One Super Bowl game, 1.33 billion chicken wings and 12.5 million pizzas later, we know the feeling all too well. So we’ll wrap up this intro, grab our emotional support peacock, and get right to the headlines from last week.
Read on for The Week That Was...
►HEY HEALTHCARE, WE'RE COMING FOR YOU
By now, you’ve seen the headlines that power CEOs Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon are combining forces to create their own “healthcare company.” Although the announcement omitted specific plans, we know that the company will focus on “technology solutions” to provide “simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.” The announcement sent stocks of PBMs and health insurance companies tumbling and turned up the heat on factors driving the rising cost of healthcare. It also raised concerns about data privacy for employees in a new era where Amazon not only knows your weekly grocery list, but could also have insight into your medical history.
► OUR TAKE
We’ve seen companies take unique approaches to employee healthcare, and there is speculation that the 1.2 million people employed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase is just the start of what could eventually grow into an “Amazon Prime” healthcare offering for the general public. But, there is great skepticism. The companies don’t share similar locations, have limited control to impact the health systems in their markets, and even with a large workforce, they may still not have the negotiating power of a large PBM.
In the meantime, while details are still unknown, healthcare companies will be grilled about the “disruption,” so we advise preparing reactive Q&As for your staff and executives so they can address questions—and reassert your company’s differentiated value proposition—as the initiative evolves.
►WHAT'S NEXT IN WASHINGTON? SWEARING IN, SHAKING UP AND SETTING THE AGENDA
Let’s just say things were busy last week in Washington.
► OUR TAKE
It’s a “wait and see” game for healthcare in Washington. With so many items on the agenda and recent changes in leadership, it may be some time before we see further action on the administration’s health-related priorities. We’ll be interested to see how Secretary Azar addresses his remit from the President, or whether much of the execution of these goals will continue to reside with Commissioner Gottlieb, who has been actively pushing a pro-competition, pro-generics approach since taking the helm of the FDA.
►WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR PRODUCT STINKS - LITERALLY
In November, we shared Chobani’s new effort to re-brand the business as a food-focused wellness company. Fast-forward two months. Chobani rolled out new packaging with the effort in an attempt to make its yogurts pop on overcrowded supermarket shelves. After the packaging hit stores, Chobani was inundated with negative feedback on the company’s social channels. Customers likened the smell to “chemicals” and an “old ashtray,” and worried about product safety. Chobani sent personalized responses to complaints promising to look into the matter and followed up with handwritten letters. It turns out that the products were safe, but that the odor was caused by excess FDA-approved, food-grade coating. The company addressed the issue and now all is right in the world for yogurt aficionados.
► OUR TAKE
Chobani gets five stars for a responsive approach to the issue. Having social listening mechanisms and a rapid response plan in place allowed the company to immediately receive input on product issues and to address them as quickly and as transparently as possible, which reassured customers and limited media coverage. While issues facing life sciences companies and health plans may not be addressed as easily, we advise the same level of responsiveness when launching healthcare initiatives, new medicines, and even expanding indications for medicines currently on the market. Anticipate questions and issues from across stakeholder groups, know which stakeholders are most like to raise—and spread—concerns, and, if and when a problem does materialize, let your audiences know that they’ve been heard and the company is working find a solution.
Until next week,
- the Reputation & Risk Management Practice @ Syneos Health Communications