- 1. Atul GawandeCEO, Amazon/Berkshire Hathaway/JP Morgan Chase health organization
By Dr. David Shaywitz, Senior partner, Takeda Ventures
When Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan selected Harvard surgeon, health policy expert, and The New Yorker writer Atul Gawande to lead their nonprofit effort to reimagine care delivery for their U.S. employees, the healthcare community erupted in delight.
Gawande is a multiscale thinker focused on implementation, one who is instinctively attuned to the patient experience. Consequently, he brings an “impressive ability to see through the complexity that surrounds our healthcare system and create narratives in simple and relatable ways people can understand,” according to his Harvard colleague Dr. Ashish Jha.
- 2. Sumbul DesaiVP, health, Apple
By Dr. Robert Harrington, Arthur L. Bloomfield Professor of Medicine Chair, Department of Medicine, Stanford University
Before she became a physician, Sumbul Desai worked in strategy for Disney until a family health event initiated a change in her career direction. After medical school, she trained in internal medicine and joined the Stanford Medicine faculty as a hospital medicine specialist, but she continued to apply her business acumen to solving problems in the healthcare delivery system as the Department of Medicine’s vice chair of strategy and innovation and as associate chief medical officer responsible for digital health in Stanford Health Care.
She led the creation of ClickWell, a “bricks and clicks” primary care clinic, and cofounded Stanford’s Center for Digital Health. At Apple since 2017, she and her team collaborate closely with engineering on a variety of health initiatives and features, including the Apple Heart Study.
- 3. Scarlet ShoreProduct manager and platform lead, Project Baseline, Verily
Scarlet Shore has the challenging role of leading Verily’s Project Baseline effort, an ambitious attempt to develop a “baseline” of good health using the data of 10,000 volunteers. Verily is an independent subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet. It was formerly a division of Google X until August 2015.
Around that time, Shore talked Verily’s current CEO Andy Conrad into giving her an internship. Project Baseline launched in 2017 and Shore has been involved from the beginning, evolving it into something that could ultimately reshape health.
- 4. T.J. ParkerCEO and cofounder, PillPack
In some ways, T.J. Parker, 32, is like many of his fellow millennials. Before settling on a clear career trajectory, he flirted with working in various industries. However, unlike most of his peers, Parker has sold a company to Amazon — for a reported 10 figures. The venture that so enamored Jeff Bezos is the online pharmacy PillPack, which Parker cofounded with Elliott Cohen in 2013.
PillPack launched with an initial investment of just $120,000, but grew at an explosive clip; less than a year later, it had raised an additional $4 million. Investors couldn’t get enough of the model — the company would go on to raise $118 million in total — which delivers pre-sorted, pre-packaged, and pre-labeled doses of medication directly to individuals’ homes.
- 5. Norman de GreveSVP and CMO, CVS Health
By Kevin Hourican, EVP, pharmacy services, CVS
Norman de Greve is an ideal business partner. He has led his team in growing our retail business profitably through strategic and compelling marketing strategies that resonate with consumers.
Norm deeply understands our customers and consistently challenges our retail leadership team to evolve our service, as well as the services we offer them. He then leads his team in building meaningful campaigns that articulate these offerings and our key messages clearly to customers.
- 6. Marc SpeichertGlobal chief digital officer, GSK Consumer Healthcare
By Debra Bass, Global chief marketing officer and U.S. president, Nuvo Group
Marc Speichert is the archetype of a modern business leader: He has the global mindset, modern marketing skills, and inspirational leadership.
I’ll start by noting he is a truly global leader. He was born in Switzerland, grew up in France, lived in Mexico, Greece, and New York, and now resides in London. He continues to travel around the world, as he is curious and committed to expanding his business vision by reflecting local market understanding and ensuring global alignment.
- 7. Ray KerinsSVP and head of comms, government relations and policy, Bayer
By David Hirschmann, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center
When Ray Kerins speaks, you can feel his understanding and passion around the value of innovation. That kind of positive leadership fills the room and inspires others to follow. He listens and acts. It’s what makes him such a clear communicator and an effective leader.
As Bayer and Monsanto merged, Ray did an amazing job explaining the benefits of the merger to all the stakeholders — from farmers to policymakers. He drove a highly effective, creative, integrated communications campaign that ultimately helped pave the way for success.
- 8. Michael SneedEVP, global corporate affairs, and CCO, J&J
J&J’s global marketing, communication, design, and philanthropy functions have been led by Michael Sneed since January 2012. After joining the manufacturing giant in 1983 as a marketing assistant, he has been promoted to roles with increasing responsibility including being named global president, personal products company, and group chairman.
He also sits on the management committee. “His leadership, mentorship, and influence” is “felt in much of what J&J has said and done for more than 30 years,” says J&J global chief marketing officer Alison Lewis.
- 9. Suzanne SawyerVP and CMO, Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System
If today’s chief marketing officer hardly resembles the one of years past, then Penn Medicine’s Suzanne Sawyer best exemplifies how significantly the role has modernized. Airwaves and roadsides are rife with hospital ad campaigns, but CMOs can no longer concern themselves solely with building brand awareness. They must be successful in building revenue, too.
In the case of nonprofit Penn Med, that means sticking to its roots in translational medicine — the institution developed and helped commercialize Novartis’ new immunotherapy Kymriah — and, the health system has invested heavily to build out a marketing data mart that utilizes 30 different martech tools to capture the patient journey.
- 10. Sean SlovenskiSVP, president of health and wellness, Wal-Mart
Sean Slovenski is a healthcare and wellness industry innovator with a 24-year track record of success. He joined Wal-Mart this summer, as the company looks to put more focus on its health and wellness business. Earlier in his career, Slovenski spent three years at Humana, rising to become VP of innovation.
