Differentiating strategy: 3 ways a healthcare communications agency adds value

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Identifying the next blockbuster is increasingly challenging for pharmaceutical and biotech companies, so launch teams are under pressure to deliver sales performance which matches analyst expectations. A recent report suggested that over one-third of new product launches fail to get close to first year expectations1. A possible explanation could be that only ~66%of new products are able to demonstrate value, in terms of improved patient outcomes for a given cost.2

While defining the value of your brand to the relevant healthcare system is critical, equally as important is finding the optimal mix of channels to ensure the necessary stakeholders are familiar with the associated story. Partnering with a medical communications agency can be a key differentiator in the planning cycle. Chris Barton, our Strategic Solutions Director, reflects on how an agency adds value as part of a robust strategic consulting partnership.

1. Leveraging fresh insights to redefine value

In my time in pharma, there tended to be two kinds of reactions when faced with questionable brand value. One: the team retreated into ‘the known’, doubling down on traditional methods of ‘differentiating’ their brand, merely explaining the key brand attributes more frequently and clearly. Two: the team would overhaul everything, investing in a new plan, scientific platform, campaign, and associated training programmes.

An agency partner will start by asking questions. Then, bring fresh insights to the patient pathway, HCP journey, or similar challenges in other therapy areas. They’ll be able to spot if your challenge is – despite supreme efficacy and safety of the drug – that HCPs still state that they don’t see the value. Or that the environment doesn’t suit the value of your brand. Or that patients are waiting so long to traverse the pathway they miss their window of opportunity.

The solutions will fall out of those insights – backed by industry-leading experience, propelled by freethinking, and driven into the future by tracking metrics and iterating accordingly.

2. Delivering the right message to the right people

The need to maximise returns from assets, in a market where a product’s outcome benefits to patients do not outstrip the additional cost, inevitably puts more pressure on the planning process. If you don’t reach the HCPs, the data won’t matter. At the same time, overwhelming or pressurising HCPs risks tipping them into ‘threat’ mode and ignoring your message entirely.

A strategic healthcare communications agency brings the expertise on novel channels, scientific storytelling and principles of behaviour change to support the way pharma and biotech companies set out plans for 2022 and beyond. The agency helps pharma/biotech teams tackle the environmental, structural and communications challenges – and ensures that the way HCPs are consuming data aligns with your strategy and is appropriate for the message.  

3. Extending the pharma/biotech team

Agencies can provide pharma teams with another pair of hands and another set of minds, to reduce day-to-day pressures and help creative thinking prevail. A strategic agency partnership will feel like an extension of the internal team and will bring expertise in a variety of therapy areas and communications challenges. The agency is a trusted ally to bring ideas, build them into an effective strategy, and bring the whole thing to life – all while letting the internal teams focus on what they do best.

An authentic ally in changing times

In all respects – systems, technology, attitudes, healthcare availability, practice, patient awareness – recent years have brought unprecedented change in healthcare. The additional COVID-19–driven pressures have only sharpened the focus on how we shift the status quo. Terminology like ‘build back better’ has become part of the everyday parlance. With a partner like Bedrock Healthcare Communications, pharma/biotech teams can do even better than that – and leverage specialist expertise and insight to build the strategy that’s right for them.


  1. Key factors to improve drug launches – Deloitte

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/6491_Commercial-launch-success-analysis/DI_Key-factors-to-improve-drug-launches.pdf (reviewed August 2021)

  1. New drugs: where did we go wrong and what can we do better? BMJ, 2019 https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l4340 (reviewed Aug 2021)