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Redefining what healthcare means to us: How things have changed and what is yet to come

|July 29, 2021
Man checking health information on smartphone

As we emerge from the third (and hopefully final) wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and as vaccine rollout continues, the importance of integrated and clear communications in healthcare has never been more evident, and we will continue to see an elevated focus on the role of communications moving forward. As Canadians, we’ll also have to digest and process the outcomes of the pandemic, and some of the inequities that have been brought to bear on vulnerable populations.

Even before the pandemic, we recognized we are living in a brave new healthcare world. We are living in an era of easy access to information, heightened scrutiny, coupled with a shift to value-based decision making. This new world is characterized by an explosion of knowledge, technologies, and information. Virtual healthcare is more prominent than ever and will be here to stay post-pandemic. The technology surrounding virtual care allows Canadians to have safe and secure medical appointments from their own homes, which is an additional level of comfort and security. This will enable Canadian businesses to take a fresh look at their offerings and make some changes to better suit this newfound healthcare space.

The pandemic has encouraged consumers to increase their knowledge surrounding their own personal health and become more engaged with their healthcare decisions. By taking charge of their own health, Canadians are eager to invest time and money into their own wellbeing. COVID-19 has forced consumers to look at their overall health and make changes that will better them in the future. Companies across Canada will be placing health at the forefront of their business, internally and externally. COVID-19 has encouraged Canadians to prioritize their health, and this goes for personal health and the health of the business.

Ultimately, the overall definition of “health” has transformed and is not just observed as the assessment and treatment of illness, but all-encompassing to include prevention and wellness and the creation and support of social factors contributing to physical and mental health. With health entering the forefront of the business, companies will be creating new health-focused ventures for employees, ensuring that health is a top priority. This is going to be a time for change and transition for Canadian businesses, and by placing an emphasis on health, employees will feel more supported and valued in the workplace.

For public relations and communications professionals, many of these developments mean a move away from “push” information strategies and toward listening exercises and strategic communications helping patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals see themselves in the work and information being produced and shared.

A refocus on our communications and engagement teams as creative problem solvers encourages new ways of thinking and interacting producing new thinking and results. At NATIONAL we are experts in finding solutions to new challenges, and this transition in healthcare is one we are ready to tackle.

——— Nancy Dale is a former Vice-President and Practice Lead, Healthcare at NATIONAL Public Relations