Let’s talk organ donation
If you’ve somehow been hiding under a rock for the past few months, you might have missed Lewis Capaldi’s hit song ‘Someone You Loved’ and the original music video telling the story of a successful heart transplant, in partnership with Live Life Give Life – a video that truly tugs on the heartstrings (if you’ll excuse the pun).
As of September 2nd, the start of Organ Donation Week, 6309 people are waiting for a transplant – and only 1489 have received a transplant since April 2019. Sadly, every day 3 people on the transplant list will die due to a shortage of organ donors.
If you haven’t put much thought to this previously, now is the best time to think about it. It can be a scary thing to consider, but having conversations with loved ones and signing up to be an organ donor can be life-changing for many people.
For every 1 organ donor, 9 people could receive a life-saving transplant.
Just let that sink in.
Spend 2 minutes of your life signing up on this website, and you could save the lives of 9 other people.
- Yes, you can be any age – young or old.
- Yes, you can usually donate with a medical condition yourself – your health will be taken into account so only healthy organs are donated. You can check out your eligibility here.
- Yes, you should probably tell your family or next of kin – they will likely be the ones asked in the hospital.
- Yes, the doctors will always try to save your life first, even if you are an organ donor.
So, will you say ‘Yes, I can donate’?
Then click here.
To mark International Women’s Day, and with a predominantly female ‘squad’ making up our Healthcare practice, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the amazing work being done by a few of the influential female leaders in healthcare today, and the impact that women can have in these senior positions.
Emma Walmsley is one of just seven female CEOs in the UK FTSE 100, heading up the largest grossing company on the list – GlaxoSmithKline. Since taking on the role, Ms Walmsley has had to make some tough decisions, and although it may take some time before the strategies come to fruition, there’s no doubt her trailblazing leadership signals a turning tide that is just starting to be echoed throughout the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
In research, MSD recently announced a multi-million pound investment in a drug discovery centre in London, with Dr Fiona Marshall appointed to lead it as VP Head of Neuroscience Discovery and Head of Discovery Research MRL UK. A world-leading expert in research, Dr Marshall’s 25-year career has included leading teams to new and highly significant biological mechanism and drug discoveries, while winning numerous awards and becoming elected as a Fellow to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2016.
Women are also filling technical C-suite roles more frequently than in previous years. One such woman sits as Executive Vice-President, Global Development and Chief Medical Officer at Roche: Dr Sandra Horning. Having spent 25 years as a practicing oncologist, investigator and tenured professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, serving as President of ASCO in 2005-2006 and Chair of the Lymphoma Committee of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) since 1995, Dr Horning has made important and substantial contributions to the treatment of lymphoma and other cancers.
With women more frequently entering these roles, it is fair to say, and celebrate the fact, that progress is definitely being made, however there is still much more to do. According to recent reports, despite a narrowing of the gap, women continue to be in the minority in senior positions; in 2018, just 22.6% of Fortune 500 healthcare company board members were female (as reported by Forbes). Work places need to continue to champion programmes which support women in leadership, with more girls encouraged to enter STEM careers at a younger age.
The advantages of women in leadership are quite substantial – recent reports have shown that this can have a positive impact on financial performance; companies with the highest representation of women in senior management experience better financial performance than companies with lower representation; and that’s not where the benefit ends. Amongst many things, higher gender diversity also brings:
- increased productivity
- greater innovation and better products
- better decision-making, informed by a wider breadth of experience
- higher employee retention and satisfaction
(see Morgan Stanley report)
While researching this piece, I discovered more and more inspiring women who have risen through the ranks of pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, and was greatly encouraged by this, as well as by their comments in various news articles, indicating they thought the future will be bright and powerful for women. Sandra Horning summed this up as eloquently as you would expect from a compassionate leader, stating “This is a wonderful time for female leaders in the biopharma industry to embrace and model diversity and inclusion of all kinds, which we know leads to better business performance as well as enriching the culture, providing greater individual opportunity, and increasing the joy of working for all.”
In 2018, Madano was proud to be ranked in the top ten communications consultancies in the Small Agency category for the UK’s 2018 Best WorkplacesTM for Women, and we’re excited to be progressing in this area!
Getting into the spirit for International Women’s Day, check out our social media channels to see which women inspire us here at Madano.
