Tag Archives: Patient

Every week should be Carers Week

Following on from Carers Week 2015, we reflect on the need to do more to support caregivers and introduce our study into the holistic needs of those who care for people with long-term conditions.

‘Being a carer in 2015 can be incredibly tough, taking a huge toll on health and mental wellbeing, finances and relationships. More and more people are taking on a caring role – 10.6 million over the course of this Parliament. So getting it right for carers has never been more imperative. Carers can’t carry on doing this alone.’

– Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK.

Last week was Carers Week in the UK, an annual campaign that raises awareness of caring, highlights the challenges that carers face, and recognises the contribution that carers make to families and communities throughout the UK.

All week, at events and via the internet and broadcast media, stories of the commitment and devotion of carers have been shared. As was the case at Local Solutionsannual information event at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool on Friday, which brought together charities and organisations to showcase the services available to carers. It was wonderful to see so many people coming together in support of the caring community, and it raised reflection on whether pharma does enough to support carers.

There are nearly seven million people in the UK who are carers, a figure that is on the rise; last week it was reported that three in five of us will be carers at some point in our lives. This isn’t a UK-specific problem: the World Health Organisation estimates a soaring demand for carers the world over, with needs rising by as much as 400% over coming decades in some developing countries.

The importance of the efforts of carers cannot be underestimated. To many patients, they are a lifeline; without carers, many simply couldn’t manage. To the British economy, they’re indispensible, saving the public an estimated 119 billion pounds a year.

Whilst the pharma industry is not immune to the importance of carers, it’s rare to find pharma-initiated interventions that target carers.

Why should pharma help?

Often the question is raised of which professionals are the gatekeepers to patient care, but arguably no one professional could be more important to the success of patient outcomes than the person caring for them every single day. Ensuring their health and wellbeing can drive greater treatment success. It’s also worth noting that carers are often ‘patients’ themselves; in a 2012 survey of 3,500 carers, 53% said they have suffered a long-term condition or illness, whilst 39% had put off medical treatment due to caring responsibilities.

Additionally, this is a group of people whose need for support is greater than ever. In spite of the indisputable fiscal and social value, cuts to financial support in recent years (such as the ‘spare room tax’ and the introduction of personal independence payment) have put carers under increasing pressure. Reports on carer wellbeing indicate that this is a strain they could well do without. Carers UK has recently published research showing that 82% of carers feel that looking after a disabled or older relative or friend has had a negative impact on their health.

The statistics are both alarming and compelling, but to uncover the full story and better understand what can be done to help we need to speak to people. It’s with this in mind that, over the coming months, we’ll be talking to carers about their needs and what impact caring for a person with a long-term condition has on their lives. These interviews will form part of a quantitative study to be included in our autumn white paper later in the year.

Pillars

Public or private, healthcare should focus more on happiness than holding on

‘Everywhere I see the mistake of ignoring that people have priorities in their lives besides merely surviving another day.’
– Dr. Atul Gawande

In Britain, the current strain on the NHS is a key topic as we head towards the general election in May. In the closing moments of a live debate on Channel 4 News last night, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented that, ‘for the public, it’s not about public vs. private; it’s about good care vs. bad care’. But do we know what good care is?

The healthcare industry has been built upon treatments. Progress to date has been based on innovating around the molecular, on tackling problems in the minutiae of the atomic arena. It has brought some incredible advances and delivered great success in changing lives.

However, it’s a focus that ignores the bigger picture of the patients these treatments are created for. Patients whose conditions may infiltrate every aspect of their lives, and have consequences that they live with until their dying day. For these people, treatment is just one aspect of their journey, and the care they require extends far beyond this. They need help in communicating with professionals, understanding and accepting the implications of their condition, taking control of their health and the other aspects of their life it affects (work, finances, family). Unsupported in any of these instances, patients can feel isolated, confused, and deeply unhappy.

In his BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures in December, Dr. Atul Gawande exclaimed that, ‘we’ve been rather limited about what we [in healthcare] think our job is, building systems of care for human existence. We think our job is to ensure health and survival, but really it is larger than that. It is to enable wellbeing, and wellbeing is ultimately about sustaining the reasons one wishes to be alive.’

We need to pay greater respect to wellbeing and happiness. It might sound trite to say that happier patients are healthier, but improved wellbeing has been shown to improve cancer outcomes, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, encourage adoption of healthy behaviours, and even lengthen lifespans (amongst other health benefits).

In an era in which healthcare moves to outcomes based performance models, ensuring patient wellbeing could be a catalyst for improved treatment-brand success. It’s time to look far beyond the pill, from the beginning of a patient journey to the very end, and provide support at every moment in between. Support that instils patients with the happiness, confidence and encouragement to stride on toward a positive outcome.

