New European comms chief at inVentiv outlines two priorities for 2017

The new European chief at healthcare comms giant inVentiv, whose brands include Biosector 2, Chamberlain and CCA, has told PRWeek she is putting a "dogged" focus on patient engagement and the concept of accountable marketing at the heart of 2017 plans.

Julie Adrian arrived at inVentiv Health as European MD, comms in August. She had previously worked for the firm in her native US.

Adrian has more than 300 staff - in a variety of PR, branding, creative, digital and advertising roles, and across London, Frankfurt, Munich and Paris - working under her. "My role is all about integration and collaboration," she said.

She reports to Lisa Stockman, the New York-based president of comms at the group, which has a broad range of health and pharma consulting businesses, and 15,000 global staff.

inVentiv last year filed for an IPO, but later scrapped these plans and earlier this month announced the closing of a significant investment from private equity firm Advent.

"There are always hard and soft metrics," Adrian said of Advent's aspirations for inVentiv, although she would not be drawn further. "The overall aim is growth and expansion. We're going to be looking at geographies. We’re strong in France and Germany, [so] we’re going to be looking at those areas and enhancing them."

As for servicing the firm's client roster - which included all of the top 20 global pharma firms last year, according to Stockman - Adrian reveals two key pushes for 2017.

'Dogged focus on the patient'

"Patient engagement is very much one of our focus areas," Adrian said.

She says that some of this is driven by regulatory changes - the regulators themselves are more interested in patients' voices. 

"The [US] Food and Drug Administration and some of the regulatory bodies here in Europe are really looking at things like patient reported outcomes as a parallel in trials to clinical outcomes... the FDA is convening advisory panels just to hear from patients - they had never done that before, it was all about the drug and the data on the drug," she described.

There is also a chance to help clients fundamentally change, and improve, their application of drugs through patient engagement. Adrian described one client - she did not name it - whose decision to switch its use between Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes was taken off the back of patient consultation.

"They felt like they were contributing more to societal health than they would have otherwise - and also likely got a commercial gain," she commented.

Adrian also says that patient engagement is key in the age of social, where "you can get taken down by social media because you’re not grounded in that patient group". While there is a general expectation from consumers of more transparency and engagement, the regulatioin of the healthcare market means this is not always possible.

"That’s a challenge and an opportunity - embracing those tenets of transparency and openness that are being demanded by consumers, within this environment," she said.

'Work out what will be successful'

Accountable marketing is the other area dominating Adrian's thoughts.

"It’s really about looking at the data that we have and then plugging in all our vast experience of what we’ve done - every kind of message, every channel, to work out what’s going to be most successful," she said.

A key example is in website management. "In the past it was clickthroughs, it was time on site, it was downlaods, all your basic stuff - now what we can do is look at what we believe is a predictor of action - if a person does x, y and z on a website, we and our learning and insights specialists can say with greater confidence than ever before that that’s going to drive that specific action," she says - adding that the firm can also make live adjustments to a website based on how they see people interacting with it.

"This is completely driven by clients saying that they have to do more with less - we have to know what's a high-value tactic versus a lower-value tactic."

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