Today’s post comes to us from our GLOBALHealthPR Spain partner, Berbés Asociados.
For years, specialized health communications agencies have collaborated with three main actors for generating and sharing information: the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare professionals (represented mainly by scientific societies), and health authorities.
Given today’s economic circumstances and taking into account that this sector has undergone a 360-degree transformation in recent years, one would have expected the structure and key players involved to simultaneously change with the times. This assumption is correct.
The New Protagonists
There are now not only three, but four protagonists in the health communications story. The most recent players to join the information-generating sphere are patients. These are actors who have first-hand knowledge of the circumstances, have the desire to know more about their reality, are anxious to seek solutions or alternatives that improve their quality of life—and above all—have their credibility intact.
Their characteristics have made them a voice that is vital for everyone: healthcare professionals, the pharmaceutical industry, society and especially other patients. They are credible, honest and neutral. Their interests are concerns over welfare and quality of life, and they are prepared to participate in order to help bring about improvements. Such features, combined with their intimate and moving discourse, help messages reach great numbers of people.
If industry, healthcare professionals and management bodies provide more consideration to patients when making decisions and taking action, why do those who work in the world of communication not do the same? If patients are an ally for our clients, why would they not be for us too?
It may be necessary to help patients mediate between the media to turn them into convincing, rigorous spokespeople. Looking to the future, we may need to adapt communication activities and campaigns. If one thing is for sure, there is no doubt that they have created a space for themselves. Patients possess the respect of the other actors and they have much that is positive to contribute.