Health+Commerce chief client officer Krysta Pellegrino tells Doug Simon that it's important for healthcare communicators to "really understand and appreciate the importance of being patient-focused." Being patient-focsued, she says, requires more than just "developing medicines or devices or treatments."

Communications experts have "a great opportunity" go that extra mile toward truly connecting with patients. "One of the very simple things," Pellegrino says, is understanding "the importance of words and individual word choice" when communicating about healthcare.

"I often see materials or hear executives that say a cancer patient or a subject in our clinical trials" she says. "And these are human beings that don't want to be called cancer patients." Saying "a person diagnosed with cancer" or "a person enrolled in our clinical study" instead can be a first step toward putting them "at the center of what you're saying and doing."

For those interested in a career in healthcare communication, Pellegrino says there are several things prospective candidates should keep on their radar.

"You have to be a strong writer, a strong communicator, be interested in how the media works, and what your interactions with them may be like." Also, in addition to the central importance of a focus on patients, she says that "having an interest and curiosity about science" is a big plus.

And even though healthcare comms are highly regulated, creativity remains very important."It's critical that you understand the rules of the road, but being able to work and communicate what we need to within those regulations requires you to have a really creative mind," she tells Simon.

An ability to effectively employ social media channels is also a must-have. Pellegrino advises that communicators "learn from PR practitioners in other areas about some best practices, pull that creativity we were talking about onto our teams, and really work together to understand the best practices from those other areas."

Then, of course, there's COVID. "The pandemic has definitely drawn a lot more attention to all aspects of healthcare," she says, "so the need for really clear communications will never go away."

Health+Commerce has a specialty in healthcare startups. When dealing with a startup, Pellegrino says that communicators need to "understand the company, the business objective, who that audience is you're trying to reach."

Because of that, it's essential to put together "a communications strategy to really help you meet your objective, which may not just be broad consumer awareness, but more of that that targeted message to the right audience, just like in other fields of public relations."

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Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.