Monday, January 28, 2008

The Public Arena

Last Post Review

In my last post I basically demonstrated that Employers (companies) are among the most important stakeholders in the health care business scenario. And that is because, in most cases, they pay for most of the medical expenses.

Having said that, what are we doing to target employers? Are we focusing on them with our Marketing strategies?

My Answer to the Last Question

“Since the average U.S. employee stays at job for only 4.5 years, is it enough time for companies reap the benefits of investing in their employees’ health?”

My answer is: it depends! (that is the best answer we learn in the MBA!) And indeed, it depends on the patient’s (employee’s) medical condition.

Employees with chronic diseases tend to stay longer in their jobs; and that’s basically because their companies keep paying for their expensive drugs. Thus, employees that have heart conditions or Diabetes, for instance, usually look forward to staying in their jobs.

On the other hand, asymptomatic employees (without disease symptoms, which may be or not “healthy”) have a shorter turn-over rate. However, they respond better, and quicker, to corporate health programs.

In summary: YES, it is worthy to invest in your employees’ health, especially on those with chronic conditions.

Feel free to send me your comments.

The Public Arena

As you may have noticed, I’ve worked for the World Health Organization, which exposed me to more than 10 different governments in the America and Europe. In addition, I held a position with the Brazilian Ministry of Health and had my MBA summer internship focused on the US Public Market. All that said, the Public Arena is definitely something which I’m at least familiar with. And, like it or not, governments across countries think very much alike!

There are two aspects that define a really good Public Health Care Strategy:

Partners, Not Clients

Partnership is the name of the game. Governments are usually cautious when dealing with health care companies, and that is basically because their value proposition is very different from ours. While we focus on market growth and profit, governments essentially want to demonstrate results to the population.

The problem; or, should I say, opportunity; is the fact that most governments don’t know how to collect data and demonstrate results. I remember I public campaign that was focused on Preventive actions against Heart Diseases. Although the message was clear, and the targeted population was demonstrating a change of habits, that government was not able to translate the benefits into numbers. In other words, the government didn’t know how to show how well tax money was spent on Preventive Medicine; which eventually led to the campaign cancellation.

How can companies help governments to identify and measure the positive outcomes of investing in a certain condition? The first step is to treat governments not as clients, but as partners. And, by definition, a partnership occurs regardless of money incentives. If you pay someone to do something, that cannot be called partnership (maybe a very positive commercial relationship).

Promote Results

It is better to treat 10 individuals and demonstrate the results than treating 10,000 individuals and do nothing with it.

Any Marketing campaign focused on governments should consider a few approaches to identify measure and promote the benefits. Few governments have these skills in their PR area, which is a very promising venue for developing a relationship which will, hopefully, lead into a business deal. Not the contrary.

See this article about a partnership among the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Merck Frosst Canada Inc and Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. The deal resulted in a $915,000 grant towards the establishment of a Industrial Research Chair, which is a promise for strong pharmaceuticals innovation.

Final Words

Overall, the public markets may represent either low ROI or very long-term efforts to companies. However, they are also the major market, and it doesn’t make sense to leave them out of Marketing strategies.

See you next time; keep sending me your comments or e-mails!

Ernesto M. Nogueira

No comments: