The four members of the Patients & Purpose executive team have been together longer than some marriages, but the company’s 2019 suggests that complacency hasn’t set in. Among other initiatives, P&P spent the year growing its Emerging Digital Group and its Experience Design (XD) team.

The goal, as always, was to improve the quality of patient engagements in and around the entire healthcare ecosystem. “We’re one of, if not the only, real agencies out there that only does patient work, and that’s a huge differentiator,” notes managing partner and executive creative director Dina Peck. “It’s 95% of what we do and we’re super passionate about it.”

In 2019, the Emerging Digital Group turned its attention to voice assistants, podcasts and human-centered design through patient co-creation. The XD team, on the other hand, took deeper dives into the problems patients and caregivers face during the treatment journey, creating digital solutions for both overt and underlying issues.

For both units, accessibility is a top consideration. “If we are working in a world of macular degeneration, the expectation is designers are designing around 16 and 18 point type. They’re not doing anything with 12 point type,” Peck explains. “In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, it’s about the ability to open a brochure. It’s about making sure that piece, if it’s physical, is spiral bound so it’s easy to open and easy to keep open.”

This accessibility focus came to the forefront during work the agency did for Eisai and its Lennox-Gastaut syndrome patients. P&P tapped Amazon’s Alexa to create Ella the Jellyfish, a voice and social experience for children with the syndrome, which is a severe form of epilepsy. The program helps children interact with content using voice commands, no matter what their physical or intellectual limitations might be.

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Emotional connections like this are woven through much of the agency’s work — and it’s one of the reasons talent retention is less of a problem at P&P than it is elsewhere, according to agency president Eliot Tyler. By way of example, he points to a recent project for Vertex Pharmaceuticals on cystic fibrosis treatment Trikafta, and commentary in the social realm by patients and their families when it was approved.

“We get to work on life-changing therapies that inspire everybody at the agency, and that’s one of the reasons we have been strong at keeping and attracting some of the best talent in the industry,” says Tyler.

Revenue in 2019 revenue was flat at an MM&M-estimated $65 million. P&P increased head count slightly, from 218 at the end of 2018 to 221 at the end of 2019, and created four new roles: VP, strategy director (Marcela Rozo); SVP, director of digital strategy and analytics (Todd Weinstein); social media community manager (Kate Rubin) and VP, director of health literacy and editorial services (Susan Andreas). Like most agencies, P&P will likely find itself shifting more of its team’s work around the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our agency members can reinvent themselves by finding another job at the agency that they can be passionate about,” says P&P CEO Deb Deaver. “That’s something that’s very different about Patients & Purpose, and it’s something we’re proud of.”


The best marketing we saw in 2019…

Bayer’s SmartRead for macular degeneration takes into account appropriate use of language, accessibility and usability. It’s a beautifully and empathetically designed magazine that successfully approached and delivered on the challenge of vision loss. — Eliot Tyler