In 2017, MedThink Communications made a bold move to generate growth, severing ties with three major clients and doubling down on forging new, hopefully long-term partnerships. By the end of 2018, that strategy had started to pay dividends, with MedThink’s revenue climbing 22.4% to $15.3 million.

As part of the growth push, MedThink lured new talent to its Cary, North Carolina, offices, which increased staff from 78 to 86 full-timers. “We brought in a bunch of creative people from New York agencies and some from local agencies,” says MedThink president Scott Goudy.

“We continue to have some capacity to step ahead for future business,” adds managing director John Kane. Recent wins include unidentified clients in the diabetes and dermatology realms, plus the agency is known to work with Arbor Pharmaceuticals and Corcept Therapeutics.

Much of MedThink’s growth has been driven by specialty medication projects, where there’s considerable demand for physician education and marketing materials, Kane reports. The agency also increased its analytics capabilities during the past year, leaning into a new initiative that continuously monitors the performance of ongoing campaigns. Kane calls this concept “performance-driven medical education,” which he characterizes as a union of science, storytelling and behavioral science.

“Right now you find that, with a lot of brands, you have your brand promotion and your medical education,” he explains. “But are they really aligned and built off each other?”

By way of example, Kane says that once MedThink determines that a particular message is resonating with med-ed audiences, it can synchronize that messaging with the brand’s creative and branding. “We’re constantly gauging our work with our data and analytics team. At the same time, we’re promoting medical education programs with promotion and advertising,” he adds.

Like many healthcare marketing agencies, MedThink ventured more deeply into the world of techniques grouped under the AI umbrella in 2018. Specifically, the agency is using AI to place the right information into physicians’ hands across digital channels.

Goudy says this work has become crucial in an era in which physicians are turning away from traditional sales reps. “We’re seeing a trend toward physicians yearning for stronger and more reliable medical education content,” he notes.

MedThink is also using AI to detail physicians via a chatbot-like interface designed to collect data on preferences and use it to predict what information they’re likely to request in the future. “Physicians are consumers, too, so we’re reacting to that change in consumption patterns,” Goudy says.

MedThink sees potential in the use of AI techniques to fine-tune promotional materials displayed at medical conferences. The firm is employing gaze plots — computer-generated models that map where a physician’s eyes fall on marketing materials — to design signage and collateral that registers more of an impact.

“In the future, you’re going to see AI play a bigger role in pharma marketing,” Kane says. “It will help things be more efficient and more personalized.”