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Measurement: It's time to get with the real world

Dennis O'BrienWe've known for years how important it is to exercise, to manage the amount of calories we eat and to sleep well. Over the last five years, we have been bombarded with a wealth of digital solutions that tell us how many steps we're doing, how many calories we're eating and if we're getting a good night's sleep. The idea is that these things will ultimately change our behaviour and improve our health. And they do.

There is no doubt that technology is making its way into our world of healthcare communications. It will bring more empowerment to patients to help them understand their conditions better. It will also enable us to improve measurement and help healthcare professionals understand a patient's disease and the effects of treatment better. It will also enable us to understand if our medicines, services or education are improving outcomes for patients. It will provide a wealth of data: which patients respond best and when, and how they're doing while at home. Moving forward, the FDA and other health authorities will take more interest in real-world data than in clinical-trial data.

Real-world metrics
If we're honest with ourselves, our real-world metrics are still in development. Most of our work is to drive the uptake of medicines, or the awareness of medicines, with limited activities to improve patient outcomes or service configuration.

It is time to demonstrate the value of our medicines and the value of our communication programmes in the real world. As Shaun Smith and Andy Milligan explain in their book, On Purpose, purposeful leadership is about setting a goal that goes beyond the sales picture and the organisation, and demonstrates a difference to our customer's lives. This means going beyond 'we're going to be the number-one brand in cardiology' to 'we're going to improve the lives of patients with ischaemic heart disease'. Furthermore, as Shaun and Andy say, it is important to always anchor every programme and initiative that supports the brand to that goal.

We need to go beyond our internal goals to think about how we can improve outcomes and make sure all our programmes anchor to that

Examples that show it works
There are some great examples in our industry. Examples where organisations have committed to changing a treatment paradigm that's grounded in evidence, have improved referral pathways or have worked alongside each other in a particular area to improve services, referrals and prescribing, and have demonstrated improved patient outcomes. For all of these programmes, we need a strong strategic purpose alongside a willingness to not always focus on our brand.

At Lucid, we're always talking about making a contribution and a change to healthcare. Our metrics have evolved. Where once the industry used to think the number of delegates was a good metric, combined with the level of satisfaction, we now know that this isn't enough. If we're going to engage with technology in years to come, we need to get used to thinking about change and outcomes.

In recent years, we've worked with some really ambitious clients and we've created programmes where we have been able to demonstrate that healthcare professionals want to change their behaviour, that they have changed and that this change has improved patient outcomes. This has been without any special technology. We have created these programmes by engaging strategic clients and experts, while ensuring we don't lose sight of what our purpose is. We've measured perceived behaviour, actual behaviour and patient outcomes. What we've realised is: if you're clear about the outcome, you can prioritise the behaviours needed to improve care and then make sure the programme affects these changes. We'll feel well-placed when the technology arrives, because it will only make our job easier.

Can you imagine being able to demonstrate that your brand generates better real-world outcomes than anything else? And not just the medicine, but also the service you provide through your patient education and medical communications?

So how do we do it?
It's not difficult. But it does require a change in thinking, as well as a strategic relationship with clients who trust us to build great programmes that match the value of their brand to patient outcomes. The measurement is actually simple once you've established the strategic goal.
Technology is exciting. But let's not wait for it before getting in the mindset of measuring patient outcomes for our programmes and services.

Contact Dennis O'Brien at Lucid on +44 (0)1494 755712, via or visit

In association with Lucid

7th March 2016

From: Marketing



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