The Human Touch: Infusing Medical Communications With the Patient Voice

Patients are the reason we read the studies, crunch the data, uncover the insights, craft the strategies, and deploy the solutions. Yet not every project allows us to speak directly to patients to ensure that we’re accurately reflecting their experiences, attitudes, and unmet needs.

Which is why we particularly appreciate projects like the following 3 that amplify the patient voice.

  1. Podcast SeriesMS perceptions: Candid HCP/Patient Clinical Conversations About MS
    Each episode of this series pairs a healthcare provider (HCP) with a person with multiple sclerosis (MS) to discuss a topic of interest to the neurology community. By exercising sensitivity to address issues like the treatment decision process, recognizing invisible symptoms, and the impact that MS can have on a patient’s quality of life, the series inspires HCPs to have similar conversations with their own patients.

  2. Patient Ambassador Speaker Bureaus
    Whether speaking on stage to HCPs at a medical congress or to newly diagnosed patients in a webinar, patient ambassadors put a face to a disease state—powerfully, authentically, and compliantly. We interview each ambassador to extract the stories that we can transform into compelling scripts, storyboards, and presentations.

    Earlier this year I had the privilege of interviewing two young women living with the rare, chronic blood disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). Their vibrancy contrasted starkly with the disease’s ravages that they described experiencing before diagnosis. Hearing their stories, I applauded their persistence in lobbying their physicians to change treatments when their initial drug treatments didn’t provide relief. I rejoiced with them at discovering that with the right treatment—the client’s drug—they could again plan for the future without fear of an unanticipated blood transfusion or hospitalization. And I captured their journeys on paper with enthusiasm for them to later share with other patients, offering hope where there had been fear.

    In 2021 alone, we seamlessly executed engagements with 90 patient ambassadors representing 6 different rare disease states. In a world of pandemic lockdowns, the patient ambassadors carried on with their important work, in virtual presentations that led 99% of attendees to agree that they’d “like to attend more events like these.” Attendee comments such as “So informative, and guest speaker was inspirational! This experience was much more than I expected!” further demonstrate the power of these ambassador appearances.

  1. Patient Advisory Boards
    When clients seek insights about real-world experience with their drug, our solution is often to gather a group of patients for a moderated discussion. In a live or virtual setting, we use a variety of stimuli to elicit patient feedback on topics of interest, which we translate into recommended actions. Past patient advisory boards have led to the development of new patient onboarding materials, compliance tools, and DTC advertising messages.

    Sometimes the insights revealed are surprising. Advisory boards with dialysis patients revealed that the timing of pharmaceutical companies’ patient outreach was nearly as important as the content. The diagnosis of chronic kidney disease can be devastating, and immediately after, patients are often inundated with information. Overwhelmed patients were overlooking our client’s communications. Putting this learning into practice, our client changed the cadence of their emailed educational materials to give patients a window of time following diagnosis before receiving more information.

Healthcare without patients is like a car without an engine…it looks complete on the outside but something necessary is lacking inside. Consider blulava your partner for full-performance healthcare communications.

Brenda Schwartz, Associate Director, Business Strategy

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SCOTT REESE

Vice President, Digital Strategy and Customer Engagement

Scott is fortunate to bring 25 years of digital expertise to the blulava team. Scott has broad global executive leadership experience ranging from serving as the Executive Creative Director for the world’s largest digital agency to Managing Director of a Microsoft and Accenture joint venture focused on advanced analytics and artificial intelligence solutions for global clients. He has also worked with some of the worlds biggest rock acts to bring to life immersive entertainment experiences. Scott has been awarded numerous patents for his analytical technology inventions. He has also been recognized widely for his creative work including Webbys, Cannes Lion, Clio, MM&M, DTC Awards and many others.

When not working to build creative technology solutions for clients, Scott is typically found in the company of musicians, artists and athletes. A highly avid skier, Scott is former PSIA ski coach in Winter Park Colorado. He is a former completive distance runner and triathlete. Scott’s artwork is in several private and public collections. He performed alongside of Mikhail Baryshnikov in the White Oak Dance Company at the Kennedy Center. He is a pianist and guitar player. Any given night you may find Scott in various rock venues or music festivals.

Carl Napolitano

Vice President, Creative Director

Carl is an award-winning creative director with a distinguished career in healthcare communications, design, and marketing. Over the past 20 years, Carl has cultivated a seasoned intuition for compelling creative by showcasing the nuances of a brand’s value proposition. His artistic energy supports both the brands he develops as well as the team he leads.

From innovative digital tactics to integrated media campaigns to corporate identity branding, Carl’s creative work and dynamic leadership have been recognized with industry awards from the RX Club and the OMNI Awards.

When not at work, you can find Carl on the golf course with his son or at the beach with his family.

BETH MICKELBERG

Group Account Director, Digital Solutions

Beth is a successful marketing veteran with 20 years driving groundbreaking omnichannel programs for Fortune 500 companies. She loves to uncover the deeply felt customer insights that bring your brand from ideas to actions. Beth has won multiple industry awards, from Best Website at DTC Pharma Awards to Most Innovative Programs at the Webby Awards.

In her free time, Beth loves to spend time with her niece and nephews, and tries to stay balanced between the gym, the beach and the runway.

JON ALFISI

Vice President, Technology and Software Development

Jon is responsible for all aspects of product delivery and technology development at blulava. Over the past 25 years, he has built best-in-class, innovative technology solutions for global brands within in the medical communications industry. Jon’s visionary leadership is driven by his passion for helping clients understand their particular business needs.

In his free time, Jon loves exploring different cuisines, listening to music, and traveling. He also enjoys gardening and working on home improvement projects.

SCOTT REESE

Vice President, Digital Strategy and Customer Engagement

Scott brings 25 years of digital expertise to the blulava team. His executive leadership experience ranges from serving as the Executive Creative Director for one of the world’s largest digital agencies to Managing Director of a Microsoft/Accenture advanced analytics venture, focusing on AI solutions for global clients. Scott’s work has spanned industries from entertainment, retail, financial services with a heavy dose of pharmaceutical experience.

Scott has been granted numerous patents for his analytical technology inventions. He has been recognized widely for his creative work, winning awards at the Webbys, Cannes Lion, CLIO, and the MM&M Awards, to name a few.

When not working, Scott can usually be found in the company of musicians, artists, and athletes.

LEO FRANCIS, PhD

Chief Operating Officer,
Chief Medical Officer

Leo is an award-winning industry leader, twice recognized as one of PharmaVOICE’s 100 most inspiring people in the life-sciences industry. His driving focus is to frame science in a context that creates meaning and relevance for healthcare professionals and their patients across all aspects of therapeutic commercialization.

Leo is a skilled communicator and visionary, operationally robust in translating scientific ideas into organizational value. He is a consummate team worker, customer-focused, organizationally agile, and committed to improving patient care.

JEFFREY FREEDMAN

Executive Vice President

Jeff is an insights−driven marketing and communications strategist dedicated to helping companies grow, build brands, and deliver differentiated, multichannel customer experiences. He has served 15+ years on agency leadership teams, where he has headed up communications, strategy, technology, creative, and analytics groups. As a digital marketing veteran, he has helped brands navigate the fascinating and rapid convergence of omnichannel communications and technology.

To unplug, Jeff loves to cook and entertain for family and friends, as well as listen to and live music and travel to concerts.

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