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Time for change in global healthcare marketing

A rapidly changing healthcare environment
inVentiv picture

The phrase 'think globally, act locally' was first coined by the environmental movement in the 1960s. Today that slogan is still being used by the World Health Organisation and is arguably more relevant than ever before in healthcare marketing.

The current worldwide economic downturn is a reminder that the world has most definitely become more global.Our increasing financial and technological connectivity across markets sees us working through the business challenges of a recession with long-time partners in the US, Japan and Europe, while also building new working relationships with colleagues in Brazil, Russia, India, China and Turkey.
The healthcare landscape is also changing rapidly. While the US suffers from poor growth figures and a focus on generic prescribing and Europe continues to battle with market access hurdles, the new emerging markets of pharma are benefitting hugely from increased public and private spending. China is fast becoming the most popular region for pharma R&D and also offers enormous commercial potential; India is viewed as a viable support centre, despite issues relating to TRIPS and patents, and Brazil is now forecasting double-digit growth in the sector, becoming one of the most attractive destinations for drug launches.
Ironically though, as our global perspectives reach new heights and new areas of focus, how we relate to each other is in many respects becoming much more 'local'. Against the backdrop of globalisation and changing market dynamics, we are all increasingly sensitive about protecting national nuances, community cultures and group dynamics, and actively seek out conversations with those who have similar experiences to us in health, work and life. Mumsnet, Sermo, the Cancer Hope Network, Yammer, Facebook and LinkedIn are all examples of websites and tools that support the exchange of information by those with shared experiences and interests.
Encouraged by online content, exchange and debate, the self-care revolution is truly upon us. Patients know more than ever before about disease symptoms, available treatment options, efficacy and side effects and as a consequence, specialist groups – some of them powerful lobbyists – are multiplying, generating an increased need for 'expert' communicators and marketers to navigate complex labyrinths of dialogue. 

The specialist trend is moving in professional circles too – a reported 81 per cent of physicians now have smart phones that enable them to interact regularly with their peers and 72 per cent of them are said to engage in specialist social media networks.       

For the healthcare industry in a recession and a post-blockbuster boom age, this translates in to yet another game changing slogan: 'do more with less' – reach an increasing number of 'specialist' stakeholder groups and engage with them on a deeper more meaningful level with less internal resource and the same or less marketing spend.  
As healthcare marketers, it is our responsibility to adapt the ways in which we work and to revolutionise agency infrastructures and approaches in order to better serve and support the new age of the healthcare industry. The new and emerging needs of the industry cannot be met by generalist and traditional marketing networks and silo mentalities. Clients now need partners with the breadth and depth of specialist expertise to navigate global strategies, local regulatory landscapes and multiple stakeholder groups, often simultaneously. 
So what does the new era healthcare marketing agency actually look like? Global leadership that includes well regarded talent in emerging markets, as well as Europe and the US, local market teams that combine native capabilities with mature market experience and the delivery of integrated and flexible marketing programmes that reach all intended audiences with greater relevance, speed and efficiency, demonstrating true behavioural change.
We have to live our own behavioural change too however, not just talk about it. While clients want the promise of efficient multi-channel and multi-national solutions for multiple stakeholder groups, they don't necessarily want multiple points of contact and the inconvenience of navigating numerous financial reconciliation processes that continually undermine a seamless team approach to marketing. They need a complete overhaul of the traditional outsourced solutions model.
The successful marketing agencies of tomorrow will truly put the challenge before the channel or discipline, they will draw upon an unrivalled breadth of insight and expertise to frame multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder solutions delivered through seamless specialist teams. They will also be much better equipped to work closely with outsourced clinical, commercial and consulting organisations in order to deliver full-package life cycle solutions for brands.

inVentiv Health Communications/Europe – The New 'Super Agency' Model

At inVentiv Health Communications/Europe (iHCE), our teams operate under a 'Done as One' philosophy of collaboration that brings together multi-disciplinary and multi-national specialist teams in a new, full-spectrum healthcare specialist “Super-Agency” offer.  

The iHCE model has been driven by client demand for a cost-effective and actionable multi-disciplinary approach to reaching and motivating all target audiences with greater speed and relevance. From inception, iHCE programmes are developed through consultation with our regional and national partners achieveing a result that is rooted in deep local insight. Such collaboration ensures brand consistency across multiple markets while maximising local buy-in, creativity and flawless execution.  

Our clients are also supported by Key Account Managers who have the experience and know-how to build flexible teams as, when and how they need it and to ensure that 'flex' happens behind the scenes.  

Working increasingly closely with inVentiv Health's clinical research, selling solution and consulting teams on broader commercial solutions, we believe we are ready to lead the revolution in improving outcomes and providing added value in the new era of global healthcare marketing.

inVentiv Health
iHCE is an inVentiv Health agency. inVentiv Health is a leading global provider of best-in-class clinical, commercial and consulting services to healthcare companies seeking to accelerate performance. inVentiv's client roster includes more than 550 pharmaceutical, biotech and life sciences companies. The company has 13,000 employees in 40 countries, all working to rapidly transform promising ideas into commercial reality.

Fiona Hall

The Author
Fiona Hall
is senior managing director of inVentiv Health Communications/Europe and CEO of Chandler Chicco Companies Europe. 

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9th March 2012


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