Keeping the faith: 3 ways to partner with your client to create innovative digital strategy

This is a truly inspiring time to be working in the health industry.

We live in a world where the Tricorder from Star Trek could become a reality (Qualcomm’s Tricorder), where we can decipher our genetic code to understand our ancestry (23&Me) and apps and social media guide us through a healthy life (See: Apps, PM Live Digital Handbook). The stuff of science fiction is happening and we’re (mostly) feeling the benefits.

Of course, there are always going to be obstacles when it comes to pushing the boundaries in digital health. The industry by its very nature is quite rightly hyper-cautious. Rules and regulations exist for a reason, right? They keep people safe and ensure that everything is code compliant. Whisper it, but they also stop your clients (and possibly you) from being sued.

So, how does the ever eager digital communicator keep the faith when faced with shaking heads and sharp edged codes of practice?  Here are three simple but effective suggestions.


  1. Work with legal, medical, and regulatory (LMR), right from the start

Bear with me here. Please don’t switch off just because I used the words “legal, medical and regulatory”. These people are your friends. Honest. Convince your clients to let you work with them from the off; they have a wealth of knowledge and can often help you think through and validate your strategy. It also gives you a lot more time to convince them of the validity of your proposal.

Working with LMR from the initiation of a concept holds great advantages:

  • They will guide you through regulatory minefields and company rules you may not fully understand
  • Their investment in the project will massively increase the chances of sign off or completion
  • They’ll ensure your work is grounded in approved scientific rigour and has greater impact


  1. Always back up your proposals with examples, drawing back to regulation

This should really be a given, which is why it’s so easy to forget. If you’re struggling to justify your project it’s either because your client has never seen something like it before, or because it’s just not a good idea (yes, comms people can come up with nonsense despite what we like to believe).

If the client (including LMR) have never seen something like your proposal, then show them examples of where similar ideas have worked previously and importantly, not provoked legal action from disgruntled others (usually competitors if we’re being blunt!). Show them similar projects you or others have done where you’ve seen true impact and benefits to healthcare professionals, patients and their families.

Because that’s what your projects should be doing, right?


  1. Keep being inspired

Did you see the winners at Lions Health this year? Most, if not all, of the entries were truly awe-inspiring – a wealth of motivation for the aspiring digital health communicator.

There’s no shame in being motivated by your peers and your competitors. Several Cannes winners openly talked about their inspirations. What client would look at a proposal inspired by three other successful projects and say, “no, I don’t want to go with that because it’s proven to work?”

Tried and tested proposals have a place… just try not to steal them word for word! They can also serve as a great started point for something new. A ground zero for your own work of brilliance.


Keep the faith. Keep being inspired by digital health.


Sayeed Anwar, Digital Account Manager, Healthcare (Twitter, LinkedIn)