May 23, 2019

A few years ago, I had planned a business trip to Chicago. Now, I don’t often go to Chicago. Being based in Israel, travel tends to be focused on where my clients need me to be, where my colleagues want to gather to discuss our collective future (as was the case with this Chicago visit) and/or visits to family to give hugs to my nieces and nephews.

So when I knew I’d be visiting Chicago, I immediately contacted our Equashield client and asked the head of sales if he could set up a meeting for me with a pharmacy director at one of Chicago’s top hospitals. He made it happen and I met with the pharmacy director (who was also an Equashield client at the time). We sat for about an hour and I peppered him with questions about his work life. How difficult is it to introduce an innovation into your hospital? What bothers you about how hazardous drugs are compounded? And even, when you listen to a webinar, are you giving it your full attention, or is it somewhat background music for you? (By the way, the answer: background music.)

Fast forward to a recent article, by health leader Shachin Jain, that highlights the importance of big tech companies understanding the complexities of the US health care system as they develop their innovative technologies.

Jain, of course, is correct.

Finn Partners has been advocating for client marketing communications staff to focus on the importance of unifying the fragmented health ecosystem for several years. The understanding is that all players within health care – that is, current and potential clients for the firm – fit within one or more of the following subcategories within health care: policy, provider, payer, product innovator (encompassing the tech/device and pharma/biotech) and of course, the center of the health care universe: the patient.

It is important for each player to understand how it fits into one of those subcategories, and that is just the beginning of the process. The lion’s share of the work for any company – particularly startups – is to be cognizant of how its product/service/issue either does or does not impact to each health sector.

Here are a few questions to explain the significance:

  1. A device that represents a new approach to drug delivery may be a dream come true for nurses, but will the payers reimburse the providers for utilizing that device?
  2. The payers may love a new, low-cost therapy, but will physicians adapt how they treat patients by putting that therapy into practice?
  3. A product may do a better job than its competition of protecting hospital workers, but if regulation does not demand a high level of protection, will providers and payers accept the additional cost involved, or will they simply go with a lower-cost – yet regulation-compliant solution?

These questions convey the importance of addressing each health segment. If one of these segments does not want your product in the system, your business is dead before you’ve gotten it off the ground.  It’s not only about visibility – it’s about economic and patient value.

Every health care company must address–that is, find the connective glue that unites–the major health sectors. That is clear. As Jain says in his Forbes piece, “To be successful, entrepreneurs have to envision health care from a much broader perspective…”

For FINN, this means every health care-related campaign must address the business model needs of each health segment.

That’s the communication and marketing challenge for agencies like FINN. And it’s the same challenge for product innovators.

The good news, as I found out during that Chicago meeting several years ago, is that if a startup – or a Google or an Uber, for that matter – can check off all boxes next to each of the mega health sectors, it is quite likely that such a company is onto something, and may have quite a bright future ahead.

 

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