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2017: The Year of Patient-centric Creativity, by Elizabeth Elfenbein

The healthcare sector has always lagged behind other sectors, especially when it comes to consumer centricity—mainly because of the tendency for healthcare marketers to want to educate around the features and benefits of their products instead of trying to connect with their end customer, the patient. Over the past few years, many companies have resolved to focus on patient centricity as a guiding principle, though it has yet to be fully realized. That said, with the explosion of health tech and the advent of the tech-empowered patient, there’s a new sense of urgency. Now, finally, it’s all about the patient.

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The patient-centered sky is the limit.

 

We’re living in an unprecedented time in which we have the potential to truly shift how we care for patients. This patient-centered world is here to stay and will only continue to grow as tech continues to innovate in this sector. The future of personalized medicine is all about you. Whole genome sequencing is here, empowering patients to identify and prevent health issues before they even happen. And with the humanization of health tech, we now have the ability to care for patients while lightening the burden of the caregiver. This is only the beginning of how we’ll   redefine prevention, treatment, and how we need to communicate.

 

This is an incredibly exciting time, and this brave new patient-centered world provides a unique creative platform from which to build.

 

How to create in a patient-centric world:

 

  1. Empathy. Always walk in the shoes of the patient. Create ideas that focus on the patient’s feelings—because when you do, you connect with them on an emotional level. It’s visceral and can help you understand their health struggles. With virtual reality (VR), you can literally and figuratively feel what it’s like to be a patient with an ailment. Think of analog situations where you experience the lack of control on a bicycle to understand what it’s like to be a patient with MS. Or how social media is able to create an experience of random unwanted messages that mimics someone with Tourette’s syndrome. This is only the beginning of how to use empathy to connect with patients. Imagine a future world where there’s an empathy experience linked to every condition.

 

  1. Authenticity. When you’re creating for patients, it’s best to be real and be human. Speak their language, be down to earth, be authentic. When you’re real with your content, you connect with patients; this in turn helps connect patients to other patients.

 

  1. Humanize tech. Technology is cold, humans are warm. Making health tech more human offers the potential to make health gadgetries desirable in today’s households. One example is with the elderly who may be desperately trying to maintain their independence. This presents opportunities to provide technology that cares for them and also supports the caregiver—everything from reminding a patient to take their medication, to making sure your mother isn’t lost, to keeping someone company. The power that humanizing tech brings is meaningful and will only become more so in the future.

 

  1. Put a face on compliance. Compliance continues to be a challenge with an ongoing need to create and think about in unique ways. Wearables have had relative penetration in health and apps have become standard practice, with the advent of pill plus programs. But there are so many new ways to think about compliance, like borrowing from today’s pop culture trend of using emojis to create a form of expression that behaves as a compliance tool. By playing and creating in spaces where patients already live, you have a greater chance of driving stickiness, which could lead to improved compliance and adherence to a medicine or health routine.

 

  1. Create experiences. Remember that patients are consumers too. When you create a brand experience, put the patient at the center, not the brand. (This is not earth-shattering news, but it’s not standard practice either.) Create experiences that touch and strike emotional chords with the patient. Create value-added services as key differentiators of your product, which will repeatedly demonstrate that you (as a brand) are there to support their health. If you do this with empathy, with an authentic voice, and through a highly engaging experience, you’ll surprise and delight your customer, the patient. Once a patient feels understood, they’ll acknowledge it, remember it, and likely become your advocate. It happens organically.

 

We’re living this now. But imagine the places we can go in 2017. It’s the Year of the Patient. Our industry can make a resolution to create on a whole new canvas—one that is truly personal and emotional, one that might not even exist yet. So think and create for the patient because they are the ones who will be intimately involved with your brand. Their needs will drive the demand for new and better ways to be treated and cared for. Here’s to a healthy New Year!