Yesterday we wrote about how the future of healthcare is digital and took a deep dive into the digital transformation of this industry. We looked at how digital tools are not only revolutionizing the way the patient engages with their own health and healthcare professionals; but also, how it has changed the way we communicate and market.
What we didn’t look at was how digital tools have changed the way we raise awareness. These awareness campaigns are clear indicators that healthcare needs to digitally transform, and leverage these fantastic channels of communication.
Take the #WearRed campaign, going viral today. ‘National Wear Red Day’ was kickstarted by the American Heart Association to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke in women. On February 3rd (today), there are multiple ways for you to get involved – the simplest, wearing red.
American Heart Foundation are encouraging participants to share across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to raise awareness of this disease.
“Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® Friday, February 3, 2017, encourage others to do the same and make the time to Know Your Numbers. Five numbers, that all women should know to take control of their heart health are: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI). Knowing these numbers can help women and their healthcare provider determine their risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.” – Go Red For Women, AHA
The idea is to encourage more women to understand the causes of heart disease. Social media is vital in these kinds of campaigns, as this channels are unique in their ability to raise mass awareness, quickly, for little to no cost. Not only that but tools like Twibbon, make it easy for people to get involved.
Crowd-sourcing has always been a vital tool used by charities and associations to promote their messages. Examples of these types of campaigns are common, but what kind of impact do they have.
They Go Red For Women campaign is fairly new, launched back in 2003. Fifteen years later, heart disease is still a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Since the launch of the Go Red campaign, the network of participants has doubled leading to further education, support and of course research into heart disease.
Campaigns like this have enabled the so-call on-demand patient to once more take control of their own health. In the 15 years since this campaign began, the AHA has reported a decline in heart disease deaths in women of 34% (by 2016). That’s more than 627,000 lives saved. That’s not all. The AHA also noted that almost 90% of women who engaged with the campaign, made a healthy change; whether it be losing weight, or ensuring they get their yearly check-ups.
Digital tools have increased the communication between the healthcare industry and patients. Campaigns like ‘Go Red For Women’ are a fantastic tool for raising awareness and communicating directly with the masses.
But, what is the impact outside of the social sphere?
Patient or patient-advocate empowering campaigns generate so much attention, that they are directly impacting healthcare legislation. Take the ‘Go Red For Women’, which according to the AHA, directly impact the Heart for Women Act in 2012 making the FDA report clinical trials based on gender.
Another famous example is that of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, back in 2014. This challenge led to thousands of people worldwide, including celebrities, soaking themselves and those around them in iced water.
Unlike the ‘Go Red For Women’ campaign, raising awareness of ALS offered a unique challenge. As a rare disease, ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis affects a little 6,000 Americans each year. This disorder affects the nerves and muscles and is 100% fatal. For more information on ALS, visit the ALS association website >>
The ALS ice bucket challenge was an incredible success. The impact of this campaign was felt by researchers, regulators, legislators, and patients and their families alike. Raising over $115 million in an 8-week period, it has led to the discovery of 3 new genes, which will help lead to the development of new therapies. 9 global research collaborations have already resulted in 2 antisense drugs to enter the human clinical trial phase. It also led to the submittal of the 1st ever guidance to speed the development, and importantly the approval, of new ALS treatments to the FDA. Take a look at this great infographic for more statistics about the results of this campaign >>
What does this tell us about healthcare’s need to digitally transform?
Awareness campaigns like the two described above clearly demonstrate how the masses are using digital tools, to understand and learn from about medical conditions. Healthcare needs to leverage these tools to improve the patient experience.