Eke Teekens, Global Marketing Manager,
The people who work at Winclove are fascinated by how bacteria influence our health. Thanks to the knowledge and expertise of our employees, we develop formulations that enhance people’s health and quality of life. With you as a partner, we want to cooperate even more closely to reach as many healthcare professionals and patients as possible. One of our employees closely involved in this process is Eke Teekens. She is pleased to tell us about her work.
What exactly do you do at Winclove?
About four-and-a-half years ago I set up the Healthcare Department at Winclove together with my colleague Marjan Schellinger. We also introduced our own probiotic brand on the Dutch healthcare market; Ecologic®. Until that time Winclove’s probiotics were sold exclusively business-to-business, but we were keen to establish their wider acceptance in mainstream healthcare in the Netherlands. Besides, we also wanted to experience what it meant to be a Winclove customer and what kind of issues our business partners were grappling with in order to enhance the service provided to them. By going out into the market we discovered what really matters to healthcare professionals and the barriers you encounter when launching a product in the market.
We faced countless practical dilemmas, questions such as; how to make a correct label, which healthcare professionals to approach and what kind of information will convince healthcare professionals to actually advise the probiotic to the patient? We noticed that healthcare professionals mainly needed practical information, whereas we were conveying a more scientific message.
What’s your experience of contacts with doctors about probiotics?
It differs very much. Especially in the initial years it was a question of looking for healthcare professionals who were receptive to our message and would and could actually introduce our products in the clinic or health facility. We discovered that patients’ associations and nursing homes in particular were very interested in our products. What we never envisaged beforehand was that by going around so actively in the field we created a new research network. We came into contact with hands-on clinicians, which were willing to set up patient-driven research. This type of research focuses on patient-identified priorities instead of study results. Thanks to these ‘hands-on clinicians’ we got an even better understanding of the patient and healthcare professional. It enables us to develop communication materials and formulations even more closely aligned to the patient.
Can you give an example?
Nurses were continually asking us whether we had anything for recurring urinary tract infections. At nursing homes this is a big problem with bedridden patients, especially women. Apart from antibiotics the nurses were literally empty-handed when it came to prevention of such infections. We tested the first formulations for recurrent urinary tract infections with the help of five women at Winclove. Ultimately we developed a very good formulation for this and it’s now also available business-to-business.
Do you personally use probiotics?
Yes, I take the Barrier and 326. My children use Adult and Relief. (red. Winclove in-house references). Personally I’ve noticed that I mull over things less at night, fall asleep more calmly and get a better uninterrupted night’s sleep. I no longer wake up every night at 3 o’clock and then lie awake staring at the ceiling until around 6 o’clock. I have slight IBS and I keep 326 at home in case my intestines begin to play up. You feel it coming on. If I notice a pain in my stomach I make a paste from 326 and take it for a few days. The stomach pain slowly eases. It troubles me for weeks if I don’t take probiotics.
What do you want to achieve at Winclove?
I’m keen to share with you, our partner, the knowledge I have acquired within the Healthcare team. Last year I started working at Winclove’s Marketing and Communication Department. There we have started to create a basis for translating the scientific information available at Winclove into comprehensible information for healthcare professionals. The information will become available on a new Ecologic® website. Of course, every partner will have to tailor the information to fit their own design and market.
What information will be available on the Ecologic® website?
At Winclove we thoroughly recognise the stringent laws and regulations applicable to communication about probiotic products to healthcare professionals which your communication has to apply to. As manufacturer and researcher of probiotics we have the opportunity to communicate about probiotics at strain level instead of product level. Therefore the new website is called Ecologic inside. With the Ecologic® platform we want to offer you a tool to which you can refer without straying outside the law. The Ecologic® platform will provide in an accessible way to healthcare professionals a range of scientific information about the role of microbiota in mental health care, intestinal health, allergies and urogenital disorders. On the new Ecologic® website, due to go live shortly, we want to provide a European platform for healthcare professionals. The Ecologic® platform will provide understandable scientific information about the role of microbiota in mental health, intestinal health, allergies and urogenital disorders.
How would you like to help customers?
What gives me energy is when a doctor is better able to help a patient because the scientific information that Winclove possessed has reached the doctors. I want to help customers examine which information they need from us in order to bring about this behavioural change among doctors. When the Ecologic® website goes live, I will be very keen to get feedback about how we can assure that the information provided on the website is aligned as closely possible to healthcare professionals. Together with you as a partner, I want to brainstorm about how we can achieve that goal!
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