For those of us who live and breathe healthcare PR, we know this past year has been a rollercoaster. From major developments in healthcare policy to evolving payment models to the explosion of generative AI, these moments in time have created a crowded news cycle, keeping us on our toes and challenging us to get creative. As PR practitioners, we’ve seen the growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion in media, which is reflective of a larger societal push for representation and equitable opportunities. This is also an important narrative in healthcare.
Let’s explore trending media topics across three particular health sectors—women’s health, telehealth and behavioral health—and consider how healthcare brands can differentiate their message and drive the conversation.
Closing the gap in women’s health with technology
The past few years have brought many changes in healthcare policies and regulations that affect women’s access to healthcare services, insurance coverage, reproductive rights, maternal health and more. These recent developments have sparked conversations in the media around women’s healthcare accessibility in the U.S., health equity and how health technology companies can bridge gaps to improve care outcomes. According to a recent media conversation analysis from PAN Communications, the overall media landscape for women’s health experienced a 74 percent year-over-year rise in total mentions, a promising sign that meaningful discussions around improving women’s health are happening and will likely continue.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's October '23 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine
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Historically, society has subscribed to an outdated vision of women’s health and as a result, health measures commonly used to monitor women’s health represent only a small part of women’s needs. The good news is that more attention is being put on diseases that only impact women, which have historically been underfunded areas of research. Additionally, motherhood can be an important aspect of healthcare for many women, resulting in increased media conversation around how to support related aspects, from menstrual tracking to fertility. Celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Adele have become champions of traditionally under-represented areas of maternal health, such as post-partum depression. Beyoncé, among others, has also continued to advocate for improved maternal healthcare and has been vocal about the high maternal mortality rates, which disproportionally affect Black women in the United States.
The evolving discussion around the impact of work and societal expectations on women’s health, including stress, burnout and the need for supportive work environments, continues to be a common media theme. Many brands are committed to updating their vision for women’s health and what this means for women of the modern workforce. Companies that challenge the status quo and continue to elevate solutions that support women in their unique healthcare journeys while helping to address gender inequity will rise above the noise.
Telehealth is here to stay
We all know the use of telehealth exploded in 2020 and has only continued to grow. Already this year we’ve seen big moves that have impacted the market, including the introduction of Amazon Care, UnitedHealthCare’s $5 billion investment in virtual health and Teladoc’s deeper integration with BetterHelp—all stories that dominated headlines. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global telehealth market is projected to exhibit a compound annual growth rate of 19.7 percent by 2030, which means we can expect new entrants into the space through the end of the decade.
In addition to the milestones above, much of the conversation has centered around the COVID-19 public health emergency, outlining the “new normal” of a post-pandemic era with potential impacts on telehealth reimbursement. While provisions for temporary extended coverage for telehealth have been put into place, physicians, patients and stakeholders alike have become accustomed to the convenience and personalization that telehealth can provide and are still advocating to permanently expand virtual care coverage.
Looking ahead, we see an opportunity for brands to facilitate a “rebrand” of sorts for the telehealth market, highlighting the true impact that technology continues to have on how patients access whole-person care, including routine consultations, mental health support and more. Brands that put themselves at the center of conversations around how patients and physicians should be thinking about telehealth going forward will be able to differentiate themselves in this increasingly competitive sector of digital health.
Prioritizing behavioral health and mental wellness
The media conversation around digital behavioral health has shown continued momentum, beginning well before the COVID-19 pandemic. The prioritization of mental health continues to have its moment, thanks to brave politicians, athletes and celebrities, who are opening up and sharing their struggles, inspiring others to share their own stories and get the help they need.
We see this change reflected through growth in the behavioral health market. Recent data from Fortune Business Insights projected the U.S. behavioral health market to grow to $105.14 billion by 2029. The stress brought on by the global health crisis in large part continues to fuel the need for virtual behavioral health services, a prevailing narrative in the media conversation, which grew by 23 percent year-over-year, according to the same conversations analysis report mentioned above. The ongoing behavioral health workforce shortage is creating a perfect storm of coverage signaling rising costs and collective concern that access to care may only continue to become more challenging.
While the healthcare ecosystem may not be able to solve this crisis overnight, stories that present solutions to alleviate some of the burden on healthcare professionals and include their voices in the discussion will continue to educate and move the conversation toward improving care outcomes and providing support for patients.
Practice what we preach
The healthcare landscape has experienced seismic shifts, and the corresponding narratives playing out in the media—centered on these three sectors in particular—continue to evolve rapidly. Healthcare brands play a vital role in advancing care delivery by advocating for inclusivity, fostering innovation and more. Differentiating in an increasingly crowded market will require healthcare companies to actively monitor the trends important to their stakeholders to adjust their strategy accordingly. Doing so will help them more clearly communicate why they’re uniquely positioned to solve the problems impacting their respective sectors. By demonstrating how they’re embracing technology, fostering diversity and inclusion and championing new approaches, brands can effectively position themselves as changemakers, ultimately shaping a future that is both innovative and equitable.
To explore some of these trending conversations further, visit our website.
Nicole Das is Senior Account Supervisor at PAN Communications.