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Chris Finch | earthware

“Innovation is the only way to win.”

As rightly said by Steve Jobs, innovation adds value and increases the chances of discovering new opportunities. Likewise, healthcare innovation can help optimize patient outcomes while improving efficiencies and increasing productivity.

earthware utilizes innovation to transform the healthcare sector through digital solutions. With a vision of improving healthcare for all, the organization partners with clients to build ground-breaking solutions and create a positive impact in the wellness niche.

Spearheading the company is Chris Finch as its Managing Director. In a conversation with Insights Care, Chris talks about the various creative solutions provided by earthware and how it offers unique solutions in the competitive market of the healthcare industry.

Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Chris, please tell us about earthware in detail.

earthware is a fast-growing, creative digital healthcare agency with people at the heart of all we do. Our vision is to change patients’ lives for the better by being the most innovative agency in our sector. While headquartered in the United Kingdom, earthware works with healthcare companies across the globe, solving problems for our clients and the patients, and the healthcare professionals they serve.

earthware’s talented team of digital consultants, designers, programmers, medical copywriters, project managers, testers, and more all share two things; a passion for technology and for solving the challenges in the healthcare sector.

earthware has a unique blend of experience across our team, several of whom have worked in-house at global pharmaceutical companies. This means we deeply understand the sector and the challenges that heavy regulation brings to companies who want to embrace modern technology.

What are the USPs that highlight earthware’s presence in the healthcare industry?

earthware evolved from a niche interactive mapping technology company into a full-service digital creative healthcare agency. Unlike many other agencies in the healthcare sector, digital is in our DNA, not something bolted on.

Our highly skilled in-house engineers keep us at the forefront of technology. earthware was behind the first pharmaceutical brand chatbots and are leading the way in using VR and AR as medical education tools. earthware was also behind one of the first software as a medical device solution developed by a pharmaceutical company. This fearless innovation is highly sought after by our clients.

Ex-pharma people lead earthware. This allows us to offer consultancy with a genuine understanding of what it takes to change attitudes and behaviors in a pharma company. Our “Agile in Pharma” workshop has become an industry-leading training course, with circa 1,000 pharma professionals attending in the last two years.

Tell us about the services that earthware provides to its clients as a comprehensive suite of growth services.

From virtual reality and chatbots to more traditional technology, such as websites, apps, and e-details, earthware channel our creativity and technical expertise to help our clients promote their brands, educate and assist healthcare professionals, and support and empower patients.

Our service suite includes:

  • Omnichannel Strategy and Planning–We help our clients establish the optimum blend of channels to maximize reach and drive content engagement.
  • Brand Development and Digital Execution–We guide teams through strategic positioning, promotional messaging, creative platform development, and tactical implementation.
  • Medical Communications–We deliver scientific and clinical content with a difference. Using innovative technology, we engage, excite, and drive behavioral change.
  • Digital Patient Solutions–We co-create award-winning digital solutions that empower patients and healthcare professionals to improve outcomes.
  • Digital Consultancy and Training–We help clients become more agile and work smarter than ever, developing omnichannel strategies and KPIs that drive continuous improvement.

What are the essential factors and aspects that earthware implements in providing effective solutions for the sustainable growth of businesses for its clients in the healthcare niche?

earthware believes the best solutions are co-created with the people that will use them. As a result, we support our clients with the compliant inclusion of patients and healthcare professionals (as appropriate) in scoping, prototyping and user testing their solutions.

There can sometimes be a reticence in the healthcare industry (particularly in pharma) to define clear project objectives and set key performance indicators (KPIs). earthware has a tried and tested process that helps our clients understand their customers’ unmet needs, define, and prioritize potential solutions, estimate return on investment, and set and track clear KPIs.

As an agency with a passion for technology in our DNA, earthware provides the innovation engine for our clients. We constantly scan the digital horizon, identify new opportunities, and do our testing and prototyping before bringing ideas to our clients.

For example, earthware developed some of the first chatbots in the pharma industry and pioneered these in pharma digital display advertising. We have also been at the bleeding edge of VR and AR, helping our clients to utilize the opportunity presented by these technologies ahead of their competitors.

What were the initial challenges that earthware had to overcome, and what are the challenges now?

The biggest challenge to innovation in healthcare communications is fear of the unknown. Pharma companies have enjoyed consistent years of growth without changing their business model – i.e., large sales forces calling on healthcare professionals.

For this reason, earthware initially found it hard to get clients to innovate – they saw digital channels as somehow riskier and would question why it was worth deviating from the marketing and communication activities they had always done. We spent a lot of time encouraging clients to ‘test the water’ with small-scale pilot projects that could be upscaled once positive results and feedback had been obtained.

COVID-19 has accelerated the need for pharma to adopt a more digital-centric approach, bringing new challenges. In a world of so many possibilities, in an industry with so little experience, how do you choose the approach that will deliver the most value for all stakeholders?

In recent times, earthware has been focused on developing a suite of digital consultancy services to help our clients identify the right areas for investment, develop robust omnichannel strategies and track the impact of their activities.

As an experienced professional, what would you like to advise the budding aspirants who aspire to venture into the healthcare industry?

Be bold. More than most sectors, the healthcare space is crying out for innovations. We know that health inequalities exist across the globe. Find an unmet need and go for it!

Be patient. In general, healthcare companies do not make fast decisions. It will take time to win your first projects and build up a network of clients. The good news is that once you have established a reputation, the industry is very loyal.

Be different. There are a lot of agencies in the healthcare sector that offer similar services. It is a very conservative industry, with most companies doing similar things. Identity what is unique about your offering – this will help you gain a competitive advantage by standing out from the crowd.

What is the current scenario of healthcare marketing agencies in the healthcare niche?

Agencies are the lifeblood of innovation in healthcare marketing and communications. Healthcare companies tend to be quite inwardly focused. This can stifle innovation. In contrast, agencies work with many different companies so can see the common challenges faced across the sector. This means agencies are well-positioned to support the creation of innovative solutions that healthcare companies really need.

It is easy for agencies to fall into the trap of delivering what their clients want without challenging them on what they really need. The agencies pushing innovation forward are those that ask ‘Why?.’ By asking this most important question, agencies can help their clients identify healthcare professionals’ and patients’ most challenging problems and then develop ground-breaking solutions that truly improve lives.