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The great and the good of the healthcare communications industry descended on London last week to discuss big topics affecting the pharmaceutical sector, with patients, pricing and public perception taking centre-stage.
There was not a spare seat at Healthcare Communications Association annual meeting held at the Royal College of Surgeons as chief executive Anneliese Cameron kicked off proceedings by highlighting the HCA’s record-breaking year in 2015. Some 19 events were held, attended by 379 members, up 33% on 2014.
She was followed by the leaders of the HCA’s workstreams who updated members on their plans for training and events in 2016. They included MSD’s Harry Brady (leader of the learning and development work stream) who noted that the HCA offers a “smorgasbord” of courses for beginners in the healthcare comms world up to senior staff but “we need more bums on seats”.
Then came the speakers and none were more provocative than HTA specialist and managing director of Decideum, Berkeley Greenwood. He warmed up by saying the PPRS “is the biggest con trick ever pulled by the government on industry” and followed that bomb by saying comms has a major role to play in market access.
He went on to say that the comms function is as important, “if not more so” than sales, especially in preparing value dossiers, and plays a vital role in the “myth-busting” that the pharma world needs to do. The baton was then picked up by Aileen Thompson, executive director of communications at the ABPI who said that in order to change the perception of the industry, “we need to change the narrative by going back and remembering why we are here. Our industry has great stories”.
There were also insights from talkhealth founder Deborah Wyatt, who noted that “the patient voice has never been louder” and EFPIA’s Andy Powrie-Smith (on video) talking about the continual challenge to get the med comms voice heard, while stressing how vital that role is.An interesting, informative and enjoyable meeting ended with a call for more member engagement and increased awareness of HCA events and training workshops so that 2016 will be another record-breaking year.