Thursday, March 26, 2009

Promoting new therapy or new category by Pharma Company

Mankind has been witnessing newer and newer drugs, therapies, drug deliveries to enhance the lives of humans. With the increasing competition from generic drug manufacturers, the multi-nationals are trying to develop new categories of drug therapy for existing diseases. In the recent past Multi-nationals have been funding their R & D depts. to invent new therapies.

Some of the new treatment innovations listed below:

  • Oral insulin by Pfizer and Novo Nordisk
  • 1ml painkiller inject able by Triokaa
  • Drug eluting balloon to prevent restenosis by Eurocor

These companies have been facing lot of problems to promote new therapies, coz, the doctors are hesitant to prescribe fearing its effects. Sometimes doctors also recommend the old therapy along with the new one, so they don't have to worry about its failure.

Traditionally the Pharma cos have been conducting CMEs amongst the doctors to promote the new therapies usage. Surveys help to understand the side effects better. But, as yet no great innovation has taken place to promote these newer therapies. The brochures have replaced presentations and videos, but still those have not been impressive enough?

Thinking about in from my view, I personally think that from the time this new therapy gets USFDA and DCI approval a communications strategy should be implemented. This would be focusing on the problems faced by patients because of the existing therapy, survey reports indicating patients and doctors doubtful of this therapy, launching associations to promote the need of new therapy, tie-ups with NGOs fighting to help promote this disease, etc.

A communications consultancy can advice and create a communications plan accordingly.

Create associations with NGOs help a lot in creating awareness about the disease.

The case of Apple iPhone is one of the best one in the industry. The iPhone was completely promoted without advertising, before the product was launched and everyone wanted to be a user of iPhone.

The question will still haunt product & brand managers as to how to promote new product or therapy in the market. The sector is waiting for an innovation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hospitals care about brand building too

Branding initiatives in the healthcare industry are getting an emphasis they’ve never had before. So, you have pamphlets on preventive healthcare from the neighborhood clinic, advertisements of a new facility at a big hospital in the city, and health tips on radio sponsored by another hospital. Health care providers are are going all out to make sure their respective brands stay in people’s minds by doing sponsored events, banners and audio-visual ads.

"Brand conveys trust and that is more important in this industry than in any other", says Ratan Jalan. “Research has shown that in healthcare, the customer has a limited rational framework in decision making. In this context, a brand becomes important.” Hospitals take a wide range of channels to highlight the brand — sponsoring events for the medical fraternity, continuous medical education programmes, medical camps, awareness seminars in colleges, literature on specific ailments, and the reminder media.

Manipal Health System MD R Basil says: “Our external branding is directed at specific groups — doctors, corporate houses, insurance companies, students and general public. We conduct continuous medical education programmes on the latest in each speciality and what the hospital is doing in that field. We also use the reminder media like radio and traffic canopies to remind people about help numbers.”

Manipal Hospital has earmarked about Rs 1.5 crore for its external brand development activities for the current financial year, Mr Basil says. It has also laid much emphasis on internal branding efforts. “A hospital’s brand is built from the point of view of a patient or his relatives and visitors walk into the hospital interacts with any staff member,” Mr Basil adds. The hospital, thus, has in place “patient care coordinators” and gives out education material on common diseases to patients.

With a budget of Rs 6 crore for mass media promotions, Apollo Hospitals carries out campaigns through the print, radio and TV media on preventive healthcare, Mr Jalan says. “We have not been very aggressive in the conventional mass media advertising.

But we do have commercials promoting preventive health care, and to advertise technological breakthroughs or a new facility at the hospital,” he says. For Wockhardt, promotions are not done on an on-going basis but are event-based, Wockhardt Hospitals CEO Vishal Bali says. “In Bangalore, when we made the transition from cardiology to other specialties, we had a large campaign that was very effective. The objective is to let the consumer know what is available,” he says.

Delhi-based Max Healthcare conducts doctor-driven customer meeting events and has in the market a pre-paid health check-up package, which together give mileage to the brand name, Max Healthcare director, sales & marketing, Sanjay Rai says.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Crisis in healthcare industry

As this sector deals with life - every life saved translates into big publicity and every life lost translates into lot of negative publicity very difficult to erase.
Crisis in this sector is usually classified into the following:
  1. Death of patient
  2. Sexual harassment charges
  3. Medicine overdose
  4. Duplicate drug
There are many situations where crisis can take place, but above mentioned are few of the important ones. Incase of any crisis the thumb rule is:
  1. It is very important to understand the crisis, talk to all the parties involved.
  2. Inform the spokesperson and people affected to maintain a common statement for media. In the meant time setup an enquiry committee.
  3. Keep media informed about the latest reports only after approval.
  4. Get assistance of legal department/consultants.
  5. Understand what media wants and diplomatically solve all the queries.
  6. There are many aspects to deal with crisis so it is necessary to hire a communications agency.
Here I will quote a case study to better understand crisis Molestation charges against male doctor by female patient during checking and no female attendant is nearby. And the doctor is not guilty, but how to prove it? What, I have highlighted is an extreme crisis situation which can tarnish the image of the doctor as well as of the hospital. Here, it is important to understand the doctors’ side and the patients’ side of the story. Can schedule meeting with a psychiatrist of both the parties, whose reports can help to understand the reasons behind such incidence. The legal dept and the hospitals spokesperson should keep all channels open and interact with the media (the information shared with the media should be approved by the mgt). As far as possible the culprit should not speak to media and have faith in the hospitals management. If the patient is wrong their will be loopholes in her story which can surface during interrogation. It might happen that the patient was sexually starved and was trying to advance towards the doctor and he might have objected resulting in this claim. The other possibility can be that doctor was checking her heart beats and by mistake touched her breast. Only after discussions this type of case can be solved. Once the case is solved both the parties (doctor & patient) should speak to media and convey the right message. Keeping media informed helps to gain positive respect from media which helps in the long run.

This can happen in any hospital like Hinduja Hospital, KEM Hospital, JJ Hospital, Tata Hospital, etc. So be aware and set your protocols to fight such crisis...