Is focus on HCPs becoming a trend?

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Wolters Kluwer Health is divesting its Pharma Solutions unit to focus on apps and journals. Does this move away from an audience of pharmas and medical agencies to focus on HCPs portend a trend or not?

Thomas P. O'Connor, Managing director, Berkery Noyes

What we are seeing in the healthcare information and technology space are moves by the large strategic healthcare information providers to sharpen their focus on specific niches. Large and mid-sized information providers are looking to acquire companies where they have competitive advantages, scale and the opportunity to accelerate their organic growth through synergistic acquisitions. They are also looking to divest high quality assets that for them are not a strategic fit with their new focus, but could be very attractive for a different acquirer. Many large public information providers love content but also like data and solutions assets as they tend to be subscription-based with high recurring revenue. Some pharma-based businesses, whether advertising or sponsor-supported, can be more unpredictable. 

Anna Salt, Publisher, Pharma Solutions, Nature Publishing Group

In the past three years, the medical publishing environment has changed significantly. If there is a trend it is in increased standards for the more accurate and ethical publication of pharma-sponsored research supported by new or updated codes of practice. This has brought renewed focus on the fact that physicians have the most confidence in peer-reviewed journals. At NPG we do not make a distinction between audiences but just strive to publish the best science underpinned by peer-review and industry standards. We recognize that pharma plays a critical role in peer-reviewed publications and we are happy to work with organizations such as ISMPP to achieve greater transparency and accountability.

Dave Emery, VP/GM, professional health, Kantar Media

Effective media owners regularly evaluate their portfolios and how individual media properties or business units mesh with the overall strategic vision. Divesting solidly performing businesses that don't fit isn't uncommon, and allows the divesting company to devote resources to other existing businesses or new initiatives, and at the same time creates opportunities for portfolio enhancement and growth for the acquiring company. If there's a trend here, it's not a shift away from pharma and device companies and their marketing partners, for an increased focus on HCPs, but rather an increased diligence for developing clearly defined strategies that focus on the content needs and information delivery preferences of whatever audiences they do serve, coupled with business models that best fit their objectives.

Lauren Yeager, Director of media relations, Compas

We agree with Wolters Kluwer that medical-oriented media is poised for fast growth. Ultimately, prescribers hold the key to pharma's bottom line. And there are more opportunities than ever to guide and measure professional media. In the past we simply reached out to doctors with print journals. Now, 72% of physicians are using smartphones (Manhattan Research 2010) and the prescriber base has expanded. On top of that, prescriber habits are complex—some love to print journals, others are glued to their iPads, and most dabble in a little of both. HCPs can be targeted across channels, and industry has sophisticated ways to measure results faster in order to stay flexible and better reach this growing audience.

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