Looking at Consumers Through “Retro Glasses?”

Communication is always the heart of great patient care. Yet, the content that makes that conversation meaningful is changing, moment to moment. The pace of innovation—in medicine and technology—pushes consumer expectations higher, and HealthTech is not only creating smart devices, it’s creating smarter, more collaborative patients. Is our industry recognizing that dialogue expectations in the examination room have changed, or looking at consumers through “retro glasses?”

Not long ago, the reigning thinking was that biopharma companies with solid advocacy strategies would be clearly seen among a therapeutic community’s leaders. But now, people with health and wellness concerns are awash in information and anxious to make life-extending and saving decisions: A company’s good listening skills must evolve to a higher level. Medicine and HealthTech are no longer separate disciplines. They are interwoven essentials enabling patients to enter the conversation on drug-to-drug interactions, steel their readiness to challenge restricted formularies, and even remind them to take their medications.

We’ve Reached a Tipping Point

As a younger generation of prescribers and patients push for accessible health technologies—from cloud-based, health-data-storage-enabling record sharing to wearables that transmit heart function, and from AI software that unites real-time diabetes blood glucose meters with precise insulin delivery to much more—we have reached a societal tipping point. Doctors and pharma marketers take heed: When payers incentivize members to use wearables with lower insurance rates, you’ll need to get on the health innovation bandwagon faster, and even seek out ideas and technologies that improve therapeutic outcomes.

Beyond technology, data-driven healthcare, the world of tracking software, machine learning, and precision medicine to improve outcomes push the health ecosystem to embrace ideas that enhance care and drive cost-effective decision-making. Rather than respond to these events, pharma innovators must find a way to incorporate these innovations into their pre-launch and launch strategies.

Consumers see well-being and health as interconnected. Beyond weight and heart rate, they use wearables to collect and share data, track their older parents’ whereabouts and even self-compete to improve health and project it as a status symbol. With this consumer mindset becoming the new SOP, marcomm pros should be asking themselves, “What does this mean for our customer community and category?”

The battle around whether health and HealthTech can find common ground is over. Now the challenge is how brand groups take technology beyond a nifty method to raise awareness. The health economy is about convergence of processes, products, and people, and pharma must now expand its vision of the laboratory to see consumer application as its new holy grail.


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