Data Storytelling: Effectively communicating clinical data

Scientific data can be powerful, enlightening and reaffirming. Analyses can help shape new thinking about a disease category, investigational treatment or help further define how to overcome the unmet needs of patients.

Using storytelling to share your data can help bring the main conclusions and takeaways to life.

Storytelling adds context and purpose to data, transforming it from hypotheses, conclusions, figures and tables into a compelling narrative with the power to change thinking and spur action.

When we skip the storytelling step, we dilute the opportunities we have to communicate and engage with our target audiences. Scientific exchange can be a cluttered, competitive field – whether during a medical convention or monthly peer-reviewed publication. And even if your data does reach your target audience, a lack of storytelling makes it harder for them to fully grasp and retain the main takeaway.

To be truly impactful, health care data storytelling needs to be clear, captivating and effective.

Boil it down.

New data is released all the time, and physicians and patients alike are bombarded with institutions and investigators sharing their latest research.

But the easier your data is to read and the faster it gets to the point, the more likely you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Start by trimming down the amount of data you share. What does your audience actually care about? Which pieces of the data actually get to the heart of their struggles and unmet needs? Build your strategy around actively leading with these data points and pointing to your full-text article or archived poster or scientific session presentation for anyone interested in digging in further.

Then, remove the jargon, even if your audience is highly technical. We often communicate data through reporters who aren’t always as intimately aware of technical vernacular, and when we cloud our data with jargon, the story we’re trying to tell may get lost in translation.

Make it relatable.

Why is your data relevant to your audience? Why do they need to know this information? Why is it important for the way they treat their patients or for patients’ quality of life?

During the window of scientific exchange, it’s easy to fall into the trap of discussing nitty-gritty data points, but if you can’t bring it back to why it’s meaningful to your audience, your research will fall flat. Take a step back and remember the bigger impact you’re having on the end user.

Instead of focusing on the numbers, focus on the insights from the data.

Use data to clearly tell a story of how your investigational treatment or newly approved therapy helps an underserved patient population or solves a need not currently being met. Discover how this data impacts people and lead with that narrative.Click To Tweet

Get aligned.

Consistency is key in data storytelling. Be mindful of all the different people in your company who might interact with your key stakeholders/target audiences, such as sales reps, spokespeople, medical science liaisons, board members, etc. Each of these groups must be aligned around the story you’re telling.

Tell the story.

Only after your data story is clear, compelling and consistent, is it time to communicate it with your audience. Think beyond the press release, and instead look at where your audience is active.

Is your target patient group active on Facebook? Run a customized ad campaign that makes your data’s relevancy immediately apparent. Do they typically associate with a particular advocacy organization? A potential partnership could help disseminate your data story.

Ideally, health care data is just one facet of your communications and marketing strategy. It should simply provide proof points to your brand message. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, or you risk wasting time and resources on research that doesn’t resonate with your core audience.

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