Healthcare communications: putting the case for pharma

HCA chief Anneliese Cameron says healthcare communications agencies are ideally placed to dispel some of the myths attached to the pharmaceutical industry and articulate its value to payers and patients alike.


Anneliese Cameron

The importance of effective communication in the healthcare world continues to grow just as the number of stakeholders that need (and demand) such information rises. As the pharmaceutical industry now engages with a broader set of stakeholders – no longer just doctors, but regulators, payers and, most importantly, patients – and has to demonstrate value to each of them, better communication is a must for them and their consultancies.

Complex environment

Putting together value propositions in healthcare for a multi-stakeholder, highly-regulated environment where pricing, reimbursement and market access issues dominate, represents a huge challenge for the industry. It is a challenge that communications companies have to rise to in order to make sure that the innovation coming from our pharma clients reaches patients.

Of course ‘value’ means different things to all these different stakeholders, an issue addressed insightfully by Berkeley Greenwood, managing director of Decideum, at the recent Healthcare Communications Association’s (HCA) annual meeting. He said that the communications function is as important as, “if not more than”, sales, when it comes to making a case for market access across all stakeholders, showing the genuine value to healthcare systems, and to the health of the nation, that innovative medicines can provide.

Tackling the myths

I agree wholeheartedly with him. Healthcare communicators are ideally placed to tackle the myths that plague the industry. We have great stories to tell about how the research from our laboratories has transformed the lives of patients. I also believe that we should look outside healthcare and learn from more traditionally customer-centred industries so that our approach to communication can evolve.

We, as healthcare communicators, need to make sure we are equipped to tell these great stories. The HCA does this through various work streams, such as career development, digital, market access and medical education, providing training and holding events that meet communicators’ needs and demonstrate good practice in all areas of our business.

That business is communication, delivered creatively through a variety of channels to patients and other key stakeholders. Let’s get telling those stories.

About the author:

Anneliese Cameron is CEO, Healthcare Communications Association (HCA), appointed in January 2015. HCA is an independent, not-for-profit organisation representing excellence and best practice in healthcare communications.

Following a career in music marketing Anneliese joined PMGroup in 2003 as a marketing manager and rose to Operations Director after a couple of years, responsible for the company’s awards events and project management. In 2011 she was appointed General Manager of PM Society, growing the membership by 25% and building partnerships with other industry organisations, including the ABPI.

She set up her own consultancy in 2014, working with the pharma industry and local organisations.

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