LONDON--A new report from WCG and the Holmes Report explores the most important issues impacting the topic of healthcare access, following an unfettered roundtable discussion earlier this summer that featured some of the key voices in the debate.

Issues that attracted particular attention were questions surrounding value for money; the changing nature of stakeholders; the impact of social and digital media; the role expected of pharma companies; and, the evolving communications challenges.

The roundtable comprised six panelists: Elaine Cruikshanks of Acumen Public Affairs; consultant and former Roche PA head Helen Johnson; NHS Alliance CEO Mike Sobanja; economist and deputy director of the Office of Health Economics Jon Sussex; and, WCG group director Nigel Breakwell. The panel was chaired by Holmes Report editor-in-chief Paul Holmes.

To download a free PDF of the report click here.

The panel kicked things off by considering the issue of value for money, against the backdrop of the ongoing economic crisis. Specific attention was paid to the measurement of outcomes. “All the things that are important to the patients and the outcomes they say that they want to get from their treatments and the effective management of their condition aren’t necessarily translating into ROI for the NHS,” pointed out Johnson. “That is a significant access challenge we must consider when thinking about with patient outcomes.”

The impact of social media, unsurprisingly, sparked plenty of discussion. “The absence of direct to consumer marketing is just unsustainable in this country because all I do is logon to a US website and look at the data anyway,” said Sobanja. “So let’s offer people the information but let’s give them the ability to make those choices in the interpretation.”

The net effect of these developments is to make the communications challenges more complex. Sobanja noted that communications needed to become “everybody’s business” within the healthcare community. “It’s up to communication professionals to give guidance and support to industry and to the stakeholders about where and how you can communicate not just through traditional channels but more importantly through the internet – to demonstrate the positive impact of social networks,” added Breakwell.

The Access roundtable is the first in a series of events that WCG and the Holmes Report are running to explore the most critical issues affecting the healthcare industry.