a creative agency that takes care of healthcare brands
Dr Ryan Wallman
24 Oct, 2017

medical advertising

Before I became a writer, I was a doctor.

That story would bore you, so I won’t dwell on it.

But recently, while reflecting on my change of tack, I wondered: what if medicine was like the advertising industry?

I’ll call this hypothetical industry “medland”. Let me tell you a bit about medland.

Modern medland was born in the 1950s, thanks to a group of revolutionary practitioners on Medicine Avenue.

Since then, however, times and tastes have changed. Medland is a very different place these days.

In today’s medland, doctors never talk to patients. There’s no need, you see. They just treat all patients the same way, by assuming everyone is a 20 year-old athlete in rude health. They justify this by saying that everyone WANTS to be a 20 year-old athlete in rude health.

So if you’re an 80 year-old nursing home resident, your doctors might not fix your broken hip, but they’ll give you some rock-solid advice about how to optimise your muscle recovery after your next triathlon.

One reason for this is that the doctors themselves are all young people in rude health. Most doctors in medland are under the age of 30, and almost all are forced out of medicine by 40. This makes sense, according to hospital spokespeople, because “only young doctors are savvy enough to understand the needs of tomorrow’s patients, today”.

And of course hospitals need to keep up with the times, too. For example, no self-respecting hospitals in medland still refer to themselves as hospitals. They are now “betterness hubs” or “full-spectrum wellbeing incubators”.

The services offered by hospitals have also been re-named. What used to be called ophthalmology is now known as “VXA” (or “visual experience augmentation”), and orthopaedic surgery is a “multi-bonal alignment solution”.

Meanwhile, hospitals now refer to their collection of services as “end-to-end” (although this initially caused some confusion because patients thought it meant gastroenterology).

That said, many hospitals in medland no longer provide a full range of medical services, preferring to focus exclusively on the treatment of fingers – i.e. all things digital.

digital healthcare

So-called traditional doctors, trained in complete human anatomy, have been replaced by finger specialists. There is even a “digital prophet”, who makes wild predictions about the future of finger health despite having no medical credentials.

One notable aspect of medland is that doctors must win a lot of awards before they are taken seriously.

Fortunately, there are many chances to win awards, and hardly any awards are judged according to patient outcomes. A horribly botched brain operation, for example, could still win an award if it was beautifully filmed with some stirring music in the background.

Not uncommonly, a major award will be given to a procedure that wasn’t done in a real hospital, or did not involve a patient.

This happened only last year when a Grand Prix was awarded to a surgeon who later confessed that he was actually playing the children’s game “Operation”. The judges defended their decision on the basis that “it was a creative use of gamification that really engaged young people”.

Doctors in medland also attend a lot of conferences. This is not so they can learn from their expert colleagues, mind you – that would be narrow-minded and limiting. The speakers at medland conferences are people with no experience of medicine at all, such as celebrities. Sometimes these celebrities are even appointed as Medical Directors of major hospitals.

So, as you can tell, medland is a strange place indeed.

Truly mad.

Dr Ryan Wallman, Creative Director at Wellmark. Connect with me on LinkedIn