Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how intimately entwined our public policy is with our healthcare system. From stimulus funds to vaccine prioritization to new health technologies, the government and the healthcare industry have been — and must continue — working together to ensure effective public health responses and recovery.
To understand this intersection, we sat down with Senior Public Relations Associate Emily Field, who works with RH Strategic’s healthcare and government clients. We chatted with her about what drew her to PR and the challenges communicators in these sectors face today. Read the full interview:
What drew you to work in RH Strategic’s healthcare and government practices?
For me, it was the focus on working with the most innovative companies in both spaces. Over the past few years, we have seen a lot of change in both sectors, particularly government and technology. That is only going to increase as a result of COVID-19, which has highlighted the importance of these practice areas at RH Strategic and proven our team’s expertise. We offer high value to our clients, and that is only going to increase as more complex demands are placed on organizations.
What have you learned from working in both healthcare and public policy?
The pace of innovation is extremely fast, and there is a lot of potential to better serve patients and communities with innovative technologies. However, policy often lags behind. We’ve seen the ramifications of that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies are rolling out vaccines and new solutions at breakneck speed, but federal, state and local governments don’t always keep pace with that kind of rapid innovation. We must find a balance so that innovators can meet policymakers in the middle to come up with effective solutions that benefit society as a whole. That is where RH Strategic operates: in the intersection of these fields, in a position to help both sectors chart a more viable path forward. Given the likelihood of seeing similar crises again, this balance will be critical to ensuring entities are better prepared for future challenges.
Where do healthcare and public sector communications intersect and how do you navigate that intersection?
At RH Strategic, we’re all policy, health, and tech experts to a degree, and that is a very unique intersection within the communications and PR businesses. We understand all the complexities that organizations in these sectors are navigating and how high the stakes are now, with greater government focus on technology and healthcare. We act as a strategic partner for clients facing never before seen levels of scrutiny and demand.
The healthcare and government sectors have been under intense pressure in the past year. How can strategic communications help these sectors navigate a crisis?
Whether you’re a startup or a Fortune 500 company, you always need PR and communications. You need experts who can help you manage all of the different crises and take advantage of the opportunities that arise for your business. Without strategic communications, you could be out of business or have a lawsuit on your hands. In the past year, we have helped our clients navigate very sensitive situations and taken on greater responsibility as PR partners. We have thrived in such high-stakes scenarios. At the beginning of the pandemic, we helped our clients develop internal crisis communications, which can mean the difference between successfully weathering a disaster and not. When it matters most, we help our clients keep the wheels turning.
Thinking ahead to the rest of 2021, what will be the biggest communications challenges for healthcare and the public sector?
For healthcare, the biggest issue is that there are no unified solutions to the problems we now face. We’re better prepared for the next pandemic, but we’re not well prepared, and there needs to be more collaboration between health innovators and the policy world. As a nation, we must be better equipped to handle public health crises and vaccine rollout. We don’t want to be in the same boat next time, especially not while we’re still dealing with the impacts of this pandemic, which will have a toll on the economy and on healthcare for years to come.
For public sector, we have to reckon with the hackability of our infrastructure. SolarWinds was the biggest government hack ever, and experts are predicting more attacks like it in the future. Right now, we must hammer home the importance of zero trust architecture and figure out how to help the federal government and enterprises streamline processes so they’re less vulnerable. We do not anticipate the tensions with China and Russia going away anytime soon. Our job as communicators is to help brands weather this tension and develop their perspectives on these issues. Their ideas will help us figure out how to move forward collectively and strategically to create a better future.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government and healthcare markets.