How to distill complex health care stories
Medical mumbo jumbo has no place in today’s consumer-based marketing practices.
Confused patients, family members and people in your community won’t stick around and try to decipher your message.
As communicators, we must translate highly complex verbiage into clear, concise, compelling—and jargon-free—words and images. Within the process, we often forget the “V” word: value.
Progressive marketing and PR pros are focusing on value when creating videos, blog posts, events and more.
[WHITE PAPER: How to communicate with a millennial workforce.]
At Bristol-Myers Squibb, one challenge for communicators is to help doctors understand new treatment options, such as immuno-oncology cancer regimens. When pharma can educate providers, they in turn can handily share information with patients. Invoking complex science to “show and tell” alternatives to the “long-accepted method of treating cancer with radiation and chemotherapy” is no easy task. Medical Marketing and Media reports:
“We spent a lot of time thinking about how people who aren’t from the pharma industry can relate to and understand how immuno-oncology works,” explains Carrie Fernandez, head of U.S. communications for Bristol-Myers Squibb. “For example, on our I-O discovery website, there’s a graphic comparing a garden to immuno-oncology. We’re trying to break it down in a way that people can get the a-ha moment in their head without having to understand a Kaplan–Meier curve.”
Fernandez notes Bristol-Myers Squibb is working with advocacy organizations including Stand Up to Cancer to reach and educate patients. Those partnerships go along with the digital campaign, Ready. Raise. Rise.
New drugs, such as immunotherapy and hepatitis-C treatments, are often criticized for being wildly expensive. However, Spectrum Science Communications president Jonathan Wilson says companies need to remind patients of the value first. “A drug may cost a lot of money in the short term, but you have to think about the value these medicines bring over a lifetime,” he explains.
Though Mylan and other drugmakers have recently come under fire for price gouging, a growing number of pharma companies continue to break down their wordsmithing and images and ramp up value propositions. According to FiercePharma.com:
Astellas’ corporate campaign is one of several in the industry currently that highlight the good work pharma companies do. Using employees is a tried-and-true approach for pharma companies to humanize what they do and create empathy. Pfizer’s current corporate effort, for instance, shows its scientists and others taking a drug from just an idea all the way through to a patient’s medicine cabinet. And Merck’s online and social campaign “Humans for Health” is a deep dive into its employees’ passions around their work.
The new 30-second commercial, part of Astellas’ ongoing run with CNN, shows Astellas scientists and others at work and play, talking about their focus to work together to improve people’s lives. It ends with the line, “Turning innovative science into value for patients.”
The post continues:
While that line has been part of Astellas’ vision for years, according to an Astellas spokesperson, it’s new wording for the corporate CNN campaign. Last year, the commercial featured Astellas’ CEO and also its chief medical officer in a longer one-minute ad that focused on innovation and the company’s responsibility to its patients.
The idea of patient value jives with current medical, political and cultural healthcare conversations in which value is a key theme. That’s in part because of the anticipated move to more outcomes-based healthcare where value is a core measurement. However, patient value has also gained traction, particularly in pharma, thanks to ongoing drug pricing criticism. Incorporating value into the pricing equation has become strategic.
Consider how communicators at Seattle Children’s Hospital have used video to explain the complex and emotionally charged issue of pediatric bioethics. The hospital explains the purpose of the four-minute clip on its YouTube channel:
This video describes the work of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and its impact on patients, families and providers who are dealing with challenging ethical questions.