‘This could help you!’
Some good news at last. A lifeline at a difficult time. No one would doubt the huge positive impact these words have on people living with a disease. After all, this moment is the ultimate ‘why’ for choosing a career in healthcare. But to truly help improve people’s health, everyone’s health – patients should not be thought of as the final point of reference but as invaluable partners who provide insight that data can’t. Patient voices are crucial in developing healthcare solutions that work on a human level, from conception to delivery.
As an agency that’s built around people, it’s no coincidence that every year we proudly choose to sponsor the PM Society Digital Awards ‘Patient Programmes’ category. It showcases the very best projects, be they educational or practical, designed with and for patients. The entries rely on using detailed market insight to produce an effective digital strategy. In other words, speaking to the people the programmes aim to help so that our work answers a real-world need.
Elements of an effective patient programme
One of ‘Patient Programmes’ category’s greatest strengths is its breadth. Entries range from websites to apps, delivered as part of a disease awareness campaign or related to a specific therapy area. The key is simply that these digital communications help patients.
This award is categorised under ‘effectiveness’. To deliver a truly effective programme, finalists must not only display expertise in a particular disease area but also understand the value of individual voices in producing tailored support. Patient engagement matters to us. Last year Phillipa Pristera, our Patient Engagement Strategy Lead, wrote a blog series on effective patient engagement in Pharma. Crucially, she observed that if we are to improve the ‘relevance and equality of healthcare’ then we must all commit the time and resources into enabling more people to be involved in communicating their experiences throughout the continuum of care.
How can this philosophy be applied in an award entry under Patient Programmes? Well, firstly these programmes must never be a case of ‘style over substance’. As communicators and creatives, there can be a temptation to produce the flashiest design, the most high-tech solution. But that is where patient voices become so important, right from the outset of a project. Is the font used readable for your target audience? Are the colours appropriate for the kind of messaging you want to portray? Sometimes, it requires communications specialists to ignore their biases on what they perceive as ‘best’ or ‘beautiful’ to create a support programme that is perfectly suited to patient need.
Patient Programmes in 2022
This year’s entries to the Patient Programmes category were all great examples of putting people first. The winning campaign was from Arena Pharmaceuticals and Havas Lynx Group for their clinical trial recruitment campaign. The campaign used imagery and insights from people living with a long-term disease to validate feelings of isolation and recognise day-to-day challenges, and linked these with the benefits of participating in the clinical trial.
A silver award was presented to Novartis Gene Therapies and earthware for their physiotherapy app, Flexterity, designed to help parents and caregivers of children with neuromuscular disorders. Bronze awards were won by Roche and Aurora Health Communications for their community website, ‘SMA my way’, for people living with SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), and South East London CCG by ZPB Associates for their Vaccine Facts Website.
All of these award-winning projects show just how far our industry has come in patient-centricity; congratulations to all the finalists, your work has made a real difference.