Throughout my healthcare PR career, I worked on and headed teams that executed innovative and award-winning campaigns to educate patients and healthcare providers. A believer in the power of healthcare education and the need for patients to take control of their own care, I was gratified to be able to advance my clients’ business objectives while delivering information to consumers.

When I realized that I would be laid off from my most recent PR position due to the recession, I began investigating related opportunities. I wanted to find employment in an area in which I could apply my healthcare knowledge and business acumen. I realized that the missing piece in my professional experience was working directly with patients, so I applied to train as a medical assistant in a physician’s office. My employer, a pediatrician/internist, immersed me in the world of patient care. Now I conduct EKGs and blood, urine, strep and hearing tests, and prepare vaccines for injection. I also interface with pharma reps that rely on the physician and me to help them better understand our patient population in order to deliver relevant offerings. The pharma industry continues to be uniquely suited to meet physicians’ and patients’ needs.

The best pharma reps are those that offer patient-friendly tools and services that directly benefit a physician’s ability to deliver better medicine through healthcare education. Reps that dispense medicine delivery demonstration devices, such as those for asthma and allergy medicines, as well as value-added and money-off coupons, create enduring relationships with the physician. Beyond that, reps that understand the Medicare arena, tiered coverage plans and that parents need to effectively communicate medical info to children, earn docs’ attention and respect.
Samples continue to be a critical offering and, when provided to the right patient at the right time, serve as a teachable moment for a patient who is grappling with a newly diagnosed condition and the behavioral changes necessary to treat it.

Generic drugs are gaining in popularity and demand, but it is still branded drugs that provide unique value when backed by patient education and monetary incentives, allowing physicians, patients and reps to partner for better health outcomes.

Karen Reina is president at The Communications Continuum