WPP Health & Wellness invests in online health community to tap patient insight

WPP’s latest investment is all about patients. WPP Health & Wellness has partnered (PDF) with The Mighty, an online community for patients and caregivers, to help boost patient centricity for clients across its marketing and advertising agencies.

WPP Health & Wellness was part of the latter company’s recent funding round of $8.2 million, led by GGV Capital, Mighty Proud Media founder and CEO Mike Porath said. Porath founded the community in 2014 after his then-two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. The site has since grown organically into a community of 1 million registered users covering 600 conditions with 90 million content views every month.

The Mighty, which was founded to help people with disabilities, disorders and chronic health conditions, has until now focused on building out its community, but it's now looking at monetization through transparent and native content, such as sponsored posts, videos and surveys, Porath said.

“We’re not the place to run millions of impressions for branded drug ads. We’re really the place where someone really wants to access community and be a part of it,” he said.

For WPP, which debuted the umbrella WPP Health & Wellness brand early this year, The Mighty is an opportunity to tap patient and caregiver concerns and thinking in an increasingly patient-centered healthcare marketing world on behalf of its health and pharma clients.

“The word authenticity comes to mind first and foremost when I think about The Mighty,” said Tom O’Connell, chief marketing information officer for WPP Health & Wellness. “The key thing we try to do in marketing is ground everything we do in insight and understanding. This is a great window into the lives of real people and how they’re managing.”

Porath said he sees WPP as “a great partner to work with to help us innovate and think strategically about how we solve some of their clients’ needs, while at the same time solving the needs of the consumers on our site as well.”

The first project under development between the two is working on opportunities for healthcare professionals, doctors and universities to learn from patients. The Mighty community members are often advocates who want those opportunities to talk about their health experiences, Porath said. On the WPP side, physician and HCP clients are interested in learning about and incorporating those insights into their businesses.

Both partners agreed that transparency and giving the patients and caregivers in the community a voice will be key as they move the relationship forward.

“What this really allows us to do (is) walk in their shoes and understand what it’s really like. We can do research and lots of other things, but nothing beats really understanding the people who live with it day in and day out,” O'Connell said.