Havas Health & You has unveiled Havas Voice, a patient engagement consultancy. The new group will lean on AI-enabled technology to identify patient influencers across medical conditions and connect brands through social media conversations.

The launch of Havas Voice comes as healthcare organizations seek to utilize social media to better align campaigns that focus on the issues that matter most to patients. 

“What we found is that patients don’t always feel that they are heard and that their experience is understood,” said John Ponsoll, managing director at Havas Voice. “So if we can bring a kind of a volume equalizer, if you will, to the equation and help raise their voices, as well as integrate that into the thinking of our pharma and healthcare clients, it will translate toward better overall experiences across the board.”

The concept of patient-centric marketing has received attention in recent years, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as marketers seek to engage consumers at a deeper and more meaningful level. A 2021 Forrester survey highlighted patient-centric solutions as one of the top needs for pharmaceutical companies facing existential crises across the industry.  

Frequently, a handful of patient influencers drive online conversations around a certain disease or medical condition, which can make their opinions valuable to pharma marketers. To that point, HH&Y conducted a study in November 2021 to evaluate the migraine market. It found that of the nearly 245,000 tweets sent out that month on the topic, 80% came from only 12 patients, according to Jeff Hoffman, partner and chief development officer at HH&Y.

“We want to connect with those patients because we not only see what those 12 are doing, but we can then see how far their influence reaches and who they’re connected to,” Hoffman explained. “Those are the patients that are involved with the researchers, advocacy groups and clinical trials. So we can help through recruitment and getting the word out through modular content that’s pre-approved and can be distributed to the community in real-time.”

Hoffman said that patient stories are often more effective in communicating about certain diseases or medical conditions, because “patients want to meet other patients who have been through that journey or real-life experience.”

Hoffman added that while Havas Voice will have offerings for healthcare companies, patients will also be able to connect with advocacy groups, digital opinion leaders and other patient advocates who can offer insight on their conditions.

“The key words are ‘authentic patient influencers,’ because these are the people that are going to shift the community,” Hoffman explained. “If pharma is connected to them and they start to learn about pharma’s messaging, this helps determine the creative, the strategy and the pull-through, because they’re hearing from people who have the disease.”