Using human insights to push healthcare communications forward

20/02/2019 8:00 am

Patient perspectives (as the industry terms it, we prefer health seeker perspectives) is a fast-moving field of healthcare communications that gives precedence to the thoughts, opinions, and feelings a health seeker may have about their condition. Across the healthcare landscape, the notion is widely accepted. After all, if we are to help health seekers with their conditions, we must understand how that condition affects them. While overall, the industry is doing well to put health seekers at the heart of their own care, an accurate and nuanced understanding of health seeker perspectives can offer real insights into the delivery of better healthcare communications. It’s vital we capture the voice of health seekers in their own words rather than assuming we, as professionals, know what the perspective looks like.

Firstly, generating health seeker perspectives has two sides, one which benefits the health seeker and others like them, and one which benefits the doctors and other industry professionals.
Human Insights
So, with all these benefits, both for health seeker and the industry, human insights seems like a win/win, clear strategy that everyone should implement. While the benefits are clear, the routes to amassing this information, and moreover collecting information that can be transformed into actionable insights is considerably less obvious. However, there are a couple of key things you can consider when trying to navigate your way around this area.

Seeing beyond the health seeker

Although this might seem counterintuitive, you should strive to reach those who have minimal healthcare knowledge. After all, if someone inexperienced in seeking health information finds clarity in your materials, you can say with conviction that you’ve considered the varying levels of health literacy. From there, you can involve the people that are important to the health seeker’s life. Their family, friends or carers can often offer key insights on the effectiveness a medication may have on their condition, the usability of the packaging, or the clarity of the instructions. This information is all key if we as an industry are to continue bettering drug development for the future of disease control, prevention, and cure.

Speaking with, not at the health seeker

While doctors and scientists have in-depth medical knowledge on a range conditions, right down to the molecular make-up of a disease, it is important to understand how a condition affects somebody’s life. Therefore, it remains crucial to implement the health seeker in all stages of drug development and consider the way in which they understand a drug and its effectiveness. Even if they believe their symptoms may be related to something that bears no medical correlation to their condition, knowing this can often inform what symptoms affect them most, while also aiding how best to create materials that dispel myths about their condition. However, there’s no need to obsess over materials being scientifically precise, provided they can be interpreted safely. Being too technical can overwhelm health seekers as the information is neither helpful nor relevant to the lived reality of their condition. Accurate yet accessible is the balance we should always aim to achieve.

Understanding which leads to insight

Perhaps most crucially, when it comes to generating insights, it is important to understand how health seekers feel, both physically and mentally. If we can better understand the way their condition affects their life, we can develop drugs that not only have clinical efficacy, but also provide better quality of life. Today’s healthcare market is saturated with products and services, meaning health seekers have a variety of safe and effective treatment options available to them. What will set those options apart will be the meaningful impact they have on every aspect of a person’s life, beyond symptom management.

Making time to listen is all it takes

Whether you’re considering a user test, panel workshops, questionnaire or even just talking to health seekers, the above considerations can always be implemented to make these interactions beneficial for both parties. Whether a doctor looking for more insights on how to better manage health conditions or a clinical study team evaluating the efficacy of a new drug, at the heart of both is the health seeker’s welfare. Most pharma companies understand and accept that insights are the way forward when it comes to brand recognition, uptake and adherence to prescribed courses of action or treatment. Yet most struggle to adapt current marketing practices to achieve a more holistic view of the health seeker and increase engagement with him or her on a deeper, more personal level.

If we can learn to listen effectively, compassionately and sincerely, we can begin to build insights into every aspect of the health seeker’s journey, ultimately improving their experience of the healthcare they receive, and their life on a wider level.

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About the author

With varied experienced within the healthcare industry, Amber has always worked to make a positive impact on patients’ lives. Having previously worked as a dispenser in a pharmacy, she began a post-graduate internship with a Bradford-based social enterprise company, working to provide interpreters for the NHS, alongside other community outreach programmes. She further honed her skills in project management at Luto Research, gaining experience in user testing. Conveniently, Amber’s passion lies in health literacy and she is committed to creating resources that consider age, ability, and education levels. She is a talented project manager and problem solver, ensuring key insights from clients and patients are effectively implemented throughout the creative process. In her spare time, Amber enjoys Netflix binges and keeping up with current events – tapping into her sociology degree – in between learning Spanish. If she had to decide the thing she loves most in the world, it would have to be her rescue dog, Molly.

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