Humana and Wal-Mart work together on prescription drug plans for individuals in the Medicare program. But when Slovenski joined Wal-Mart, it prompted speculation the company would form a closer partnership with his former employer. However, analysts said an August announcement about closer cooperation between Wal-Mart and Anthem on providing consumers OTC medications makes other healthcare mergers less likely.
- 11. Chris HoltGlobal healthcare leader, Amazon
If healthcare is the most intransigent industry today, it makes sense it’d take one of the biggest disruptors, Amazon, to change it. Despite its flashier initiatives — forming a healthcare company with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase, as well as acquiring online pharmacy PillPack — Amazon had already been angling for a healthcare push, positioning itself as a major distributor for medical suppliers and customers.
Chris Holt, the leader of global healthcare, said he believes a customer-focused approach is the key to success. Relying on easy-to-use tools and an efficient supply chain, Holt compares Amazon Business’ healthcare unit to a “marketplace.” He wants to change the setup of hospital purchasing, which is conducted through contracts with distributors and manufacturers, per The Wall Street Journal.
- 12. Susan IsenbergGlobal sector chair, health, Edelman
By Richard Edelman, President and CEO, Edelman
Susan has been at Edelman for almost as long as I have. A 25-year veteran of the firm, Susan has played a huge role in growing and shaping our more than 600 person health sector to be one of the largest and best in the industry.
What stands out most to me about Susan has always been her drive and tenacity. She fearlessly leads from the front in all situations. Susan is at her most motivational when she is rolling up her sleeves and working side by side with teams and clients in tackling challenges and providing counsel.
- 13. Rich LevyChief creative officer, FCB Health
By Dana Maiman, President and CEO, FCB Health Network
Having Rich as a partner has been incredible for the past nine years. It has enabled the advance beyond what any of us thought possible.
Rich lies at the intersection of creativity and innovation. It is this approach that has made him so valuable, not just to FCB Health around the world, but also as a tremendous creative resource for the non-healthcare global FCB offices as well.
- 14. Larry MickelbergMD, life sciences agency lead, Deloitte Digital
By Nancy Powell, Director, digital health, Celgene
I’ve had the opportunity to learn and partner as a client with Larry over the years while he held leadership roles, first at Digitas Health, then at Havas, and now in his most recent role at Deloitte Digital.
Larry’s curiosity, pioneering mindset, and uncanny knack for charting where trends are going has led to igniting actionable insight.
- 15. Leerom SegalCofounder and CEO, Klick Health
By Dr. Daniel Kraft, Faculty chair for medicine, Singularity University, and founder and chair, Exponential Medicine
Leerom Segal is the definition of a health influencer. He listens and is collaborative and inclusive. He’s also thoughtful, energetic, and inspiring, and able to bring out the best in the diverse team around him. In the process, he expands and amplifies his positive circle of influence.
I’ve watched Leerom use his creative mind and tremendous passion for cross-disciplinary learning to brilliantly leverage the convergence of technologies. In doing so, he brings surprise and curates delight — and even humor — around life sciences comms, content, and personalities.
- 16. Laura SchoenChair, Latin America and president, global healthcare practice, Weber Shandwick
By Gail Heimann, president, Weber Shandwick
When asked about her best advice, Laura said, “Choose to do something you love with purpose and strive to make a difference.” Throughout her expansive 18-year career at Weber Shandwick, Laura has done just that — made a difference in our clients’ businesses and patient lives by driving transformational healthcare work.
Laura has led the growth of Weber Shandwick’s global healthcare practice since joining the firm in 2000, providing strategic counsel and insights to some of the most visible multinational healthcare-related brands in the world.
- 17. Jenny StreetsHead of industry, health, Facebook
Jenny Streets has spent 15 years transforming healthcare. For the past year, she has been leading efforts for Facebook’s health industry vertical in the U.S. The group’s mission is to connect people to the info or services they need to improve lives and create better health outcomes. Streets leads partnerships, go-to-market strategy, planning, and comms, managing teams across New York, Washington, DC, and Menlo Park, California.
Under her leadership, Facebook and Instagram have continued to evolve into the primary way pharma marketers are reaching patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. Streets and her team are focused on continuing to partner with top health and pharma companies to improve patient outcomes by empowering the industry to challenge the way it thinks about DTC advertising, as well as educating pharma marketers and creatives on the power of mobile to deliver impactful messages.
- 18. Jill DeSimoneSVP, U.S. oncology, Merck
By Frank Clyburn, president, global oncology business unit, Merck
Making a difference in the lives of individuals battling cancer is the mission that drives Jill DeSimone. A pharma industry veteran, Jill is an outstanding leader who walks the talk by demonstrating what it means to put the patient at the center of everything we do and inspires those around her with a prodigious work ethic and commitment to high standards.
As the leader of the fastest-growing business line at Merck, Jill manages the largest therapeutic area P&L across the enterprise. She is a deep expert in commercial immuno-oncology.
- 19. Ray JordanSVP, corporate affairs, Amgen
By Bill Price, VP and chief comms officer, Zoetis
Over the course of his career, Ray has held leadership positions at Amgen, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer — companies where influencing the healthcare landscape is expected and the bar is set high. Those big stages and the public scrutiny that comes with them have never been too big for Ray, and it is why he has again attained this type of recognition.
He has handled a range of complex and intense PR issues that would cause most to wither — and has done it with skill, purpose, and sound judgment.
- 20. Laura SchumacherEVP, external affairs, general counsel, and corporate secretary, AbbVie
By Rick Gonzalez, chairman of the board and CEO, AbbVie
Laura embodies the drive and passion that have made AbbVie one of the world’s most innovative biopharma companies.
Laura and I have worked together for many years in a variety of roles, and now she leads AbbVie’s external-facing functions of comms, government affairs, health economics and outcomes research, and legal.
