Lessons from m.15

How far we’ve come in connected health was a huge part of the conversation at m.15, the day-long summit that brought together healthcare marketers with influential speakers and panels that included industry thought-leaders from Harvard Medical School, Kleiner Perkins, UCSF, One Drop, Ayogo, Gotta Mobilize and PlushCare.

However, a contrasting message was the urge to move faster.  Many of the participants — from Google to top medical centers and leaders at successful entrepreneurial endeavors — found it unfortunate that healthcare is the last industry for digital transformation.  “My car tells me when my tire is going flat or my engine needs servicing, but I don’t have tools to tell me what my cholesterol level is or whether I’m at risk for a stroke or a heart attack,” lamented Ryan Olohan, Head of Healthcare, Google.  Consumers can download from the internet an enormous amount of information on almost every health condition, but most still can’t look up the date from their last physical.

Consumers have become communicators, shifting the dialogue from “pharma to doctor to patient” to a user-centric conversation.  With the advent of democratized tools of self-expression, healthcare marketers have an opportunity to offer unprecedented access to education, diagnostics and analysis for an improved patient experience.

As a result, healthcare marketers need to aim for an emotional connection based on the individual user/patient’s lifestyle, rather than fear.  Consumers want data-driven self-care tools that make them feel like managers of their condition – not victims.  Diabetes, for example, is the world’s most expensive health problem.  More than 30 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes, and another 70 million are prediabetic.   By enabling consumers to understand and take control of their health, companies like One Drop are changing the paradigm from “diabetic” to “dia-bad-ass” with an app for logging and sharing information via the Apple Watch, iOS and other systems plus a Bluetooth-connected glucometer.  Users are able to incorporate diabetes management into their daily routine.

The good news is, the faster marketers can engage consumers with these technological breakthroughs, patients are more likely to follow a treatment program, health professionals can affect better outcomes, and insurers can reduce the risk pool (often for the cost of a copay).

Attitude is everything.

As healthcare marketers, we are in a position to disrupt the system and bring consumers the digital solutions they need and crave.  Humans have earned and deserve the right to be healthy.  By creating tools that consumers will embrace and choosing the technologies that they will use, the return on investment – both human and financial – are sure to exceed expectations.