Columbus, OH — Wrapping up your week? Don’t miss all these great finds from our contributors, including a potentially huge break-through in cancer care, a big trend of men as caregivers, intriguing new ad formats, a new take on junk food, and more.

Doctors Take A Long Shot And Inject HIV Into Dying Girl

Bryan Murphy found this story of a clinical trial for patients with no other options, run by doctors trying to do nothing less than cure cancer. These are all patients – and parents – looking for a miracle. The doctors are using the HIV virus to teach the body’s cells to kill cancer – to create “serial killer” cells that literally seek out and destroy cancer cells. Full story.

More men take on caregiver role

Alex Bragg found this interesting study about the increasing number of men taking on caregiving roles and how they approach care differently than women typically have. Almost 40% of people who are taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are men, up from 19% just 15 years ago (Alzheimer’s Association, the other by the National Alliance for Caregiving). The studies found a lot of contributing factors – from the number of women who have the disease to the changing economy.

As caregivers, men are more likely to busy themselves with the daily details of what has to get done. They’re less multi-taskers and more problem solvers. Full article.

See also: Pew Internet and American Life report on how caregivers rely on digital tools

Hunger-Alleviating Ads

Kris McGlosson sent us this fantastic use of NFC (near field communications) to get people involved in advertising. The UN World Food Program’s Food Link campaign includes bus shelter ads that let people feed hungry children. Users can tap to pick up virtual food from one bus shelter ad and bring it to the other.

The best thing about this ad is that it doesn’t require an app to use – it works seamlessly with the NFC technology built into smartphones. It’s a technology that’s available in most new Android phones. We’ve got fingers crossed that Apple will soon adopt it, too. Although 70% of smartphones shipped last year were Androids (IDC), marketers still look to iPhone first for experience design. Full article.

78% of uninsured Americans don’t know about health exchanges

In just a few months, 30 million Americans will be eligible to enroll in state health insurance exchanges. The challenge is: They don’t know it. Full article.

How Junk Food Can End Obesity

Eric Davis has been watching the debate that pits Michael Pollan against Ronald McDonald. His latest find from The Atlantic suggests RM might just win.

Author David Freedman writes that “these roundly demonized companies could do far more for the public’s health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50.” He points to fast food’s access and convenience as major drivers of behavior. Lower calorie, faster foods have a much better chance of saving America than expensive, time-intensive whole foods – especially when those wholesome yummies are wrapped in bacon. Full article.

The Healthcare Hashtag Project

Niah Crockett sent us a link to a project dedicated to making healthcare simple… at least on Twitter. They curate all the homegrown hashtags to make it easier to explore and find the content you need. Trending lists show where the conversation is happening right now. See the project.

Video game aims to help young cancer patients

Sam Cannizzaro has been following the Re-Mission game since its original launch back in 2006. The newest version is a collection of online mini games that follow the treatment process with young people (13-29) and lets them destroy cancer on the screen so that they’re better prepared to fight it in real life.

“Research on the original ‘Re-Mission’ showed that it impacted biology and behavior, primarily by energizing positive motivation circuits in the human brain and giving players a sense of power and control over cancer,” said Dr. Steve Cole, a vice president at HopeLab and professor of medicine at UCLA. “That gave us a whole new recipe for engineering the games in ‘Re-Mission 2’ by harnessing the power of positive motivation circuits in the human brain.” Full article.

Why is it so difficult to talk about what makes us human?

Medium is a new crowd-journalism site, featuring essays and ideas from around the world. One of our favorites starts like this: “It is incredibly difficult to talk about health in America. More than the bureaucratic & litigious difficulty in communication, the psychological and social penalties weigh heavily on those impacted by the reality of our own mortality. Whether a debilitating illness, a catastrophic accident or the too familiar onset of cancer, everyone is impacted by this struggle multiple times in their lifetime. Yet I rarely find those who feel competent, confident and supported throughout these challenging times.” Full story.

Effects of Consumer-Facing Technologies on Patient Engagement, Behavior Change, and Type 2 Diabetes–Related Health Outcomes

This last one is a double-connection for HxP – from one of our favorite contributors, Kathryn Bernish-Fisher, about one of our favorite doctors, Jennifer Dyer, MD, MPH. Here’s a peek at her latest research:

“The decisions most affecting the health and well-being of patients with diabetes are made by the patients themselves. Thus, technologies that target patient empowerment and behavior change are making a large impact on diabetes-related health outcomes. This article highlights a variety of technologies that encourage insulin dosing changes, provide motivation for checking blood glucose, organize blood glucose meter data, and motivate patients to lose weight. It includes discussion of several theories of patient engagement and health behavior change involving consumer-facing patient-centered technologies.” Full abstract.

What are you reading?

Posted by: Leigh Householder

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.