Written by Sam Marshall, Senior Programme Executive
Madano advises clients across the healthcare sector – if you’re interested in learning more please drop us a line. You can also follow Madano on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.
Today is the 12th International Rare Disease Day, and this year’s theme is ‘Bridging health and social care.’ To mark the occasion, we talk about the value of online communities in providing a social service for people living with rare diseases.
Rare diseases affect a very small percentage of the population – defined in Europe when a disease or disorder affects fewer than 1 in 2,000 people, and in the U.S. when fewer than 200,000 Americans are affected at any given time – and therefore are often not widely-discussed in the public domain. Indeed, people diagnosed with a rare disease may have never heard of their condition prior to receiving a diagnosis. This lack of awareness can lead to people diagnosed with rare diseases feeling isolated from the world around them.
We learned about these feelings of isolation first-hand ourselves, when conducting research as part of our Patients At The Heart (PATH)* approach with our sister agency, AXON. We learned from those diagnosed with rare forms of brain cancer that many felt forgotten and misunderstood by the public, and even close friends and family. Those we spoke with highlighted that digital groups and online communities helped mitigate these feelings by offering direct access into a world where people have a shared understanding.
Online hubs provide a unique environment to connect an often widely-spread patient population through experience-sharing, knowledge-building and advocacy. Online-sharing helps facilitate the empowerment of patients, by providing a platform for patients to speak, share and connect with others, where elsewhere their voices may simply not be heard. Rare Disease Day itself acknowledges this need to empower the rare disease community, through its #ShowYourRare social media campaign.
Services provided by online communities are by no means limited to patients themselves, but also extend to benefit families and caregivers, who may also be experiencing challenges in sourcing information regarding care, treatment and experiences of rare diseases that affect their loved ones.
Organisations wanting to get involved with rare disease communities, should look to facilitate and support these online networks between people with rare diseases, their families, caregivers and other stakeholders. Through supporting rare disease communities online, organisations will gain a better understanding of the challenges of living with a rare disease, which may ultimately help to bridge the gap between health and social care.
*About our PATH research: Our research sought to understand how language and communications used across patient journeys, impacts on experiences of managing and living with rare and chronic diseases. We identified four points of ‘tension’ in our research that should always underpin how we approach designing communications. More detailed findings on this and how we implement it in the work we do will be coming in 2019. If you would like to find out more about our research or anything discussed here, please get in touch; we want to hear from you – [email protected]
Since the inadvertent discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928, we have had the privilege of living through the Golden Age of antibiotics. Antibiotics were understandably considered ‘miracle drugs,’ and more than proved their capability to treat diseases which, just years before, had been responsible for millions of deaths worldwide.1
Now, in the 21st century, we are starting to learn the hard way that there can be too much of a good thing. Due to improper use, over-prescribing and a lack of understanding, our beloved antibiotics are losing their potency. Microorganisms are evolving resistance faster than we can develop and market new drugs and this accelerating resistance should be placed front and centre of our global health concerns.
The crisis is so pressing that some experts have warned that if patterns continue as they do, we would be plunged back into the “dark ages of medicine,”2 where minor ailments, such as a scratch or an ear infection, could escalate into life-threatening conditions. A panel led by economist Jim O’Neil looked at the rising prevalence of drug-resistant bacteria and predicted that by 2050, more deaths would be caused by drug-resistant infections than by cancer; equating to an estimated 10 million deaths each year.3
But it’s not just rising death rates that are cause for concern. We have become so accustomed to effective medicines, that the growing risk of superbugs is too removed from public perception. To bring the problem into the public’s focus, we need to look towards educating from the bottom-up to raise awareness about our collective responsibility to use antibiotics properly, rather than relying on an overstretched NHS and overworked doctors.
There is a current gap in the UK for communications campaigns that directly address this public misperception through education on safe practices when using antimicrobial agents. It was touched upon in a TV advert campaign, launched in October 2017 from Public Health England, titled ‘Keep Antibiotics Working,’ which highlighted the need for patients to adhere to their individual antibiotic treatment plans. With 1.2 million views on social media and 49% of consumers in the North West aware of the campaign,4 we can certainly see a way for this to be built on in order to drive home the message of the global threat of antimicrobial resistance, and educate about steps that can be taken in everyday practice to minimise the risk of contributing to antibiotic resistance. Indeed, we look forward to seeing the wider impact on public perception following today’s launch of the next stage of this campaign.
