What a week! As the debate over gun control dominated national media, we kept our eyes on another busy week of healthcare news. 

  • First, a shout out to our very own Leslie Isenegger and Paul Tyahla, who were featured in a new piece in PharmaVOICE on collaborating amongst stakeholders in the drug pricing debate.
  • The New England Journal of Medicine released a study on the “other” prescription drug epidemic: benzodiazepines or “benzos.” Benzos are a class of drugs often used to treat anxiety and insomnia, including some familiar names like Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax. Overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines increased more than sevenfold between 1999 and 2015.
  • And BMJ published a new study on Grey’s Anatomy—yeah, the TV show. Study authors watched 269 episodes of the TV medical drama to compare the show’s portrayal of medical trauma to reality. The study found that the show could set unrealistic expectations about mortality and recovery after medical trauma.

Still, we have on deep background that Dr. McDreamy once said “It’s a beautiful day to read The Week That Was. Let’s have some fun."  So sit back and enjoy our take on the latest medical drama.


With the #MeToo movement consistently in the news, stories continue to emerge from Hollywood sets to newsrooms to restaurant kitchens to construction sites. Though centered on discussions of workplace harassment, the movement has brought about a larger examination of gender dynamics in the workplace, including discussion about diversity among corporate leaders and executives, equal opportunities for women and just this week, the new term “paytriarchy.” With two new feature stories from NBC, it seems #MeToo has reached medicine.

NBC profiled female doctors and nurses, who told stories of "widespread misconduct in hospitals and other health care settings, deeply woven into the fabric of their workplaces even as they made life-or-death decisions for their patients." What does that look like by the numbers? A 2014 study revealed that 30% of women had been the victim of sexual harassment. And for women in nursing, a February poll from Medscape Medical News found that 71% of nurses said they had been harassed by a patient.


This reporting suggests that issues of harassment and gender inequality are rampant in healthcare. But, that may be a difficult reality for the industry to accept. In Endpoints’ annual survey of 100 biotech executives, respondents overwhelmingly rated the gender diversity of their own company as Average, Good or Excellent, while they rated gender diversity of the industry as Poor, Fair or Average.

Suggesting that your company is doing better than the industry on this issue is a risky claim to make—unless it’s true. Companies should communicate their intentions and get specific about what they’re doing to address gender issues within their walls. Provide details that show the company is dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion—and how you are already working to make meaningful changes within your own organization.


This week, Shire, Microsoft and European patient organization EURORDIS announced an alliance called The Global Commission to End the Diagnostic Odyssey for Children. The alliance will aim to “accelerate the time to diagnosis” for pediatric rare disease patients. Also this week, scientists at Google made news with algorithm technology that analyzes eye scans to evaluate cardiovascular health risk. And Technology Review named “Genetic Fortune-Telling” as one of the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2018, suggesting that DNA-based predictions could predict your chances for illnesses like heart disease, breast cancer or Alzheimer’s.


While some of these innovations can seem futuristic, many experts assert that the use of AI technology in healthcare is only going to become more common. In the short term, we should consider what these innovations suggest about our current healthcare system. These groups are prioritizing the use of their technology as a diagnostic tool – which suggests that processes for achieving accurate and timely diagnoses are ripe for innovation. While we wait to see how these technologies will improve the diagnostic process, companies should consider ways that they can improve the current path to diagnosis for patients and treaters. By providing resources to aid the diagnosis process, companies can demonstrate their value to their disease communities and build brand trust and loyalty.

Until next week,

-  The Reputation & Risk Management Practice @ Syneos Health Communications

About the Author:

We are a team of healthcare communicators, policy-shapers and crisis response specialists. Drawing upon professional experiences from Congress, CMS, HHS, hospitals, and health technology—and our collective work in rare disease, oncology, diabetes, gene therapy, pain management and infectious disease—we provide unique solutions to the evolving messaging challenges in today’s healthcare industry. We support our clients with evidence-based approaches to preventing pricing pushback, protecting brands from modern activism, establishing and communicating clear policies surrounding expanded access to medicines, and a proactive approach to value frameworks. Our offerings also include product safety, litigation, regulatory risks, ex-U.S. considerations and policymaker investigations.