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Healthcare communications – adapting to ‘the new normal’

by Diane Wass and Ken Deutsch

After the initial shock of ‘lockdown’, many in the healthcare communications industry realised we had been preparing for a move to a virtual work environment, online communications and telehealth for years.

However, the trajectory had dramatically accelerated. The move to virtual spaces, from team meetings to international advisory boards and congresses, happened overnight. It even brought positive benefits, such as securing high profile speakers, who normally would not have the time to take part, and increasing meeting accessibility for delegates.

We also saw a breakdown in the barriers between different health audiences. Through mapping the health conversation leveraging social network analysis, we saw communication pathways open up as healthcare professionals who used to focus on their own specialities increased their collaboration with professionals outside their normal networks. Policymakers, media and the public all interacted on health issues, changing the shape and pattern of communications.

WHO and CDC even started to compete with the media as primary sources cited by influencers. COVID-19 was creating a framework for a far more efficient transmission of public health messaging, not just in infectious disease, but across a range of disease areas.

However, although technology gave rise to an acceleration of connectivity and receptivity in many audiences, we saw that this was not always equal and had potential to leave some sections of our society behind. Health and education disparities were apparent, with many children, for example, being left out of home-schooling while others embraced online lessons, and telehealth simply being inaccessible for some demographics.

As healthcare communicators it is our job to ensure no person is left behind and as we move forward it is essential that we work with partners such as patient advocacy groups and community-based organisations and provide offline education opportunities to ensure we reach all audiences in a way that is meaningful for them.

As we adapt to the ‘new norm’ in healthcare communications we should continue to harness the new online connectivity, but not forget we still need a multimodality approach of reaching audiences, using a range of online and offline approaches and strategies to reach all people in need across society.

Diane Wass is Managing Director and Ken Deutsch is Head of Research & Insights, both at JPA Health

In association with

28th June 2021

From: Marketing

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