Digital Marketing Asia 2024 Singapore
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Meeting the demand for medical and healthcare communications

Meeting the demand for medical and healthcare communications

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This post is sponsored by Bridges M&C.

In recent years we have seen unprecedented advances in medicines for all kinds of diseases. The groundbreaking mRNA technology used to create COVID-19 vaccines is now being used to develop vaccines and therapies for other diseases such as autoimmune disease, cancer, and heart disease. Novel technologies such as therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, gene therapies, and targeted cancer therapies have also come to market in recent years.

Advances are not limited to medicines; diagnostics has also seen great progress. There are genetic tests that can identify those at increased risk of developing certain cancers, and novel blood assays which can detect many cancers long before they show symptoms.

By analysing large amounts of data such as medical images, for example, X-rays, and vital signs such as blood pressure, artificial intelligence is helping healthcare providers diagnose diseases more accurately and quickly, and making more informed decisions with regards to patient care.

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digitalisation in healthcare by three to four years, according to a McKinsey report. Today, telemedicine has transformed almost every step of the patient journey, from appointment setting to data management and remote consultations.

Bridges M&C is proud to have introduced many of these life-changing and often life-saving innovations to various stakeholders such as healthcare providers and the general public.

Growth in healthcare communications

As medical and healthcare communicators, Bridges M&C is making a difference in the lives of people.

“A few years ago, we helped set up an informal patient support group for endometriosis, a rarely talked about condition at the time,” says Nanny Eliana, founder and regional account director at Bridges M&C.

“The group began with little more than 20 women, but with Bridges M&C securing media interviews for a few members and the group’s medical advisors, it grew to more than 1,000 women in just a few months. It was rewarding to see patients come together to support one another and share resources to manage the disease.”

Its specialisation and growing expertise in the healthcare sector has enabled Bridges M&C to work across the Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific regions. It has worked with every level of stakeholders, from patients in public-facing disease awareness campaigns and policy makers and healthcare professionals in high-level white paper production to industry leaders in regional thought leadership symposia and trade events.

Bridges M&C has embraced technology to measure the impact of its campaigns and inform and shape its communications plans.

“We use data analytics and media monitoring software to track consumer insights and trends and create targeted and impactful disease awareness campaigns on social media. These include ‘live’ fireside chats with influencers, patient advocacy groups, healthcare providers, and individual patients,” says John Battersby, senior regional account director, who also heads up the medical and scientific communications team at Bridges M&C.

Hiring the right people for the job

For an agency communicating to a wide range of stakeholders, including policy makers and healthcare providers, writers with medical research backgrounds have become a necessity.

Our medical writer, Dr Ramona Khanum, who is a PhD graduate in biochemistry, says: “Switching from writing scientific papers in academia to healthcare communications was challenging, but enjoyable.

“I have learned to work under pressure. Now I take in my stride writing a comprehensive backgrounder on a rare disease in a day or transcribing an advisory board meeting within 12 hours. I enjoy using my science background in my work and developing my writing skills with the support of the Bridges M&C team.”

Team members are also empowered to make career development decisions and explore their areas of interest. Shah Rizal joined Bridges M&C as an administrative assistant in 2014. Not long after, he began working on small design projects for the agency. Today, he has risen to become the agency’s creative director, overseeing graphic design and video production for all the agency’s clients.

“Bridges M&C invested in my passion for videos and graphic design by sending me for courses and providing me with the equipment and tools I needed to develop my abilities,” he says.

“I’m proud their investment has not only helped me grow my skills; it has paid off many times over and opened up a brand new revenue stream for the agency. Over the past three years I have produced or overseen the production of over 100 videos for our clients.”

Retaining talent

In an industry notorious for its high turnover, Bridges M&C is proud of having retained its core team for nearly a decade. During COVID-19, when some agencies were forced to downsize, slash salaries or close down, Bridges M&C defied the odds by growing the business and hiring new staff.

“One of the things that attracted me to join Bridges M&C full time, after freelancing with them for three years, is the flexibility,” says Hyma Haridas, account director and mother of two

“As long as work is completed to the expected standard and to deadlines, it doesn’t matter when and where it’s done. In fact, many of our full-timers had been practising hybrid and remote working from before the pandemic.”

Adds Battersby: “Retaining happy staff does not require complex strategies. You just need to pay competitive salaries, provide decent increments and bonuses, be flexible with leave arrangements, and above all foster an atmosphere of trust and safety, and let them know they’re appreciated.”

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