The Unfinished Business of Healthcare

The healthcare industry is a deeply personal place to work. More than 95 percent of the world’s population has health problems. An average of 1,905 people will die of heart disease in the U.S. every day. There are more than 7,000 rare diseases.

It’s a list that can quickly become overwhelming and hard to comprehend. But what’s not difficult to understand is what it means to each individual battling disease.

Our team has talked with people dying of disease, who remain optimistic regarding how medicine may impact the next generation. We’ve talked with countless family members whose only questions revolve around “what can we do?” And we’ve witnessed the frustration of these same people and their care circle who can’t gain access in time for a treatment, either due to the pace of the approval process or a lack of reimbursement.

Today is what matters to anyone battling a disease or disorder. Tomorrows are what they—and really, what we—all desire to have. In healthcare, we serve as their agents of change. And this is why we’re excited about the future of healthcare.

The capabilities of science are unlocking the personalization of medicine at an unprecedented rate, driven by rare diseases, the emergence of gene-based therapies, the continued impact of immunotherapy and our growing ability to edit genes via CRISPR. This is resulting in diagnostic and treatment solutions we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago.

Technology is making it possible to manage future drug submissions in the cloud rather than pulling up with tractor trailers of boxes, while at home, we effortlessly get our genes sequenced with information delivered to us in a week or two. The cloud and related technologies are finally giving us opportunities to transform everything from drug development to how we learn about and protect our health. Our ability to collapse time to market is a game-changer.

The third driver—payment for treatment and services—needs to evolve with the same pace, so that we can benefit from scientific and technological advancement. If incentives are aligned with what we can deliver, we’ll improve health outcomes. The nice thing about technological advances is they normally drive costs down, not up, so we’re hopeful this can also translate into healthcare as well.

Our mission is about making a difference for individuals fighting for their health and their families. Our goal is to improve compliance, expand the “office,” accelerate drug development and build powerful narratives that make it more obvious as to why government, science and industry can move in lockstep.

So, what does that mean? Here are a few examples.

Imagine accelerating the development of treatments. New analytic models can analyze all the published literature for a particular therapeutic area for the past ten years in minutes with new insights in hours. Analytics can show us which investigators have been most effective in enrolling in clinical trials for that same time period.

This can tell us which investigators are best to enroll a trial and we can determine how to communicate the new characteristics of a treatment, so it aligns with the evolution of the category and reaches providers and payors at the earliest possible stage. Precision in trial design. Precision in who runs trials. Precision in the scientific narrative.

We can complete trials faster with better enrollment, leading to a faster time to market. Once on the market, we can accelerate access via improved evidence-based communication. We’ll focus on both areas. Once a treatment is on the market, we have plenty of issues to deal with. Compliance is one.

It’s estimated that between 33-69 percent of all medication-related hospital admissions in the U.S. are due to poor medication adherence, costing the U.S. about $100 billion annually. Yet, we have the technology today that can teach patients, in real-time, how to use an asthma inhaler rather than waiting for that same patient to have a failure and end up in the hospital. Imagine your son or daughter trying to use an asthma inhaler at home. Wouldn’t they prefer to learn via a video on their phone and talk with someone in real-time? It’s how they do everything else, right?

Technology makes it easier to teach patients how to improve their health right in their home. We’ll embrace technologies that align with how we use them every day for new uses to improve our health. Common sense.

We’ll help with paradigm shifts. If we work in a hybrid world where it’s normal to conduct our work in both an office and home with similar results, why can’t healthcare do the same?

Many agree. The global telehealth market is estimated at $89 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $787 billion by 2028. This is a major growth market, but it will find its rightful place only if physicians and nurses are reimbursed properly and payors can see that a virtual visit can be as good or better than an office visit.

What’s the real difference if our health can be improved?

It’s easy to cast blame if new advances in science and technology aren’t utilized, but that’s not our orientation. We believe that building a convincing narrative matters. Understanding how the audience architecture interacts related to a disease matters. Knowing how technology works and being able to explain why it’s important. Knowing how to build analytics models and use AI is now a mainstream need of agencies like ours today.

We see a world where the rapid growth of personalized treatments, as well as those for rare conditions, requires that our media models also become highly personalized and have the ability to adjust to smaller market sizes. We realize disease-based media modeling, which is highly customized to a community’s needs represents the future of PESO media planning. After all, we live in a world that’s more of a series of neighborhoods rather than one big place. We see a new style of creative brief that includes AI-driven insights that we didn’t have last year or even last quarter.

It’s our job to innovate in the world of communications to match up with the advances in science and technology. It’s also our job to remember the conversations we’ve had with people battling disease and disorder and their families who are searching for solutions when we’re working late at night or traveling on the weekend and embrace our unique ability to make a difference in the world via our actions.

We end with a simple and powerful story from our past. Many years ago, an accomplished business executive from Maryland called us while we were working in a pharmaceutical company. His wife had ALS and he wanted to learn more.

A few weeks later, he drove up, unannounced, to our office in Pennsylvania. We welcomed him and he entered our office to ask a series of questions. We were ready to answer many more when he abruptly stopped. What he said we will never forget:

“I came up here to judge if you care about developing this drug and making a difference. I now have no question in my mind this is the case. Thank you for everything you are doing for my wife, our family and all the other families who suffer from this disease. Let me now let you get back to work. I wish you the best of luck.”

He then shook our hands, walked out and returned to his home in Maryland, never to be heard from again. Yet, he will be remembered forever.

We did successfully launch this drug, which was the first drug ever approved for ALS. We did it in full partnership with the ALS community and their families and although it was a struggle to gain approval, we never wavered. It’s conversations like this and the trust that we know people place in all of us that motivates us even at the most frustrating moments.

We have unfinished business in healthcare. Our answer is to form a new healthcare team across The Bliss Group and The Next Practices Group, called NPG Health, which will launch later this year.

By Bob Pearson, CEO