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By Kathy Delaney, the global chief creative officer of Publicis Health/Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, from a November 2018 Adweek.com article:
I still remember when Amazon was just an online bookstore, Netflix snail-mailed DVDs and the only way to get around New York City above ground was by flagging a yellow cab. Back then, the thought of ordering groceries and books from the same place, binge-watching original TV content without ads and getting a ride through a mobile app were foreign concepts.
While these game-changing enterprises have since disrupted long-standing industry conventions, reinvented their respective categories and reshaped consumer experiences, there’s still one industry uniquely ripe for a creative reinvention: healthcare. As an industry notorious for clinging to convention, healthcare has reached a tipping point where change is no longer optional—it’s a necessity. Empowered consumer patients are eager for healthcare providers to discover new ways of delivering care and services with greater empathy and radical patient-centricity. In this era of technological innovation and shifting expectations, brands and partners have an extraordinary opportunity to join forces and reimagine the healthcare experience.
From illness to wellness
Healthcare is moving away from a reactive system managing illness toward a proactive system actively promoting a wellness lifestyle. Patients are more than their diseases and treatments, and healthcare companies should also focus on integrating wellness into people’s daily lives. This shift is already reflected in the rise of workplace wellness where nearly 86 percent of American employers now offer some form of holistic wellness program.
As an industry notorious for clinging to convention, healthcare has reached a tipping point where change is no longer optional—it’s a necessity.
As marketers, we have an enormous opportunity to leverage this wellness revolution in ways that help our brands, fuel the wellness movement and support people in their pursuit of healthier lives. Regardless of industry, brands and marketers have an opportunity to tell their brand story through the lens of wellness. Whether it’s an eco-friendly furniture company, an organic beauty brand or a design firm working with hospitals, wellness cuts across sectors. Today’s consumer patients are well-informed and keen on investing in brands and services promoting wellness, not just treating sickness.
Your health, your way
Making healthcare more convenient for consumers can go a long way in encouraging them to be more proactive. The rise of clinics within retail pharmacies, which offer patients basic checkups and diagnose common ailments, is a great example of a service that is reducing friction. The time is ripe for the healthcare industry to increase this kind of convenience, and with the rise of new tech innovations, we’ll continue to see tools like virtual care, live consultations and telemedicine take off. Whether it’s handling insurance claims, sending prescriptions or providing discreet at-home testing kits for stigmatized conditions like STDs or HIV, seamless, connected and convenient engagements are the future of healthcare.
Technology will play a significant role in the next generation of healthcare, but empathy will revolutionize it. We cannot have radical patient centricity without an understanding of—and empathy for—the patient experience. Healthcare is frequently daunting, occasionally intimidating and certain conditions are often stigmatized. Understanding the barriers preventing patients from pursuing care begins by embedding empathy into every phase of the patient’s journey. At their core, people want to feel heard, and the brands that listen and make patients feel safe and understood will be the ones with the advantage.
One company using empathy to connect with consumers is innovative telemedicine startup Nurx. Seeking to break down the barriers of HIV treatment and prevention, Nurx connects patients with virtual physicians and at-home testing, eliminating the burdensome, expensive and sometimes intimidating visits to clinics and offices. Services like these empathize with consumer concerns, lower barriers to entry and empower the individual to pursue the treatments they need with ease.
Returning to our roots
Few industries are as innately personal as health and wellness, which is why the concept of “patient centricity” is more than just a buzzword—it’s the next phase in the evolution. This shift will require moving from illness to holistic wellness, providing ways to engage with individuals when and where they need it and having empathy for their journeys along the way.
Now is the time for creativity to reimagine how we resonate, connect and ultimately walk alongside people throughout the entirety of their lives. What the industry needs now are partners who understand people.