What’s artificial intelligence got to do with it?

By Grainne Maguire, Director, London, UK

Artificial intelligence (AI) and what it will mean for mankind is a hot topic in the media now. We are, we are told, at the beginning of the next wave of an industrial revolution, the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and this time, the wave is being driven by AI. While Elon Musk said that AI ‘is a fundamental risk’  to human civilisation and the late Stephen Hawking warned against the dangers of it replacing humans, there isn’t any doubt that AI is here to stay. We already use AI and machine-learning technologies in everyday life, whether it’s setting prices on Amazon, tracking your Deliveroo order to your door, or receiving recommendations for music you like on Spotify.

AI in Healthcare

What I’m intrigued by, however, is what is happening on the health front and what can be achieved there. The adoption of AI in healthcare is growing. Predictions from the new report Worldwide Health Industry 2018 Predictions, from research and consulting firm IDC Health Insights, say that ‘by 2021, 20 percent of healthcare and 40 percent of life science organisations will have achieved 15 to 20 percent productivity gains through the adoption of cognitive/AI technology.’ For the healthcare systems and patients, that must be a good thing, leading to improved care for patients and a more sustainable future. AI tools are already in use in major disease areas e.g. in cancer-analysing clinical images to identify skin cancer subtypes, and an AI system for neurology used to restore the control of movement in patients with quadriplegia. Researchers have also used machine learning to identify how individual stroke patients might respond to different medications based on the unique structure of their brain!

There’s no doubt that AI can do seriously impressive stuff and it’s no surprise that Google, Microsoft and IBM have recently moved into the AI healthcare space with Apple and Amazon expected to follow suit. But for most of us AI is an enigma and we need more understanding of this emerging technology and how it impacts our health and wellbeing. Hopefully, if it’s handled right, AI will bring substantial benefits in managing our health without risk to our independence, and certainly we need help in collating those mountains of data!

What do you think about AI? Tweet us @TonicLC to share your thoughts.


What I Have Learned from Working with Patients

By Chrissie Hannah, Senior Account Executive

It’s one of the key buzzwords in pharma – patient-centricity. All companies say patients are at the heart of what they do; if they don’t, they certainly strive for it. The online space is rich with articles on how this can really be achieved and how it’s measured, but ultimately there is nothing more valuable than that face-to-face time with the patient, getting to know them, and genuinely caring about helping them.

Over the last year, I have had the privilege of working on a particularly inspiring project, partnering with patients, for patients. On behalf of one of our clients, we aimed to develop an awareness campaign that showcases the lives of six women from around the world, to highlight what survival means to those living with terminal breast cancer.

What first struck me was that patients really want to get involved. I had imagined there would be difficulties finding someone willing to share details about their difficult journey and terminal diagnosis. However, the ladies involved not only agreed to take part, but were very passionate about the campaign. They wanted to help us spread the message of positivity to others suffering with this terminal illness.

We interviewed them over the phone, then spent time in their homes for a photoshoot. As we listened to each of their stories, and got to know them the more time we spent with them, I realised I had started to become emotionally invested in the work. The campaign objectives had already been established, and were still being met, but after speaking with these patients I started to have an additional purpose. I could see that the project was really helping them. As they talked openly about their diagnosis, life, family and the future, they seemed to find it healing, almost therapeutic.

The finished product was a beautiful bound book of each patient’s photos and stories. The feedback received from the women involved was overwhelming – they loved seeing other stories alongside theirs, and felt more motivated than before to share their own story. Although the full project is not yet complete, it shows this first part of the campaign achieved results on many levels.

Of course, this is just one disease area with a specific audience. However, I have learned so much from this wonderful, inspirational group of women. By connecting with patients at this level, you can really get to the heart of their thoughts, hopes and fears – and could end up helping them in more ways than one. Working this closely with patients on such an emotive and powerful project reminds us of the greater good in our work, and why we do it.


Five Insights into How Millennials Want News

By Alyssa Morrello, Senior Media Relations Specialist

Newsflash! My fellow millennials and I are completely changing the way newsworthy content is being created, shared, consumed, and cultivated.

While previous generations depended on regularly scheduled television newscasts, the same cannot be said for the “on-demand” nature that digital news provides today.

In fact, digital outlets currently serve as the main source of news globally for the majority of those under 35, including 64% of those between the ages of 18 and 24.

This month I had the opportunity to learn more about “America’s First Digital Generation” with VICE News. Here are five key takeaways for getting the attention of the millennial audience.

  • Show, don’t tell. With an overabundance of news sources (digital, traditional, and even social!) millennials can read a headline anywhere and get a general gist of the news. Expanding beyond the “telling” of the news and actually “showing” the effect is what will capture our attention.
  • Provide a different perspective. When given the opportunity to provide a new perspective or spin on things, do it! VICE had outstanding results when they chose to cover Hurricane Harvey by doing a story on how Houston was designed to be flooded. We knew the hurricane was a disaster that was ravaging the community but were unaware of the infrastructure angle VICE provided, which is why it drove remarkable results.
  • Have your characters in place. A story, whether it be within the news or even an editorial feature, is not complete without characters. Whether it be a quirky researcher or a young mom, we are looking for humans to add color to the story and make it memorable and easily relatable.
  • Take time to understand your audience’s habits. Tracking audience habits, whether it be via social feeds or page views, is vital. Through tracking and taking time to understand their audience, VICE News realized their viewers and readers were especially interested in the social justice pieces and they now hone in on those aspects whenever possible.
  • Stories can travel across channels if adapted! It is important to provide the news in more than one place, especially because you never know what platform your individual audience members are utilizing to get their information! Putting a story on YouTube, Instagram, and even on a digital platform like an app is great; just make sure to lead with the best stuff and adjust the content length to match the platform.

The main takeaway is that originality is key. When brainstorming innovative ways to bring a story to life, ask yourself, “What will you bring to the story that no one else can?”

To keep up with future events and more from the Tonic team follow us on Instagram (@Toniclc) and add us on Twitter (@Toniclc)!