- 21. Lynelle HochVP, immuno-oncology marketing, Bristol-Myers Squibb
By Teresa Bitetti, SVP, worldwide oncology commercialization, Bristol-Myers Squibb
Each day, our employees around the world work together for patients. It drives everything we do — and Lynelle Hoch’s mission for transforming cancer care to improve and extend the lives of cancer patients inspires all of us at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Lynelle currently leads the marketing organization for the immuno-oncology solid tumor portfolio at BMS. In a dynamic, fiercely competitive marketplace, Lynelle leads a team that has continued to beat internal and external expectations.
- 22. Ryan OlohanMD, healthcare, Google
It’s been almost 12 years since Ryan Olohan signed on at Google, and during his tenure the company has been making a mark in healthcare just as it has done in so many other fields. The Google Ventures arm is working on cutting the cost of healthcare and addressing systemic problems.
Olohan spent almost eight years there, largely in CPG, before becoming healthcare industry director in 2013 and then moving to managing director of healthcare last October.
- 23. Tracy KeimVP, consumer marketing and brand, 23andme
23andMe’s groundbreaking technology lends itself to storytelling, because every person has their own story.
But as with its easy-to-use product, its stories need expertise, ingenuity, and an understanding of its machinations. To tell that story is marketing and brand lead Tracy Keim, who’s attacked the problem from every angle.
- 24. Alexandra von PlatoCEO, Publicis Health
Earlier this year, Alexandra von Plato was named Publicis Health’s first female CEO. At the Publicis Groupe division, she leads a team with expertise in advertising and branding, strategic planning, digital media and tech, science, and medicine — all focused on connecting healthcare brands with the people who need them.
As CEO, von Plato leads all of Publicis Health’s businesses worldwide. Previously, she was global group president for Publicis Health’s worldwide comms and media agencies. Von Plato’s promotion comes amid a larger transformation for Publicis Groupe, which has been breaking down its disciplines into four “solutions hubs.” Last year, the network rebranded from Publicis Healthcare Communications Group to Publicis Health.
- 25. Jeffrey ErbPresident, Healix
As president of IPG media firm Healix, Jeffrey Erb understands how the pharma advertising world is changing and what opportunities that presents.
“What I find exciting about the industry is that it’s going through a significant amount of change,” he said in August.“What we do is really push people out of their comfort zone. We’re constantly looking at things differently and figuring out ways to evolve with the way the world is evolving and that is where you find your agency’s differentiation.”
- 26. Jim WeissFounder and CEO, W2O
By Kim Hunter, founder, president, and CEO, Lagrant Communications
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jim on both the agency side and being a board member of The Lagrant Foundation. Jim is truly one of the most thoughtful, considerate, dynamic, fearless, thought-provoking, strategic, creative, and innovative leaders in the industry. Jim walks the walk and talks the talk.
He and W2O have been committed to changing the landscape of diversity and inclusion at his agency and the industry as a whole. It was Jim’s vision to develop the first healthcare fellowship for undergraduate and graduate ethnic minority students who are majoring in advertising, marketing, and PR.
- 27. Renee MellasCo-MD, Area 23
By Tim Hawkey, Co-MD, Area 23
Area 23 may be known for its outstanding creative product, but this isn’t solely thanks to our creative department. My business partner Renée Mellas has set a clear expectation across the agency that no matter what your business card says, we are all here to deliver the most creative, bold, and groundbreaking marketing and advertising in the world. And she doesn’t want us all doing just the best pharma work, she wants us doing the best work.
So, I’m sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists who think our secret is an oversized, gelatinous crab in our studio that excretes perfectly formed, world-class creative campaigns.
- 28. Wendy LundCEO, GCI Health
By Renee Wilson, former PR Council president, comms adviser
It is a real honor to write about Wendy Lund as she receives this recognition. Sure, she is an excellent health industry comms practitioner who helps clients solve big challenges on a daily basis. However, when I think about Wendy, three things come to mind: incredible passion for the business; unwavering tenacity to get the right things done; and authentic, early day advocacy for women and moms in the workplace.
I was lucky enough to join MSL when Wendy ran the New York office years ago. She had a palpable business sensibility, but conveyed empathy and compassion as a modern-day leader should. She still does. And when it comes to advocating for her teams, you want her on your side. Talent that works for Wendy rarely strays.
- 29. Debbie RennerCEO, SSCG Media
On its 10th anniversary, SSCG Media has proven itself a survivor. At the time of its founding, many medical agencies were discontinuing their media departments. But under the leadership of CEO Debbie Renner, the media planning and buying company not only endured, it thrived.
In 2009, SSCG Media doubled its headcount. Today, SSCG Media prides itself on being one of the largest agencies of its kind that focuses exclusively on healthcare. It has a network of five separate media agencies, and it manages more than 150 pharmaceutical and medical device brands.
- 30. Jillian JanaczekEVP, MD, and NY market leader, Burson Cohn & Wolfe
By Donna Imperato, global CEO, Burson Cohn & Wolfe
Recognizing Jillian and writing about her leadership in our organization, as well as her influence among clients and the industry, feels long overdue. It is also an honor. I’ve known Jillian for 21 years, since she joined our agency as a senior account executive and quickly demonstrated her leadership skills and fierce loyalty to her colleagues, teams, and clients.
Jillian is in a league of her own. Her experience stretches across every disease category. She has launched dozens of products and managed FDA milestones as well as Rx to OTC switches. She has also worked across diagnostics, biotech, healthcare systems, and other areas critical to the business.
- 31. Stephen UblPresident and CEO, PhRMA
By Joaquin Duato, vice chairman of the executive committee, Johnson & Johnson
The rate of recent medical breakthroughs has been breathtaking, making this an exciting and pivotal time for biopharma.
