Razorfish Healthware: Innovative solutions for Communicating Health
Since 2012, Robert Ascione has been the President of Razorfish Healthware, a global leader in digital and healthcare communication. With an unique mix of insight, technology, creativity and industry savvy, the company deliver digital innovations, solutions and tools that drive improved health outcomes.
Roberto is a global thought leader whose background is in medical science, but he also holds a degree in marketing and communications. By leveraging the knowledge the company possesses about the healthcare ecosystem, they are able to generate transformational experiences that empower people's health and wellness decisions.
Razorfish Healthware's service offering is made up of three specialized business units: an Advisory practice offering technology strategy and enterprise consulting; a digital communications and marketing practice; and a solutions and technology practice offering a range of enterprise business tools and related services.
Tell me a bit about your background – how did you end up working with Razorfish Healthware?
I have always been passionate about medicine, computer science and human-technology interactions; and even in the 90s, when digital was in its infancy, I have always believed that healthcare could be dramatically improved via the adoption of IT at its core.
Given my background in medical science, marketing and communications, I started to explore my passion in these areas and in 1996, founded my first company, Healthware, which provided health informatics services. Thereafter, I founded a few other companies focusing on medical research, education and health digital marketing. Following that, I took on the role of President of Healthware Group, which offered a full range of services in digital healthcare communications across Europe. In 2007, this company was acquired by Publicis Groupe and rebranded as Publicis Healthware International and more recently in 2012, rebranded as Razorfish Healthware after a number of acquisitions and consolidations.
Why did you choose to niche your consultancy towards health marketing?
Healthcare is a very a niche field for many reasons. It is unique and needs to be serviced in a very specific manner. When you think about healthcare experiences, ideally, each and every experience is an intimate and personalised one between the healthcare provider and the consumer. On a visionary level, we had wanted to leverage the power of technology to refine current experiences and re-define new paradigms. From an aspirational perspective, we had wanted to be the best option in such a niche industry hence the need to stay focused since inception.
What value do Razorfish Healthware, in the broadest sense, provide their clients?
Razorfish Healthware is a unique offering in the healthcare marketing space as we deliver value at the convergence of technology, marketing and creative – with that added layer of healthcare expertise. All these skills that we bring together in a singular agency are more commonly found separately within "brand creative" agencies and IT consulting firms. Simultaneously, innovative ideas are often borne at this convergence. Innovation is in our DNA so we are ever ready to help our clients be the first to market with an innovative, meaningful way to connect with their audiences. We think strategically about our clients' business challenges and bring them digital ideas that will transform their businesses.
How is advertising in the healthcare industry different from consumer advertising, and how does it affect the creativity?
Given the intricacies of the healthcare industry – which extends well beyond that of the regulatory environment – that added layer of medical expertise is crucial in healthcare advertising. It definitely is a niche sector in itself. However with that said, we constantly look towards the larger consumer advertising industry for ideas as well since great ideas occur across all sectors.
In terms of creativity, it is a pity that the healthcare sector often lags behind (versus consumer advertising). The easy scapegoat is that 'regulatory shoots down many ideas'. Yet we feel that regulatory should never be an excuse for uninspiring, non-innovative work. In order to guide our clients in ensuring that all strategies are in line with regulatory, we have a regulatory unit within our company that is fully versed in such matters so that the teams across disciplines can consult with them for a better understanding of what can and cannot be done, and how we can challenge certain limitations. What is encouraging is that I am witnessing more and more pharma clients today willing to challenge the regulatory-imposed barriers and the status quo.
On your site you mention you provide a healthcare ecosystem, could you elaborate further?
Well, the ecosystem has the stakeholder at its core, and the whole concept revolves round the creation of a universe of communication tools present at the various touch points surrounding the end user. These tools are fully integrated with each other, and alongside a continuous loop of feedback through interactions with the user, serve to tell a cohesive story and offer up a personalised experience. The ecosystem approach can also facilitate quick and flexible responses in line with any changed market conditions, hence allowing messages to be communicated quickly and enable new business models to be developed on this basis.
Why do you think thought leadership is important?
We live in a day and age where we are constantly being bombarded by stimuli. I regard leadership as a way to share one's thinking, attain genuine feedback that will in turn help to refine one's initial thoughts, while guiding the team along an exciting journey. I think one of the most important aspects of a good leadership is the willingness to dialogue - which is far more interesting than merely talking or passively listening.
Why is innovation crucial for your business?
Following in the footsteps of its predecessors such as the retail, music, travel industry, the healthcare sector is ripe for disruption. Technology is breaking down the parameters of healthcare and redefining it. It is only by innovating (trying new things without fear of the unknown) will a business be able to stay relevant and reinvent it. This is why innovation is embedded in our company DNA.
The online environment is changing rapidly, how do you adapt and expand?
In the similar innovative spirit, we are very passionate about branding new things and branding new thinking, so we participate regularly in key technology and healthcare conferences and events (both as active speakers or participants) to share or spot new digital archetypes and then take the learnings home to experiment on their potential benefits to healthcare.
How do you see this sector develop in the future, and what is Razorfish Healthware's part in shaping this future?
Over the past few years, the digital evolution of healthcare has been impressive. The exponential growth of technology is making, and will continue to make, a significant impact on healthcare. I believe that the goals of customized care pathways for each patient and preventive healthcare that will benefit all are definitely within sight. At Razorfish Healthware, we will assist in this revolution to a full consumerization of health, alongside a full revamp of the current clinical workflows, and more extensively enrich the relationship among the various stakeholders. Naturally, we will have to continually evolve as well, and I believe our contributions will likely reside in the sweet spot where we help businesses navigate this transformation via innovation.
Want to know more about Robert Ascione and Razorfish Healthware? Visit:
Twitter: @robertoascione & @RazorfishHW
LinkedIn: Robert Ascione & Razorfish Healthware