There is no doubt that the past year was one that instantly changed many facets of life. Normal became a word that invoked more questions than answers, and pivoting could have been an Olympic sport.

For the healthcare industry, COVID-19 became an accelerator and a disrupter. It effectively grounded what could arguably be considered a pharma company’s biggest financial investment: its sales force. But it also fast-forwarded the adoption of technological innovations that might have otherwise taken years to come to fruition.

As the world works its way through what will, hopefully, be the end of a pandemic, 2021 will continue to be a year of rebalancing and reflecting: What do we want more of, and what do we want less of? How do we refine what’s working for long-term sustainability? Where do all of these advancements fall into our future plans?

Fingerpaint, a full-service health and wellness marketing agency, reached across its businesses to ask its leaders what they think 2021 will have in store for everything from recruiting and retaining talent to telehealth and advanced therapeutics and access.

Healthcare marketing

Bill McEllen
Fingerpaint partner

Virtual care and remote medicine will continue to play an integral part in healthcare, but it will begin to find its appropriate place in the overall sphere of patient care. A very deliberate balance of in-person and remote care will begin to emerge as the year progresses, as patients and providers have now been able to experience both the benefit and pitfalls of each over the past year.

At the same time, life science companies, which had to quickly embrace digital, will need to prepare for this hybrid approach and learn to strike their own balance. As they continue to double down on technology, they will be looking for ways to improve their marketing performance and build long-term strategies that allow for short-term pivots.

Andy Pyfer
Fingerpaint partner

When, where and how life science companies are communicating and educating both healthcare practitioners and patients will evolve. To achieve success in this area, companies will need to understand their customers on the deepest level and provide personalized communication options. Brands will no longer just be meeting their customers where they are; instead, by tapping into the capabilities of machine learning, they will begin to predict and anticipate what their next need will be. This will require coordinated, omnichannel approaches across verticals to leverage the efforts of medication communications, branding and marketing. Virtual communications between brands and HCPs will not only expand, but also be expected to be on demand.


Roshawn Blunt
Managing director, 1798, a Fingerpaint company

Many Americans — particularly working-age adults, those with low income and people of color — experience a persistent inability to afford insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket medical expenses. These individuals are more likely to struggle to pay bills or even to skip care due to the costs, and they have always been attuned to issues of access. The recent economic downturn has highlighted the issue of health inequality for some, but for others, it is a constant. In 2021, it is vital for all in healthcare to focus on and seek ways to address healthcare disparities and control for social determinants of health.

Machine learning

Bryan O’Malley
Co-lead, Shift Performance, Center of Excellence

Machine learning has moved from being a novelty to a key component of how we analyze data. We see a huge benefit in the way it allows us to examine activity data, identify trends and predict future behavior. With COVID-19 continuing to impact the reach of the sales force, the insights generated by machine learning help optimize rep focus where it will have the biggest impact and better guide the effectiveness of NPP.

Cell, gene and advanced therapeutics

Dan Schroen
Head of Photo 51, a Fingerpaint company

The right treatments will be available to more patients with wider indications, including underserved populations. Advocacy will give patients a voice in drug development, health policy and value of treatment. Online peer groups will evolve how patients interact, learn, communicate, understand risks and benefits, and report outcomes. Tapping into the lessons learned from conducting clinical trials during a pandemic, the design, digitization, qualification, informing, consent and enrollment will continue to improve at a more rapid rate than before. Patient engagement and connectivity with treatment centers will improve, with added attention to detail for higher quality of life, safety and timeliness during treatment. The same goes for support, follow-up, monitoring and continuity.

Talent acquisition

Krystal Gomola
People & Culture at Fingerpaint

The competition for qualified candidates has always been tough. The pandemic didn’t change that, but in many cases, it did recalibrate how candidates approach a position and what, in their view, makes a company a desirable place to work. Culture and a people-first focus continue to be a priority for candidates. Having a clear company vision and core values will help candidates understand what a company stands for and if their values align.

The pandemic has forced many employees — both prospective and current — to take a deep dive into their own values and life priorities. At the same time, the pandemic has shown that geographical location is no longer a barrier when it comes to providing award-winning work and building high-performing teams. This positive collision of beliefs coming together at exactly the right time creates a rare intersection of opportunity for companies looking for top talent and talent looking for companies who meet their expectations.

About Us

Fingerpaint, with five offices across the country, is built on a foundation of empathy, and at its core is committed to creating and executing meaningful brand experiences that are never paint-by-number for healthcare providers, care partners and patients. In 2020, Fingerpaint acquired 1798, a market access and commercialization firm located in La Jolla, California, adding to its portfolio of services in support of biopharma customers. The agency also launched Photo 51, a gene therapy consultancy. To learn more about Fingerpaint, visit,