Better Connected

Neon sign that reads "Everything is Connected"

 

By Mair Dilworth, Executive Creative Director, VMLY&Rx Milan

We’re at the dawn of a golden age for medicine. Ground-breaking advances in science and technology are transforming the treatment of disease, bringing new hope to patients and caregivers that have previously struggled for options. But, as demand for health services increases and pressure on budgets intensifies, realising the value of those breakthrough innovations requires a new approach in health communications. 

With digital disruption redesigning almost every aspect of the healthcare, the communications that underpin the journey must be more personalised, increasingly specialised and experience led. The lines between healthcare and other industries are blurring. Customers expect the same experiences for their healthcare that they have in other areas of their lives. We need to create experiences in healthcare. Moreover, they must be better connected experience — uniting diverse voices, talents, data and innovation behind a single purpose: better patient outcomes. 

It’s a simple equation: for better health, that offers us a better experience, we need connected health. Here’s why.

Surge in speciality

We’re seeing a surge in speciality medicines as therapies become more precise and personal. Advances in genomics, proteomics and data analysis have revolutionised the treatment of disease, stimulating a wave of personalised medicines and hyper-targeted therapies. Breakthrough innovations like CAR-T and gene therapy are already transforming treatments in areas such as cancer, neurological disease and ultra-rare conditions, with more around the corner. Digital therapeutics are growing too, providing non-pharmacological, tech-enabled interventions that often work in combination with medicines to respond to individual patient needs. Collectively, these specialist innovations are reimagining the way medicines are developed, manufactured, administered and monitored. We’re right at the start of the journey, but we’re only going to see more innovation as knowledge and capability builds.

As medicine becomes more targeted, biotechnology is blossoming. In the past decade, some of the world’s most successful medicines have had origins in biotech, with Humira and Sovaldi being stand-out examples. More recently, biotech firms have sought to commercialise their own innovation, leveraging their specialist knowhow and technology to market breakthrough drugs. It’s estimated that the biotech sector will be valued at $500 billion by 2026 – growth that, once again, highlights the upward trajectory of speciality medicines. We’re heading in one direction. But if we want to transform innovative therapies into high-value solutions that improve patient outcomes, we must apply a more specialist approach to health communications. But how?

Bringing it all together

As treatments become more personalised, a drug’s journey from ‘bench to bedside’ has become increasingly complex – with more people involved in the development, adoption and delivery of medicines. The health ecosystem is getting broader, with multiple stakeholders across multiple settings involved in decisions that impact the management of disease. The main actors – HCPs, payers, patients and life sciences – are well known, but alongside them, diverse stakeholder groups and communities are gaining a voice and influence in the design and delivery of care. As science advances, and technology extends the art of the possible, new players are joining the fight against disease – most notably data scientists, behavioural scientists, patient communities and health tech companies. Each brings new and valuable tools to the battle, but their impact is weaker in isolation. To win, everyone must join forces and collaborate in pursuit of  a common goal. Success only comes from connecting the dots.

Communications is the glue that binds everything together. At every touchpoint in the drug life-cycle – from pre-clinical to patent expiry – creative communications will, one way or another, influence its use amongst target patients. In today’s complex global marketplace – shaped by local nuances, diverse socio-economic drivers and growing demand for speciality medicines – the best communications combine specialist scientific expertise with creative and technological firepower. Better still, they call on the full orchestra of voices and talent to ensure messages connect with the right audiences and hit all the right notes.   

A golden age

As the world prepares for a golden age of medicine, decorated with breakthrough innovation that can transform health, the next generation of health communications will make all the right connections. 

It will discover the connection between data and insight – and connect diverse stakeholders across cultures and communities. It will craft the connections between complex science and meaningful value – and power connections beyond science into human behaviour. And finally, it will pioneer creative connections between new evidence and evolving expectations – and build connected experiences right across the healthcare ecosystem.

Because for better health, we need connected health.