Maria Fontanazza, Med Ad News

The road to patient empowerment continues with empathy

By Maria Fontanazza • [email protected]

Achieving genuine human connection is a crucial part of survival. We all want to feel seen and heard, whether it’s on a casual level during a conversation about work, or on a humorous level exchanging the adventures of parenting, or at the very deep level of discussing and sharing mental health challenges. When it comes down to it, we want to be understood and supported, not necessarily by everyone we know but by the people who matter to us most. We want – we need – empathy. And when it comes to health, and managing the healthcare journey, this concept is no different. 

In this issue of Med Ad News, we dive into the customer and patient experience, and many of the components of empathy. Taking the one-size-fits-all approach to relating to the patient journey is (and has been) over. This is especially true when discussing rare diseases, a key topic in the June issue. One in 10 Americans are living with a rare disease, and more than half of them are children. Now more than ever, as patients navigate the convoluted world of healthcare, they are actively advocating for themselves—particularly when it comes to rare diseases. However, part of their own advocacy comes from having to do in-depth research on their own disease, because they are not given the resources they need. Patients want and need to feel empowered, and they want to have the right knowledge to take control of their healthcare decisions. “We need to give them the tools to accelerate their education more easily,” Jaime Cohen and Kevin Flynn of PRECISIONeffect point out in their piece, “Every single day is Rare Disease Day”. Erica Rivera, VP and director of engagement strategy at AbelsonTaylor, writes about the shift to patient-centricity in rare disease. One of the ways that brands have been moving in this direction is their engagement in active social listening to help reveal what Rivera calls the “missing conversations”– where the true revelations and insights about the patient journey are found. 

Having a willingness to walk alongside the patient in their journey is not an easy ask. But patients have so many different points of view, and it is the responsibility of pharma and healthcare brands to acknowledge and recognize these perspectives, and to show up for the challenges patients face along the way—it is critical. 

I recently joined Outcomes LLC as the director of content (Don’t worry, Andrew Humphreys is still with us; he will remain a contributing editor but is stepping aside to launch a family-run media company). I look forward to connecting with many of you in the coming months and even getting together in person with some of you (wow, imagine that?!?). What is your organization doing to achieve a deeper understanding of the patient journey? What have you been doing to foster an effective human connection? What have the challenges been along the way? I can’t wait to hear more not just about the patient journey but your journey to get where you are today.

Maria Fontanazza, Med Ad News

Maria Fontanazza is the director of content, Med Ad News and PharmaLive.com.