As an award-winning TV, film and game producer, leaving Hollywood for healthcare may seem like a bizarre choice. Why trade celebrity studded events for CMS reimbursement codes? With no medical degree, and only screen credits to my name, I struggled to embrace my unique background. However, the more time I spent in the healthcare ecosystem, the more I realized that the cure for what ails healthcare is Hollywood Magic.
Beyond the complexity of the US healthcare system, I believe that healthcare itself struggles with its story. Fortunately, Hollywood has a history of transforming culture and shifting paradigms through the power of stories. If something needs a new story, look no further than Hollywood.
Here are Three Lessons from Hollywood that I frequently share with my healthcare clients when they need to rethink their healthcare story:
1.Character Driven Narrative
Too often, disease is the protagonist of the healthcare story. Rather than empowering health seekers on their quest for better health, the healthcare system starts driving the plot, forcing patients into a story they have no control of. How can we expect health seekers to overcome obstacles when we limit them to powerless side characters rather than heroes?
By focusing on the main character — the health seeker — rather than just the disease or condition they are living with, healthcare becomes less punitive, more compelling and easier to relate to. Patients aren’t diseases. They are people. Protagonists. Characters. And it’s healthcare’s job to center them as they pursue their quest for better health.
2. User Generated Content (UGC)
Healthcare organizations have failed to leverage UGC. Yet millions of people use Instagram, TikTok and YouTube to chronicle their health journeys and find community. From ostomy fashion friendly tips to medication management videos, health seekers are creating their own content, showing the reality of health and healthcare. UGC can demystify the complexities and terrors of healthcare, while also providing space for conversations and communities. Just as UGC is used by Hollywood to nurture fans and remain in dialogue with audiences, Healthcare organizations are missing their chance to meet health seekers where they are and be a part of their daily lives.
3. Know Your Audience
Too often films and TV shows are made without considering their target audience. A beloved franchise can be decimated by one wrong mistake from Hollywood elites, such as choosing a different leading actor or switching the plot from the source material. Audiences are the life force of entertainment. For healthcare organizations, many focus on solutions without knowing their audience. Pharma can spend millions on a new drug, getting regulatory approval and payor agreement, only for health seekers to refuse to use it. Digital health companies can create new applications that have no user engagement and therefore no impact on health outcomes. Healthcare is unusual in that it has many audiences it must engage with — from regulators, providers, to patients — but that doesn’t negate the importance of knowing your audience and meeting your audience in the story they’re in.
Healthcare will continue to be a struggle — just ask Google and Apple — but now is the time to reevaluate the healthcare narrative and see how we can learn from other industries to find lasting, scalable solutions. Everybody deserves a healthcare experience that is as easy as going to the movies or scrolling through social media feed. What’s stopping your company from embracing a new narrative for health?
Ari Mostov is a health entertainment pioneer. She is committed to scaling healing and changing behaviors through entertainment. She advises health companies on engagement and narrative strategy.