Health communications face a truly unique suite of challenges, but many of the elements that set it and its practitioners apart have also created a set of standards and stereotypes that need updating – a new whitepaper from Havas Lynx Group seeks to do just that.

Published on WARC, Havas Lynx Group’s 'Media means business' whitepaper explores how the many touchpoints of healthcare communications can work together strategically, based on robust data and effectiveness measurement.

Like so many other disciplines across marketing, healthcare’s channel opportunities have grown, but have become far more complicated in the process. Then, there is the additional layer of the sales rep, and how the relationships – once relatively straightforward – have shifted along with a consolidating corporate landscape and a specialising healthcare profession.

Ultimately, many of these relationships end up becoming about an occasional free lunch rather than a clinically useful exchange about the healthcare professional’s (HCP) needs. “To do this, pharma must break away from the traditional, fixed mindsets that pander to stereotypes about HCPs and patients,” the report explains.

The answer, Havas Lynx Group believes, is to make media choices meaningful. This is effectively to understand which set of functional, personal, or collective benefits each investment decision seeks to engage with and to think about media through that particular lens.

Media, the paper states, “is most effective when it is trusted (from a source that the audience finds authentic and reliable), engaging (holds attention) and influential (impacting on feelings and beliefs, driving people to change behaviour and take action).” It speaks, then, to both the professional and to the person.

Pharma has typically relied on a small pool of media, typically owned. However, the HCP target has a much broader media diet and needs: as many as 64% of professionals in Europe say they prefer to learn about new treatments through their own research first. There can be a wrong time to send in the rep.

It also increases communications among the total available market (TAM), rather than the total serviceable market. Reps are best deployed on the most valuable accounts, but cannot be speaking to the vast majority of non-lucrative accounts that make up the total opportunity.

Sizing up opportunities is a key part of the job, and endemic networks such as Medscape can be extremely useful for this. For instance, they may not point to where the largest opportunity – in terms of cases of a particular issue treated by a HCP – but help to illuminate an area in which they are showing their needs. After all, professionals don’t look for help with something they know how to do; they seek guidance when something si new or different.

Crucially, developing a new model for media in pharma requires an understanding of each part’s contribution to the overall objectives, and that both long- and short-term work is contributing. Ultimately, creative work is unavoidably mysterious in its precise workings, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be measured – what it requires, however, is an ongoing process. Meaningful media requires meaningful measurement.

Sourced from WARC