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Redefining value in healthcare communications

The changing healthcare environment offers communicators the opportunity to devise intelligent and creative new strategies

Value definitionAs the healthcare landscape accelerates through a period of unprecedented change, we are being challenged to evolve every single aspect of our work.

Add to this the rapid proliferation of the media, a diversification of channels and stakeholders – each with their own emerging agendas – and healthcare communications is living through nothing short of a revolution.

Until very recently, the main focus has been firmly on brand communications, specifically supporting product launches, data milestones and new indications.

However, within the context of increasing budgetary and regulatory pressures at a global level, which clearly vary locally, the communications remit is now far broader and more complex than ever before.

Partnership and collaboration
In the UK, as the NHS attempts to tighten its belt in order to achieve £20bn of efficiency savings by 2014-15 through the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) programme, the pharmaceutical industry recognises the increased need to demonstrate value throughout the product life cycle.

Access to and successful uptake of innovative medicines should arguably lead to improved patient outcomes. However, more than this, partnership working and improved collaboration with industry can help the NHS drive efficiency savings while maintaining high-quality care through appropriate and effective use of medicines.

Becoming a trusted partner
Communications is playing a vital role in opening channels, defining the common language and helping to facilitate the best environment for encouraging closer collaboration and demonstrating the value story. Yet, a willingness to partner and collaborate requires building trust, which has become a critical component of our work and an area of increasing focus for the pharmaceutical industry.

There is still a reputational disconnect for the pharmaceutical industry, meaning both the commercial opportunity and the ultimate goal of delivering improved patient care is potentially limited. Therefore, an increasing emphasis on enhancing the reputation of corporate brands and that of the industry overall is not just desirable but crucial.

In an era of social media and instant reputational impact, this new art requires thoughtful and precise execution while adhering to the regulatory rules of engagement.
  
Interpretation is key
More than ever, the success of our communications programmes depends on our ability to interpret the impact of policy and regulatory developments and to pre-empt the evolving needs and likely behaviours of the audiences with which we are communicating.

Enhanced consultation, active listening, open and honest dialogue and congruent messaging are all essential in helping us to create a consistent and long-term approach that builds and maintains positive working relationships. All of this will be fundamental in finding the workable, effective solutions needed in this increasingly complex and challenging healthcare environment.

This is not the first time we've seen a tectonic shift in the healthcare landscape and by no means will it be the last. The current state of flux presents us with a key opportunity to redefine the value we can bring as communicators and to devise new strategies with an intelligent dose of creativity.

Jo Jones, Virgo HEALTH
Virgo HEALTHThe Author

Jo Jones is Associate Director at Virgo HEALTH

5th March 2012

From: Sales, Healthcare

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