Communication strategy is key in the healthcare industry. In Europe, healthcare accounts for the second largest portion of public spending behind social welfare and presents major opportunities for growth and innovation. Telemedicine, which provides remote monitoring, diagnosis and after-care services, as well as digitization are just two of exciting areas of current development in medical technology.
According to Weber Shandwick Managing Directors George Coleman and Rachel Pay, however, the attractive medical market comes with an array of demands, risks and rewards for communications professionals.
Since healthcare is one of the most highly regulated sectors in business, PR managers and their agency teams must maintain a ubiquitous understanding of the operations and legal framework surrounding medical companies. One mistake can prove to be very detrimental not only financially, but to the reputation of the brand as well. In order to reduce risk, agencies must be able to anticipate potential problems and, in the case of an emergency such as a product recall or security breach, implement a fully-tested crisis management plan with a real-time social media component. Speed and recovery are crucial to gaining control of a story before it escalates too quickly.
Another difficulty associated with healthcare communications is generating acceptance of products that are often very complex and difficult to articulate. As Coleman and Pay declare, “It’s important that PR professionals working in the sector have deep expertise in telling human stories about the impact on innovation.”
The medical technology industry is a very competitive marketplace, which means it is vital for agencies to help their client separate themselves from the competition. The agencies that can successfully leverage product differentiation and build a positive corporate reputation and strong brand preference for clients will be in high demand.