Importance of Data in Patient-centric Communications

Insights from the Reuters Patient-Centricity Conference

I recently “attended” the virtual Reuters Patient-Centricity conference. It was refreshing to spend three days with like-minded people across the healthcare industry, laser-focused on how we can continue to place patients and their needs at the center of all we do. The conference agenda covered nearly every aspect of the patient journey – from research and development, to designing clinical trials, to the impact of COVID-19, to the most effective ways to reach and engage patient communities.

One of the themes I found particularly energizing was how the industry is using data to better understand the needs and nuances of patient communities, and, in turn, the most impactful ways to engage and service them. At W2O, leveraging data and analytics to help make the world a healthier place is in our DNA. I’m grateful to be able to see first-hand how meaningful data can be, and one of my favorite parts of my job is translating data-derived insights into meaningful marketing communications. One example that comes to mind is a W2O client that was looking to better understand, and thus better target, people with cystic fibrosis in order to drive clinical trial recruitment. Our analytics and data team created SocialGraphics segmentation, which allowed us to look at members of the community as both patients and people. With this approach, W2O could target beyond the cystic fibrosis community’s general interests. Using Facebook’s affinity targeting, we then matched the top interests from our SocialGraphics segments with Facebook targeting inputs and activated separate Facebook and Instagram campaigns targeted to specific interests. The result? SocialGraphics targeting outperformed traditional efforts, and the insights gleaned were pulled through to other activities.

During the conference, Tara Hastings, Senior Associate Director, Research Partnerships & Patient Engagement, at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, shared how the Foundation is using data to better understand and respond to people living with Parkinson’s disease. Tara noted that their innovative online real-world study, Fox insight, has generated some unexpected results. For example, patients cited pain and fatigue as what’s most bothersome about living with Parkinson’s disease, which isn’t necessarily what they expected. Fox insight also uncovered new language patients are using to describe their most bothersome symptoms during “off” periods. This is an important discovery that the Foundation is using to inform future communications.

Tara’s presentation resonated with me because the staff at The Michael J. Fox Foundation spend 100% of their time focused on the Parkinson’s patient, yet there were still new learnings to be gleaned. It reminds me that we can never stop learning and never stop listening. We must continue to engage patient communities at every step along the way and be truly open to what we learn, even if it isn’t what we want to hear. Ultimately, we need to let the experiences and needs of patients guide us because patient-centricity is central to patient communications and ultimately to the best patient care.


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Michele Schimmel
Michele Schimmel

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