By Clare Gurton

There are hundreds of healthcare agencies and trying to find one that will suit your needs is difficult and potentially time-consuming. The key is to limit your choice, and these simple steps will help you develop a shortlist of suitable prospects:

First, try to decide what you want from an agency and then categorize this need into one of the following types of services:

  • General medical communications;
  • Public relations;
  • Medical education;
  • Training; and
  • Specific modeling or other tasks that require a full understanding of health economics processes.

Then decide whether you need a full-service agency, or a more specialized one that will tailor its approach to individual projects. Even if you want a full service agency, it’s better to ‘pilot’ a specific task first since working with an agency on a day-to-day basis will be the best test of compatibility.

Also, restrict your choice of agency by deciding what features are important to you – for example, you might decide that an experienced agency with a reputation for quality is of high priority or you might want to go for a new agency with some exciting approaches.

Geographic location might be unimportant, but how the agency works with the client might be critical. Once you have a list of key needs, ask colleagues for personal recommendations before you try the internet. Finally, search websites; often, these will give you an immediate feel for an agency and allow you to include or discard it.

By now you should have a much shorter list. The final factor that can limit the choice will be experience within your specific area of need; not all agencies have experience in health economics and not all have generalized experience. Decide how important this might be to you.

Lastly, try speaking on the phone with an agency – this can be an important and direct way to find out how an agency operates; sometimes, agencies that pride themselves on their PR record can have poor PR themselves.