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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Don’t we all need to be able to change something?


Surely no one plans for a ‘life of easy’, where nothing happens. Easy sounds good, but surely life’s challenges present the opportunity to shine (even fail, with the chance to rise again). But, does having the opportunity to deliver some form of change matter?

It’s presumably why people choose to go it alone and run their own ventures. For many, the thought of very little happening in a day fills them with about as much joy as peddling a tricycle around the Overlook Hotel only to be confronted by the Grady twins.

Apparently, change does matter

Evidence tells us that everyone needs a challenge. Research shows that the act of trying itself is key to satisfaction. Of our core human instincts (anger, fear, panic-grief, maternal care, pleasure, play and seeking), seeking/exploring has its own reward mechanism. There are many studies that reveal the impact that dopamine can have as a neural-reward for process, beyond achievement. Think about the impulse of pulling the bandit arm in a casino. It delivers its own high, before the impending realisation that you’ve lost.

Rat experiments likewise demonstrate the impact of dopamine, where a process searching their surroundings is repeated over and over, even when it results in a brief electric shock. Hopefully, the scientists involved appreciate my extension to the rat race.

So why don’t more people try to change the world? 

Is it that they don’t want the super high that comes with it? Or maybe they need to experience it first to know what it feels like. And do those who do ever achieve a status of feeling fully satisfied? Probably not. The desire to seek and explore explains why awesome achievements (like winning the lottery) fail to lead to a long-term improvement in happiness. We love the thrill of the chase as an end in itself.

How can we achieve change in health?

In the healthcare industry, there are always opportunities for change. After all, health isn’t fixed. Arguably, right now it’s fundamentally broken. Or at least, upside down. Why are we focused more on repair than protect in the first place? And given that we are, why are patients not the genuine focus of our efforts more often?

From our perspective, we realise that changing existing health practices requires changes in individual and collective behaviour. Changing that behaviour requires an understanding of the influences on key stakeholder behaviour in the context in which they occur, before being able to execute the right intervention. By using published evidence supporting behavioural theories to inform an approach, changes can be achieved.

As a group, this is what our three agencies are doing:

  • Decoding the drivers of current behaviour to determine the correct strategy for intervention
  • Designing powerful ideas that can compel patient or professional audiences to engage
  • Deploying programmes that deliver effective intervention to elicit the components of change we seek.

Our proposition for clients is about looking at things in new ways, exploring new ideas for changing behaviour on physician prescribing habits and health habits of Joe Public in general. And while none of us think that health will ever get ‘fixed’ to a point where we can say health is done, real progress is possible.

The innate desire to challenge the status quo in health means that many of us can never rest. We will never be done. But we might just get high trying.

Want to change something? Get in touch.

Craig Mills is Group Managing Director at Frontera Group

Craig Mills is Group Managing Director at Frontera Group

18th November 2019

From: Marketing



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