It's the first foray into a vertical market for AIM, the Direct Marketing Association's nonprofit interactive arm, which previously focused on broader interactive issues such as e-mail marketing and online shopping. Focusing on the health-care industry came about because of the somewhat unique issues facing the sector online.
"Many of the pharmaceutical companies and the health-care system providers are now trying to reach directly to consumers or businesses to create a relationship" via interactive technology, said Ben Isaacson, AIM's executive director.
The group's advisory board--including leaders from Cardinal Health, Pfizer and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School- will set the council's agenda, focusing on issues such as physicians' use of hand-held prescribing devices and patient privacy. "Our real goal with the council is to educate, to keep people on the right track and to keep self-regulation as the standard," said Alexis Bonnell, diva of marketing at AIM. A member-recruitment ad created by Roska breaks next month in industry trade publications.
"The health-care industry is awakening to interactive marketing and media, but everyone is really working in a vacuum," said council Chairman Jay Bolling, Roska's exec VP-director of client services. He believes interactivity will play a key role as the industry increases its focus on direct-to-patient communication instead of broader marketing to doctors or consumers. "There will always be a place for physician marketing ... but at the same time, I think you will see equal focus on the patients, to help [them] manage their own health care," he said. "Interactive communications will provide credible, individualized solutions for patients."