Reshaping Healthcare: Health-tech comes of age, COVID's impact on public attitudes, and rise of the ‘genuinfluencer’

COVID-19 has made people more interested in their own health and wellbeing, while health-tech has come of age and a new type of influencer is set to dominate the emerging landscape for health comms professionals, according to a major new report.

Brands2Life's Reshaping Healthcare report presents new insights for health comms professionals
Brands2Life's Reshaping Healthcare report presents new insights for health comms professionals

The Reshaping Healthcare survey, released by Brands2Life, reveals post-pandemic behaviours and attitudes to health.

“The pandemic has thrust health into the spotlight and with it, changed perceptions about the importance of personal and societal health, with 53% of people saying they are now more aware of their general health,” the report states.

The report, which was released last week, is based on a poll of 2,000 Britons conducted by Opinion Research in June.

Health discourse

Four out of 10 (42 per cent) Britons have engaged with more health news and content than they used to, and one in three (35 per cent) talk more about their own health with their friends and family.

Emily Thomas, managing director, health & wellbeing, Brands2Life, commented: “'Helping to normalise this greater health awareness is the biggest opportunity right now.” 

Brands have an important role to play in making healthier steps feel easy, accessible and affordable, she argues: “We’ve all experienced too many restrictions recently, so anything that feels too onerous will turn people off.”

Tracking tech

The report also found that health-tech has come of age, with at least one in five Britons tracking their step count, sleep and physical activity on a daily basis.

And blood pressure, cholesterol, cortisol and oxygen levels are the most popular areas that Britons are interested in monitoring.

Thomas commented: “Maintaining motivation can be one of the hardest things when adopting healthier behaviours, particularly if the payback is gradual. This is why health technology has been so game changing.”

She said: “Giving consumers instant access to data and information helps them to stay motivated. We now need to help them see beyond the novelty to understand what it means and why it matters.”

Appointments

The report outlines the importance of accessibility and personalisation in “sustaining a meaningful health conversation.

With GP appointments difficult to come by as a result of the pandemic, some 70 per cent of people have gone to their pharmacist for advice in the past 12 months. A traditional ‘in-person’ appointment is still the most popular option among Britons. More than half of those surveyed said they preferred this, compared with 22 per cent who would rather have a virtual consultation via phone or video. 


Thomas said: “Giving people the reassurance that they can and should seek advice, as well as the confidence to use remote consultations, when appropriate, will become a foundation for future comms campaigns.” 

Dr Google 

The pandemic has also fuelled the use of online health resources, with 68 per cent of Britons having used at least one online health resource in the past year. And 26 per cent have used social media influencers for general health advice. “Giving consumers access to credible experts and helpful information will be crucial to generating advocates and sustaining a meaningful conversation,” the report states.

Commenting on these findings, Thomas said: “Anything to improve health literacy can only be a good thing, but as more and more people turn to online health sources we risk there being a blurring of health fact and fiction. This is where brand trust is so important, helping consumers navigate to accurate, credible content delivered by qualified expert voices.”

Influencers 

The report also looks at how people are influenced when buying healthcare products. The motivation behind purchasing a healthcare product comes from recommendations from friends (61 per cent) and family (55 per cent).

“Influencers also have sway within the health conversation, with 34 per cent of Brits following dedicated fitness influencers and 24 per cent saying they’ve engaged with influencers regarding health product recommendations,” according to the report.

However, traditional comms channels still have important roles to play. 

The report added: “A third (33 per cent) of consumers reported that seeing a product advertised or promoted on the TV positively impacted their purchasing decision. This was followed closely by print newspapers and magazines with 30 per cent of people giving the outlets similar importance.” 

Emerging trend

The pandemic has also given rise to a “new breed of influencer; the ‘genuinfluencer’.”

The report describes this new type of influencer as delivering “fact-based storytelling, integrating more serious messaging into everyday life content.

It adds: “The UK Government was quick to lean on influencer marketing in this way, partnering with lifestyle influencers and stars to reach sceptical audiences and communicate the NHS Test & Trace App as well as promote the vaccine.”

The ‘genuinfluencer’ will “play a vital role within the healthcare space, helping brands to communicate hard facts over selling an elusive lifestyle dream”, claims the report.

“Although the idea of brand transparency is nothing new, it is set to become non-negotiable in post-COVID times, whether it be in terms of sustainability, product composition, pricing or supply chain.”

Influencers will be vehicles for brands to “deliver transparency, wrapping detailed facts into easily digestible and relatable packages ready for mass consumption, the report states.


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