While healthcare has it’s nuances and regulations that make it its own industry, it’s important to consider how innovations in other fields can transform the way we explore solutions and understand health.
Since 1987, SXSW has ranged in both size and types of industries represented – year after year, panels on healthcare topics seem to grow in number and popularity as technology continues to play an important role in the evolution of patient care. This year, the health theme was certainly in the spotlight, with a number of the official “Health Track” sessions having been moved to the main stage venue of the Austin Convention Center.
In particular, two key focus areas emerged from the get-go: how consumer-driven technology trends can more tangibly be applied to address healthcare needs and what’s in store for the expanding role of technology in shaping the future of patient-centered care. Below we provide insight into a few of these healthcare trends that provide promise and inspiration for how technology can continue to serve as an empowering tool for healthcare providers and patients alike.
Remembering a Time When There Wasn’t “Ridesharing”
Hailing a cab (or better yet, scheduling one by phone in advance) may be a thing of the past for many city dwellers, but along with the increasing saturation of ridesharing options comes a new opportunity in the healthcare marketplace – an added option that may encourage consumers to take the next step for their personal health. Missed appointments cost the healthcare system about $150 billion a year; imagine how much money can be saved just by ensuring that patients actually get to the doctor’s office when they weren’t able to before. Take a non-emergency injury and, for just one person, the cost of calling an ambulance versus requesting a ride with the tap of a button could have significantly different financial implications and, potentially, be the difference between someone seeking medical attention or not at all, not to mention freeing up that ambulance for more critical emergencies.
Focusing in on the Power of Telehealth
With the expansion of telehealth and other emerging health technology, we are now entering a new healthcare delivery landscape. Advances in this type of technology are not only necessary, but have very clear practical applications when considering the geographic spectrum of our society. One such example is Orbis International, a non-profit, non-government organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Orbis uses its Flying Eye Hospital to not only provide high quality eye care and train local medical staff in developing countries, but to also provide education from the aircraft to virtually all corners of the globe. It leverages 3D technology and live broadcast capabilities enabling Orbis, with the help of volunteers, to train more doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals on new techniques for eye surgery, primarily in areas where there is little access to professional development. As telehealth continues to show real promise, this technology will only continue to evolve and expand into other areas of healthcare, helping to eliminate other preventable diseases and health conditions.
Viewing Virtual Reality as More than Just a Gimmick
Virtual Reality (VR) experiences continue to become increasingly accessible – both in availability and price point. Doctors are exploring how VR can potentially be used to reduce the opioid use to treat pain (the key point here is to reduce, not necessarily replace). Based on the theory that presence – which is what people feel when they step into a VR environment – can feel like reality, researchers have indicated that the immersive experience could have a profound neurobiological effect and future use in treatment in the areas of pain management and post-stroke rehabilitation.
Empowering Patients to Push Boundaries
Through the power of advanced technology, patients themselves have an opportunity to challenge companies to push boundaries for technological breakthroughs. Individuals like Melissa Stockwell, a former U.S. Army officer who lost her leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq, are pushing their physical limitations to not only reclaim their lives, but to also help transform technology for the greater good on a larger scale. Stockwell wears Ottobock’s X3, an advanced microprocessor prosthetic leg developed in collaboration with the U.S. military, which is equipped with technology that predicts the user’s movement and adapts the knee’s operation to match. The technology has helped Stockwell and other amputees fulfill accomplishments beyond their expectations – Stockwell herself took home a Bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. It is through these firsthand experiences that patients can help identify key areas for improvement in technology to help further bridge the gap between human limitation and human potential.
Wondering What’s Next for Wearables?
Wearables may have already become a worn out (no pun intended!) term, but a few showcases at SXSW indicate that there’s a wealth of opportunity ahead. Take “brain wearables,” which most commonly refer to electroencephalograms, or EEGs, which are sensors that detect electrical activity in the brain. While we currently don’t live in an age where everyday consumers are wearing brain wearable headbands, perhaps in the future we will. Paired with machine learning algorithms (being given the chance to learn and recognize data over time), EEGs can detect patterns of activity and analyze the location of where it is occurring in the brain. This technology exists today, and in one application it may mean that we can control the movement of objects, hands-free – Emotiv demonstrated this by having an audience member control the movement of a Bluetooth ball just by wearing one of its headsets. In a serious healthcare setting, it could also mean re-establishing a connection to society for patients with debilitating nervous system diseases such as ALS by providing them with a means of expressing themselves that is independent of any physical limitations they may have.
While healthcare has its many nuances and regulations that make it distinctly its own industry, it is important to consider how innovations in other fields, as explored by just a few demos and conversations at SXSW, have the potential to transform the way we explore solutions and understand health.
By Pauline Ma, Senior Digital Strategist at GCI Health
Emily Williams, Digital Strategist at GCI Health
New York, NY – January 12, 2017 – GCI Health, a leading healthcare-focused global public relations agency, announced that it is expanding its presence in the Northeast with the opening of a new office in Philadelphia. GCI Health has U.S. offices in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles and South Florida.
