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Transforming Health Through Effective Digital Marketing

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare communications have taken on a new sense of urgency.

From emerging treatment protocols for managing disease in patients with COVID-19, to new social distancing recommendations from government agencies, to the safety and efficacy of newly approved vaccines, ensuring patients and healthcare professionals have timely, accurate, and clear scientific information has been instrumental for managing coronavirus and improving health outcomes during the pandemic.

Yet due to the spread of misleading misinformation about the coronavirus and other health-related topics, reaching and motivating key audiences has presented challenges for public health officials, medical experts, and Life Sciences companies. According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2020, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they had seen news and information about the disease that seemed inaccurate.

In this fast-changing environment, healthcare marketers and communications professionals have turned to new tactics to ensure important health-related content reaches, resonates with, and motivates the right audiences at the right time.

To discuss some of the approaches to better target healthcare communications during the pandemic, Bill Evans, Komodo Chief Marketing Officer, interviewed Destry Sulkes, Executive Vice President of Growth at Klick, the premier life sciences marketing agency to leverage Komodo’s Healthcare Map™.

Check out the video conversation between Bill and Destry. A transcript of their discussion follows:

Bill Evans: Welcome to For the Health of It, our series where we bring together the world’s top scientists, analysts, and health experts to discuss some of the biggest challenges in healthcare today. I’m Bill Evans.

With us today is Destry Sulkes, Executive Vice President of Growth at Klick Health, a healthcare marketing agency. Klick recently forged a partnership with Komodo, making it one of the first healthcare agencies to access Komodo’s Healthcare Map™. Welcome, Destry.

Destry Sulkes: Thank you, Bill. Great to be here.

Bill: One of the things that’s top of mind is the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program. In this moment, the role of healthcare communications and marketing is more prevalent than at any other time in recent memory. How are communications marketing teams helping to overcome vaccine hesitancy and increase awareness of emerging treatment protocols during this pandemic?

Destry: It is a big challenge to communicate health news effectively during this era of fake news. At Klick, we’re very fortunate to have a strong cross-cultural team led by Dr. Amy Gomez. Her group is focused on grounding our local community insights to ensure our healthcare messaging stays relevant.

For example, we recently did a Pharma Live interview on the work we’re doing for the National Institutes of Health to encourage members of diverse communities to enroll in COVID trials. Fortunately, we’ve seen an incredible response relative to more traditional recruitment efforts. A critical success driver was our partnership with the WilPower Integrated Marketing Group. They built a national network of barbershops and salons in communities of color. This helped us solicit the questions to address and then to deliver the messaging from local experts.

Bill: The dynamics of COVID and the resulting flood of communications have impacted the way patients and doctors consume and understand information. What are some lessons learned in this environment that can be applied to marketing communications moving forward?

Destry: We have a behavioral science group here at Klick that has been doing a lot of research into what works, what resonates with people and what doesn’t. Through that research, we’ve seen a range of reasons people want to do things to help themselves first, help their families and friends second, and help their communities third.

Unfortunately, much of the public health messaging has been more about finger-wagging to encourage people to help their communities. We realize now that that message isn’t resonating. Instead, we need to go deeper into what people need to know and how they can help themselves.

Bill: One of the things we’ve discussed before on this show is how COVID has accelerated the digital transformation across the healthcare industry. As a result, people now talk about the "new normal" versus a "return to normal." What are some transformations that you think will stick and which are likely to recede as COVID is addressed through the vaccine rollout?

Destry: Digital transformation has been accelerated between 10 and 20 years from what they thought before in two areas. One is the consumption of media and where we find our information.

The other is the consumption of care and how telehealth has taken off. To date, on the telehealth side, there'd been a lot of one-off "spot solutions," where brands put a single telehealth provider up on their website. However, we're now seeing companies like RxDefine come along and provide a whole umbrella set of telehealth interactions that will guide patients directly to the telehealth channel of their choice. Through this, they ensure patients get what they prefer, not just the single solution being offered.

Bill: Destry, thanks for joining us today. It’s always good to catch up and hear your perspectives. To learn more about Klick Health, you can visit their website at klick.com. And to learn more about Komodo and how we are working to reduce the burden of disease, please check out komodohealth.com, and be sure to follow us on social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter for news and updates about future episodes. See you next time!

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