At Create Health, we believe passionately that creativity has a vital role to play in improving the ability of healthcare marketing to positively influence our health and wellbeing. To inspire this creativity, our start point is always empathy.

The healthcare sector has long relied on the importance of data and statistics in building a case for new drugs, medical devices, or procedures. And while having a solid argument and proof of efficacy is absolutely paramount in a sector that deals so intrinsically with people’s lives, it’s empathy that will make sure your brand or communication connects with that person, and empathy that will allow you to build a trusted relationship over time.

In the US where people have more personal control over their healthcare spend and choice of providers, and where direct to consumer advertising is commonplace, empathy is more openly used as a marketing foundation and tactic. Healthcare providers understand the clear link between the effectiveness of therapy when there is an empathetic relationship between provider and patient. Patient satisfaction is also higher when patients feel they have been shown compassion by the healthcare provider1. So, empathy is used as the foundation of many campaigns designed to appeal to both healthcare professionals and patients alike.

As a frequent feature of healthcare advertising, studies have shown the clear relationship between empathy and emotion in establishing strong differentiation between brands, reducing price sensitivity and profitability, and simplifying decision making1. The power of empathy as a tool has been proven time and again.

Building a strong foundation for creative ideas from empathy

Our process begins with an empathy audit and uses 3 different types of empathy as a framework to guide and structure the ideas that will drive the best solutions to connect most effectively with your audience and deliver the biggest impact – be that behaviour change, purchasing decisions, or providing ongoing support and guidance.

Cognitive empathy is the first stage in the process i.e. our ability to understand our audience’s emotional state and key needs. This stage involves research, site visits, insight gathering, persona development etc. to give us a robust start point in understanding how your brand or product fits into the practical and emotional lives of your target audience.

The next stages focuses more on emotional empathy i.e. our ability to positively engage with, influence and benefit your target audience. This stage involves testing creative ideas and messages to find what genuinely connects with and moves your customers and prospects.

The final stage involves building a plan based on compassionate empathy i.e. building a plan that will inspire your audience to act on the basis of our marketing messages and campaigns. This is about gaining a long term understanding of their practical and emotional needs and designing tools, communications and support that can build those valuable and trusted relationships over time.

An approach grounded in empathy may sound indulgent, wishy washy or like a nice to have for many healthcare brands. But it’s simply about identifying the real opportunities your brand has to connect with your Target Audience – via practical, useful, emotional or educational means. It gives us the tools we need to ignite the spark that will fuel a stronger bond between your brand and its customers or users. And that’s just good business sense ultimately.


  1. Elyria Kemp, My Bui, Anjala Krishen, Pamela Miles Homer, Michael S. LaTour, †(2017) “Understanding the power of hope and empathy in healthcare marketing”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 34 Issue: 2, pp.85-95, JCM-04-2016-1765