For more on the power of subjective wellbeing and holistic support, read our latest white paper,  Smiles That Save Lives

Watch our introduction of our interview with Lucy May Middleton, holistic support advocate and educator here

Smiling cat

Content is King, so they say…

Participate in something greater, by David Hunt

“Content is King” is a great expression; catchy, weighty, easy. It’s also misleading, absent of substance, and wrong on many levels. As of January 2014, the Internet has 861,379,0001 websites, or if you prefer Google has indexed 200 Terabytes of data2 which is just 0.004% of the total Internet. Either way, there is no shortage of content. There is however an appetite for relevant, topical, bespoke content delivered as part of an expert brand strategy – the social world requires brain not brawn.

Content is a form of advertisement, albeit positioned as a more sophisticated strategy. The objective remains to elicit an emotion that drives an action. However, despite this universal truth, the world has changed. It is more connected, more social, and ultimately more judgemental. It is no longer enough to tell stories; we need to craft a collaborative narrative. Being instant lacks longevity and durability. Producing content without emotion and relevance dilutes and devalues brands. Today, more than ever, the market requires insight, imagination and innovation. Our Havas colleagues in Australia produced what I consider to be the best social campaign in healthcare: The world’s most powerful arm.

Great agencies are more, not less, critical to the brand building process. So too is a genuine brand. We can no longer manufacture our image, we can no longer limit the format of our customer interactions, we are exposed, open, and unintentionally honest. A strong authentic brand personality is essential. It must represent the values of a business and be aligned to the personality of their customers. Fonts, colours and high-gloss photographs, pale-away versus behaviour and conduct. Social success today relies more than ever on the principles of brand development.

The scale of the Internet is infinite, standing out from the crowd is harder than ever, unless of course you join the crowd. Become more than just an isolated part. Participate in something greater. Unite your community through a shared ambition. Do more. Social success is inextricably linked to the power of the collective to make a difference; it requires more than a content production line.

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  1. http://www.techmadeeasy.co.uk/2014/01/18/many-websites-january-2014/
  2. http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/archive/2014/07/22/do-you-know-how-big-the-internet-really-is-infographic.aspx


Shareholders or Stakeholders, Who is Driving Healthcare

Good Pharma, By David Hunt

Large to small pharmaceutical corporations are powered by profit. So are we. Without revenue HAVAS LYNX can’t pay salaries and overheads and we would cease to function. However, we also care deeply about our creativity, ideas and innovation. We like to get paid BUT we are passionate about making a difference. The pharmaceutical companies that I have worked for are the same – whilst they are fuelled by profit, they are driven by patients.

Why does pharma have such a bad reputation? Why does Ben Goldacre find such traction in social media? Because it counts. Because we are an ageing population terrified by the concept of ageing. Because we are more aware of our lifestyle choices, more informed about serious illness and more concerned about what it means to us. As a wider society, we are totally committed to the advancement of medicine and this demands expertise, integrity and investment.

I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with David Jones, CEO of HAVAS, both an inspirational leader and global advocate for a sustainable future. David is the author of the excellent, Who cares wins. It outlines the future for business, one I passionately believe in, whereby companies will succeed by doing good. David argues that with social media as the catalyst, companies will enjoy long-term success by finding a balance between making money and making a positive difference. Brand value will be built by actions and not image.

Who cares wins was penned for business, it is PERFECT for healthcare.

Good Business

Good Business

I have worked on some great healthcare campaigns, working with some fantastic companies. The theme that runs through the most successful is a crusade to make a difference, to understand the patient situation and drive for a better outcome – big or small. I passionately believe in a patient centred approach. If we can balance both morale and commercial drivers, we can take real pride in a meaningful contribution.

Through the advancement in medicine, patients with Hepatitis C now have a much more positive outlook; it is still a tough situation, but better. However to benefit patients have to be engaged and supported, as an agency we have helped to raise awareness of the new options available through social media. Empowering patients to take action and providing them with the tools and education necessary on their arduous journey. 

In the later stages of cancer every day counts. HCPs, carers and family are under pressure. Sometimes the seemingly trivial can count against the patient and their survival. Partnering with our client, we developed an application to help HCPs reduce the critical number of days required to test and diagnose patients. Getting the right patients, on the right treatment, in the right time.

Schizophrenia is a lonely and isolating condition. Despite the best of efforts of everyone involved patients can unfortunately slip into a spiral of decline. We have used digital to educate patients and their families on more effective management of the condition. Over 100 patients have been enrolled in the programme, halving the number of hospital days.

I believe that by focusing on patients and engaging with all stakeholders, we deliver better health outcomes that simultaneously help to generate the revenue required to advance medicine. Good Pharma.

Further information:
https://www.stop-hepatitis-c.info/
http://www.schizophrenia24x7.com/