• Susan Cuozzo

Medical Storytelling: Connecting with Your Audience

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

We are life-long learners at S+S{i}. We are passionate about emerging science and finding the best ways to communicate key clinical findings with our content. On a daily basis we must consider the audience we are trying to connect with and make sure that our approach will resonate. Like most things in life, one size does not fit all. Therefore, content must be customized to make a lasting impact with an audience.

Most of our work entails reaching multiple audiences. The term HCP is a great catch-all term but it encompasses so many different audiences with different remits and needs. For example, an endocrinologist’s focus will be drawn to content that’s not necessarily applicable to a family practitioner, nurse, or registered dietitian.

We prefer to prioritize audiences from the start. If we are working on a core slide deck that is needed across multiple audiences, we keep the primary audience in mind first. We anticipate and extensively research the questions that the primary audience (e.g. physician specialists) might have before reading or listening to our content. We make sure that the data, cases, and scenarios prompt our audiences to think about their own clinical experiences and patients. Once vetted (by specialist experts), refined, and approved for use, we then adapt the content for other audiences. This may include revising, removing, or adding slides. It could also mean presenting data in entirely different ways visually. There is no formula to making these adjustments. The specifics vary greatly depending on the therapeutic area and the audiences. The rest of the process remains the same, with the respective experts (e.g. pharmacists) for that audience vetting our work before final revisions are made and it is approved.

Clients have asked us to create presentations that could be effective across audiences. Budget constraints are a reality and often there is not enough time to sequentially create iterations by audience. This can be done but it is important to avoid pitfalls. For example, packing in various pieces of information of interest to different audiences may lead to several modules and an unreasonable presentation length. The principles of adult learning include capturing the limited attention of our audiences and making a memorable and meaningful connection. A well told story activates many parts of the brain to process facts. This can be a challenge if not all the content is applicable across audiences. Allowing speakers to select modules may help remedy this issue.

Patients are often a key audience. We have been inspired by the fact that plain language summaries are becoming more common and best practices are being shared by organizations such as ISMPP to create effective documents. The Future Science Group recently shared a plain language summary published in Future Oncology, which is a great example. We have also worked on promotional content for patients and partnering with patient advocates is essential to connecting with patient audiences.

Ultimately, in order to bring data to life, we must craft a relevant scientific narrative that resonates with our identified audiences, prompts action, and improves outcomes.


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