It’s been another busy, but great year for us as an agency and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve noted in the industry over the past 12 months or so.

Digital and tech is here to stay

We’ve all been talking about the application of digital technology into our marketing and advertising for some time now. What’s clear to me is that it’s here to stay and it should no longer be looked at in isolation of – for want of a better term – “traditional” media.

Essentially, digital is no longer a ‘thing’ – it’s just the way we natively engage with content now, without thinking about it.

Back in August we decided to further explore this and had the pleasure of getting involved in a brand new industry marketing event called TILT. The event brought together some of technology’s brightest minds with healthcare marketing experts. The result was an array of fascinating presentations, discussions and demonstrations of how to use some of today’s tech innovations to meet the needs of healthcare.

Our role as an agency was to really co-create the event with Tania Rowland, Head of Divergent Consulting, who was the driving force behind TILT. We created a brand and positioning for TILT and supported with the content marketing and planning around it, which you can read more about here.

One thing that was striking to me at TILT was the realisation that pure-play technology companies, such as IBM, Phillips and Samsung are making a clear move into healthcare. To me this shows the myriad opportunities in healthcare for such technology, but also the slow start the healthcare industry has made in capitalising on those opportunities.

I think we’ll increasingly see healthcare collaborating with larger tech companies and start-ups to try to catch-up. You can have all of the technology in the world, but you still need the healthcare experts who really understand the audiences and channels we deal in.

More people are discussing the language of health

Healthcare literacy, or the language of health which I think is more accurate phrase, is something I’m really passionate about. It’s also something that more and more healthcare marketers and communicators are talking about.

I recently came across this video from UK-based agency Anatomy Health that really encapsulates one aspect of it: that we can’t assume anything about how much people know and understand about health, particularly from a medical perspective, even with today’s increasing access to information.

Related to this, equipping healthcare professionals with the right support materials to make their lives easier when communicating to their patients is really important. Particularly at point of diagnosis of a serious condition, when people can often lose focus anyway, with so much to take in.

Another key point around the language of health is the level of subjectivity that surrounds it. Everyone feels, describes and discusses aspects of health and wellness in so many different ways. What one person might describe as a cut, another might say it’s a gaping wound. One person might say they’ve got a tummy ache, another might say it’s abdominal cramps. This underlines the importance of not only being able to communicate effectively in healthcare, but also be able to listen and interpret others effectively too.

Print isn’t dead just yet

I wanted to close by reminding you (and myself!) that some of the tried and tested methods of healthcare engagement are still very much alive. We can often get carried away with what’s on-trend and making use of tactics because they’re there, but we should always challenge ourselves to think: who are we targeting and where/how are they most likely to engage.

We ran such a project earlier this year that I’m really proud of. We were asked by one of our clients to adapt a global initiative that had been created in the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) space, for the local market here in NZ. The idea in a nutshell was to provide people living with MS with useful tips to help them get on with their lives. We called them ‘life hacks’.

Because of the physical nature of the condition and indeed some of the life hacks (one of which was using an elastic band to open tight jars and containers), we felt strongly that could work as a print initiative. We discussed a few options, but in the end netted out with a box of postcards that could be provided to nurses to hand out to their patients. Each box was even sealed with a handy elastic band to help with opening those jars.

Our client, the nurses and their patients were thrilled with the result and so were we. And after such an eye-opening year from a technology perspective, it was a great reminder that sometimes a more ‘traditional’ solution works best, depending on exactly what you’re trying to achieve.