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The quantum jump in the digitisation of healthcare is a game changer for equitable healthcare post-pandemic. Healthcare in the palm of your hand has both opportunities and challenges and challenges in ensuring empowerment of all external stakeholders, especially patients.
Given the complexity of the sector, how do communicators approach digital healthcare?
To discuss this and the exponential rise in public interest in health and science, PRmoment India and Avian WE bring you the PULSE TALK series of health dialogues.
Episode two covered Digital healthcare in India, communication approaches.
The panel included:
- Usha Iyer, director, external communications, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories
- Shipra Singh, head of communications for GE Healthcare South Asia
- Catherine Devaney, deputy MD and Head of Health, UK, WE Communications
- Masooma Pathre, director - Communications, Emerging Markets (India, IndoChina, Frontier Markets and Thailand), Medtronic
- Karishma Saran, Senior Manager, Advocacy and Communications-FIND.
Digital Health and health seeking behaviour.
Setting the context of why digital healthcare has exponentially jumped, Chandra Ramakrishnan, group business director, healthcare practice, Avian WE said, "We could see digital mediums providing that much needed connect during the pandemic. Patients could be monitored through remote care, through various mediums that could help doctors help provide care for both COVID and non COVID critical patients as well."
Ramakrishnan also added, "It was not just about doctors and patients, whether we see, you know, whether it was testing whether it was diagnosis, whether it was you know, communications or whether it was medication, and vaccinations also almost we saw digital means coming into collection of samples, analysis, you know, diagnosis and of course, registration of the public. We saw portals being used by the government of India as well. So, a lot of economic value has been created during this time from digital innovation models and data driven technologies. And we are here to discuss what is this massive behaviour change?
How can we leverage this further, people are much more aware now that they want to be healthy. They need to go for health checkups, vaccinations, for instance, has a positive response from so many of us, we are ready to take it if it will keep us disease free and infection free. So what is it that you know, we can leverage today and you know, what can we learn from what has happened in the last 22 months?"
Digital communication campaigns tailored to match audiences across rural and urban
Masooma Pathre, director - Communications, Emerging Markets (India, IndoChina, Frontier Markets and Thailand), Medtronic stressed that as treatment becomes more personalised, it's becoming even more key to be conscious of how we are communicating.
Pathre shared that, "We have to also understand that what works in urban may not work in rural also. And I think that's something that every organisation or realises now, if you talk about, say Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, we are the diabetes capital of the world.
We recently did this very simple campaign for the blue balloon campaign for diabetes awareness, you know, where you keep on bouncing the blue balloon and do your daily work. Now, something like that, I cannot do it, I can only do that in a digital world with the urban audience, not in rural India, or where with type two diabetes, the patients cannot really afford those pumps and the monitors, you obviously have to work with various organisations, at the at the grassroot level, and provide these equipments or work with those, you know, those partners there. So I think, as communicators, we definitely our definition of target audience is very essential and accordingly, the communication changes."
Dr Usha Iyer, director, external communications, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, ", You have different stakeholders as a pharmaceutical company, you have doctors, you have your field colleagues out in the field, you have partners, you have regulators who play a part, your approach to each one of them has also changed during the pandemic.
AI, ML in pharma processes part of the digital healthcare revolution
Dr Iyer added, "Therefore, embedding technology, automation in your R&D processes, AI and ML embedding them in your manufacturing processes in your supply chain processes. It is all relevant and all of it can come under digital healthcare from a pharmaceutical industry perspective.
So given all of this, I think that the one trend that I would root for is going to be a very unsexy and glamorous answer is just evolving a deeper understanding of all of this, from a company perspective, from a sector perspective. And from a communication perspective, I would say, study the evolving landscape, develop deeper capabilities, develop a deeper understanding of how all of this gamut of things can help us work with and serve our stakeholders better starting, of course, with patients.
All of us keep saying that we are here to meet unmet patient needs. And certainly there is a very big opportunity here."
Share of mind, not voice
Shipra Singh, head of communications for GE Healthcare South Asia talked about the rising responsibility of healthcare communications, commenting that, "When you look at communications for healthcare, there is no share of voice game. The only game that's there is the share of mind game. Because as communicators, we really need to believe and respect the philosophy of influencing perceptions, which means that you are in it for the long haul. What are we going to do is taking a step back and asking, why are we doing what we're doing? And why should we be going out and making that commitment to telling that story? If we answer the why I think the credibility and responsibility follows."
The Data question
As capturing of data rises, how should the world set in safety rails for the sharing of such sensitive data.
Karishma Saran, senior manager, advocacy and communications-FIND said, "The big issue remains, ensuring the safety of the data. Currently, there are no data protection, standard frameworks, and globally agreed rules for sharing of data across countries. So I think that is something that is critical going forward. From a diagnosis point of view, as we're using digital technologies more, we're gathering more data. And this data is very, very critical and important for surveillance purposes. So even the new variants of COVID that are being detected are all through surveillance and genomic sequencing technologies that have been set up. And this data is being shared in real time across countries. So I think we really need to advocate to the WHO and other such international organisations to put standards in place that all countries can adopt."
Educating the healthcare workers in digital health
Taking the discussion forward, Catherine Devaney, deputy MD and Head of Health, UK, WE Communications said, "I just wanted to share some statistics from a piece of research that we did with one of our clients, Boehringer Ingelheim, and an organisation called Orca, which is it's the world's leading independent digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. So really well placed to kind of partner with to look at some of the challenges of digital transformation within healthcare.
And we surveyed innovators, so people who were trying to get their products used within our NHS. And of those surveyed 86% didn't believe that health care providers have the resources and the confidence to access, use and recommend digital health technologies.
So we've talked about the need to educate and engage patients. But there's also a big need, certainly within our system to make sure that healthcare professionals have the education and the confidence to use whatever brilliant innovations are coming down the line. So I think yeah, to summarise, for me, it some of it is about having a policy, but there's a huge amount about education, and that's great for us as communicators, because that sits firmly within something that we have the ability to really positively impact."
Watch the discussion here:
PULSE TALK is produced by PRmoment India with partner Avian WE.