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All about Healthcare Communications

What is healthcare communications?

The role of healthcare communications is to help shape conversations between pharmaceutical and medical device companies, medical professionals, healthcare providers, patients, and consumers.

This work includes things like creating disease awareness campaigns, coordinating health related events, promoting health initiatives, and developing content and ways to communicate about the latest developments in science and medicine.

Like the work itself, the career paths within healthcare communications are diverse, incorporating specialisations such as digital, creative and design, events management, medical writing, publication planning, PR, patient advocacy, corporate communications, insights research, consultancy, and project management.

Healthcare communications professionals use a multitude of channels to communicate information. These might include: events, media (social and mainstream), medical publications or digital (apps, websites, bots, AI). A healthcare communications professional might specialise in one specific aspect of these (e.g. events) or might be involved across multiple disciplines.

What organisations undertake healthcare communications?

There are many types of organisations that need to communicate health and medical science messages.  These include:

Pharmaceutical industry: Companies that research and develop the medicines used to prevent illness, treat and cure disease or improve the lives of those who are unwell.

Medical device companies: These organisations make the medical equipment that tests, supports, treats or helps deliver medicines to those with health-related needs.

Medical charities: Charities that support people living with specific health challenges. Often these organisations raise money for their activity which can include funding medical research to find better treatments or ways to help those facing these health challenges.

These organisations often need additional support in undertaking their healthcare communications and there is a whole industry of healthcare communications specialist agencies that are contracted to undertake this work for them.

Types of healthcare communications

These tend to fall into these general areas:

Scientific communications: The communication of medical science often to healthcare professionals or other scientists.

Brand / promotional communications: Information about, or promotion of, medicines or medical devices. Often these are directed at healthcare professionals (e.g. doctors, nurses, pharmacists) but can also be targeted to the public or those with specific health problems.

Patient communications: Communications to patients may be about a specific medicine or medical device, such as how to use them, or they may be more about raising awareness of a specific health condition, such as how to spot the signs, what options are available to help.

Corporate communications: Companies working in the healthcare sector are often large employers, have shareholders and want to show the public they are socially responsible.  Communications play an important role in sharing information with all these audiences.