Q&A with Morgan C. Hill, Principal, Scientific Excellence & Strategy Global Medical Communications, at ICON

What inspires you to succeed in your role at ICON?

The impact we can have on patients’ lives is incredibly inspiring – we are the communicators who can convey the value of a therapy by translating raw data around patient outcomes into an easily digestible, at-a-glance snapshot of overall patient experience before- versus after-therapy. We decipher thousands of pages of clinical trial data into a comprehensive story of how, why and how much relief a particular therapy can bring to patients. In doing this, we are extremely fortunate to collaborate with some of the finest minds in medicine, pharmaceuticals, biotech and healthcare.

Why is effective communication particularly important in healthcare?

With the advent of so many easily accessible outlets for information from both experts and non-experts, the risk of misinformation is high. In healthcare, where information is complex and errors can be fatal, effective communication is particularly critical. In this environment, it is increasingly important to maintain data integrity and objective, evidence-driven fact finding.

How do you see the delivery of healthcare messaging evolving?

The world of healthcare messaging is currently evolving faster than ever before, with delivery of those messages driven by a growing need for improved accessibility. Non-specialists such as patients and caregivers are involved in healthcare messaging more now than ever before, necessitating an increased focus on both availability and understandability. Studies of behavioural science and communication preferences have indicated that visual communications (for example, infographics) lead to improved retention, so complex healthcare messages are being re-examined to be conveyed more visually without losing scientific or medical accuracy. Multichannel virtual technologies, which have expanded dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, will also provide a valuable additional dimension to healthcare messaging even after the world can safely return to in-person interactions.

How will ICON ensure it remains at the forefront of communicating healthcare messages and data?

As healthcare communicators, it is our responsibility to embrace and facilitate increased accessibility to evidence-driven communications. For example, we are developing enhanced digital content, in partnership with our clients, to make publications and other communications more visual, more engaging, and easier to digest. This allows us to create and adapt the communication platform for a variety of users, creating enough points of access that people can choose to receive and digest the information in a way that works for them. Similarly, we are partnering with clients to develop research study results into Plain Language Summaries to increase accessibility and enhance interest and appeal to lay audiences.

Where have you made the most significant impact in your career so far?

Our most significant impact is in training, mentoring, and otherwise influencing current and future healthcare communicators to ensure that standards of medical and scientific integrity, responsibility, and transparency are not only maintained, but also able to keep pace with a continuously evolving field.