There is no person better to lead and represent the companies in this industry than Steve Ubl. I experienced Steve’s leadership up close serving as PhRMA’s chairman last year. He is adept at navigating the politics, mastering the policy, and understanding the needs of patients and stakeholders across the healthcare system. And he does all of that with a demeanor that encourages collaboration.
- 32. Shwen GweeGM, head of open innovation, and cofounder, Novartis Biome
By Dr. Jake LaPorte, global head of digital development, Novartis
MM&M wanted me to inform its readers it isn’t a printing error that has led to Shwen Gwee being named to this list three years in a row. He is really that dynamic and innovative.
When I first met Shwen, two things were clear. First, his passion, creative thinking, and ability to drive change are incredible. And second, I knew I had to work with him. After months of recruiting — and potentially begging — him, I am fortunate he came to work with me at Novartis.
- 33. Don NathanChief of staff to CEO, UnitedHealth Group
Creating good from bad might be the motto for Don Nathan, who until just last month was SVP and chief comms officer at UnitedHealth Group.
In 2006, Nathan was working at strategic comms firm Robinson Lerer & Montgomery, which was representing UnitedHealth. The company was the focus of a Wall Street Journal story about then-CEO William McGuire backdating stock options. A year later, McGuire left and the company hired a new CEO, who asked Nathan to join the firm, eventually making him its first CCO.
- 34. Sally SusmanEVP, corporate affairs, Pfizer
By Kathy Calvin, president and CEO, United Nations Foundation
I am so honored to reflect on how my friend Sally Susman embodies the highest qualities of an influencer. A visit to her office is a tour through history — the pictures tell the story of her incredible network and formative experiences.
Sally is a leader who combines political savvy, personal integrity, and a commitment to meaningful impact.
- 35. Keri McDonoughSenior team lead, Biosector2
Keri McDonough’s leadership of the Biosector 2 team behind Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, created alongside Sunovion and several advocacy groups, cemented her place as one of the industry’s influential voices.
Centered around a photography collection and Beyond Silence, a documentary, Be Vocal showcased the stories of thriving individuals with mental health conditions. Specifically, it gave them a platform to communicate the importance of speaking up — about their own conditions and within the context of their communities.
- 36. Reid ConnollyCEO and founder, Evoke
By Marci Piasecki, group managing director, North America, Evoke
Inspired — that’s the word I associate with Reid Connolly. About 12 years ago, Reid was inspired to create a digital-first agency with the simple yet powerful idea of making health a more engaging, accessible, and integrated part of people’s lives. Reid’s inspiration was contagious because, for years, I watched as the agency grew its offering and footprint to become a leader in the industry. In fact, it was Evoke’s continued dedication to the mantra “Health More Human” that inspired me to join the agency.
When you first meet Reid, his passion for the industry is undeniable. He has an impressive, deep knowledge of both the market and our clients’ business. This knowledge, combined with his drive never to accept the status quo, inspires our pursuit of new ways to provide value for our clients.
- 37. Scott YacovinoBrand director, Nicorette/NicoDerm, GlaxoSmithKline
Scott Yacovino has been at the forefront of some of GlaxoSmithKline brand Excedrin’s brandjacking efforts. When Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in the first of three presidential debates in late September 2016, there was a lot of chatter on social about the event causing headaches.
In response, Excedrin ran a Twitter campaign called #DebateHeadache. The brand also reached out to disgruntled sports fans. After a video of Mets fan Frank Fleming complaining about missing a game due to unreliable transportation went viral, the PR team at Excedrin provided Fleming two tickets and a private car to a Mets game against the Miami Marlins. Excedrin then tried to ease the headaches of devotees of the hapless Cleveland Browns.
- 38. Kevin GriffisVP, comms, Planned Parenthood
Kevin Griffis stepped into a tough job — and he did so at a time when Planned Parenthood found itself under fire as it never had before.
He has led comms for the embattled women’s health provider during the Trump era, which has included more than its share of existential threats — budget bills that threatened to slash the organization’s federal funding and failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act top among them.
- 39. Doug BurcinPresident, Ashfield Healthcare Communications
By Brendan McAtamney, CEO, UDG Healthcare
It is a privilege to be one of the first to congratulate Doug Burcin on this tremendous achievement. Doug’s infectious energy, passion, and drive are outstanding and he has very quickly become an integral part of the leadership team at UDG Healthcare and Ashfield Healthcare Communications.
Doug’s disruptive mindset, extensive experience, and exemplary leadership is transforming our organization’s competitiveness. Since arriving earlier this year, he has already reshaped our capabilities, operating model, and talent leadership.
- 40. Donna MurphyGlobal CEO, Havas Health & You
By Dave Marek, VP and GM, neuroscience, Amgen
Donna Murphy represents true customer service. As companies across our industry focus on achieving customer-centricity, Donna is a shining example of what it means to live with a continual focus to serve customers. For us, Donna has been an ongoing partner to understand and anticipate our needs, dedicate the resources that produce meaningful results, and share in our sense of responsibility.
Donna represents action. In a recent breakfast meeting, we discussed three opportunities to improve the effectiveness of our partnership. Before the check arrived, Donna had already put actions in place for each one.
- 41. Mary Ann BelliveauNational health and wellness director, Twitter
A quick read of Mary Ann Belliveau’s résumé reveals a career steeped in healthcare marketing and communications.
At Twitter, Belliveau must bring her 20 years to bear for the platform, as it leans into its advertising model and battles reputational headwinds.
- 42. John CahillGlobal CEO, McCann Health
By Bill Kolb, global president, diversified agencies, McCann Worldgroup
I have a simple belief: Don’t just be on a client’s business, be in its business. There is no better example of this than John Cahill.
Under John’s leadership, our business has thrived. His passion, creativity, deep knowledge of the field, and devotion to global and public health have all contributed to our team’s success. It comes as no surprise John has earned a spot on this prestigious list for the third year in a row.
