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Tracking communications trends in healthcare

By Ken Deutsch and Diane Wass

While there is a wide array of tools we can use to track communication trends in healthcare, the challenge is to derive messaging and targeting insights that can inform future public health and/ or disease-specific campaigns.

A recent striking narrative example we analysed to glean learnings from was ‘flatten the curve’ for COVID-19. It was first used online on 27 February by the US-based publication Scientific American, which historically has a typically more scientificorientated audience, but also sparked interest in a small number of reporters worldwide. On 28 February, the UK-based Economist also used the term ‘flatten the curve’, along with the now internationally recognised chart making a jump across the Atlantic to Europe. Following only a few posts over the next few days, two key events on 6 March kickstarted an online acceleration. A story appeared on Vox that helped drive the conversation into social media and Carl Bergstrom, University of Washington, posted a tweet from the Economist, focusing on the power of the #FlattenTheCurve image.

Our historic data shows that Bergstrom is highly influential in the online medical research community and indeed, clinicians started sharing these posts on #MedTwitter. A day later, Eric Topol, the most influential healthcare professional on social media, also highlighted the narrative and ‘the chart’ in his own post. Over the next few days, the hashtag #FlattenTheCurve grew exponentially within medical audiences and the Economist article started reaching wider public audiences too.

On 11 March, The New York Times covered the story and included ‘the chart’. Within a single day, the chart and the expression began echoing within news media and social media platforms across the entire world.

So what can we learn?

  1. Visual imagery and concepts can be very impactful when making complex health messages simple.
  2. We need to go beyond social listening to understand the connections between different stakeholder audiences and key influencers in order reach target audiences rapidly.
  3. We live in a global community where messages do not respect geographical boundaries, much like the health issues we are tackling.

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

In association with

28th May 2020

From: Marketing

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