Vantage Point: What 2012 could bring

Richard Vanderveer
Richard Vanderveer

It is that time of year again, where we wrap up (some just in our own minds, others a little more formally) what was remarkable about the past 12 months, and ponder how the New Year will be the same and/or different.

Without a doubt, for me the biggest transition that I have seen in healthcare marketing in the past 12 months is the shift in the relative emphasis that is placed on each of the three Ps (Product, People and Process) that constitute the tripod of our business.

With certain key exceptions (i.e., the few genuinely new products introduced that brought significant benefits to therapeutic areas with important unmet needs), I saw 2011 bring less focus on the Product. I heard significantly less chatter about “branding,” “brand personality,” “product positioning” and similar themes that once constituted key elements of our profession, but matter far less in a world focused on cost-effective therapy.

Conversely, more emphasis was placed on the People, the shift here being an increasing realization that stakeholders have significantly different roles to play in the healthcare theater. Gone is the mono-focal emphasis on “the average GP,” replaced by a need to understand more about Key Opinion Leaders (clinical and financial), as well as patients, legislators, etc.

Finally, Process became a greater area of focus as we studied healthcare reform's likely outcomes, managed care negotiating tactics and everyone from medical practices to patient management organizations struggling to reach the critical mass and technological sophistication almost everyone believes will be needed to survive in a future beset with pressures on reimbursement.

2012? Movement in all of the above directions!