Called Trufluence x HCP, BCW’s new global service will support healthcare professionals (HCPs) with communications challenges ranging from disease awareness and tackling misinformation to demystifying science education and healthcare policy.

HCP x Trufluence will be incorporated across BCW, primarily in its healthcare team. According to a spokesperson for the agency, staff will not be hired specifically to run the offer. Instead, Sama Al-Naib(pictured), managing director of digital innovation for EMEA, and Emma Reynolds, BCW’s managing director for healthcare in London, will lead HCP x Trufluence, supported by client teams who will deliver the offer across relevant projects and briefs.

Reynolds commented: “As online channels previously used for HCP communications are no longer fit for purpose, and the way audiences seek out healthcare information evolves, medical and health influencers are becoming increasingly important for healthcare brands.”

According to the agency, the service will use BCW’s existing approach to “identifying and collaborating with influencers” to connect its clients with healthcare professionals such as disease specialists, GPs, nurses, pharmacists and dieticians who are “actively engaging audiences” on social and digital media.

BCW said the service will use cognitive AI tool Decipher, powered by AI cognitive platform Limbik, to “predict and compare the potential impact of HCP influencers”, based on their level of engagement with audiences and how credible or authoritative audiences are likely to find them.

When asked how the system will work in highly regulated markets, a BCW spokesperson said: “This is a global offer but has been developed to be flexible, given each market has its own set of regulations and nuances when it comes to working with HCPs.” 

They added: “We have in-market experts who can advise on local needs when it comes to executing HCP influencer programmes and are fully trained on the offer.”

Reynolds said: “When properly executed, collaborations with HCP influencers can be a highly effective way to offer credibility and help audiences separate fact from fiction online.

“This comes with immense responsibility to activate these voices in a way that respects regulations while providing accurate information. Ignoring HCP online influencers within the healthcare communications mix is simply not an option if we are to reach key audiences.”

Al-Naib commented: “Consumers are increasingly looking online first for health information, especially among Gen Z, 42 per cent of which say they turn to social media for health information. Yet, the internet is rife with misinformation.

“Since consumers want easy access to health information but lack the medical expertise to interpret what they read, growing numbers of HCPs have been sharing their knowledge online to make information more accessible. For many, it’s simply a way they can help more people.”

In April, BCW’s sister agency, Ogilvy, launched a health influencer marketing offer called Health Influence – combining Ogilvy PR’s global influencer team with professionals from Ogilvy Health.

BCW was ranked eighth in PRWeek UK’s most recent Top 150 consultancies project, achieving £52m in revenue last year.

In January, WPP, the holding company of BCW, announced the agency will merge with PR firm Hill & Knowlton under the name Burson from 1 July.

This article originally appeared on PRWeek US.