Five Ways the ACA will Re-shape Healthcare PR

There’s been a lot written about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its potential impact on key industry players – i.e., pharmaceutical and device companies, clinicians, health plans and patients.  But what about the healthcare PR professionals who work alongside these players?

Whether we reside in-house or on agency teams, we know that everything that affects clients affects us too…eventually.  We can be reactive and wait for the ACA dust to settle.  Or we can proactively help clients navigate the new landscape.

I believe there’s a huge opportunity for PR teams to be proactive and, in the process, increase our value to clients.

Historically, health product companies have been organized around departmental “silos” – e.g., Patient Safety, Advocacy, Product Management, Access etc.  For decades, healthcare PR and marketing teams have focused on product/service promotion.  Our goal has been to demonstrate clinical outcomes; our opinion leaders have come from academia and science.

In the wake of Medicare reform and the ACA, a new mandate has emerged:  help health decision-makers understand available treatment options, their outcomes and what they cost.  Said differently, our goal is to demonstrate total value; our opinion leaders are clinicians as well as health economists, payment authorities and policymakers.  Our mantra is real-world results, supported by comparative outcomes and cost data.

To help clients succeed in this new environment, PR teams need to make five key changes:

  1. Build internal bridges between our clients’ Product Marketing and Reimbursement (or Access) divisions.  Often, studies designed to show clinical outcomes are commissioned by a different department than studies designed to demonstrate cost benefits.  PR teams need both and must find smart, relatable ways to communicate total value.
  2. Strengthen external alliances.  Now more than ever, PR teams need to identify and develop strong partnerships with patient groups for whom relative treatment value is high.
  3. Reach new opinion leader and influencer groups, including insurers, policymakers, health economists and relevant advocacy groups.
  4. Focus on healthcare costs as well as benefits.  Value is a function of outcomes divided by costs.  Work collaboratively with Product and Access teams to calculate this ratio.  Then, help patients, payors, physicians and policymakers compare it to other available treatment options.
  5. Get real. Build marketing campaigns based on behavioral insights that help physicians and patients work together to make smart choices and adhere to treatment plans.  Work collaboratively with providers, health plans, employers and patients to measure results and support value-based choices.

PR professionals who make these changes will help clients succeed in the shifting environment.  In the process, we’ll increase the value of our contribution and the impact of our services.

What are your thoughts?  Weigh in below.  Then, join Bliss Integrated and nD-Insight for an in-depth discussion on this topic at the Public Relations Society of America’s 2013 Health Academy Conference on May 3, 2013.

Photo courtesy of  Lara Martin

Connect with Meg:

Phone: 212.840.0095
Twitter: @megwildrick
LinkedIn: Meg Wildrick