Apr 26, 2021

Investing in digital healthcare

Leila Hawkins
3 min
Investing in digital healthcare
Investing in digital healthcare is on the rise - FreeMind Group tells us which areas are set to grow the most...

A 2020 McKinsey report estimated that up to 20% of the US health spending budget could be devoted to virtual care, including telehealth services. With the pandemic emphasising the importance of digital healthcare, academic agencies such as the National Aging Institute have also increased their spend on digital health, to support research and development (R&D) in this growing industry. 

In the world of R&D, where many small companies are competing for attention, the type of funding they receive is important. Non-dilutive funding means receiving investment without having to give away any ownership of the company, as opposed to dilutive funding, which does. 

Non-dilutive funding as a source of investment is currently booming, according to Ram May-Ron, Managing Partner at FreeMind Group, a consultancy that specialises in non-dilutive funding for life sciences R&D. "Each year, US-based federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Science Foundation allocate over $50 billion in funding for R&D, of which approximately $3 billion goes to for-profit organisations" he says. "There are funding mechanisms that are available throughout the entire R&D process, from early exploratory to late stage clinical."

Investment in the US' digital health sector began to grow after the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, which increased funding from $1.1 billion in 2010 to $6 billion in 2015. This naturally increased further due to the pandemic, and the 2020 digital health market was valued somewhere between $96.5 and $111.4 billion. 

"COVID-19 presented the medical community with a challenge like nothing before: how to provide the best medical care while maintaining social distancing rules" May-Ron explains. "The result was an accelerated adoption of innovative technologies by clinicians and other medical care providers, together with creative solutions to problems by investors. These solutions include improved telemedicine apps, remote diagnosis and mental health related apps. 

"Now that it is clear that the adoption of such technologies is not as "painful" to medical teams and patients as had been expected, more and more technologies will be introduced and will become available; such as technologies for healthy independent living, rehabilitation, diagnosis and others. Hopefully, this will lead to more and more preventative medicine-related apps that, in turn, will lead to a decrease in the overall medical expenses to US payers and patients." 

May-Ron says there are specific areas that will see increased funding in the coming years. "Officials from government agencies have indicated that there is great interest and a willingness to fund projects in accordance with the mission of each agency or institute. These include technologies that will allow the elderly population to live at home safely, rehabilitation-related technologies for mental illnesses that will allow patients to reintegrate into society, and preventative medicine - any app or technology that will allow close monitoring with minimum effort." 

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Jun 12, 2021

How can the healthcare industry build trust with consumers?

Jacqueline Bourke
5 min
Jacqueline Bourke, Director of Creative Insights for EMEA at Getty Images, tells us how healthcare providers can build greater trust with consumers

One of the many ways the pandemic has impacted society is that it has firmly cast the healthcare industry in the public spotlight. From producing ventilators and PPE to developing life-saving vaccines, consumers have looked to pharmaceutical and healthcare companies to keep us safe and find a way out of the Covid-19 crisis.  

As a result, healthcare companies have an opportunity to build upon this and utilise their marketing to drive greater engagement and trust with consumers. When it comes to effective marketing, it’s vital to remember the important role which visuals play. Consumers increasingly engage with brands through the visual communications and storytelling they absorb while online or browsing through media channels. These visual communications can have a huge impact not only on consumer purchasing decisions but also the relationship between brands and customers. 

At Getty Images, we work with healthcare companies throughout Europe to advise them on their visual content. This study forms part of the research for our insight platform Visual GPS, which looks at the key factors affecting consumer decision making and how that impacts their visual choices.

In partnership with YouGov, we surveyed 10,000 consumers globally and have been tracking this consumer sentiment for the past two years. This latest deep-dive into the healthcare industry is part of our wider on-going research, and aims to better understand how consumers in different regions are interacting with the healthcare sector and what motivates their visual preferences. 

Our research revealed that many companies are not using visuals as effectively as they could. In the UK, for instance, the vast majority of consumers do not feel represented by the visual communications which businesses are producing – only 7% of British respondents to our global Visual GPS survey say they felt represented. That is even lower than the global average of 14%.

This latest deep dive into the healthcare industry has uncovered some important insights that can help us better understand how consumers in different regions are interacting with the healthcare sector. 

Mental health should be centre stage 

A key finding shows that mental health remains a highly relevant issue for consumers. Over nine in ten British consumers think it is important to talk about mental health and put it on an equal footing with physical and emotional health. Not surprisingly, 55% of British consumers believe that more people are being diagnosed with depression due to the Covid-19 pandemic.   
There is a growing awareness of the importance of mental health across Europe. Health and pharmaceutical companies should acknowledge this in their visual communications but do so in an empathetic and compassionate way. Only five years ago, visuals around mental health often  depicted people alone, isolated and expressing feelings of shame, whereas now we are seeing a more empathetic and supportive approach to visualising mental health - with an increasing number of positive visuals showing support groups, or individuals proactively seeking and finding support.

Visual communications that show support for mental well-being in a meaningful way will resonate deeply with consumers.  

A more holistic approach 

Another key finding is that consumers want to focus more on holistic health. Our survey found that the majority of UK consumers place an almost equal importance on emotional, physical and mental health, and almost three quarters (73%) placed the health and well-being of family as a top priority. 

It’s important that healthcare companies reflect this. Our research paired with ongoing image testing revealed that consumers want to see visuals that humanise healthcare, so companies should consider visualising inclusive care across intersecting factors such as age, ethnicity and gender. Brands can help establish trust with their customers by highlighting a collaborative relationship between medical professional and patient, as well as ensuring that their visual choices feel genuine. 

Technology and innovation in healthcare are gaining traction

Thirdly, eHealth and purposeful innovation was another key finding. Consumers want innovation that will meaningfully support their care. Particularly in Europe, the older generation will pay more for brands that use technology to provide advice and recommendations, while Gen Z & Millennials are willing to pay for self-service capabilities. It’s important therefore for healthcare companies to incorporate purposeful innovation in their visual communication and demonstrate consumers at the centre of accessible eHealth. 

Given these insights, what visual content do consumers expect to see from pharmaceutical brands? Our research highlighted three key themes.  

  • Consumers want to see how healthcare companies fit into people’s lives. Accessible health services are a key factor here. Decision makers should build trust by showing consumers at the centre of a holistic healthcare ecosystem.   
  • Consumers want to see the emotional rewards others get from using a healthcare company. This can be achieved by building brand loyalty through empathetic and inclusive visual storytelling.
  • Finally, consumers want to see people who are similar to them and their lives. British consumers want to see people that look like them and reflect their lived experiences in advertising and brand communication. Decision-makers should ensure that their visual communication is inclusive and authentic and represents the diverse population of the market in which they’re operating.  

Ultimately, the key to successful visual storytelling for pharma and healthcare businesses is to ensure that they understand what matters to their audience while establishing trust of care. An important element of this is authentically representing the full spectrum of the population. That means representing all ethnicities, ages, abilities, body shapes, sexuality, religion and genders, to ensure patients of all backgrounds feel included and represented.  

Healthcare brands should bear in mind that, as a result of the pandemic’s impact on healthcare systems around the world, consumers may be feeling anxious about whether they will be able to access care if they need it. The healthcare industry has an opportunity to reassure customers and build greater engagement and trust by showing them that they matter through inclusive visuals that represents them authentically at the heart of brand storytelling. 

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