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Here’s to all the bright sparks

‘Light bulb’ moments that changed healthcare forever

Ed_HudsonIt’s all too easy to take medicine and healthcare for granted nowadays. We pop to the doctors for a course of antibiotics, for example. Or we have an elderly relative who is fitted with a brand-new knee. Perhaps our cousin breaks her wrist and has a free X-ray at her local hospital. It all seems so normal, doesn’t it? As if it’s always been this way.

Sometimes, however, it’s worth taking a moment or two to remember how all these inspiring developments, discoveries and inventions came to be - and how they have transformed so many lives over the years. So let’s jump into our DeLorean, power up the Flux capacitor and visit a handful of the pivotal moments in medicine throughout history.

Flashes of inspiration that last forever

Let’s begin in 1525, when Frenchman Jean Fernel invented the first wearable pedometer. And you thought your Fitbit was cutting edge? Moving forward to 1628: William Harvey is the first person to explain precisely how blood is pumped around the body by the heart.

In 1796 Edward Jenner invented a vaccine for smallpox, although at first his theories were ridiculed and discounted for being too ‘revolutionary’. Undaunted, he continued with his research until his published results were eventually accepted. Thereafter the vaccine was widely used, saving countless millions of lives. Reports of Jenner dancing around saying ‘I told you so’ are unfounded.

Inspiration struck Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895 when he discovered the X-ray after producing electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range. While in 1928, a certain Scottish bacteriologist grew fixated by mould accidentally growing on a set of culture dishes. His name was Alexander Fleming and what he found was, of course, penicillin. And 1948 marked what is perhaps the biggest moment in healthcare for the population. The UK’s National Health Service was founded. It may have its critics today, but where would we be without it?

An English ophthalmologist by the name of Harold Ridley invented the intraocular lens and pioneered lens surgery in 1949. His groundbreaking work has brought clarity to cataract patients the world over. The next year, in 1950, John Hopps turned the world of cardiology upside down when he invented the pacemaker. The first pacemaker implant took place just a few years later in 1958.

In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick published a paper detailing what is now regarded as the first correct double-helix model of DNA structure in the journal Nature. And so opened the door to the study of how genetic codes are passed on from generation to generation. They went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for their incredible work.

The swinging sixties was a time for sexual liberation and abandonment (apparently). It’s lucky then that in 1964 Frank Colton pioneered the world’s first commercially available oral contraceptive and made the earth move for all! The next decade saw the invention of CAT scans by Robert Ledley in 1975. A biomedical researcher and keen computing trailblazer, Ledley developed a scanner that could capture cross-sections of a patient’s body with more clarity than a traditional X-ray.

In 1986, French cardiologists Puel and Sigwart implanted the very first coronary stent to maintain blood supply to diseased hearts. Then in 2012 there was welcome news for long-term sufferers of knee conditions. Smith & Nephew launched Journey II BCS, the first Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) to truly replicate the human knee, offering unmatched motion, durability and function.

What extraordinary milestones they all are, made even more remarkable when you consider that, at the time, what these people were suggesting was ‘left-field’ or ‘whacky’ to say the least. Yet their dogged determination never failed them and today they all take their place as valuable contributors to the healthcare we know today.

All eyes to the future

So what of the future? Well, there are staggering advances being made as we speak. In Korea the first 3D printed heel bone has been implanted. While the University of Washington has designed the most biometric artificial hand ever. The truth is that healthcare is changing and transforming faster than we’ve ever seen before. The huge technological and material leaps we’re making mean what was once science fiction is now very much science fact.

Will healthcare marketing keep up?

For dedicated healthcare marketing agencies like ours, the race is on to keep pace with this aggressive progress. After all, healthcare marketing has never been so, dare we say it, important. It plays a huge part in informing both the medical industry and the public of new developments.

It’s a responsibility that carries with it a considerable amount of pressure. For instance, it may be the biggest medical breakthrough of the past ten years, but if the marketing is bad then the message won’t get ‘out there’ in the most effective way.

Go creative or go home

Look at how cluttered the healthcare marketplace is. It can be a bun fight with endless organisations vying for the attention of your audience. If you don’t stand out with clear, concise and creative messaging, then the genius of what you’re selling might go unnoticed. And it’s only going to get more competitive.

Enter compelling marketing storytelling. Or the attention-grabbing visual.  Or the beautifully seductive proposition. Or the hard-hitting fact. In other words, ‘The Big Idea’.

Just as Fleming had his eureka moment staring into a petri dish, or Watson and Crick were struck by a bolt of lightning as they pondered DNA, marketing is also founded on that moment of inspiration. That spark of something big, when the stars align and you realise that you could solve the marketing riddle you have in front of you. Are we sounding too self-important? Maybe, but we hope not; we’re well aware of our place in the world. Of course, no one ever died because of bad marketing. But we believe good marketing could help save lives.

A trend to watch out for

So how will these big ideas look tomorrow, next month or next year? In the ever-transforming world we must be ready to embrace different ways of getting our message across. The way we communicate needs to be ahead of the curve and as progressive as the things we are selling.

We see new trends coming through all the time. Perhaps the biggest will be creativity and technology working together more closely than ever before. Could we see a dramatic increase in virtual reality experiences, with users being invited into deep and engaging role play to demonstrate a product or service? Hey Mr Cardiologist, want to try implanting the latest cardiac stent? Just put the headset on and away you go. Does that seem far-fetched? Well, so did the smallpox vaccination.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Despite the challenges of the shifting landscape, we are in a very privileged position - all the hard work has already been done by the physicians, chemists, clinicians, technologists, scientists, engineers and professors. It is their genius that has created something remarkable. Sometimes life-changing, sometimes world-changing. But always fresh, new and exciting.

Our job now and in the future is alarmingly simple; get the message out that really matters to people who matter too. Whether that’s the busy surgeon, the cautious GP, the protective hospital administrator, the under pressure pharmaceutical financial director - everyone involved with healthcare has a different agenda. And we, as marketeers, need to know how to talk to them and how to influence them. It’s not brain surgery. Unless, of course, we’re talking to a brain surgeon.

From creating campaigns around the latest intraocular lens to promoting a new dissolvable magnesium scaffold for vascular intervention. Or marketing revolutionary total knee replacements to defining new cures for depression… The future of healthcare is a wonderful place.

Ed Hudson is managing director of Create Health

Article by
In association with

Create Health

12th May 2017

From: Healthcare

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