Healthcare must retain its independent thinking

Recently, the healthcare PR world has seen its fair share of shakeups.

Recently, the healthcare PR world has seen its fair share of shakeups.

InVentiv Health's acquisition of Chandler Chicco Agency for $65 million, which took another independent healthcare PR firm off the market, was just the latest step in a trend. In February, inVentiv snapped up Chamberlain PR, and, in March, Huntsworth purchased Dorland Global Corp. in a deal that could wind up being worth $50 million.

There are two takeaways from the recent spate of healthcare-related takeovers. One is that business is good. The scope of communications surrounding healthcare issues has never been greater, and, indeed, the future looks bright. Clearly this is why inVentiv and Huntsworth wanted to be involved with CCA and Dorland in the first place.

The other is that great strides could be lost if the industry loses its independent (i.e., creative, outside of the box) thinking. While healthcare PR has always been about symptoms and side effects, direct-to-consumer trends, combined with an informed populace engaging through social media, have made healthcare PR a rich discipline that combines art with science.

If history is anything to go by, independents can usually afford to take risks where larger conglomerates can't. So, while these firms' reporting structures will obviously change a great deal, all healthcare agencies, independent or not, need to ensure they take independent ideas to the clients - or the healthcare PR sector will suffer as a whole.

None of this is to imply that CCA and others will not have success in their new structures. But inVentiv - and indeed all parent companies - would be wise to trust the existing structure and approach of the agencies it's acquiring in order to ensure the best ROI for itself and the industry.

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