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Engaging with diverse patient populations: Q&A with PHM President Andrea Palmer

We spoke with Andrea Palmer, President of Publicis Health Media, about how to build out engagements and messaging that resonates with all types of patient audiences.

Diversity interview with PHM Healthfront

Successfully engaging patients and gaining their confidence in your health content, products and services depends on earning their trust. But in building that trust, it’s important that healthcare stakeholders avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach.    

Andrea Palmer, President of Publicis Health Media (PHM), spoke with Phreesia about connecting with diverse patient populations, including how to meet them with resources that resonate with their individual needs and through the channels they prefer most.  

Phreesia: In today’s digital world, consumers have a wealth of healthcare information readily available at their fingertips. How can brands engage patients with content that resonates with their specific healthcare needs and experiences?   

Andrea Palmer: Consumers are leveraging multiple means and resources to piece together answers to their health-related questions. Historically, this type of information discovery was limited to well-known endemic websites or traditional search engines. Today, diversifying media mix is critical to ensure you’re meeting consumers where they are. Social, paired with other channels such as the point of care, enables you to reach audiences at multiple touchpoints throughout their journey.   

Phreesia: When building out relevant audiences, what are some top-focus priorities to make sure you reach diverse and vulnerable patient communities?     

Andrea Palmer: There is no turnkey approach to diverse engagements and messaging, in part because oversimplifying identity can be so harmful to speaking to audiences authentically. Instead, at PHM we seek to reach these patient communities by looking at the data and building new solutions.  

The data can help us solve for gaps in health equity, but only in the hands of an astute strategist. Most research relies on a wide sample, unintentionally obscuring the data from the minority, which is so crucial in this circumstance. Working closely and carefully with the data can uncover learnings that can unlock access to important health information for some communities.   

Phreesia: In a recent Phreesia survey, both Black and Hispanic patients ranked their trust in health information they saw at the point of care higher than health content they saw in print, on social media, on the internet and on TV.1 Why is it important to engage with patients of color through the channels they trust most?  

Andrea Palmer: In addressing all audiences, cultural competence is crucial. In healthcare, we are engaged with audiences on the most personal topics possible—it’s critical to remember we are engaging with people, not as statistics. This means carefully selecting content and channels that are preferred sources and populating them with relevant and medically sound information. Furthermore, that information should be tailored to the languages and cultural nuances organic to those communities to ensure further health literacy and engagement. This helps to build trust between HCPs and patients as well as foster interactions in which critical health information can be impactfully communicated to the patient. In the end, this creates a path to improving patient outcomes, which is the real measure of success for any healthcare campaign.   

Phreesia: How does PHM stay on top of healthcare consumer trends and patients’ evolving expectations?   

Andrea Palmer: We work to create bespoke solutions that not only address specific audiences, but also those audiences’ respective behaviors right now. Certainly, the way we as consumers looked for health information 10 years ago is hugely different than our behaviors today, so our tools need to evolve as well. Last year we debuted seven new solutions at The PHM HealthFront, our annual Upfront for health, which returns this spring. This year, we’ll be announcing all new, first-to-market solutions to connect with audiences across communities.   

Hear experts from Phreesia and PHM discuss the impact that point-of-care messaging can have on patient engagement at The PHM HealthFront 2023.    

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References 

1 Phreesia pharmaceutical-advertising perceptions survey: June–July 2022 [n=3,023]