Creation Healthcare’s Elite Global Forum was conceived to be a no-nonsense, no-limits, global think tank. Since that time, several informal discussions have been taking place around the globe in which professionals from pharmaceutical, hospital, government and not-for-profit organizations challenge each other, share ideas, and look to break new ground in healthcare engagement.

While attending conferences in New York, London, and Munich during the early part of this year (see where we’ll be next here), Creation Healthcare spent time interviewing just a few of these thought-leaders. The resulting conversations provided many fascinating insights into the rapidly changing communications landscape, which is maturing to some extent.

These strategists and corporate communications professionals were quick to recognise the opportunity and potential threats of ‘Social media’ and were themselves early adopters and innovators in healthcare with two-way communication.

For many of them the questions about ‘whether to be involved’ have been answered; as have the questions of ‘how’ to be involved. Their greater challenge – at the fore front of their mind – is bringing these changes to the company as a whole, and the increasing importance of senior management ‘buy-in’ to bring true organisational or cultural change.

In the following video you can hear about ‘Cultural change in a digital world’, and in the coming weeks and months we will release other videos on topics including:

  • the role of pharmaceutical companies in online conversation
  • building trust and reputation
  • the rise of the e-Patient
  • building strong partnerships
  • the challenges that the industry must overcome to face the future

Figen Samdanci of Pfizer Turkey starts by explaining that “Change begins internally” and that you need to know your company well to be able to make a case for ‘why’ the communications strategy is evolving into new platforms. She points out that ‘support from executives’ is important.

Alex Butler of Janssen suggested that 75-80% of his job is ‘internal’ and necessitates helping the business to understand ‘what it takes culturally’ to enable projects across the various functions of the company which keep pace with consumer expectations. Marc Monseau agrees:

“What you really need in an organisation is to have people in senior management roles who are supportive of making these things happen… …to support us in being able to make mistakes, but also to see the value in the long-term for the function…”

Google’s Amy Cowan believes companies ‘focused on innovation and on their patients, will benefit and lead the pack’. Jens Monsees feels that there is still a lack of clear vision in many companies.

“…there are a lot of people struggling by saying what they actually want to achieve. If they are not knowing where to go, then they are going nowhere…”

For some companies, the impact of change and the lack of certainty about how to navigate uncharted waters means that they could be tempted to return to old established business models, particularly around pharmaceutical sales reps. Yet Ray Chepesiuk of PAAB Canada suggested that sales reps need a new role – to be more like medical science liaisons – in ‘places where and when the doctors want them to be.’ He even thinks reps should be online ‘virtual sales reps’.

The core of the business model for pharmaceutical companies is changing as much as the communications channels are. Expressions like ‘Beyond the pill’ do reflect the need to provide more than a medicine, and Brian Dolan is watching companies like Vitality who make the ‘GlowCaps’ range of adherence products. With greater than 99% adherence, this can make a huge impact on the bottom line, beyond the point of prescription.

Whilst improving adherence means improving return on investment, Alex Butler points out that there are many communications activities which are important but are not necessarily about making money directly.

“We’d always produce disease information campaigns; not that long ago it would be leaflets, pamphlets or this, that and the other. What return on investment did we ever prove with that? Whereas now we can show how many people use something; we can understand what that might mean or whether they might go to the doctor with that…”

There are a growing number of brand managers and product leaders that are ‘digital heroes’, in Jens Monsees opinion, yet he goes on to say:

“We observe in the moment that there is no overall company strategy within ‘Big Pharma’ that is actually focusing on digital, and on leveraging this huge potential.”

Marc Monseau leaves some final insight that social media ‘is a tactic which supports a broader strategy’. He refers to the ‘online face of the company’ which needs to be consistent across all channels:

“Social Media in and of itself does not sit to one side, but is part of a more integrated approach”.


Creation Healthcare believes that cultural change is fundamental to successful engagement strategy implementation. You can find out more through a case study which explains how we worked alongside the World Health Organization to provide independent advice on global communications strategy development in the context of the WHO’s changing financial and organizational environment.

To speak with one of our consultant team, please contact us now and we will be pleased to further understand the challenges that you may be facing around cultural change in your organisation.

If you are a business leader or communicator in healthcare, you can get your free subscription to the Healthcare Engagement Strategy e-Journal at http://engagementstrategy.tv/