It is no secret that technology is transforming every facet of healthcare.  The most profound result by far is the transparency, accessibility, and  amplification of information on therapeutic areas allowing patients, physicians, insurance providers, device makers, and facilities with the means to better understand, treat, and prevent disease.  For communications professionals, this new era is forcing a complete rethinking of our role and value in a dynamic now controlled by external audiences.  Gone are the days of a prescriptive culture where information was doled out sparingly across the healthcare spectrum and communications was controlled by pharma organizations and physicians.

Today, the game, so to speak, is being played at the edges with patients dictating the relationship throughout the healthcare system with the impending rise of personal genomic data leading to the decoding of DNA and the rise of new treatments.  Given this move from prevention to regeneration and the increase in extending human life, relationships, engagement, and expectations must be recalibrated.

As a major marketing communications firm involved with healthcare since its inception, we believe there are four critical, strategic questions that must be addressed by healthcare professionals including communications, and organizations now that will direct how the future unfolds:

  1. How do you manage expectations in an era that will extend life expectancy?
  2. What is the new efficacy for pharma companies to manage public health vs. treating symptoms?
  3. What are the moral and social implications as medicine moves to performance enhancement?
  4. How can you build and nurture relationships throughout the healthcare continuum in a digital era via mobile and wearables?

Answers to these questions will determine if communications will accelerate the new landscape making sense of it to key audiences and driving new behaviors or be viewed as a tactical means to just conveying information.  The former will involve a deeper comprehension of influence, analytics, strategy formulation, and opinion formation not to mention relevance.

The truth is that every business and profession must adopt a completely different mindset including purpose and values to compete successfully in the future.  Social commerce and digital business have upended traditional conventions in healthcare including a prescriptive culture.  Today, unorthodox conventions are taking hold and the demands of patients, physicians, customers, employees, manufacturers, and the like are dictating the relationship.

In addition to the aforementioned operational and business model changes, the impact of technology on communications, media, and marketing in the healthcare field is nothing short of transformational.

As such, will we be ready?

Moving forward, healthcare will no longer be about “care.”

Rather, it will be about “health.”