- 43. Paul GerrardVP, strategic comms, BlueCross BlueShield
Paul Gerrard has led comms at the largest health insurer in the U.S., BlueCross BlueShield, for more than seven years. In that role, he oversees marketing, communications, and corporate social responsibility functions for 36 independent, locally operated BlueCross and BlueShield companies that operate in all 50 states.
Gerrard joined the insurer in 2011, shortly after the Affordable Care Act was implemented. Since then, he has helped craft the organization’s messaging strategy and tactics in the wake of the ACA insurance system overhaul.
- 44. Mike HudnallGlobal head, WPP health practice
If you set out to make a mark in healthcare marketing, would you start your own comms company specializing in healthcare, or try to get a job leading the healthcare efforts of a giant ad holding company? Mike Hudnall, global head of WPP’s new healthcare offering, has done both.
In 2006, Hudnall helped found Evoke Health, which started as a digital agency but grew to offering PR and influence services, digital strategy, web development, relationship marketing, media planning and buying, and other services.
- 45. Bill SiboldEVP and head, Sanofi Genzyme
When Bill Sibold was promoted in July 2017 to head Sanofi Genzyme, Sanofi’s specialty care business unit, he became the first individual without ties to the “old,” pre-acquisition Genzyme to assume a top-shelf leadership position at the company. He was given a broad — and ambitious — charge: Essentially, to expand the unit’s purview from its traditional strength in conditions such as multiple sclerosis to include everything from multiple myeloma and squamous cell carcinoma treatments to drugs for Parkinson’s disease and asthma.
“We’re planning for growth,” he said at the time of his promotion, noting he would continue to emphasize the “two things that are core to Genzyme’s legacy — science and patients.”
- 46. Vic NobleVP/global, head of brand value, Shire
In 2016, Vic Noble oversaw Shire’s launch of Xiidra, a drug to treat dry eye that represented the company’s first foray into the eyecare market. At the time, she was head of ophthalmology marketing. The campaign Noble and her team developed avoided typical drug marketing tactics, adopting a modern feel and conversational tone.
“We didn’t want to be part of that DTC white noise landscape,” Noble said after its launch. “There are deliberately no smiling faces, no beaches, no puppies, none of that. We wanted to do something fun and positive. Our team and our approach overall was to be a challenger to the mindset.”
- 47. Ed WiseCEO, Omnicom Health Group
Omnicom Health Group was a bold move to streamline the holding company’s more than a dozen agencies into a single entity. Under CEO Ed Wise’s leadership, that bet has seemingly paid off.
Last year saw Omnicom Health Group snap up Snow Companies and Elsevier’s pharma communications business in Japan. Snow bolstered Omnicom’s direct-to-patient comms and marketing initiatives, while the Elsevier business, now known as EMC K.K., strengthened its medical content business in Japan.
- 48. Anne O'RiordanSenior MD, Accenture Life Sciences
By Sander van‘t Noordende, group chief executive of Accenture’s products operating group
Socioeconomic trends, healthcare consumerization, and new technology and science landscapes are presenting an exciting opportunity for the life sciences industry and the more than 7 billion people in the world it touches. Anne is leading the charge to turn industry change into opportunities for life sciences companies and the patients they serve.
As she puts it, “It is my passion and belief that through commitments to collaboration and disruption along nontraditional lines, we can improve the standard of care on a global scale.”
- 49. Anne de SchweinitzGlobal MD, healthcare, FleishmanHillard
Anne de Schweinitz has made this list before, which is no wonder. Since 2012, she’s been in charge of FleishmanHillard’s global healthcare practice. The job is a good fit, given her pedigree includes 15-plus years in healthcare communications.
But not all of her healthcare cred comes from her life within comms firms. She also spent time with University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.
- 50. Sonia ChoiVP, public affairs, Gilead
Sonia Choi’s five years at Gilead Sciences have been memorable ones.
During that time, the company has enjoyed an amazing run of success, courtesy of groundbreaking hepatitis C cures Sovaldi and Harvoni. During her tenure, Gilead has also launched Yescarta, its first CAR-T therapy, and grown its HIV portfolio with Biktarvy.
By: Larry Dobrow
You may or may not be familiar with Dr. Bishal Gyawali, known to his 4,900 or so Twitter followers as @Oncology_BG. A Nepali-born oncologist trained in Japan who’s currently a research fellow in the department of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Gyawali has a résumé that seems almost impossible for a 31-year-old. Among other pursuits, he serves as an editorial adviser to the British Medical Journal and has worked with the U.K.’s Institute of Cancer Policy and the Belgium-based Anticancer Fund.
Gyawali’s professional credentials might be key opinion leader (KOL) manna, but the way he wields the influence that comes with them is atypical. He’s active on Twitter, where he casts a skeptical, thoughtful eye on everything from highly technical oncology research to bigger-picture systemic issues.
“He has become a respected authority on global access issues and oncology treatment in low- and middle-income countries, and not just on Twitter or social media,” says Dr. H. Jack West, founder and president of the nonprofit cancer-education organization Cancer Grace and web editor for JAMA Oncology. “He’s young and didn’t come out of a training program that’s usually a feeder to international renown. There are ways to carve out your own place that didn’t exist even five or six years ago.”
Welcome to the era in which anyone can be a healthcare influencer. “We’re moving from three or four or five Ps — provider, payer, patient — to one: ‘people,’” says Sara Holoubek, CEO of strategy and innovation consultancy Luminary Labs. “As we move to a model where patients are empowered — where they have computer-grade devices such as smartphones and smartwatches that do some of the things you used to have to go to the doctor for — people are leading the charge.”
It’s a reality to which traditional health and media influencers are slowly accustoming themselves. It’s also one that seems alternately to dismay and confuse many of those same A-listers.
