2016 has been quite a year (to say the least). Before we look ahead to 2017, our Innovation team took the time to reflect on the year that was by chosing our favorite 2016 posts. This year, the Health Experience Project has posted hundreds of articles across health, digital, communications and consumer topics. From organizations asking their employees to play hooky on the company dime to patients sharing their deepest secrets with smartphones, we haven’t run out of interesting topics yet. We hope you enjoy looking back on our favorites as much as we’ve loved writing them!


Take an Unsick Day – Linda Adams


Healthcare scheduling service Zocdoc uncovered the fact that 86% of Americans frequently cancel doctor visits and dentist appointments due to work demands. Inspired by this fact, they partnered with ad agency Office of Baby to champion “Unsick days.” These allow companies to encourage their employees to take a proactive role in good health, and many big names are already on board, including Virgin Hotels and Foursquare. “Zocdoc does benefit when people start seeing the doctor regularly,” admitted Nathan Frank, Chief Creative Officer for the company, “but so do the people who start seeing the doctor, the businesses that employ them, and everybody else involved.” We hope more businesses find creative solutions like this that benefit their bottom line while making social changes for good.


Snapchat Provides a Lens to Thinking Around The Pill—Zach Friedman


Social media giant Snapchat made headlines by launching a physical product (Spectacles) that allows wearers to capture short POV videos and upload them on the fly. This move allowed the brand to redefine itself as Snap Inc., a company that’s much more than an app. Plenty of other brands from GE to Nike are following suit and expanding offerings outside of their traditional space. These moves set the stage for Pharma companies’ traditional “beyond the pill” mindset to expand to “around the pill” thinking.


A Trusted Confidante—Jeff Giermek


While many people blush at the thought of sharing details of their personal health with even their closest friends and family, they don’t bat an eye when typing graphic health inquiries into their smartphones. This insight inspired health researchers to leverage a smartphone app to help capture more accurate data in studies in real time. Jeff noted “the use of apps has the power to carve out brand new paths of research and even to revisit and challenge long-standing thinking on certain conditions that have primarily relied on patient/doctor face-to-face interactions to gather data.”


innovationsaves.life—Drew Glenn


“264 vaccines in the pipeline. $173b saved in cancer-related costs. 883,000 fewer hospitalizations per year. These are just a few of the many stats The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) promotes on their new website, innovationsaves.life… BIO also brings in the human aspect of the pharmaceutical R&D landscape and how these innovations are saving lives.” Mr. Glenn noted that too often the good work the Pharma industry does everyday gets lost in bleak headlines. BIO is doing great work to humanize the industry and inspire a new generation with hope.


Cancer’s Greatest Vulnerability is Knowledge—Leigh Householder


MD Anderson’s Moonshot to End Cancer aims to fight the disease that 1 in 3 men and 1 in 4 women will face in their lifetimes. Proponents believe that we stand at the edge of an historic shift in the pace of advancements against the disease, and the program is connecting brilliant minds with the funds and support to drive progress forward. Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., President of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center stated “we are in a position for the first time of bending the arc of major diseases and the first to fall to the axe of science will be cancer.” We wish them Godspeed.


The Fanciest Footwork in Brazil Can’t Be Found in Rio—Drew Beck


Recent advancements in technology allowed researchers in Brazil to demonstrate clinically significant improvements in what were thought to be irreversible paralyses. By combining virtual reality and brain-machine interfaces, paralyzed patients could “see” themselves walking while a mechanically actuated exoskeleton moved their limbs for them. All 8 patients in the study showed progress, and half improved so much that their paralysis had to be reclassified as a less severe type.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.