Asked to describe his agency’s first in-person pitch since the start of the pandemic, Patients & Purpose president Eliot Tyler can barely contain his enthusiasm.

“It was a great experience to be in front of the room, sharing creative ideas — and unlike hybrid or remote pitches, it was so collaborative. Everybody was talking and riffing,” Tyler recalls. “We left the room feeling that’s the way this should roll.” Yes, Omicron prompted a two-month pause, but the Patients & Purpose team seems revitalized by the return to normal — or at least something approaching normal. 

Head count and revenue were flat during 2021, at 216 staffers and an MM+M-estimated $65 million, respectively. That said, P&P was able to devote considerable energy to specialty programs. Tyler is particularly bullish on Patient Services Experience (PSX), which is entirely devoted to patient support programs.

“While it’s been a capability that we’ve had in-house our entire life, we’ve now established a center of excellence around patient support,” he explains. “That’s been a great driver since the middle of 2021.”

Then there’s Lexiconversations, an effort designed to bolster health literacy. The platform focuses on how patients use and respond to language. Its goal: to help healthcare communicators connect with them more effectively.

“It’s basically to make sure our work is accessible, usable and resonant for all audiences,” says managing partner and chief creative officer Dina Peck. “Here we are, working side-by-side with various folks — patients, caregivers, HCPs — to change the lexicons that exist within our industry and disease states.”

According to P&P CEO Deb Deaver, these specialty offerings are what differentiate the agency from the competition. 

“I’m excited to be able to commit to those specialty services in a world where patient marketing can sometimes be
cookie-cutter,” she says, before adding for emphasis: “We don’t do cookie-cutter.”

The agency counted Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine among its notable launches during 2021. It also engineered Power a Period for nonprofit No More Secrets, Mind Body Spirit, which raised awareness of period poverty in the U.S. and around the world.

“We brought in women who are forced to decide, ‘Am I buying my child diapers or am I buying period supplies for myself?’” Peck says. “We were able to reach 32 countries out of a campaign that started just in Philly, and made sure that period poverty is no longer secret.”

P&P did all this while reimagining its work culture for an eventual post-pandemic era. Those conversations spurred a wealth of changes — no meetings after 5:30 p.m., meeting-free Friday afternoons and no emails during evening hours — that will survive long after COVID-19 becomes endemic.

It hasn’t been easy, Deaver stresses. “We’re navigating what hybrid work means for technology and culture, and for the events we do and communities we support,” she explains. “We’re a New York-based community, but we’re expanding to make sure we’re inclusive of what matters to our staff — which may not always be local. Who we want to be as an employer and work family is evolving.”

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Work from outside pharma you admire…

I love the mission and commitment of Honda’s Vertical Bike, which is designed to protect the aguaje forests in the Amazon. Honda took the chainsaw motors used to cut down trees and created a “bike” that could climb those very trees. People could then easily get to the aguaje fruits without deforestation. Love the idea and the positive impact on the world. — Peck