Two WPP shops – Grey Healthcare Group (ghg) and digital specialty VML – are collaborating on an answer to Publicis’ digi-behemoth Digitas. The new shop, Healix Digital Health, will be led by representatives from both companies and will offer “enterprise digital marketing” for healthcare companies.

“This is really being established due to client interest,” said ghg chief Lynn O’Connor Vos. “There’s room for one or two more big players in the healthcare digital space, and we’re at a tipping point where most clients recognize that this is an area they’ve got to be competitive in, with mass consumerization of healthcare, with electronic medical records, with 87% of doctors getting information online and 25% of medicine potentially being practiced online by 2012.”

The new shop will have offices in New York, where ghg is based, and in Kansas City, MO, where VML is headquartered. Vos will sit on the agency’s board along with ghg chief engagement officer Erin Byrne, VML CEO Matt Anthony and VML managing director Jim Radosevic. Agency leadership and founding clients will be announced in January and will report directly to WPP chief Martin Sorrell.

The agency’s Kansas City office will boast a “communications lab,” Vos said, through which Healix will keep ahead of the curve on emerging technologies like the iPad and electronic medical records.

“This is going to be a new medium for us to communicate with physicians and potentially with patients,” said Vos. “We want to look at all technologies.”

VML and ghg have a longstanding relationship, she said, sharing business with Colgate and Hill Science, the dog food brand. VML boasts a roster of blue chip clients and recent work including Gatorade’s G2 campaign, while ghg has executed the text4baby and Think About Your Eyes efforts.

“This is definitely the moment to establish something this big and well-recognized for depth in digital and mobile for healthcare,” said Vos. “Clients are all looking for strategic solutions. They want a digital strategy – they don’t just want to buy a website but to understand where patients and docs are online, what’s that journey look like and how can they get there.”