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self care week

How healthcare marketing can help boost self care #SCW2015

This week is Self Care week, an annual awareness campaign that shines a spotlight on people’s responsibility for their own health. It particularly highlights the work of NHS services and public and private organisations in providing self care support in our communities, for our families and in society in general.

Too much emphasis is currently placed on health services to take responsibility for people’s health, says the Self Care Forum, a group set up in 2011 to advise front-line organisations that support self care. Their message is this; healthy people have a responsibility to look after themselves, and will benefit from improved health and mental wellbeing as a result of doing so.

At a time when our public health services are stretched like never before, amplifying this message could not be more vital. In October financial regulators reported that NHS trusts in England had run up a deficit of almost £1bn in the first three months of the financial year; the entire service is under intense pressure.

GP consultations cost the NHS an average of £43 each, and it’s estimated that up to 20%, that’s 57 million appointments costing around £2.5bn, are related to self-treatable conditions like back pain, indigestion, nasal congestion and headaches. They could mostly be treated by patients themselves, or through a pharmacist who will often recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) remedy. Over 90% of pharmacies now offer a private consulting room, affording patients more privacy and encouraging their use as a first port of call ahead of a GP.

For now, the majority of people rely heavily on their local GP. And while changing attitudes and behaviours is no swift task, the OTC sector is in a prime position to play a key role in making it happen.

Working closely with the PAGB, of which Bray Leino is an associate member, we acknowledge our responsibility to continue to raise marketing standards in the OTC sector; to empower people with the confidence and information they need to look after themselves.

Health care practitioners, pharmacists and pharmacy assistants, have direct, one-on-one access to consumers. Engaging them through effective B2B communications, providing tools and information for better patient interaction, is just as important as placing brands in front of the public through B2C channels. The need to bolster trust in these practitioners, so consumers will to turn to them instead of their GPs, is an essential part of the self care campaign.

Our challenge, in a category that has traditionally stuck to fairly dry, informative brand campaigns, is to increase public awareness of self care options. Our comms should clearly convey product benefits, but also, through compelling brand personalities based on the needs and language of the audience, leverage the positive emotions consumers feel towards brands that enable effective self care.

Using the creative and strategic skills we’ve accumulated over 40 years, we continue to encourage our clients to be brave and do whatever it takes to strive for more resonant, deeper connections with consumers and practitioners. In this way, OTC brands, and the Agencies like us that support them, have a place on the front line of the self care campaign.

Kate Cox is CEO at Bray Leino

To learn more about Self Care Week, visit the NHS Self Care page, or the Self Care Forum.

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