Last Monday night, comic Jimmy Kimmel revealed during his monologue that his new son was born with severe heart defects, requiring emergency surgery. By sharing his emotional reaction live in front of millions, he vividly illustrated how health has become a transparent, passionate dialogue. Let's take a look at the evolution of the patient experience, and how it impacts our role as healthcare communicators...
Our health is taken for granted, until it can’t be. So we live in a binary state of either wellness or sickness—normal and busy, or ill and in crisis. Unlike the consumers of commodities and luxury goods, who seek a flattering reflection of themselves in the brands they buy and flaunt, patients and caregivers have been jettisoned from their everyday existence by illness, desperately seeking solutions that enable them to resume living the lives they once led.
For decades late night TV has sedated Americans with humor, conversation, and music, providing millions of viewers with an enjoyable catharsis of irreverence, distraction, and satire. Surprise and scandal occasionally break the routine, crossing boundaries into cringe-worthy gossip and even political controversy—but any focus on disease, especially in children, is considered an avoidable buzz kill, taking audiences where they don’t want to go.
That makes Jimmy Kimmel’s recent monologue so amazing. If you haven’t seen it, watch as he tearfully recounts the harrowing story of his new born son’s heart defect, and how the health system sprang into action to save the day. Jimmy emotionally thanks everyone from the nurse who initially discovered the problem to the surgical team that successfully conducted the open heart surgery, to family and friends supporting every step of the way:
The audience reaction was equally astounding—hundreds in the studio and millions in their homes attentively listening, involuntarily gasping, and occasionally laughing at the many ironies and self-deprecatory observations. The Web immediately exploded with comments and controversy, Jimmy’s reference to recent legislation triggering both sides of the political aisle on the appropriate role of government in fostering research and providing healthcare.
At the center of that vital debate is the end-user and beneficiary of the healthcare system—the patient—with whom making a deep and lasting emotional connection is more important and relevant now than ever before. The real patient experience has evolved through digital empowerment and the progressive dismantling of a patriarchal medical model. Patients are no longer passive recipients of care, but actively engaged across every dynamic touch point.
No longer tolerating the label “sick people,” patients are expressing themselves as dimensional human beings who demand a new language of health and wellness. Advocacy groups from breast cancer to lupus to HIV have redefined the national conversation surrounding disease, wellness, and the patients themselves. Thanks to their efforts we’ve come a long way from “cancer” being kept an embarrassing secret to late night hosts shedding tears of joy.
Transparency, Trust, and Technology
As societal standards increasingly shift toward discussing health and wellness with radical candor and unabashed enthusiasm, our roles as communicators, marketers, and commercialization experts exponentially expand. And as healthcare stakeholders from patients to caregivers to professionals embrace data and technology to better educate and empower themselves, the brands we represent must become progressively more agile and adaptive.
At Klick Health we understand and appreciate patients by speaking their language and embracing their tools and technologies. With different concerns than consumers but many of their same expectations for immediate and personalized services, today’s “resumers” not only want treatments that return them to their everyday lives, but demand the same level of responsiveness and support as they already experience with Uber, Netflix, or Amazon.
Seamless integration across multiple disciplines makes that necessary and unprecedented level of engagement possible. We flourish at the convergence of health, communications, and tech to help adaptive healthcare brands and their outspoken patients and caregivers thrive. Have you conversed with the Klick Social Health team? Are you aware of the groundbreaking experimentation done by Klick Labs? Let’s get the conversation started!