Personalised healthcare for billions: Communication challenges in the post covid-19 age

November 10, 2022


Personalised healthcare for billions

November 10, 2022

Emily Tiemann


Emily is a Manager with Economist Impact’s Health Policy Team. She works with global clients, developing and delivering evidence-based health policy projects across a wide range of priority areas. Prior to joining the Economist Group, Emily worked in private healthcare in Canada followed by health policy and regulation in the UK, managing strategic programs and policy reviews, and working closely with the Department of Health. 

Emily holds a Master’s degree in Women’s Health from University College London and a degree in Biology from McGill University.

Personalised healthcare for billions: Communication challenges in the post covid-19 age is a report written by Economist Impact and commissioned by WhatsApp. 

Understanding the healthcare communications methods that worked during the covid-19 pandemic, and the new and innovative approaches and digital tools that facilitated this, can help guide the development of an improved approach to healthcare communications in the future. The experience of governments in managing complex healthcare challenges, such as mass vaccinations, while combating misinformation and ensuring data privacy, also provide key insights to guide the development of further digitalisation of healthcare communications and services.

Key findings from this project include:

  • Effective healthcare communications is critical. Beyond its sizeable physical impact, covid-19 revealed how vulnerabilities in healthcare systems have implications for health, economic progress, trust in governments, and social cohesion. It also highlighted the importance of healthcare communications to overall health among populations, and its impact on trust and national structures.
  • Transformation of healthcare communications requires support. The need for digitalisation of healthcare communications during the pandemic shows that governments, and public and private healthcare organisations, must drive transformation through funding and access to innovation. This will ensure that the healthcare communications lessons from the pandemic are not lost, and better prepare systems to be resilient in order to respond effectively and help protect lives during future pandemics.
  • Cooperation is key. As well as funding and guidance, partnerships between different levels of government, between governments and technology companies, and with nongovernment organisations and stakeholder groups are vital to provide an ecosystem that supports and encourages the longterm positive transformation of healthcare communications.
  • Fundamental communications principles remain. Digitalisation enables new ways of communicating and engaging with healthcare information and services, but the fundamentals of targeting an audience, crafting reliable, trusted messages, and keeping things clear and simple remain. Humans remain at the heart of healthcare communications, and fostering their development is just as important as improving digital technology.
  • More research is required. Investment in and development of digital tools like chatbots and telehealth that facilitate healthcare communications and services are expanding rapidly, often without sufficient evidence that these tools are effective. Further research is required into the pros and cons of such services before they are fully embraced by healthcare organisations.

Economist Impact would like to thank the interviewees who generously offered their time and insights, including:

  • Shri Abhishek Singh: President & Chief Executive Officer, NeGD and MyGov, and Managing Director, Digital India Corporation
  • Setiaji Setiaji: Chief of Digital Transformation Office, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia
  • Diego Fernandez: Secretary of Innovation & Digital Transformation, City of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Noella Bigirimana: Deputy Director General, Rwanda Biomedical Centre
  • Dr Genya Dana: Global Head of Health Policy, Avellino, and former Head of Health and Healthcare, The World Economic Forum

The findings and views expressed in this report are those of Economist Impact and do not necessarily reflect the views of survey respondents, interviewees or the project sponsor.

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