It goes without saying that advancements in pharmaceutical research are paramount to addressing the problem of antimicrobial resistance. However, while researchers race to develop alternative microorganism-targeting treatments, communications campaigns that build on the message started by Public Health England are essential to run in tandem with these efforts, so we can minimise the rate of antimicrobial resistance, while we still have some drugs that are effective.
Juliet Kitson is a Programme Executive at Madano, a fully integrated communications consultancy that specialises in advising clients in sectors (healthcare; energy; technology; investment, development and regeneration) where communications are critical to success. Find out more about us here.
- Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Control of Infectious Diseases. CDC. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4829a1.htm. Accessed October 2018.
- Antimicrobial Resistance: Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Available from: https://amr-review.org/sites/… Accessed October 2018.
- Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally: Final Report and Recommendations. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Available from: https://amr-review.org/sites/default/files/160525_Final%20paper_with%20cover.pdf. Accessed October 2018.
- Keep Antibiotics Working – A Social Media and TV Campaign. Public Health England. Available from: https://www.nwcpwd.nhs.uk/attachments/article/218/. Accessed October 2018.
Written by Dan Townshend, Research Manager, Insights practice
Pharmaceutical companies are investing heavily in medical technology and it is easy to see why. Drug development has been declining for decades and there is a real need to find new ways of diagnosing, tracking and ultimately treating some of the more challenging diseases.
Using technology to make treatment decisions will mean that new scales for measuring indications or symptoms will need to be developed. In the past we have been limited to largely episodic, in-clinic measurement but now we can look at the kind of metrics that will help with increasingly complex neurological conditions, such as sleep patterns, number of words spoken in a day, and what proportion of the day we spend sedentary. And we can do so in a real world environment protected from the biases of the ‘lab’.
This really matters when you consider resources required to run effective clinical trials based on traditional scales collected episodically. At phase 2, a drug can appear to be acting effectively but by phase 3, it can show no improvements at all. Not only does this come at great cost to the pharmaceutical company (which ultimately affects the cost of all new drugs) but also to the thousands of patients that enter into a trial who may feel that they have wasted months or even years of their lives.
There are of course a number of challenges medical technology would have to overcome to be widespread, such as how to interpret data, what role the various actors play in this interpretation (bearing in mind we are bringing together individuals from numerous fields, including computer science, bioinformatics and health), and accessibility of the required technology. However, even if all these issues (and various others) were overcome, there would still remain one major barrier: public acceptability.
The success of existing lifestyle technologies and apps, such as FitBit, may suggest that people are increasingly accepting of the reliance on technology for making decisions about their health. However, having a vibrating watch encourage you to go for a walk is one thing, having an app tell you what treatment you should be on for your bowel disease is quite another.
How prepared would the public be to having their treatment decided by technology?
One way to approach this question would be to look at the rather timely issue of data privacy and security. According to Yuval Noah Harrari, eventually computers will “know me better than I know myself”. On the one hand, this promises to lead us to more effective, personalised medical care. On the other, there is something a bit “creepy” and unsettling about this.
If you were horrified by the recent collusion between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and your social media data, you would be forgiven for having similar concerns about your health data. After all, it is far from clear who would have access, legitimately or illegitimately, and who would ultimately own it. In a recent PwC survey, 80% of respondents felt that healthcare apps should not have access to patient records. Clearly, there is some way to go in establishing trust.
That said, the emergence of GDPR does point the way to how we can embrace medical technology, if we can apply the same principles to the protection of personal health data. If governments take a lead in articulating the benefits of such technology powerfully (by pointing to the potential impacts to national healthcare systems, industry and, most importantly, to the patient) and couple this with robust safeguards people may be more accepting of it. After all, there are already organisations that have access to our personal medical records when they need them, such as insurance companies, and researchers also have access to our anonymised health data, undoubtedly to our collective benefit.
So long as data is secure, transparent and is ultimately controllable for the user, there is every reason to believe the public will come to accept medical technology and benefit from its many promises. All we need to do is to get the appropriate frameworks in place to allow it to truly flourish.
This article was published by Paramount Recruitment. See below for a link to the original article.
