By Jackie Singley

There is evidence of profound transformation across every facet of healthcare from drug discovery, to delivery, access, and everything in between. Already a complex system, the pace of change continues to increase, compounding the ability to keep up. At the center of all this change is people. Technological advances have transformed every aspect of life and there are high expectations for healthcare brands to follow suit. There is nothing novel about these expectations spanning transparency, convenience, value, and the ability to cultivate a personal relationship. However, we are living through a transformative time marked by a cultural shift in how and why people consume information.

As a conduit, it’s not so much the device itself that has propelled this change. Rather, the sheer volume of noise and information is unrelenting which has shortened attention spans to mere seconds. This presents strategic and creative challenges for any marketer. While targeting a qualified audience has become more sophisticated, the number of channels and potential touchpoints have exploded. This makes it difficult to know where to start when planning an engagement approach. What we have is a modern day firehose analogy. How can the modern healthcare marketer break through the noise, capture attention in seconds, and communicate value to the receiver?

The best advice is to remember that patients are people and do not be afraid of trying new things despite potential failure (aka, low engagement in this case). In order to forge meaningful connections with patients, healthcare marketers must deeply understand motivations and behaviors. Fundamentally, information needs are grounded in a desire to be productive and progress life forward. For example, there could be an immediate and urgent need around a specific problem or the need could be based on interest and education on a topic.

I’ll close with a quick example to demonstrate just how much the landscape has changed and why thinking about information as a progressive tool can help simplify strategies in a very noisy world. In a brainstorm session focused on strategies to engage with people recently diagnosed with cancer, we pushed the team to answer a key question: What kind of information would you be looking for? One woman said ‘I’d want to know about hair loss and explore wigs since I’ve never really looked into wigs’. In parallel, we decided to test an assumption that those diagnosed with cancer over index on Facebook. Through research, we found the opposite. People diagnosed with cancer in the last 12 months were under indexing on Facebook and over indexing on Pinterest. The team had several theories including aspiring to get on top of unfinished projects to escaping the public nature of Facebook in favor of a platform ideal for distracting the mind. With a partner unafraid to fail and excited by the idea of connecting the right platform with the right need, we are moving forward with a Pinterest pilot based on wig interest.

Despite the challenges of change, it’s a very exciting time to be working in the health and wellness space. 


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