Much like strands of DNA, the health world is dividing and recombining market variables. Shifting legislative sands and the pace of digitally driven customer-centricity are altering conversations between Rx brands, patients, physicians, and other stakeholders.

Consider the planned CVS-Aetna merger, or the eventual impact of Amazon entering healthcare. These moves will challenge the status quo, driving up expectations for innovation, personalization, and customer-centric services. So what do health brand marketers need to do to keep pace?
Be more human. Recognize historic relationship models and use data and best practices to help stakeholders engage in a supportive dialogue. The classic model saw the physician in charge. Now, the patient-HCP relationship has flipped. 
Better data transparency will improve the traditional interpretive model. Physicians’ probing and treatment options will be enriched through patients’ expanded understanding.
Data and machine learning need sound marketing judgment. The big data crunch of engagement, prescription, and outcomes will validate marketing plan decisioning. Channels, media weight and mix, and third-party partner selection will shift in faster cycles. But AI still depends on human interpretation and intervention. Marketing and analytics pros must teach machines what to monitor and how to react.

Align people-based marketing with more complex capabilities. Despite the post-election landscape, marketers will pursue reach and engagement opportunities and switch prospecting efforts from anonymous leads to known healthcare customers. Work on cloud-based, AI-driven relationship marketing will reframe how health brands communicate and compete within categories and therapeutic areas.
Health insurers will no longer base measurement solely on the number of prescriptions written. Instead, they will build models that link performance metrics to outcomes and quality of life. As game-changing as algorithms can be for marketing, communication strategies and health-based decisioning will still require us to consider the human side of patients, HCPs, and the operational teams that keep the industry moving toward optimal care. 
Croom Lawrence, VP, strategy, Merkle Health and Kent Groves, VP, strategy, Merkle Health