If you’re considering a career move into healthcare communications and want some real advice on whether this specialist field is for you, look no further! For valuable insights and an insider view on the industry, how to get into it and how to get ahead, Paramount Recruitment caught up with Reghu Venkatesan who is currently head of healthcare at Madano – a global strategic consultancy working on integrated communications in highly regulated areas, including healthcare, energy and the built environment. Previously, Reghu was a director at Madano’s sister healthcare company, AXON Communications
How did you get into healthcare communications?
I was in the middle of studying for my PhD when I realised that a career in academia and research just wasn’t for me, but I didn’t really know what other options there were for someone with my background. I spoke to one of my professors, who suggested medical publishing and put me in touch with one from a global medical publishing house who he said could tell me more. It sounded right up my street, and moving into publishing turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made.
I spent 7 years in healthcare publishing, reviewing content for more than 40 medical journals, covering just about every therapeutic area you could imagine, and worked my way up to editorial director. I learned a lot during that time, and used that knowledge and experience to progress to an editorial director role at AXON in 2007. Once I took that role, I really had an opportunity to develop my knowledge and understanding of strategic, integrated healthcare communications. I was there for just over 2.5 years, and then tried working for a few other agencies, but finally went back to AXON in 2012 – for the people, for the culture and for the opportunity to continue to learn and develop.
What qualifications do you need to work in healthcare communications? Do you need a science PhD or a media degree?
No, not at all, neither is essential and I think that’s one of the great things about healthcare communications. I believe it is an industry that embraces variety, and very much welcomes people with different backgrounds and experiences. You don’t need to have followed a linear path to get here.
What’s it like working in a healthcare communications agency?
Hand on heart, it’s not 9 to 5 and no day is ever the same. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth! It can get pretty busy at times, especially around congresses and key milestones, but both Madano and AXON do their very best to ensure that staff retain a good work/life balance and are recognised in many different ways when they need to go ‘above and beyond’ to deliver for a client. It’s a fantastically varied sector, and you could be tackling anything from advising clients to writing copy, to being onsite anywhere around the globe, working with the most eminent physicians in their field, and everything in between – on any given day!
What skills do you think are most important in healthcare communications?
I think listening is probably one of the most important skills you can develop in this industry. Communication is a two-way process, so you have to actively listen to your clients’ specific needs to be able to give them good counsel and deliver communications solutions that will work for them. The more you listen, the better job you will do for them, and this all helps establish you as their trusted advisor, which is one of our ultimate goals in the business.
Do you have any advice for those just starting out in healthcare communications?
Be a sponge! Take it all in, ask questions and learn as much as you can, even if you don’t think it’s something that will be directly related to your work. To be a good communicator in this field, you need to have a holistic approach to healthcare. This means developing a broad understanding of the whole industry, its complexities and its challenges. We should also learn from other sectors, as we do in Madano. For example, to manage any potential issue or crisis; if we can deal with these situations in the pharma, nuclear and construction industries, then we are pretty well set to handle anything thrown at us and our clients!
I’d also say try lots of different things. The industry is slowly moving away from ‘silo’ working, and many roles require a crossover of skills and experience between brand and corporate comms, policy and advocacy, medical education, public affairs, market access, and patient recruitment and retention – so overall my advice is to embrace opportunities that broaden your experience.
Talking of full integration, working with our in-house Insights and Creative teams has been fantastic – data-driven communications is the present (and the future) and you can always stand confidently behind a big creative idea built on a solid strategy – and we love doing that!
What do you like most about your job?
There’s lots that I enjoy about my job! I guess the first thing is that I love to learn, and at Madano I’m learning all the time because of the variety of people, products and places that are involved in my work. The second reason is that I enjoy doing a good job for my clients; it enthuses me and it’s why I come to work in the morning. I don’t see myself as a vendor or supplier, I hope I am a trusted advisor to my clients and can help them to solve some of their work challenges, as well as give them the Madano and AXON perspective on their business.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started out in healthcare communications?
That’s a really tough one. I think I would have liked to know that clients are just people and they want to hear your opinion, even if it’s different to theirs. We shouldn’t just be ‘yes’ people. We can and should challenge our clients and we should speak up and share our views. They’re not paying us to agree – well, not always!