In an age of metrics and data, sometimes it can be easy to forget that healthcare is about one thing: the people. Havas Lynx’s European CEO David Hunt talks about his team’s efforts to put the heart back into healthcare. Here, he shares some poignant stories of brave healthcare heroes.
Tell us a little bit about Havas Lynx.
At Havas Lynx, we are committed to improving the lives of patients, driving commercial success for our clients, and having a positive impact on society. We define our industry with a commitment to research and development, identifying opportunities to help patients, and seeking competitive advantages for our clients. In healthcare, we have the largest creative studio in Europe.
At the heart of Havas Lynx is our culture #LYNXLife, which is engaging, rewarding, and motivating for our team. It’s all of this together that enables Havas Lynx to continue to bring about a helpful change.
Obviously, innovation is important in every industry. Why is it especially meaningful in the healthcare industry?
I’m incredibly proud to work in healthcare, particularly at the intersection of science, technology, data, and creativity. Our role is to build partnerships with clinicians, caregivers, and patients. The better we do this, the sooner we can improve the future of healthcare.
You’ve said that now is the time to focus on the heart of healthcare.
Yes, sometimes I feel like the industry is suffocated by digital spin, soundbites, and repetition. People are constantly talking about CLM, CRM, and augmented and virtual reality. So much time is spent talking about digital, but that time is not necessarily effectively used to fight and prevent illnesses. We have become so preoccupied with digital that we tend to forget about the people behind the curtain, those in the moment with you, providing support when it is most needed. It is these people who are at the heart of healthcare: the doctors and nurses, caregivers and specialists. We felt like it was time to change the conversation through the Healthcare Heroes, shining a light on the stories of the unsung heroes.
What qualities make someone a hero?
Passion. And the fact they take responsibility, show initiative, and are completely committed to patients and improving the health others. Their energy makes them stand out, but I think what is really important, and the reason for creating Healthcare Heroes, is that they inspire each other—and the whole industry. We would argue that there is a hero in every person, and we all actually have the insight, initiative, and imagination that make a real difference.
Tell us about Healthcare Heroes, The Passion Project: the origin, the goals, and future plans.
We spend a huge amount of time working with global scientific rock stars—the people who are responsible for the exponential increase in scientific discovery. They are clearly essential to society and to people in general.
During the birth of my little girl, witnessing the work of some amazing midwives, who were unassuming ladies who enjoyed having a cup of tea, a cigarette, and a good chat like anyone else. When you need someone more than ever they are an incredible support. It’s a time of confusion and doubt, anxious with new parent worry, but these midwives were remarkable and yet, we never really talk about them.
When I came back to the office to work with Tom Richards, our Chief Creative Officer, he showed me this incredible book entitled With Love. It’s about a selection of regional craftspeople, including artists, carpenters, and weavers, who talk about their love for what they do, and most importantly, their passion. Tom suggested we do a book like this for healthcare. I completely agreed but I thought, it has to be about the people behind the curtain; it has to be about those on the front lines who no one ever talks about. And that is how Healthcare Heroes: The Passion Project was born.
This project was designed to build pride in our industry, make connections between organizations, and create a platform to celebrate the unsung heroes of healthcare. Its aim is to inspire the industry and encourage collaboration.
How did you go about identifying the stories for these specific Healthcare Heroes?
Beyond the idea, this was one of the most important factors in the development of Healthcare Heroes, and I think it is one of the reasons it has been so successful. It was really difficult to get the right blend of people. The first ones we came up with consisted of all superstars; even the second and third versions of the lists were predominantly global rock stars. We were determined to get this right. At about version five or six, the stories were a perfect combination of heroes behind the curtain—21 incredible, heartfelt accounts of bravery, innovation, skill, and strength. From John the porter to Tom Lynch, the BMX world champion, to Tal, a plumber with the tenacity to save his own life. I honestly believe it was the decision to not focus solely on the elite that gives the project it’s richness and value.
Name and describe one of your favorite Healthcare Hero stories.
For me, there are two.
Tom Lynch, a previous World Champion in BMX racing, joined the ambulance service when his time as a top racer came to an end. Despite enjoying his career, he became frustrated with the congestion in London and how it hindered the effectiveness of the ambulance service. People who urgently needed care were being let down; he couldn’t let this happen. In 1999 Tom had an idea about how to overcome this problem and merged two of his loves, bikes and emergency care, and to create the Cycle Response Unit (C.R.U.), which answered 999 calls in London’s West End. Today, he manages several teams across London made up of more than 100 ambulance paramedics. His idea has been replicated across London and in cities around the world.
Then there’s John Jackson, the hospital porter whose mission is to ensure that everyone he meets feels like they are at home during their time at the hospital. It’s during moments spent in hospital when you need someone like John—someone who truly cares. He recently won the Kate Granger Award for Compassionate Care for the dedication and respect he shows to the patients that pass through Blackburn Royal Hospital.
Tom and John are great examples of everyday people who came up with an idea and had the commitment to change people’s lives.
How important is passion in projects like these?
It’s crucial. This project aims to recognize people who are passionate about healthcare.
And the efforts that went into the book’s creation are evident. It was a really small team but one that could not have been more determined and packed full of experts that were committed to crafting every single detail. Everything counted from choosing the heroes, the questions for the stories, the photography, the editing, the composition, the paper, and the printing. It was a labour of love. Hopefully this comes across in the quality of the book.
What continuing impact do you hope this project will have on patients, healthcare professionals, the industry and even society at large?
Going forward we hope that by highlighting the importance of people, there is a conscious effort to include them in the conversation surrounding technology and digital data. Understanding these people and how to partner with them will enable us to leverage the emerging science, breakthrough technology and data. The quality of lives of patients will be improved and the healthcare industry as a whole will be bettered from this.
2016 marked the 30-year anniversary of Havas Lynx, so what do you hope to accomplish for your clients and for patients during the next 30 years?
As an agency, our mission is to encourage change. It is to improve outcomes for patients, and in doing so, to have a positive impact on our clients’ commercial success. Our job is to be the catalyst or the navigator, and to support progressive pharma. We are committed to getting to the future first.