With a growing list of clients and team members in the Philadelphia market, the new office will bring to the area GCI Health’s award-winning service offerings in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology and hospital sectors, among others. To build on the agency’s integrated approach to healthcare communications, GCI Health will be co-located with CMI, the nation’s largest media services company for the healthcare industry. This will allow GCI Health to tap into critical insights and approaches, especially as it relates to the professional and online stakeholder communities.
“At GCI Health we take great pride in anticipating and meeting the evolving and diverse needs of our clients, as well as shaping the healthcare communications space in general,” said Wendy Lund, CEO, GCI Health. “The opening of a new office in Philadelphia is an excellent opportunity for us to further strengthen our partnerships with current clients and to foster relationships with companies in the region that are doing some truly groundbreaking work.”
Sherry Goldberg, Executive Vice President and Market Leader, will oversee management of the GCI Health Philadelphia office in conjunction with her management of the agency’s New York headquarters. The office will be located in Center City/Market Street in the heart of Philadelphia.
About GCI Health
GCI Health is an award-winning healthcare public relations agency powered by best-in-the-business professionals across the U.S., Canada and Europe. The agency’s client roster spans broadly across all sectors in healthcare, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology, consumer health, provider groups (hospitals and managed care), health IT, beauty and aesthetics and non-profit. GCI Health offers clients an accessible senior level leadership team, A-to-Z healthcare experience, a commitment to beating client expectations, and an obsession with anticipating the challenges of an increasingly complex and transforming healthcare communications environment. With insider’s knowledge of health media, high science, digital health strategy, consumer activation, crisis management, reputation building, patient advocacy and health education, GCI Health’s focus on delivering results is unrelenting. For more information, please visit www.gcihealth.com.
Senior hires brought on board to support growing client needs and continued growth
New York, NY – November 17, 2016 – GCI Health, a leading healthcare-focused global public relations agency, continued its record growth in 2016, adding 25 new hires across the agency’s offices to accommodate growth on a broad range of accounts spanning the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical technology, patient advocacy and healthcare IT sectors. This significant growth fueled expanded service offerings in corporate communications, digital and social media, content creation and creative design, as well as continued investment in its ‘best in the business’ media offering.
GCI Health Expands Corporate Offering with Key Senior Hire
Increasingly, GCI Health is brought in to redefine and shape the reputation and value of healthcare companies and clients, and to position their leadership in an evolving and progressively complex healthcare landscape. This portfolio of work also includes corporate media outreach, executive visibility, corporate social responsibility, access communications and employee engagement.
To support this growing need and build the agency’s corporate health communications offering, GCI Health has added Alexandra (Alex) Peterson as Senior Vice President. Alex will be responsible for overseeing the agency’s current work which is growing into larger corporate assignments, as well as managing the unprecedented opportunities the agency is experiencing in this arena from pharmaceutical, biotech, medical technology and health IT companies. As part of this, Alex will also focus on shaping the education and discussion around the introduction of biosimilars (biologic drugs that are highly similar to biopharmaceutical products) as the market forms in the U.S. and expands globally. Alex joins GCI Health from Makovsky, where she managed the healthcare practice.
“Over the last few years, we have dedicated ourselves to expanding our collective skillset to anticipate and meet our clients’ changing communications needs,” said Wendy Lund, CEO, GCI Health. “The addition of Alex further strengthens our corporate health offering and puts us in an excellent position to ensure that GCI Health continues to delight our clients and help them stand out in this very crowded – and likely to become more complex – healthcare space.”
GCI Health Expands Digital Team with an Expanded Focus on Content Creation
The healthcare industry is increasingly focused on content creation and marketing. GCI Health has helped its clients not only to keep pace, but to truly innovate in the digital healthcare space and “revolutionize realistically,” whether collaborating with clients to use augmented reality to show their commitment to corporate responsibility, helping to execute a major social promotional push to refresh a 10-year campaign or launch a suite of social channels featuring a branded Facebook community with open commenting (a rarity in the healthcare space).
To accelerate the agency’s efforts in the digital space, GCI Health has added Sarah Campbell as a Vice President. Sarah brings a wealth of digital/social expertise to the GCI Health team with an emphasis on content strategy and development. For more than 15 years Sarah has focused on delivering patient-centric, digital solutions for high-profile healthcare brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Genentech and Novartis. Prior to joining GCI Health, Sarah was Director of Digital Strategy at Rockfish, a WPP agency, leading digital innovation projects for Janssen and IBM Watson Health.
“Our mission is to find the best and brightest talent in healthcare communications around the world, particularly in areas that play up our inherent strengths, whether it’s new product and service offerings or new therapeutic categories,” said Ms. Lund. “Our focus on the quality of our staff helps us to strive to consistently deliver exceptional results for our clients, as demonstrated by the stability of our agency, seasoned hands-on senior talent and a commitment to a stellar culture.”
