PM360’s Masterclass of Storytelling 2023 Health Union

The Social Health Awards

Health Union

Patient leaders are the driving force of social health—the dynamic, real-time action people take to find meaningful connections and share information that impact the health journey. Their stories and experiences are told in a variety of ways to connect with others. A meaningful use of videos, blogs, websites, and all forms of social media—combined with insightful and powerful stories of their own journeys—are impactful in making a difference, motivating, informing, and empowering others with chronic and complex health conditions.

The powerful stories and meaningful impact on others led Health Union to launch the inaugural Social Health Awards in 2022. Building upon the longtime success and influence of the WEGO Health Awards, the Social Health Awards program recognizes patient and caregiver leaders for their hard work and advocacy.

Goal and Intended Purpose

The goal of the Social Health Awards is to empower and celebrate patients and caregivers who are essential to the ongoing conversations and connections made through social health. In addition to empowering and celebrating, the purpose of the Social Health Awards is to spotlight some of the best examples of health leaders making a significant impact on health journeys at both the individual and community level.

In 2022, Health Union focused on the storytelling aspect of the Social Health Awards, providing patient and caregiver leaders with a life sciences industry-facing platform. Importantly, the awards program exposed the industry to these individuals’ stories—throughout the process and in various, strategic ways—to showcase the power of the patient voice and their ability to make a difference in so many ways.

Storytelling through Social Health Awards Submissions and Nominations

Storytelling drives every aspect of the Social Health Awards, from the submission process to judging to celebrating the winners.

Within the submission process, which occurred from June to July, nominators were asked to explain the story of a health leader who inspires them and how those individuals leverage their stories and perspectives through various social media channels to amplify their voices, advocate for their condition community, and connect with others. The 10 submission categories for 2022 provided the opportunity to showcase different stories that represent the diversity of the patient community and the various forms of advocacy across all conditions and platforms. Those categories were: Advocacy Trailblazer, Best Team, Caregiving Champion, Community Cultivator, Creative Contributor, Healthcare Collaborator, Lifetime Achievement Award, Revolutionary Researcher, Rookie of the Year, and Social Media Master.

Industry Judges Select Most Compelling Stories and Accomplishments

Once the pool of nearly 5,000 nominees was narrowed into a shortlist of six finalists per category, Health Union tapped more than 70 healthcare industry professionals—representing a mix of biopharma, agency, and other life sciences-related backgrounds—to select the winners. In early August, judges reviewed the stories and accomplishments of the 60 finalists and chose winners based on specific criteria, including their use of social health, their fit for the award/category, and how effectively they engage their online community.

Amplifying Stories Through Announcement and Promotion

The 10 Social Health Awards winners were initially announced on Aug. 25 during Connexion, an annual Health Union virtual event that brings patient leaders together to learn, connect, and grow from each other. Following the event, Health Union leveraged a number of storytelling-specific tactics to help further promote the honorees’ stories and amplify their advocacy platforms.

Health Union pitched each of the winners to their hometown media, giving them the opportunity to share their story and gain recognition on a local level. Additionally, each honoree was interviewed by Health Union’s “Living With” podcast and featured in their own episode. During these interviews, which have been published over the following months, the honorees were able to extend the reach and impact of their stories.

One of the Living With podcast interviews with a Social Health Awards honoree.

Reaching the Healthcare Industry Through the Social Health Awards

To elevate the stories and offer dedicated exposure, winners were invited to accept their Social Health Awards on stage at the 2022 Fierce Pharma Marketing Awards Ceremony during the Digital Pharma East conference in October in Philadelphia. At the ceremony, and during the conference, the honorees were able to personally share their stories with industry professionals.

Additionally, two of the Social Health Awards honorees—Elle Cole and Natalie Hayden—were invited to present a keynote, titled “Patient & Caregiver Perspectives: How Pharma Can Take the Chronic Condition Experience to the Next Level,” during Digital Pharma East. In addition to sharing their personal stories and experiences, they were able to further connect with the desired audience by discussing challenges, barriers, and opportunities they’ve experienced around working with the healthcare industry.

Details from the keynote presentation at Digital Pharma East led by Social Health Awards winners Elle Cole and Natalie Hayden.

Health Union posted short videos posted on LinkedIn featuring interviews with each Social Health Awards winner, which extended the reach of their stories to an engaged group of industry professional followers.

The Social Health Awards proved particularly impactful at giving leading industry professionals a deeper understanding of the power of the patient voice and the patient experience.

Of the industry professionals who served as judges, one-fourth were motivated to post on LinkedIn about their participation. These posts led to nearly 1,300 reactions and amplification to countless LinkedIn connections, helping expose a greater portion of the healthcare industry to the Social Health Awards and the winners’ stories.

One of Health Union’s LinkedIn video posts of the Social Health Awards honorees.

The Social Health Awards also helped Health Union reach healthcare marketers with a broader message of the value of social health. For example, as of mid-January, the individual honoree videos posted to Health Union’s LinkedIn have resulted in more than 3,800 views, nearly 8,000 impressions, and an average engagement rate of 5.6%, outperforming the 2% engagement rate considered average across the platform.

The Social Health Awards program embodies the essence and the value of storytelling through social health, which can be adopted by the healthcare industry as a means to reach and engage patients in the moments that matter most, driving impactful health decisions and behaviors.


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