Healthworks Leader Takes on H&S

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Anne Devereux, president of Omnicom's Consumer Healthworks, a direct-to-consumer agency, is now leading Harrison & Star, the company's traditional medical advertising agency.


"Harrison & Star has been effectively reaching professionals for 10 years, but the world is changing. Increasingly, things that make direct-to-consumer so popular can benefit traditional marketing," said Devereux, who took on her new responsibilities last month. "Harrison & Star will still be reaching professionals but with an understanding of the principles of direct marketing and measurement, segmenting and profiling so they can reach them more effectively."


H&S and Consumer Healthworks are both based in New York and are part of Diversified Agency Services, a holding company within the Omnicom Group Inc. network.


Because physicians are a smaller market and because their prescribing behavior isn't subject to the level of privacy restrictions that are in place on the consumer side, there is a wealth of data available on physicians and the drugs they prescribe, Devereux said. So, ironically, while direct-to-consumer healthcare marketing is known for its segmenting and measured marketing, the physician side has a greater array of the resources available to make that type of marketing easier. Devereux plans to put those resources to better use.


"We will be giving them the tools to provide a more targeted message," she said.


For example, if a detailer, or in-person pharmaceutical sales representative, is making a presentation to a physician, the discussions may be more effective if they are varied based on the doctor's area of specialty, how the doctor knows about the product, how involved the doctor is and other factors, Devereux said.


"Think of anti-depressants. How you approach a psychologist and how you approach a primary care doctor -- who is used to dealing with your sore knee and colds and now is dealing with your depression -- is different," she said.


Segmenting will be applied to the range of methods that H&S uses to reach professionals. In addition, the different methods that H&S uses will be tested using measured marketing techniques.


"Some pharmaceutical companies are introducing products to doctors by inviting groups of doctors to a big dinner meeting where they are shown a presentation," she said. "Harrison & Star will now start looking at those programs and evaluating what was paid versus how it changed doctors' prescribing behavior and if it was the most effective way to spend money to make doctors more likely to prescribe the drug. We can look at which doctors attended a meeting and do pre- and post-event behavior tracking."


Devereux also puts a heavy emphasis on what she calls community-driven communications, which often involves finding nontraditional places for information to be communicated.


"What we do is we try and find what the biggest influences are for people. For doctors it may be what they learned in their residency program, for consumers it may be what their mothers always taught them or what their friends said," she said. "Then we take these influences and prioritize them."


Consumer Healthworks has been using a range of sources to learn about customers' priorities, such as communicating with oncology treatment centers that provide general information about cancer sufferers' needs and drawing from sister companies within the Omnicom group that have expertise in marketing consumer products to specific age or ethnic groups.


What results are programs that could involve giving information on pharmaceuticals to clergy in the Hispanic neighborhoods because the Hispanic community puts particularly strong value on support from clergy. Other possibilities include advertising AIDS treatments with Meals on Wheels, which reaches groups with a higher rate of AIDS.


"Harrison & Star will be reaching their audience and prioritizing and referencing and measuring their marketing to make sure that money isn't put in places where it isn't working," she said.


Though serving as president of two agencies may seem daunting, Devereux said the two agencies have collaborated on clients in the past. In addition, she expects the information gathered by Consumer Healthworks and H&S to be beneficial to both agencies' understanding of patients and doctors.
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