Human purpose is the catalyst for better healthcare communications

How creativity helps providers, patients and carers

The rate of medical discovery is increasing exponentially, technologies that previously existed only in science fiction are now a reality, and the vast potential of data has finally been unlocked. The future of healthcare is exciting, and patient outcomes will improve. But by how much and how far will be based on our work as a creative community. The reality of the best and most advanced treatments making their way to patients across the globe depends on our ability to raise awareness, drive education and ensure universal adoption.

Not long ago, we were suffocated by #BadPharma and the historic conduct of our industry. We were guilty of championing our pills, our commercial success, our self-importance. As such, we were dismissed by the brightest creative talent, who instead chose to advertise the latest fashions, lifestyles, must-haves.

During the last decade, we have made incredible progress to change the behaviors, philosophies and ambitions of the pharma community, and as such, external perceptions. Human purpose is our priority, making a meaningful difference the catalyst to attract the most empathetic, the most passionate and the most brilliant creatives to our cause. Those who deny tradition, champion change and demand more.

Our job is to transform healthcare professionals (HCPs) into innovators, so they are the rule versus the exception. Ensure patients are educated and engaged—activists for their own health and that of others. Help unpaid carers to become project managers of care and the champions their loved ones need.

Every year, we see tens of thousands of HCPs retire to be replaced with a new breed of digital natives. For millennial HCPs, scientific knowledge remains the foundation of their profession. But as you would expect, their ability to use technology has transformed how they operate. The concept of learning via a textbook is now archaic, yet some of the best science is still hidden behind overwhelming reports, publications and data. To better support HCPs in this world, we need to leverage the latest technologies to ensure that for the right patient, at the right time, they have the right information. We also need to recognize the evolution in their characteristics. Today’s physician is more open to collaboration, many of them now harbor entrepreneurial tendencies, and, like wider society, they are visually conditioned. As we learned at Cannes, pharma can no longer celebrate our creativity, we need to deliver creativity for good powered by human purpose.

As part of my research series, I published a white paper Smiles That Save Lives, which explores the vital role of creativity on the subjective well-being of patients. Google discusses winning the moments that matter, and we need to do the same in healthcare. We need to make sure patients feel supported in the broadest sense, and that they are part of their solution. Engaged and empowered patients are the influencers. They are the heart of the community and broader crowd. They are critical in the credibility and cascade of information to the global community. For too long we have failed to connect with many of our patients. The clichéd smiling patient has been the easy solution. Today we must build partnerships at an emotional level, with understanding, empathy and human insight.

The third group we must consider is the “invisible army” of healthcare—carers. In the U.S., the value provided by informal caregivers—families, friends, neighbors—was estimated to be $470 billion in 2013, and increasing. Unpaid carers are the glue that holds healthcare systems together. To doctors they are the partners turning treatment plans into reality; for pharma companies they are the catalyst to success; and for patients they are everything. To unlock the true potential of carers, we must broaden our focus. We must tell better, more relevant, readily understandable human stories to ensure there is a true information exchange between the HCP, patient and carer, so that carers become the advocate patients so desperately need.

Purpose, empathy, humanity have always been the foundations of healthcare. It must now also be the building blocks of our communications.

Why your gran’s not too old to be a millennial

In May Havas Lynx released its Generation Now website and white paper, a multimedia investigation into the impact of the millennial healthcare professional (mHCP). Speaking at the launch event, I defined millennials by their attitudes, behaviours and ambitions, not their date of birth.

Certainly, they’re ambitious, entrepreneurial and socially conscious individuals, who like to work iteratively and collaboratively, They are also digital natives who have grown-up surrounded by an ever-evolving digital landscape and as such live their lives in a constant state of beta.

Undeniably, these characteristics are more common among the millennial age group than any other. These assertions are based upon over a decade of research by Havas Worldwide, who surveyed more than 50,000 adults from around the world in creating their Prosumer Report. In their own research, Havas Lynx spoke to Kristian Webb, a cardiac device specialist who started because he was concerned about the misinformation patients found in the media and online. Webb’s DIY initiative and passion for protecting the wellbeing of others are typical of his millennial age.

However, who’s to say that a Gen X or Baby Boomer couldn’t hold these characteristics too? Indeed, there’s evidence to suggest that more mature generations, who worked away industriously in their youth, may have been inspired by their children’s pursuit of quality of life over career progression. Travel trend studies suggest that 55-year-olds are more likely to take a touring holiday than the traditionally young backpacker demographic, while one in five older people volunteer for two or more charities.

And, according to Havas Lynx’s investigations into the mHCP, there are plenty of examples of professionals who fall outside of the millennial age-range but possess their traits. Take Dr Jack Kreindler, for example; a medical technologist and investor, whose career demonstrates the sort of diversity and push for progress (not just progression) typical of a millennial, despite him being a touch mature to be strictly classed as one. Kreindler paid his way through medical school by working as an IT consultant, before progressing to A&E, specialising in high-altitude medicine, and eventually founding a sport-science-based practice, while also investing in practices driven by machine learning.

Pharma should be excited about engaging mHCPs, but it should also be prepared for change. This is a dynamic group of professionals, set on shaking things up and doing things their way. Moreover, it’s a generation who are influencing those who came before them as well as those who will follow, in an era when technology is empowering all; from clinician to carer, from grandma to grandson. As such, it might be time that our own definitions of generational characteristics exist in a constant state of beta too.

• For more information on Havas Lynx’s investigation into the impact of the millennial HCP on our world, go to Here you’ll find the Generation Now whitepaper, as well as keynote speeches, blog posts, podcasts, and video interviews from a range of contributors and leading experts.

Know-why is better than know-how

As young children, most of us will have taunted our parents with one incessant line of questioning: ‘why?’ Such persistent inquisitiveness is perhaps curbed somewhat as we grow a little older and learn a little more, but the instinct to probe for cause and reason should never be forgotten or dismissed as childish curiosity. It’s the founding principle of all good design.

childish curiosity

A client’s first question is often ‘what can you do?’ An account manager may ask their designers ‘how can you do this?’ However, long before either of these questions can be answered, a thorough understanding of the end-user’s underlying needs and motivations is required. You should know these users like you know your friends, appreciating their quirks, ticks and habits.

You must understand how your users behave and, of course, why. A deep empathy for the
people you’re designing for is the cornerstone of delivering user-centred designs that make a real difference to people’s lives. UX (User Experience) is a term that is sometimes misused, misunderstood and even feared, though there is no need for this to be the case. It’s simply the matter of knowing who you’re designing for, what their needs are and ensuring that what you’re doing meets these needs. In healthcare, we should always envisage the end-user as being the patient. Whatever surrounding stakeholders we deal with, whatever the means of delivery, the output must always have a positive impact on the lives of patients.

The above is an extract from HAVAS LYNX white paper: Designing Human experiences – Applying science to the creative process to improve lives

HAVAS LYNX are partnering with eyeforpharma at the Barcelona summit, 18-20 March 2014. At the event, we will be hosting a workshop on UX: The key to unlocking ROI. The LYNX team will take you through the techniques you need to deliver compelling experiences that make a difference. We will show you that UX covers more than you think, can cost less than you expect, and that it is more important than anything else.