Social media gives new influencers a voice
The old guard may not have sought to exclude new and different voices from the conversation, but there was no obvious entry point for them in the pre-social media era. For better or worse, influence was largely defined by professional credentials.
“The high-profile media was very attuned to using these KOLs as their go-to voices,” says GCI Health CEO Wendy Lund. That effect, she notes, was amplified by other personal and professional associations. “Working with pharmaceutical companies allowed many of them to build their followings even more. And the institutions they came from — Johns Hopkins, Memorial Sloan Kettering, MD Anderson Cancer Center — did a great job building them up.”
Along those lines, “going viral” wasn’t yet a thing during the reign of the KOL. “There was a significant hegemony that exercised its power and control over the conversation,” says John Nosta, president of innovation think tank Nostalab and a member of the Google Health Advisory Board. “The industrial-academic complex controlled the story. People found validation of their ideas in that echo chamber.”
Gyawali himself is keenly attuned to fundamental shifts in the nature of influence in healthcare. “Ten years ago, only a few selected people working at topmost organizations — the so-called ‘big names’ — would control the direction of healthcare,” he explains. “However, with social media, independent, thoughtful voices got a platform to be heard.”
You gotta know what you’re talking about
However, clever use of social media hasn’t by itself elevated the influence of these voices. “They came from someone who was not a big name and, hence, was also aloof from the conflicts of interest that big names usually have,” Gyawali continues. “They had no big stakes in the game, so to speak, so they could be bold and courageous enough to call a spade a spade, because ultimately it was only the patient outcomes that mattered.”
Indeed, influence has evolved to include aspects of voice. But this has not changed one fundamental tenet of influence: You gotta know what you’re talking about. Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, a health economist who founded the consultancy Think-Health and writes for The Huffington Post and her own HealthPopuli site, is heartened by the turn back toward “trusted nodes” where scientific fact reigns supreme.
She recalls a recent lunch with the head of Italy’s minister of health. “There are algorithms in social media in Italy misinforming people about vaccines. So now you’ve got what amounts to the head of Italy’s NIH tweeting pro-vaccine messages, which can’t be a bad thing,” she explains. “In healthcare at least, we still live in a fact-based world.”
The worry, of course, is that healthcare influence could splinter in a manner similar to the way political influence has splintered. “More [influencers] is better. The problem is that more isn’t necessarily smarter,” Nosta says. “In health and not in health, we’re seeing the emergence of influence that is incorrect, ignorant, and dangerous. Look at vaccines and autism, where both scientific and social fraud have been perpetuated upon humanity.”
And then there’s concern about pharma, always the last in line when it comes to embracing innovation in the realms of marketing or communication.
That’s why Holoubek was so encouraged by Sanofi’s response when Roseanne Barr more or less blamed Ambien for racist comments she tweeted. A few hours after Barr made the claims, the drugmaker responded in a tweet from its Sanofi U.S. handle: “People of all races, religions, and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”
“It’s what any other brand in any other industry would have done, and it reflected so positively on the brand and on the company,” Holoubek says. “Ten years ago, a pharma company would have ignored [Barr’s mea culpa] or maybe a month later issued a very formal statement. So maybe pharma and healthcare are learning how to dance that tango.”
Given the importance of the social media platforms upon which the new breed of influencers conduct their conversations and air their concerns, it’s no surprise those companies have pressed forward with formal health units. “Organizations used to live in their bubbles, but they’ve gotten smart and are embracing partnerships with unexpected partners. Tech companies have incredible data and the reach to do this,” Lund says. Asked if she considers those companies to be the proverbial elephants in the room, she responds, “I see them as the intrigue in the room.”
Here comes Amazon
Which leads us to the feverish speculation about Amazon’s eventual place in the health-influencer ecosystem. When the company announced its joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan, its influence was felt in the form of immediate plunges in the market value of pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, (Express Scripts, CVS Health) and insurers (Aetna, Anthem) alike.
Nearly a year after the announcement, few specifics have been presented, but it almost doesn’t matter. Amazon announced the purchase of online pharmacy PillPack in June, pharmacy and drug distributor stocks followed the same pattern of as PBMs and insurers. The day news of the deal became public, CVS Health, Rite Aid, and Walgreens collectively shed $12.8 billion in market value.
“[Amazon] has the muscle to make anything from a speculative concept into a reality,” West says. “For insurance, this could be the equivalent of going from place-based phones to person-based phones.”
It doesn’t hurt that Amazon enjoys a degree of awareness matched by few companies in the history of humankind. “Amazon and healthcare — that’s the kind of thing that will stick to the roof of consumers’ brains,” Nosta says.
However, when asked to predict the healthcare influencers of 2023, even the most ardent futurists hedge. “Five years ago, we did not see Amazon becoming a player in this space,” Holoubek notes. “Factor in that sometime in the next five years we’re definitely going to have a recession, and it’s pretty much impossible to say who the influencers will be.”
West agrees. “We’re like dinosaurs with an ice age coming. Lots of ill-prepared dinosaurs are going to go extinct,” he says. “Healthcare is so staggeringly inefficient right now that there is too much opportunity to do things better. But I don’t think anyone knows how that will affect influence.”
Nosta ventures a prediction of sorts. “I’m not gonna tell you who [the influencers of 2023] will be, but I’ll give you the initials: A.I.,” he quips. “The volume, source, speed, and veracity of data is increasingly beyond our ability as humans to assimilate. As terrifying as it might sound, the arbiter of information will be technology itself.”
Gyawali, on the other hand, speaks hopefully about the continued rise of individuals not formally associated with legacy organizations. “I’d hope the influence of big journals would dwindle because of the [rise of] open-access journals and preprints and social media. Independent, conflict-free, thoughtful voices will continue to have the most influence.”
By Tracy Keim
VP of consumer marketing and brand, 23andme
The most inspirational and influential person in healthcare isAnne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe.
