden on health services. 

There is great skill in leading innovation. While innovation rhetoric is often about fun and creativity, in reality it's about hard work – to get a diverse range of people to collaborate and generate wide-ranging ideas which can evolve into something worthwhile can often involve passionate disagreement.

As communicators, our job is to build communities with a sense of purpose, values and a sense of engagement. Innovation isn't solely the province of the scientist.

Article by
Catherine Warne

Chair of Judges, Communiqué Awards 2014
CEO, Creston Health

8th July 2014

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