EU healthcare communicators weigh-in on engagement

There is no doubt that the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is embracing and also seeking to understand the meaning of healthcare engagement in a digital world.

On the 15th April 2010, communicators from a number of Europe-based organisations came together at the London Hilton to ‘deep-dive’ into the strategies and lessons obtained through the [intlink id=”hes2010-winners” type=”post”]winners of the 2010 Healthcare Engagement Strategy Awards[/intlink], announced earlier this year. You may wish to view slides and an e-book from this seminar.

Representatives of Johnson & Johnson, Benenden Healthcare Society, Langland, Napp Pharmaceuticals, the NHS, Systagentix, the MHRA, Pfizer, Doctors.net.uk, BMJ Publishing Group, Bupa, PSL Group, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Creation Healthcare all shared best practice knowledge with each other through group discussion and breakout groups; also examining some of the practical considerations of two-way engagement.

A key theme for 2010, recurring in the group’s observations, is the changing needs and expectations of empowered patients, consumers and healthcare professionals who use the Internet with an interest in health.

As Burak Borahan of Systagenix put it, “Empowering patients is going to become more fundamental for healthcare in general, and also connecting and bridging that gap between healthcare and physicians, and using online as a channel for doing that.”

John Pugh of Boehringer Ingelheim explains that the ‘future’ of healthcare engagement is actually happening right now, because “Across the whole spectrum of stakeholders, whether that be hospitals or payers or patient groups – the focus is very much on engagement and upon sharing, learning, talking, dialogue, and creating this fantastic ecosystem of connections, and really learning from each other. I think engagement is only going to get better, and better, and better.”

Empowered patients means a paradigm shift for the way services are funded. Ryan Edwards of the NHS made the point that “Increasingly they [patients] will have a real sway in the way that healthcare is delivered, and ultimately, the money will be attached to the patient. If they’re not happy with their healthcare choices, they’ll have a range of providers to choose from so I think it will mean that we will all have to sharpen up our engagement we have with people. Because if they are not happy, they’ll move.”

For Andrew Widger of Pfizer the real opportunity is about understanding how and when it is appropriate to engage; “It’s evident that our customers are engaging in this area. There are networks of healthcare professionals, there are also networks of patients; we just have to find the most appropriate way of engaging with those audiences and delivering the right message, but really being mindful that this is about engagement – and that is a two-way street. It’s not just about getting our marketing out to them, but it is about listening, taking their feedback, engaging them in the process of working towards better health outcomes.”

Please enjoy the following video where several of these participants explain what they found most valuable about the day, continuing on to explain how they see healthcare engagement for 2010.

Paul Grant

Paul Grant is Healthcare Engagement Strategist with global consultancy Creation Healthcare, where he leads digital behaviour research studies and advises healthcare clients on engagement strategies. He has been providing strategic insight solutions and professional services to the world's leading biopharmaceutical and healthcare organizations, helping them to find appropriate pathways to engagement within regulatory frameworks.