Finding Meaning in the Digital Health Revolution


Read any major publication and browse its health section and you will see information and articles describing a new frontier in the healthcare industry: the digital health revolution. From trends reshaping the industry and the ways physicians practice medicine, to the steady cadence of emerging technologies promising to transform patient care and a growing interest among business leaders to increase investment in healthcare technology – there is no doubt that the revolution is here to stay.

As companies try to stake their claims for a foothold in the rising tide of digital health innovation, we see a few key considerations we need to discern and think about as public relations professionals to help cut through the clutter in the space and inform our clients how they can emerge as meaningful and authentic digital health leaders.

Remember not all data is created equal. Highlight data with context and/or actionable insights.One of the growing issues facing providers and manufacturers dealing with massive volumes of data is determining how to use and make sense of the data they store and accrue. Increasingly, large hospitals are requiring comprehensive IT solutions to make sense of their data. Additionally, more and more wearable manufacturers are being critiqued for the fact that their data doesn’t necessarily improve personal health and are essentially just creating noise. As our clients’ businesses take on the responsibilities of reducing costs and improving outcomes, we can help them think about the data they present externally to ensure they are capitalizing on data that has utility – media love data proof, but only if it bridges to meaningful or actionable insights to the end user (or reader). Help frame data points by placing it into a greater story which speaks to the context and comparability of the data. After all, not every reader is a data scientist.

Remember there is no single definition of digital health. I recently had an interesting conversation with one of my clients where the client posed a simple question to our team: “What is digital health, to you?” The conversation revealed that there are many different definitions of digital health and it is still a relatively subjective concept in its meaning, especially if you factor in different audiences. For some doctors, the transition to digital health is a dilemma they’ve not quite come to terms with, or and do not yet fully understand how to grasp its potential. For some manufacturers, digital health is the promise of the future. For patients, the acceptance or adoption of digital health as it relates to their personal health care varies from person to person. When we approach our storytelling with different audiences on behalf of our clients, it is important to remain sensitive of these nuances in our communications.

Remember to clearly identify the patient or customer benefit. While this is a somewhat obvious consideration, sometimes it can be lost in the shuffle of health IT news we help support and communicate to the media every day. The volume and vastness of digital health innovation makes it difficult at times to clearly communicate the meaning of the technology at hand. As communicators in the healthcare industry, it’s helpful to first take time to draw correlations in big concepts and industry jargon to discover new meaning – for example, we’re hearing more and more about predictive analytics, but what is the value of predictive analytics beyond the technology itself, and how does that relate to the precision medicine movement and population health management? From answering those questions, you’ll find you have a better idea of how the patient or customer benefits from the technology. Drawing connections in the healthcare ecosystem helps paint a clearer picture of where digital health technology fits within the highly complex industry, and helps to communicate meaning to the patient and customer audiences.

So, in closing, “What does digital health mean to you?” And from a communications perspective, did we miss anything?

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