Healthcare marketing can make customers say, “Ahhh.” The Luckie 7 with Brooke Fleming, Director of Strategic Engagement

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Clearly, healthcare is vital to the human experience. So it’s only natural that Luckie, as a human experience agency, is deeply involved in this category. Like the rest of our rapidly changing world, healthcare is constantly evolving – with incredible advancements in knowledge, diagnosis, treatment, delivery, prevention and wellness. As consumers seek information about their individual concerns, opportunity abounds for marketers to engage them on a very personal level with new and potentially life-changing news. We recently talked to Brooke Fleming, who is primarily focused on healthcare marketing as director of strategic engagement at Luckie. She shared some insights on the challenges, trends and recent developments in this ever-changing field.

What are some of the biggest strategic issues facing healthcare marketers in today’s competitive environment?

Compared to other business categories, it’s more challenging for healthcare to be as responsive to consumer demand through innovation because the industry is so highly regulated – new techniques, treatments, devices and drugs all have to be approved before they’re commercialized. It takes savvy and innovative thinking and execution to meet your customers wherever they are in their respective journeys without losing them in the regulatory maze. Staying timely, relevant and informed of customer preference will remain a challenge.

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How does digital media play into the marketing mix in healthcare compared to traditional forms of print and broadcast – and what are some of the advantages that digital offers within the healthcare space?

Digital is a way of life for most of us now, so it’s just as relevant and important in healthcare as it is in any other aspect of our lives. It’s no longer something only a select few have access to and interest in. No matter what the customer’s socioeconomic situation, age or device preference may be, digital is a huge part of how we all live. Within the context of healthcare, there are now apps that act as medical devices and reminders to help patients adhere to therapy, online blogs that allow caregivers to interact with those in similar situations, and digital media channels that give marketers real-time access to their customers and offer patients and caregivers alike access to virtually unlimited education about almost any condition.

“There are now apps that act as medical devices and reminders to help patients adhere to therapy, online blogs that allow caregivers to interact with those in similar situations, and digital media channels that give marketers real-time access to their customers.”

What are some recent examples of healthcare clients actively and innovatively engaging their customers?

It’s everywhere you turn! Genentech recently started a podcast series using its clinical trial investigators, which is brilliant and another example of healthcare information being disseminated through channels we use every day in other areas of our lives. Some companies also have started using live messaging apps such as WhatsApp and HealthTap in their social space to connect patients and healthcare providers in real time. There is frequent conversation about the need for, and competitive advantages of, personalization in healthcare messaging, and use of these apps is a perfect demonstration of how it can be done very effectively.

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Are certain lines of service in healthcare especially ripe for promotion right now? If so, what’s driving that?

In my mind, if it affects our humanity, it’s important and warrants awareness. With that said, there are wonderful things happening in immunotherapy, especially with PD-L1/PD-1 inhibition. I think the HIV therapies on the market have done wonders in terms of removing the death sentence that people with HIV once faced; HIV can now be treated almost in the same way as a chronic illness such as diabetes. Health economics, payor/insurance and access are under the microscope in a big way as we continue to evaluate the effects of the Affordable Care Act on access and copay. So, to some extent, those are factors that influence the amount of exposure that certain advancements in treatment receive.

Where do you see healthcare marketing heading in the next few years in terms of emerging products, services, delivery, media, messaging, etc.?

More regulated industries like pharma/healthcare are starting to make great strides in innovation and customer experience. I believe we will see virtual reality continue to emerge as a primary tool used to connect with patients and provide education, and as a selling tool for the pharma industry to use with its healthcare provider customers. I also think we will begin to see medical devices redefined. As previously mentioned, there are currently some health applications that can actually be classified as devices if they provide certain services. This will continue to evolve as developers, marketers and the Food and Drug Administration all come together for the good of the patient.

“I believe we will see virtual reality continue to emerge as a primary tool used to connect with patients and provide education, and as a selling tool for the pharma industry to use with its healthcare provider customers.”

Is it sometimes challenging to balance the input from healthcare administrators with the interests of medical staff? How do you build strong partnerships with both?

It’s about understanding your customer’s needs and how they align with the objectives of the business overall. Building strong relationships is less laborious when we as creatives and marketers demonstrate that we are in tune with the concerns and challenges of our customers and service them in ways that support them. You build relationships by paying attention and adjusting your approach based on the needs of your customer.

“You build relationships by paying attention and adjusting your approach based on the needs of your customer.”

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You bring a particularly strong and focused background in healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing to your role as director of strategic engagement. Did you choose those categories or did they choose you?

A bit of both, I suppose. I started out in public relations with fashion and beauty clients before transitioning to advertising, which led me to work in both the consumer packaged goods (CPG) space and healthcare. After my dad passed away from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, my interest in healthcare – specifically oncology – grew. It was at that point that I made the full transition away from CPG and into pharma. Initially, it was my personal desire to learn more about healthcare that motivated me to focus on that field. But as it turned out, I really enjoy it!

“The Luckie 7” is an interview series in which we sit down with people at Luckie to talk about areas of expertise and what it means to be part of a human experience agency. Want more from #LuckieHumans? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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