Over the past year, our healthcare PR pros have noted an important shift in public interest in healthcare narratives. Before, highly technical or specialized news was primarily found in trade outlets with an industry audience. Today, they’re everywhere, from the evening news to the front pages of national newspapers. What used to be considered niche has gone mainstream.
From personal stories of working in ER departments to deep dives into vaccine development and manufacturing, everyday readers no longer shy away from topics that delve into technical aspects of health and science. On the contrary, the public seeks out this type of news because the outcomes are directly impacting individuals’ daily lives.
The Biggest Healthcare Narratives Today
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, three overarching healthcare narratives have come into greater focus over the last year:
- Expansion of the health tech field: Technology’s impact on healthcare took a massive step forward, due in large part to telehealth and remote monitoring services replacing many in-person doctor’s visits amid social distancing measures. In addition, the importance of more nuanced tech aspects, like health data interoperability, emerged on a larger scale due to increase Medicaid sign-ups. This focus has led the health tech market to become increasingly crowded. Financing for this field has also exploded, with investors scrambling to get involved in the next big thing.
- Rapid advances in biotechnology: The convergence of health and science has often been viewed as more sci-fi than real world by the average person. However, this all changed as the world watched the COVID-19 vaccine race with bated breath and cautious optimism. The biotechnology advancements in the last 12 months have been nothing short of miraculous – and the pioneering use of mRNA technology in COVID-19 vaccines is at the top of the list. In fact, due to the vaccine’s success, researchers are now looking to harness this technology to combat other life-threatening diseases, such as malaria. We anticipate this progress will keep vaccines at the forefront of news in the months and years to come.
- The importance of healthcare equity: In the past year, there has been greater focus on equitable access to care across the United States. The pandemic highlighted how access differs for populations due to various social factors, such as location, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic background. From pre-existing conditions to the aging population, leaders across industries have started viewing healthcare through the lens of equity. These leaders are now thinking about how it can be improved to better care for all individuals, regardless of circumstance. These conversations are vital to the betterment of society, and an increased focus on bridging this gap will benefit everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Nearing the End of the Pandemic
With vaccine distribution ramping up across the Unites States, we see the end of the pandemic on the horizon. However, the healthcare narratives that have emerged during this difficult time should not be forgotten. Increasing health equity and improving our healthcare system through technology should be ongoing priorities. If this past year has proven anything, it is that these topics deserve to be talked about on a wide scale and that focusing on improvements can only benefit society as a whole.
As we reflect on the past year and look towards the year ahead, we have hope that these key healthcare narratives will not get lost even as new stories develop and public health interest shifts. As PR professionals, we became increasingly nimble at navigating the healthcare media landscape and standing out in a crowded arena. We will continue our work to push these compelling, impactful health storylines in pursuit of a more informed public and a better health system.
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.