MDC Partners Debuts Antidote 360 To Cure Health Care Marketing Headaches

360The health care system is evolving due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is why MDC Partners introduced a dedicated agency catering to the vertical: Antidote 360.

“Health care is moving from a medicinal mindset to a lifestyle mindset,” said Antidote 360 co-founder Jennifer Deutsch, who is also the EVP and general manager of MDC agency Doner in Cleveland.

The agency will work with new and existing MDC Partners clients to offer advertising, PR and digital marketing services, and launches with clients like hospital system Virtua, health food brands Plum Organics and GK SkinnyPasta, hearing aid vendor ReSound and medical equipment manufacturer Stryker.

MDC agency executives Kathy McCuskey (CEO of Yamamoto) and Aaron Kwittken (CEO of Kwittken) also lead Antidote 360, and all three executives will remain in their respective posts as they build out the new agency.

AdExchanger spoke to Deutsch and Kwittken.

AdExchanger: What inspired the launch of Antidote 360?

AARON KWITTKEN: We’re in our fifth year of the ACA and we’re starting to see major changes in the marketplace, such as the consolidation of hospital systems, the reacceleration of electronic health records and the movement of physicians from private practices to being employed in hospital systems. Traditional brands are also moving into the wellness space.

What can you offer health care marketers that a traditional agency can’t?

JENNIFER DEUTSCH: The team understands the health and wellness space and FDA regulations, and the multiple target audiences, from physicians to caretakers to patients. On top of that, clients are looking for seamless integration. We’re providing integration that’s saving clients anywhere from 12 to 20%. And everybody at Antidote 360 understands the implications of the ACA and the opportunities now available to clients who are either in the space or not in the space to capitalize on those opportunities.

What opportunities has the ACA created for your clients?

JD: The opportunity is to help various entities navigate the health ecosystem. ACA provided parameters that include five penalties and rewards for people who follow regulations. We can help organizations navigate those regulations.

For example, one aspect of ACA is that hospital systems are being encouraged to reduce readmission rates. There are a lot of things you can do to ensure that when a patient is discharged, they go home and stay healthy.

That means anything from making sure they’re washing their hands properly to being in a clean environment and eating properly. We know that food companies haven’t gone after that target audience. Or, think of a hand sanitizer brand. Those are simple things that would help reduce readmission rates.

How would you help a food or sanitizer brand connect to consumers?

JD: We would target discharge nurses, so that the discharge nurse can give proper instructions to patients. Tangential to that is another trend in the health space, which is wellness. Fitness equipment manufactures should also be playing in the space. We have a creative team that understands how to speak to the various target audiences.

How does that opportunity tie into online consumer behavior?

AK: When a consumer thinks there might be something wrong healthwise, most turn to online search for answers. Digital diagnosis is a reality, whether it’s self-guided or professionally guided online. Communications agencies bring that communication to bear across earned, owned, shared, placed and paid media. Media companies today aren’t just focused on earned. They’re also focused on making sure their media is getting amplified. The media landscape is so convergent now, and that, along with the inclination to go online to self-diagnose, is creating more opportunities for agencies like ours.

JD: A more informed patient will get a better outcome, and the digital community provides that. One example is all the health apps out there. But the flip side is that a lot of those apps are collecting data. And that data is being shared with researchers, who are using it to come up with better medications and better protocols to treat patients. The next tech boom is the health tech boom, because patient data is worth a lot of money. In fact, a patent’s health record is worth seven times more than a patent’s credit card or Social Security number.

In terms of patient data, what is and isn’t illegal for advertisers to leverage?

AK: We work with experts and third parties to use data science and analytics to improve the way companies and providers engage with all stakeholder audiences using non-personably identifiable information, but we wouldn’t receive or share individual patient data. The insights we glean from this non-personably identifiable information is valuable in creating more meaningful connections among the players and in helping brands identify and optimize new revenue streams while ultimately better serving the patients.

Does Antidote 360 deal directly with consumer health data?

AK: We are removed directly from client data, and there are HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] laws that govern that data. The other side of it is that, increasingly, because of cyber threats, many of our clients and many organizations operating in the health care space are vulnerable to attacks. They need to communicate with confidence how they’re safeguarding patients’ data. And if data does get breached, they have to communicate with confidence that the data’s been fenced and protected. That’s an opportunity for communications agencies from a crisis management standpoint.

How will Antidote 360 work with sister organizations within MDC?

JD: There’s collaboration going on already. For instance, we had a client come to us with a budget of $600,000. They needed a social plan, public relations and an advertising campaign. They could hire three agencies to put them on retainer. Instead, they came to us, and the client navigator pulled together the team when needed, and helped prioritize the budget. We’ve also worked with our partners to pre-negotiate rates.

AK: Antidote 360 is going to be a very lean, client-focused organization. It will be comprised of client navigators and their responsibility is to put together a client mandate and assemble the most bespoke interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams, picking from across the various agencies within the MDC network.

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