Healthcare Is a Giant Industrial Artifact From the 1950s

Nov 06, 2018

Radical health. Those two words can mean a number of things, but at PulsePoint’s recent digital health conference in New York City, the sentiment, which also served as the event’s hashtag on social media, was to spark a movement of change.

A change the healthcare industry desperately needs—at least according to the leaders who shared their vision for a different type of digital healthcare future. Data and marketing can play a big part of that change, but it has to be thoughtfully and authentically done.

“Big data is useless without insights,” said Sloan Gaon, CEO of PlusePoint. “Data in itself is not what’s helpful. It’s the insights we are able to gain from that and turn that into action.”

It is why keynote speaker, Seth Godin, an author, entrepreneur, and marketing expert stressed to the crowd that it’s time to take a different, more personalized approach when it comes to healthcare marketing and reaching the target market.

“You need to own the connection,” said Godin.

To do that, Godin says you first need to gain not just their attention, but also their trust. To gain trust, you need to lead, and that leader cannot be afraid to fail.

“Leadership is, ‘I am not exactly sure how to get there, but do you want to come?,’” explained Godin.

The other key to success is being professional and showing up.

“What [consumers] want is consistency every time we engage with you, and that you are going to keep your promise,” said Godin. “Everyone breaks promises all the time—big companies, little companies. You have to make a promise and to keep it.”

As it relates to radical health, “no one wants personalized emails.” Instead, Godin argues, “they want emails about themselves. No one wants to see where all the other cars not picking you up are, they want to see the car that is picking them up.”

“What people really want is for people see them, believe them, and help them solve their problems,” said Godin. “Too often healthcare is a giant industrial artifact from the 1950s.”

Positive steps forward

A sentiment that was not only a theme of this event, but also many others, is that consumers—whether they are doctors or patients—want the same technological conveniences they get when dealing with other industries in the healthcare industry.

The availability of wearables, monitors, digestibles, and new devices coming to market, what seems like every day, makes the technology available in many cases, but the problem is the implementation—something the industry is still trying to figure out.

“How do you monitor patients remotely?” said Emmanuel Fombu, director, digital medicines at Novartis, referring to one of the questions that tends to come up. “Global healthcare is at a crossroads.”

Fombu told a story about a recent Uber ride he was on, where the driver was able to monitor her son’s blood sugar while he was at school and she was at work. It’s technologies and stories like that, that give him hope that these stories will become normal in healthcare. 

Closing the gap

One radical health concept is actually not so far-fetched, but is still surprisingly very difficult: patient inclusivity.

“Patients don’t understand; feel like they don’t have a voice,” said Grace Cordovano, founder of Enlightening Results, which provides private cancer patient advocacy services. “Patients and their loved ones want to be included at the table.”

This is where clinical trials can be both a problem and the solution, according to Cordovano and her fellow participants on the panel, “Can Content Marketing Save Clinical Trials?”

“Over two million people take part in clinical trials a year,” said Liz Mascherino, director of clinical operations at Altavant Sciences. “Let’s hear more about their story.”

Another untold story panelists said needs to be told is of drug development, and the process that companies go through when creating a treatment. Pharmaceutical companies can no longer be afraid to open up and let patients understand the extreme highs and extreme lows that happen when developing a therapy. They need to connect with the patient and show them the journey.

That is where content marketing can help.

Content marketing, according to the panelists, can generate open conversation and bring transparency to areas that are a bit hidden to the general public, like drug development. 

Data is human

When it comes to healthcare, people don’t search brands, according to Cozi Namer, development lead for Healthcare Google. Instead, they search conditions and how to manage their disease.

And, a majority of those searches take place after a patient has been to see their doctor. This prompted Namer to ask the question: “When do you show up, just when someone is sick? It is different when you have shown up for the whole journey.”

It’s those small differences in the way a company connects with their customer, or potential customer, that will help shape and change the future of the healthcare industry.   

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