An HCA Innovation Initiative in Partnership with 90TEN

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Can(nes) healthcare comms learn to roar like a lion?

On a bitter winter’s day in late 2018, eleven healthcare communications experts gathered in Battersea. Some were colleagues and friends; others were almost strangers. But they all had one thing in common: they believed that healthcare communications had an innovation problem…  And they wanted to fix it.

With no holds barred, they took a long hard look at our industry and how it needs to change. As the group prepares to meet again in March 2019, here’s what they said:

We risk losing our voice   

It has been three years since a healthcare communications campaign took home a Grand Prix at Cannes Lions, the international Festival of Creativity. While industries from the old to the new look beyond traditional marketing to carry out ever more surprising and inspiring campaigns, pharmaceutical companies seem to be stuck in a rut.

Tech companies like Google and Apple have changed the way we live and communicate, and now they are moving into the healthcare space. The pharmaceutical industry is fuelled by discovery and innovation but, unless we start enabling that innovation to reach our communications, our relevance will ebb away as the world changes around us.  Today, more than ever before, we risk losing our voice.

There are four things holding us back – and we have the power to change them all

Accepting that our regulatory constraints are a challenge, not a barrier, four key factors were identified as holding us back when it comes to innovating in healthcare communications:
  • We don’t understand what our customers really want
    • We need to understand their lives, motivations and emotions – not just think that we do
  • We are not supporting brave people with the right skills
    • We need to recruit brave people and create an environment that supports them and puts their valuable skills to use
  • We have become risk averse and fear failure
    • We need to see the bigger risk of failing to innovate, and accept failure as part of the learning process
  • We are overcomplicating everything
    • We need to simplify our communications and our processes

Change is coming

On the 8th March 2019, the group will meet again. This time they will identify ways we can smash down the barriers to innovation in healthcare communications and make sure our industry never loses its voice. Watch this space.

The Healthcare Communications Association Innovation Team:
  • Philip Atkinson, Roche
  • Paul Dixey, Novartis
  • Lilianna Husseini, Pfizer
  • Heidi LaPensée, Sanofi
  • Catherine Priestley, AstraZeneca
  • Mark Reale, Celgene
  • Bhavin Vaid, Ferring Pharmaceuticals
  • Edel McCaffrey, HCA
  • Mike Dixon, HCA
  • Paul Tanner, 90TEN
  • Alison Doughty, 90TEN 



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