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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Agenda 2019: What’s on the radar for 2019?

Written by: | | Dated: Wednesday, February 13th, 2019


Ogilvy Health recently asked some of its agency leaders – in creative, payer, digital, planning, and account – to share what they’re tracking in 2019. The collective answer in a word: Technology. If there’s one theme, it’s the new interface – and tension – between technology and humans: patients, doctors, researchers and marketers alike. Here’s some more detail on what’s on the agency’s collective radar.

1. The disruption of healthtech continues to scale

Watch big tech companies’ move into healthcare accelerate with new offerings ranging from Amazon’s PillPack to Apple’s EKG to UberHealth’s ER ride service.

We’re seeing these companies and others lead the way in people-first technology, using the tech stack to solve human problems. From addressing HCP/patient experiences (Oscar and GoForward) to applying behavioral economic principles like gamification (HealthPrize and CareCognitics), human behavior – or rather, person-centric behavior – is the fulcrum for that change across a range of demographics, from GenZ and Millennials through an aging but technologically savvy population.

2. The move from shiny objects to mainstream must-haves

Voice technology has quickly become a vital aspect of healthtech, from simple scheduling apps and smart home control for physically challenged patients to patient education and health coaches, while AI and machine learning are being more utilized in drug discovery, imaging and diagnostics, efficacy and risk analysis, as well as filling unmet needs in customer service and HCP and patient resources. The combination of those technologies creates a new role for what we call “engineered empathy” – the ability of machines to provide an approximation of real human understanding, care and guidance. Beyond that, keep an eye on Elon Musk’s investment in “Neuralink,” a brain-computer interface venture – think human brains connected to AI.

In the lab, next-generation sequencing technologies (NGS) have made it faster and cheaper to find associations between genetic mutations and diseases, leading to better drug discovery, and ultimately facilitating personalized therapies.

3. The data/creative mashup

While “data” and “creative” may seem like polar opposites, data-driven insights are moving patient centricity to the next level, in areas as diverse as consumer digital outreach to EHR targeting and messaging. AI has a role in the creative process too, as CCO Sam Dolin notes, “helping refine and adjust messaging in real time against target audiences, ultimately creating a unique ad for an audience,” creating both greater persuasion and storytelling.

4. Outcomes ascendant

Whether it’s population health management, marketing effectiveness, business results or providing value-based healthcare, real-world evidence has never been more accessible, or more important. Cost and value pressures on the entire healthcare system are creating a level of scrutiny that can only be satisfied by an emphasis on demonstrating value at every part of the development, marketing and delivery continuum.

5. And then, there’s the human bit

It’s tempting to think that healthcare is all about healthtech, but it is still ultimately, powerfully human. We’re putting more decision-making power into both patient and HCP hands, even as we accelerate the value of the conversation about new therapies that lead to better human outcomes.

As healthcare marketers, we see the emergence of a true desire for partnership and collaboration. To tackle complexity, approaching tasks as a full team vs. individual disciplines is a more efficient, effective way to develop the diverse ideas from which innovative thrives. CEO Andrew Schirmer says, “Technology will allow for seamless connectivity wherever possible.”

Andrew Schirmer

A final thought

What is small and on the sidelines today may be the next mainstream brand or technology. As we continue to explore the trends and tech that are propelling healthcare, our society and human development forward, keep your eyes open. What’s on your radar?


Thanks to contributors and thinkers Tracey Cooper, Peter Von Bartheld, Martha Maranzani, Brandie Linfante, Scott Greenstone, Amy Graham, Mindy Price, Lisa Fritts, Sam Dolin, Irene Knorn, Rico Cipriaso, John Burke, Chris Cooper, Gene Fitzpatrick, Angelo Campano, Michael Zilligen, Raghu Desikan, Peter Chobanian, Ed Reilly, and Andrew Schirmer.

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