MM&M’s and PRWeek’s Health Influencer 50: 50-41

On the first day of our top 50 reveal, agency and in-house comms leaders, the top marketer at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, and a leading health correspondent for CNN make the list.

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50. Diana Littman Paige, executive director, consumer lifestyle and healthcare practices, Marina Maher Communications

Diana Littman Paige has effectively blended her expertise in healthcare and marketing to women in her role as executive director of consumer lifestyle and healthcare practices at Marina Maher Communications. The agency works with clients ranging from Tide to Merck.

“Engagement and sharing are increasingly our success metrics because it’s no longer what a brand says about itself that matters; it’s what people say about the brand,” Littman Paige said while moderating a panel at the 2015 Marketing to Women Conference.

She joined Marina Maher in 2007 and moved quickly up the ladder, with three promotions in three years. Alongside her executive role, she is also head of Rx Mosaic, a division of Marina Maher focused on pharma and scientific comms. Littman Paige grew the agency’s health and well-being practice partnering with a range of pharma and consumer health brands.


49. Meighan Girgus, chief marketing and programs officer, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

Meighan Girgus steered the AHA and ASA through the early internet revolution, evolving an aging brand with a minimalist website into a thriving digital presence. Its properties now attract 170 million visitors a year and cover the gamut of heart disease and stroke-related health needs.

Throughout her two decades with the AHA and ASA, Girgus has been involved in national panels and writing groups to support the organization’s battle against cardiovascular disease. Prior to being named chief mission officer in 2009, she served as EVP of healthcare.

She’s an academic at heart. The papers and programs she co-authored helped standardize stroke care and practices. During the past 13 years, more than three million patients received help through a program Girgus and her team created to improve patient care.

The AHA and ASA have partnered with the Ad Council, launching a multiyear campaign that helped people recognize warning signs and encouraged them to call 911. Next up: Girgus is head of an AHA taskforce designed to help speed up the process through which newly published scientific guidelines can be implemented.


48. Lynn O’Connor Vos, CEO, ghg

In addition to helming one of the industry’s biggest and hottest agencies — by the time 2016’s results are tallied, ghg will likely have blown past $120 million in U.S. revenue and grown staff size to about 650 — Lynn O’Connor Vos remains an in-demand speaker. And ghg was IBM Watson Health’s first agency partner.

Yet over the course of a conversation, she’s as likely to devote considerable time to discussing nontraditional ventures as she is the addition of pharma brands, including Pfizer’s Chantix and J&J’s esketamine nasal spray, to the ghg roster.

See also: 3 questions for 5 of the agency world’s leading executives

As an example, take ghg’s work with GoNoodle, creators of an e-platform designed to prompt recess-deprived schoolchildren to engage in more physical activity.

“We’re curious about medicine and technology. We love problem-solving,” Vos told MM&M earlier this year. “It’s great to have startups mixed in with more traditional clients, though who knows what qualifies as ‘traditional’ anymore? Every company we work with is somewhere on the continuum of change.”


47. James Greenwood, president and CEO, BIO

Prior to joining BIO, James Greenwood represented Penn­sylvania in the House of Representatives for 12 years. He’s still putting his political expertise to good use. He remains the biopharmaceutical industry’s chief lobbyist in Washington and, since 2005, has been at times the industry’s biggest cheerleader, as well as its watchdog.

Given the recent backlash to industry pricing practices, Greenwood’s role has never been more important. He kicked off the BIO International Convention in 2016 with a rousing defense of the sector, declaring “we’re not going to let our industry be tarnished by insurance practices that burden patients with unaffordable cost.

See also: Lobbyists create off-label principles following FDA lawsuits

And we don’t let ourselves be defined by companies like Turing — outlier hedge funds masquerading as biotech firms. That’s not who we are.”

On the heels of that, BIO spearheaded two campaigns, Time Is Precious and Innovation Saves, to better tell the industry’s story and promote its value. Both are shot in a sentimental style and show patients whose lives have been saved by new drugs.

Greenwood said in a Bloomberg interview the campaigns were meant to “make the point that these drugs, expensive or not, do save lives.”


46. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent, CNN

At a time when many tele­pundits are coming under fire, Dr. Sanjay Gupta remains one of the cable world’s most reserved voices. In a media environment that prioritizes bluster and volume over restraint and accuracy, that’s the highest of high praise.

Gupta’s formal training and his health-policy experience inform his reporting on medical issues: He’s a practicing neurosurgeon and served as a White House fellow under Hillary Clinton during her time as first lady.

He’s one of the few medical correspondents who reports from war zones and regions battered by natural disaster. No journalist ever wants to become a part of the story, but Gupta often crosses this line for the worthiest of reasons: While embedded with the U.S. Navy’s Devil Docs medical unit, he jumped into action five times, performing emergency brain surgery on soldiers and civilians.

Gupta is equally comfortable embracing policy-level ideas. He played an integral role in shaping CNN’s anti-obesity initiative Fit Nation, chronicling the progress of six CNN viewers as they trained for a triathlon. Did Gupta participate in the event alongside them? Of course he did.