Anne brings data to the table — whether it’s genetic data, lab data, or health data. Anne encourages the public to access, understand, and benefit from their data when it comes to healthcare. She advocates for the consumer, and believes you are your strongest advocate.
Many of us don’t know that we can ask for our health records or get access to our genetic information. We cannot continue to live in fear or in the dark when it comes to our health. Anne’s changing the way we look at ourselves through genetics and advocacy. That is inspiring.
By Alexandra von Plato
CEO, Publicis Health
I have the distinct honor of calling Nick Colucci, chairman of Publicis Health, my most important mentor. As a boss, coach, role model, and friend, Nick always can be counted on to tell me what I need to hear and show me what it means to lead with my heart, head, and hands. As a true servant-leader, Nick has nurtured a small army of healthcare agency and network leaders, including many women, now serving as presidents, CMOs and CFOs. I’m grateful and proud to count myself among them.
By Debbie Renner
CEO, SSCG Media Group
I’m extremely fortunate to have had two phenomenal mentors at critical stages of my career — Carol DiSanto, past president of CDM Group, and Josh Prince, current CMO of Omnicom Health Group. Carol and Josh are not only incredible mentors, but also extraordinary human beings. It is from both of them that I learned, early on in my career, the importance of leading an organization with grace, respect, humanity, and gratitude — something that I continue to value above all in my role as CEO of SSCG Media Group.
As we continue to evolve and transform as an organization — this is something that will never change.
By Susan Isenberg
Global sector chair, health, Edelman
I’ve been honored to work with many outstanding women and men dedicated to health over the course of my career in health comms, but the most lasting impact has been by the person who helped carve the position I have the privilege to hold now — Nancy Turett.
Nancy’s passion for the power of the health industry to change lives was boundless. She instilled in me a career-long appreciation for the role of communications in transforming ideas into engaging actions that positively impact the health and well-being of people, as well as inspire and motivate our own teams.
By Jillian Janaczek
EVP, managing director, and New York market leader, Burson Cohn & Wolfe
I can’t think of a person who has influenced me more than BCW CEODonna Imperato.
Donna has been instrumental in teaching me the nuanced world of healthcare communications. Leading by example, Donna is fearless in her pursuit for innovation, which is critical to the ever-evolving health landscape.
One of the things I most admire about Donna is that she advocates for her people. She puts her team first and foremost, something I have tried hard to emulate as healthcare practice head and plan to continue in my new role as BCW’s New York market leader.
As the first woman to lead a top three firm, Donna is an inspiration — not only to me but to many.
By Michael Sneed
EVP, global corporate affairs, and chief comms officer, Johnson & Johnson
My grandmother, Laverta Johnson, began her journey as a nurse graduating from the Kansas City School of Nursing in 1932. She returned to Chicago and in the late 1940s she and my granddad opened the first rehab center on the west side of Chicago to serve the African-American community.
As a young boy, I learned the value of service to others that my grandmother instilled in all of her grandchildren. She believed then, as I do now, that health and wellbeing are keys to a strong and productive life in service to your family and society as a whole.
By Mike Hudnall
CEO, WPP Health & Wellness
The person who inspired me most in my career is John Zweig, former chairman of WPP’s healthcare and specialty comms sector. I will always treasure the years I worked with him. John showed us every day how to be a great human, leader, and friend.
He reinforced why our work in health is so important, but also reminded us that individually we aren’t as important as we think we are. Most importantly, he taught me that if I unleash our collective power of will, then we truly can change the world. Thank you, John.
By Jim Weiss
Founder and CEO, W2O
I was hired at Hill+Knowlton Strategies in May 1987 by Laura Leber, a client, friend, and powerhouse influencer herself. But Beverly Simons is our north star. A genuine mad woman from the golden age, she’s one of the first, best, and most prolific healthcare communicators who shaped this field and mentored so many of us.
She was all about hard work, perfection, client service, and results. She treated us like the pros we strived to be. It was 24/7, and I loved every minute of it. I’m forever grateful Bev inspired and pushed me to #MakeItHappen and #BecomeTheBest I could be.
By Leerom Segal
Cofounder and CEO, Klick Health
I’ve always been inspired by virtuosity in every form, and whenever we’re looking at a new space, first seek to find renegades that can influence our thinking. At an early age, my father taught me that being entrepreneurial means you have to have a bias for action and a strong work ethic. Klick cofounder Peter Cordy illuminated the importance of creativity, and I’ve always enjoyed hacking problems with our other cofounder Aaron Goldstein. In fact, a theme that has been consistently true at every stage has been the degree to which mentors have helped us see around corners and boldly imagine how to conspire with the future.
By Anne de Schweinitz
Global managing director, healthcare, FleishmanHillard
MaryEllen O’Donohue, currently at WE Communications, may not think of herself as a mentor to me, but she is. When I took my first agency job in 1999, MaryEllen was leading the North American healthcare practice.
I met her just weeks after starting at a major biotech pitch in California. I was clueless about the agency world and she was completely in it, very talented and fiercely determined to win.
She was also incredibly warm, funny, and deeply human. She remains a shining example to me of the profound impact one person can have when they bring their whole self to the job every day.
By Keri McDonough
Senior team lead, Biosector 2
Those who courageously evolve while holding onto what’s uniquely theirs inspire me most. Wendy Brennan, director of community outreach for Senator Liz Krueger, and Peg McCormick, consultant, patient partnership, CAR-T and cell therapy at Autolus, have done just this throughout their careers. While running a patient advocacy group and expanding access to mental health coverage, Wendy taught me how to remain vigilant and calm in the face of entrenched political and social barriers. When leading a global MS franchise’s advocacy work, Peg showed me how to balance visionary and realistic expectations for pharma and advocacy collaboration. Both women exemplify the possibilities for careers fueled by intellectual curiosity, kindness, a strong moral compass, and a drive for meaningful change. Mentorship is a gift and I am so grateful for their generosity.