Senior Media Team Member Promoted
Media continues to be an outstanding competency for GCI Health. Maura Siefring has been promoted to Senior Vice President of the agency’s media department, bringing more than 14 years of journalism and healthcare media relations experience with expertise in developing strategies for products throughout the various stages of lifecycle.
About GCI Health
GCI Health is an award-winning healthcare public relations agency powered by best-in-the-business professionals across the U.S., Canada and Europe. The agency’s client roster spans broadly across all sectors in healthcare, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology, consumer health, provider groups (hospitals and managed care), health IT, beauty and aesthetics and non-profit. GCI Health offers clients an accessible senior level leadership team, A-to-Z healthcare experience, a commitment to beating client expectations, and an obsession with anticipating the challenges of an increasingly complex and transforming healthcare communications environment. With insider’s knowledge of health media, high science, digital health strategy, consumer activation, crisis management, reputation building, patient advocacy and health education, GCI Health’s focus on delivering results is unrelenting.
A crucial part of creating and executing an effective oncology communications program requires focusing on science and innovation. Jill Dosik, President, Global Scientific
Communications and Message Impact, GCI Health, recently presented at EXL Pharma with the CEO of CancerCare, Patricia Goldsmith, on ways to better understand and provide value to cancer patients. To add to the expanding content on this, Jill was featured in an article in the October Healthcare issue of O’Dwyer’s “Better Understanding Cancer Patients’ Needs.” In this piece, Jill provides in-depth thought-leadership on various findings about the experiences of people living with cancer as revealed in the 2016 Patient Access and Engagement Report, a landmark study conducted by CancerCare.
Common wisdom has always held that public relations is a female-friendly and female dominated field. Those outside the industry have always assumed that PR is a particularly women-heavy arena, and after many years in the business, I can happily and undoubtedly say they’re right!
In my personal experience, women have always accounted for the majority of the workforce at PR agencies. However, what’s concerning to me is that despite our numbers, women often continue to be under-represented in top positions within the industry despite their talent, drive and dedication.
As the mother of a daughter currently entering her second year of college — who happens to be gutsy, clever and unwilling to let anyone stand in the way of her goals — I’m compelled to make equality in the workplace a priority not only for her and the next generation of women leaders, but for women currently forging paths in PR.
According to a recent “Women in the Workplace” report from McKinsey & Company, the path to leadership is disproportionately stressful for women. Fears of balancing family and work, worries about their competence in leadership positions and concerns over lack of internal — i.e., company — support are among the reasons offered by women regarding why they think they can’t get to the top.
Closing the leadership gap
There are steps we can take within the industry to help alleviate these fears and help women to succeed and grow their careers. We can:
Demonstrate to female employees that our agency is behind them in every step of their careers. Women tend to anticipate and ruminate more than men, and we need to spend time supporting and empowering our women employees to make decisions and help them believe in themselves, their ideas, decisions and know-how to build their confidence.
Build training programs that matter and are personal and targeted to her needs. Invite guest speakers for interactive lunch-and-learn sessions (topics can be on anything from skills development, such as public speaking to inspirational stories of women who are at the top of their fields to topics that are fun, to talk about like the Lean In Movement or even shows like Odd Mom Out). Reinforce your company’s education benefits and encourage employees to take advantage: an employee who decides to go back to school and picks up a new skill is always an asset to your agency and your clients. Finally, an awards program — like recognition at a monthly staff meeting — can go a long way in underscoring the company’s commitment to individuals who are delivering their best, and truly boosts morale.
Encourage employees to take advantage of vacation, summer flex time — assuming your company allows it — and telecommuting benefits, making it clear that no employee will be penalized for taking the time they need and earned to handle personal matters and spend time with their families. If women — and men — realize that company leaders not only support, but respect their personal lives, they’ll be that much more engaged on work matters and less likely to be struggling to balance the two.
Pump up existing or create new mentorship programs, pairing senior employees with junior staffers. Incentivize mentors and mentees to have regular meetings — perhaps offering gift cards for coffee dates — to discuss their perceptions of each other’s roles and responsibilities, including perceived challenges. Offer the mentee the opportunity to shadow the mentor for a “day-in-the-life” experience so the junior employee understands and incorporates the leadership skills their ‘shadow’ brings to the table. The gist is that women need to feel confident in their abilities and feel empowered to express their concerns as well as their goals.
Most importantly, it’s critical that we create paths to help women advance in the industry regardless of her family situation and ensure qualified women have an equal chance at leadership opportunities.
Regardless of the tactics you use to support your female employees, every step we take in that direction reinforces the strength of our workforce and ensures agencies’ success. By championing all employees, we are ultimately championing the success of our clients, and we can all agree that’s something worth striving for.