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Why Healthcare Brands Can’t Ignore Digital Marketing: Romanian Entrepreneur Diana Mereu Weighs In

Romanian entrepreneur Diana Mereu has had a professional journey that united both of her passions for healthcare and technology.
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Romanian entrepreneur Diana Mereu has a 10+ years professional journey that unites both her passions for healthcare and technology. Along the way, she took up corporate life in leading roles of international pharma companies, and then founded her own HealthTech startup called HealthFluencer and actively involved herself in plenty of initiatives aimed at supporting the healthcare industry.

Through HealthFluencer, Diana Mereu now aspires to redefine how healthcare, self-care and personal care brands are communicating healthcare information to their users in the digital space, while making sure that this type of marketing serves its purpose and establishes a connection that benefits all parties in the process.

As a winner of The Recursive’s “Most Inspiring HealthTech Entrepreneur in the CEE” , Diana Mereu shares her vision for the future of HealthTech digital marketing, how brands should use this type of communication and reach out to their consumers, as well as what are the tech trends that will shape the healthcare industry in the following years.

The Recursive: What is your background and what motivated you to start work in HealthTech?

Diana Mereu: I graduated from Pharmacy in 2012 and my professional journey has been sprinkled with experience gained in different settings – from a students’ association, to a community pharmacy, to the National Medicines Agency, to an international pharmaceutical company, to  a consumer health organisation, and finally to becoming a HealthTech startup founder.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet brilliant people along the way, either those who I was directly reporting to in my corporate years or those who happened to become my mentors, as part of the Executive EMBA I followed with MSM (Maastricht School of Management) or accelerator community I joined at InnovX-BCR.

HealthTech combines two of my dearest fields – healthcare & technology, each in a way reflecting a part of my personality. Healthcare, on the one hand, is very well established, well regulated, offers a steady return and access to a tightly knit community, while having a direct impact on the lives of individuals.

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Technology, on the other hand, is fast paced, constantly changing, with new trends emerging and entails a greater risk aversion, yet you can be part at any moment in the inception of something extraordinary.

How do you leverage your expertise to help HealthTech startups overcome challenges and succeed on the market?

In 2023, I joined the Launch community for startup founders as Director of the HealthTech Vertical & also became part of the LevelUp Health & Life Sciences accelerator powered by EIT Health as  a mentor.

I really believe that startups enrolled in such programs have the highest chance to succeed. More precisely, I support HealthTech startups in harnessing a clear vision, overcoming regulatory barriers and building their own ecosystem by identifying the right investors, partners, and stakeholders in health.

What led you to found HealthFluencer and what is the premise behind the company?

Nowadays, wellness companies are going through a hard time finding the right fit influencer to correctly communicate their brand. Although a highly regulated industry, there are still miscommunications on healthcare matters, especially in the digital space where health claims are not followed.

That is why us, at HealthFluencer, are redesigning the way healthcare information is delivered by offering tailored matching to these companies with qualified “healthfluencers” that pass our “blue check” and ensuring that data is accessible to them in order to predict impact of engagement & measure consumer response.

What role does influencer marketing play in the healthcare, self-care and personal care industries today?

I believe there are two main beneficiaries in #healthfluencer marketing, who meet on the HealthFluencer platform for the following reasons, which are paramount to the activities they individually conduct:

  • The company – making data-driven marketing decisions, adhering to an industry standard, meeting regulatory compliance, building digital credibility, experiencing tailored connectivity;
  • The healthfluencer – ensuring a new revenue stream, creating a personal brand, establishing enterprise partnerships, passing validation of qualifications, pre-testing of product/solution.
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What trends do you foresee in the HealthTech industry, including in the context of AI?

In today’s digital-driven environment, embracing technology is a must-have for healthcare. We see many emerging trends, among which wearables that allow for wearers to become active participants in their health, 3D-printed prototypes of prosthetics, bio-tissues and blood vessels, blockchain for keeping health electronic records error-free, AI with multiple uses from chatbots to virtual health assistants to even precision medicine, pattern recognition, personalized diagnostics and treatments, Digital Twin as a digital replica of a patient for clinical trial purposes using computational models.

As a leader in the industry, how do you stay up to date with the latest advancements in health?

Health is in more than 5% of the over 5 billion searches per day on Google. The Internet is still one of the most sought-after health-related sources of information nowadays, be it on search engines, social media or directly on the health product and service website. Also, there are numerous scientific articles, industry newsletter, #healthfluencer channels which offer accurate and trusted updates. On top of these, I consider events, conferences, seminars as a relevant source, not only for information gathering, but also for their network potential with fellow leaders.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter the HealthTech arena?

When specifically talking about startups in HealthTech, I strongly believe that it’s all about creating value and developing the ecosystem. I would encourage founders to get the authorities involved early on and, should they have no previous experience in the field, to get themselves at least a health advisor on board. 

Also, to look around and map the competition with the purpose of pairing with existing technologies, rather than reinventing the wheel. The last piece of advice I’d leave them with is to be in for the long haul and do it for the right reasons. And, of course, they should have fun in the process.

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https://therecursive.com/author/bojanstojkovski/

Bojan is The Recursive’s Western Balkans Editor, covering tech, innovation, and business for more than a decade. He’s currently exploring blockchain, Industry 4.0, AI, and is always open to covering diverse and exciting topics in the Western Balkans countries. His work has been featured in global media outlets such as Foreign Policy, WSJ, ZDNet, and Balkan Insight.