Top 100 Agencies 2015: INVIVO Communications

Focusing on a solid set of core skills

Volari, a series of patient apps for Novartis
Volari, a series of patient apps for Novartis

It's a fine time to be an agency with a focus on all things digital—especially now that once-reluctant clients have finally embraced circa-2015 technologies for reaching HCPs and patients. Amid the environment of envelope pushing, longtime digital specialist INVIVO Communications gained 14 accounts in 2014. They include Acelity and Halyard Health on the medical-device side, joining Alcon and Medtronic on the roster. INVIVO bolstered its pharma rolls with the addition of Amgen to a list that already included Novartis and Janssen.

“Focusing on our core skill set of science, technology and visualization, we are providing our clients with intelligent tools that enable them to have more technical conversations with HCPs and create value for patients,” says president Andrea Bielecki.

INVIVO's scientists and marketers have grown their capabilities to include 3-D animation, surgical simulations, gamification and experiential ­media. To tout Medtronic's IN.PACT Admiral DCB drug- coated balloon at a scientific conference, the agency created an Oculus Rift experience in which doctors were immersed in a virtual 3D world with an ­inside-the-artery view of the balloon's deployment.

While the Toronto-based shop saw a slight decrease in head count (to 75, from 85), it boosted its East Coast presence with the addition of sales offices in New Jersey and Connecticut. Revenues came in just under $10 million, about the same as in 2013.

Bielecki describes a number of trends driving healthcare marketers to digital tactics. The agency creates apps that doctors can prescribe to patients and tools to help with their diagnoses for integration into hospital EMR systems. “Our clients need to think about value-added tools seamlessly integrated directly with the EMR and the doctors' daily work flow,” she explains, noting how the hundreds of different EMRs make the integration process a true headache. “Ultimately they want to connect the dots from the EMR to the payer and figure out ways to show performance outcomes that can ultimately affect reimbursement … The challenge is how do you close that loop between the EMR and the payer.”

At the same time, Apple's HealthKit, ResearchKit platform and Apple Watch have propelled pharma involvement in mobile health pilots. “These are essentially Apple databases that make creating pilots easier by providing a uniform way to collect data right off someone's iPhone,” Bielecki continues. “Our clients' digital health teams are trying to figure out how they can create apps that use these Apple apps to gather data more easily, rather than have to build everything from scratch.” 

While focusing mostly on HCPs, ­INVIVO's
mission has expanded via smart­phone apps for patient health and wellness management. A campaign for Novartis used gamification to increase long-term engagement with COPD patients, awarding users badges for monitoring their health. The app pulled out insights and trends based on patients' manual entries as well as passive insights like air quality (autocollected). “After six months, 49% of patients in the trial were still using the app on a daily basis. We had great qualitative feedback,” Bielecki reports.

INVIVO's work should continue to evolve as the healthcare sector sorts through the latest advances in digital technology. “Healthcare is looking to many different industries and how they are using mobile tools, the web and interactive media, and big data. The pharma industry is more focused now than ever before on the patient.”

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