A new healthcare universe has been expanding with strategic household branding, omnipresent metahealth and genuine soul at the heart of it
Lockdown. Vaccines. Quarantine. Digital therapeutics. Social distancing. In less than 24 months, these terms (along with many others) moved from scarcely uttered to headline-grabbing vocabulary.
The once-secluded healthcare industry has arguably enjoyed more limelight in the last two years than it has in the preceding 50, as the sector takes centre stage in terms of demand and innovation. One example of this is highlighted in recent reports revealing how telehealth use has increased 38-fold from pre-COVID times, while venture funding for the sector has tripled.
You‘re probably thinking, ‘big numbers, so what?’
I applaud the broad healthcare industry leaders and practitioners for their resilience in the last two years – tackling new perspectives, deciding on what will be transient vs. sustained and the critical role of brand purpose in expediting the often-arduous decision-making process. Even now, with the accelerated progression in this traditionally measured industry, these leaders are looking to get ahead of the trends, understand what they mean for the industry, pre-empt the next big thing and build better towards it.
Taking cue from Albert Einstein’s book about understanding the future by looking to the past, here’s what we can expect to see from the healthcare industry and what pandemic living meant for healthcare leaders.
For some businesses, however, this posed an opportunity to lead with a genuine purpose to drive decision-making and communicate positive impact to customers strategically. Brands like Daiichi Sankyo remained uncompromised when it came, not only building collaborations to develop cancer treatments, but also in intensifying efforts to launch an indigenous COVID booster in Japan. Pandemic or not.
There is a pathway to metahealth in the metaverse. Although 5G has not been rolled out widely enough for the metaverse to really exist yet, the 2020’s boom in healthcare digital transformation facilitated opportunities for increased efficiency and innovation. On this note, Saudi German Health has already introduced enterprise mobility and precision-based robotic surgery.
Leading with the heart becomes the beat of company culture. According to Boots, ‘what the world needs now is love, sweet love’. With many families and individuals deprived of vital human contact during the crisis, Boots’ #PrescribeKindness campaign was a much-needed drive that emphasised the critical importance of empathy and a softer human-centric approach.
Speaking to the hashtag, Chief Marketing Officer Pete Markey thought it “… felt like just where we wanted to go.” Fortunately, the global sentiments today around kindness have stuck and, in turn, expectations in healthcare services have shifted. While medical and scientific expertise is as important as ever, so is the need for compassion.
The future of individualised patient care is upon us. With increasing digital adoption, a proliferation of single healthcare ecosystems and shifting consumer expectations, patients now receive care based on what matters to them and their individual needs.
Projects like ‘Medical Home’ by Piedmont Healthcare empower patients and their families to take charge of their own healthcare. For the non-profit’s CMO, Douwe Bergsma, healthcare has become more integrated. He said: “We’re expanding the communities in Georgia that we serve as well as growing technology that allows us to serve regardless of footprint.”
As more brands adapt to this changing landscape, consumers and patients can now look to a future of personalised experience points in the healthcare ecosystem.
As with Pfizer’s global collaboration agreement with BioNTech to develop the first mRNA-based shingles vaccine, Senior Launch Navigator VP for Pfizer, Deborah Scarano states: “We will learn from what we’ve done with the vaccine, to be able to do that with other life-saving or critical medicines.” It’s not impossible to expect more of these types of collaborations across the industry in the near future. In fact, this will become the norm to stay ahead of the game. Together.
Brands became nimbler, shaving off bureaucratic red tape, building collaborations, optimising funding and offering more personalised service delivery. Advancements in technology facilitated these changes and will continue to do so in the future. And like other industries, healthcare will see more disruption in the industry, including from stakeholders traditionally outside the sector.
While we cannot wait for another black swan event to get our act together, brands and governments – irrespective of sector or borders – must think beyond politicisation and personal interests to tackle the brand challenges of our times: keeping momentum, addressing customer needs, incorporating technology and, ultimately, improving humankind.