Modern life is changing so quickly and in so many ways that it is difficult to keep up, but fundamental issues around health and wellbeing are being disrupted more than anything else.
It’s a subject area our sister title MM&M tracks on a daily basis, while PRWeek dips in and out. But it’s an environment where some of the most disruptive and compelling storylines are playing out, from national healthcare provision, to the discovery of new life-changing drugs, to healthier lifestyles for some and a more sedentary existence for others, to hot-button issues such as drug pricing and the increasing impact of patient power.
All these aspects and more are represented in PRWeek and MM&M’s third annual Health Influencer 50 list.
The lineup reflects the rise of disruptive and nontraditional health players such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Wal-Mart, JP Morgan, and Facebook, as well as innovative agency operators including Klick, Deloitte, and Evoke in and amongst more established names from the big holding companies and independents.
As new players enter the marketplace and disrupt established ways of doing things, you can be sure smart and effective comms and marketing will be more important than ever.
You can also bank on PRWeek and MM&M being there to track these developments and analyze what it means for communicators, marketers, patients, payers, brands, and enterprises alike.
Steve Barrett is VP/editorial director of PRWeek
Pharma marketing types are no doubt familiar with the four Ps, a rubric that contextualizes pharma vis-a-vis its fellow stakeholders in the healthcare value chain: provider, payer, and patient. Lately some have even added a fifth P to the mix — policymaker.
But this beloved mnemonic may be in for a downsizing. As Sara Holoubek tells MM&M’s Larry Dobrow this month, “We’re moving from three or four or five Ps to one: people.”
“As we move to a model where patients are empowered, people are leading the charge,” Holoubek adds.
It seems fitting that, as new entrants seek to overturn healthcare’s familiar and, in many ways, inefficient business models, this decades-old convention also would be turned on its head and by those seen as outsiders a short time ago.
Our third annual Health Influencer 50 list includes many such examples of doers challenging the healthcare hegemony. Five years ago, most of us did not envision Amazon becoming a dominant player in this space. Yet there they are.
Amazon wisely hired Harvard surgeon turned health policy expert turned The New Yorker writer Atul Gawande to head up its JV with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan, then bought pharmacy upstart Pillpack, whose CEO and cofounder, T.J. Parker, also makes our list.
And healthcare now welcomes a new cast, including fellow HI50 members Apple, Wal-Mart, and 23andMe.
To be sure, plenty of influence is still concentrated in the traditional four Ps, represented by the likes of GSK, Bayer, and J&J. And on the agency side, you’ll find stalwart marketers ranging from Klick Health to Weber Shandwick.
Like the challengers, plenty of pharma vets working for these native healthcare organizations are leveraging their understanding of customers and passion for people to accelerate the path toward a consumer healthcare experience.
To those who long for the old days, who view disruption as sacrilegious, I say, “Get used to it.”
It’s a good bet that no one entity will have a lock on the essential qualities that underpin a Health Influencer. People — with a capital P — will level the playing field for decades to come. Those pharma and agency players who fail to adjust may wake up one morning and wonder where their influence went.
Marc Iskowitz is the editor-in-chief of MM&M
By: Wendy Lund, CEO, GCI Health
One out of two women reading this article is not making the time to focus on her health – which one are you?
Do you write “Get flu shot” at the bottom of your to-do list every year, but never manage to cross it off? Do you postpone scheduling health screenings because you’re too busy balancing work and the needs of others, and there simply aren’t enough hours to get it all done?
If this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. When GCI Health partnered with Redbook magazine and HealthyWomen, we polled more than 1,000 women between the ages of 30 and 60 about health habits for themselves and their families. We found that nearly half just don’t make their own health a priority.
This is because women feel caught between their health goals and what others expect of them. While we’re often the ones making the healthcare decisions for our families, we’re not quite as proactive when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Thirty percent of the women we surveyed skip regular health screenings, citing their job as the main scheduling conflict. A whopping 80 percent feel like there’s no way to delegate their family’s healthcare, and more than half admit that they feel stressed out even thinking about it.
It can all start to feel like a vicious cycle. When you don’t take care of yourself, it negatively impacts your ability to care for your loved ones. Our survey revealed that women who don’t make time to get their important screenings, like mammograms, pap tests, eye exams and blood pressure, end up having more health issues later in life.
At GCI Health, we’re committed to partnering with HealthyWomen to turn these statistics around. We kicked off the #BeHealthiher movement to encourage women across generations to prioritize their wellness and, for the past year, we’ve been giving them tools to become a “healthier her” for themselves, their families and society. We’ve also been reaching out to employers and encouraging them to make sure their employees, both women and men, are taking time to address their health and schedule doctor appointments.
As cold and flu season ramps up and hectic holiday schedules leave us with even less free time, prioritizing your health is more important than ever. As our survey also revealed that 97% of women say their stress levels are moderate to high, here are a few ways to slow down, check in and take better care of yourself.
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate. If you have too much on your plate at work or at home, ask for help. Give yourself permission to let go of tasks that are standing in the way of healthier habits.
Schedule that Checkup. Don’t wait for a window of opportunity, make one. Schedule a doctor’s appointment and communicate your availability to your bosses, colleagues and family. Having it on the calendar is a mental commitment that will make you feel more accountable to your health.
Take a Mental Break. Don’t be afraid to slow down when you’re feeling overworked, sick or stressed. Go for a walk, meditate or take a day off work if you need to recharge. You’ll be more focused when you return.
Get Social. Posting a photo of your self-care moment on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter could inspire others to prioritize their health. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #BeHealthiher.
Remember, even small steps like these can help you take a more active role in managing your own well-being. When you put your health first everything else falls into place – so don’t wait!