45. Helene Ellison, chair, global healthcare practice, Burson-Marsteller

By Aaron Graff, CEO Ferring Holding

Insight. Creativity. Enthusiasm. Results. Helene Ellison makes it all look easy.

Helene is savvy, and she gets the job done. For more than 30 years she has launched numerous drugs and managed diverse crises for a wide range of global clients. Through it all, her passion shines through as she quickly becomes an expert on any issue of relevance to her clients.

But what makes Helene truly effective is her energy. I am consistently amazed by her ability to engage a team and infuse passion in the work. No matter the challenge, Helene approaches every project as if it’s her first day on the job and it is the most important project of her life.

This infectious enthusiasm is reflected in the teams she leads and in the results she delivers to her clients.


44. Andy Slavitt, acting administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Less than six months into Andy Slavitt’s job atop the nation’s largest public payer, he faced a key leadership test: UnitedHealthcare Group, the country’s largest health insurer, announced it would pull out of the federal health insurance marketplace. The loss of UnitedHealthcare from the exchange, a key facet of the Affordable Care Act, set off a wave of other defections.

Open enrollment began on November 1, so all eyes are on Slavitt to maintain order. Managing through volatility appears to be one of his strengths. He served for nearly two years as CMS chief deputy, and the Harvard graduate worked for two decades in the healthcare and technology private sector.

See also: Health exchanges, Obama administration challenged by recent insurer exits

Slavitt’s take: Premium increases will be short-lived. The longer-term goal is to attract more young people to enroll and more states to expand Medicaid. Meanwhile, uncertainty reigns — owing to election rhetoric about changes or repeal of the ACA — and insurers face heavy losses.

President Obama even made an appeal to the remaining insurers. Stabilizing the young marketplace could be Slavitt’s signature achievement, or, if CMS fails to shore up the exchange, his defining downfall.


43. Rob Clark, VP, global communications and corporate marketing, Medtronic

Steering global comms and corporate marketing at a company the size of medical device behemoth Medtronic is job enough. Add to that a heavy slate of acquisitions, including the January 2015 purchase of Dublin-based surgical supplier Covidien for $49.9 billion, and it’s safe to say Rob Clark has a lot of irons in the fire.

As VP, global comms and corporate marketing at Medtronic, which reported revenue of $28.7 billion in its last fiscal year, Clark played a pivotal role in communicating the strategy behind the Covidien deal to all stakeholder groups, especially Medtronic’s post-acquisition employee count of 85,000.

See also: Watson Health partners with drug and devicemakers to tap into real-world data

Clark, who has held a number of roles at Medtronic, leads the brand’s corporate marketing, global PR, employee comms, digital and social media, and philanthropy communication teams worldwide.

Minnesota-based Medtronic last year signed a 10-year deal with the Vikings to create the 3-acre Medtronic Plaza between downtown Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium, to sponsor the Medtronic Club inside the stadium to showcase medical technology innovations invented in Minnesota, and to develop a joint community service program.


42. Paul van Arkel, head of corporate strategy and healthcare systems, Novartis

Paul van Arkel is, in many ways, Novartis’ champion of value-based outcomes. After all, the Swiss drugmaker was one of the first pharma companies to embrace value-based pricing, for its chronic heart failure treatment Entresto.

Outcomes-driven healthcare and value-based pricing have been the subject of discussions around the industry for years, but Novartis — under van Arkel’s tutelage — is one of the few companies bringing those discussions to reality.

The company unveiled a risk-sharing pricing model for Entresto upon its approval in July 2015, announcing the drug’s results would be linked to insurer payments. Subsequently, Novartis inked deals with insurers Aetna and Cigna that were based on the drug delivering real-world results similar to those seen in clinical trials.

See also: Novartis considers new sales model for experimental cancer therapy

In an interview with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, he espoused the advantages of these kinds of deals. “Outcomes-based approaches are a better way to organize health across the whole system,” he said.

“We as an industry should be part of the solution,” he continued. “We should help by developing the right products — whether it’s drugs or beyond-the-pill services.”


41. Patrick Blair, chief marketing and consumer officer, Anthem

One year after he was named CMO, Patrick Blair oversaw one of Anthem’s (then Wellpoint’s) biggest changes: a name change. The move at the time was billed as a way to foster transparency and direct relationships. The company markets its plans under the Anthem name, which people know best.

Blair took that push toward direct relationships even further by targeting millennials in 2013. He revisited the company’s campaign for Tonik — an insurance plan geared toward young adults in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Georgia. The ad used shadow outlines of young 20-somethings — reminiscent of the iconic iPod commercials. The product would not survive the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, but it was an innovative approach that fostered curiosity among young people about their health coverage.

Under his direction, Anthem also embraced more marketing strategies driven by digital and social media. The company enlisted Publicis-owned digital shop Rokkan to shake up the company’s media mix ahead of open enrollment on new, state-run online exchanges under the ACA.


MM&M’s and PRWeek’s Health Influencer 50

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