By Ideas Collide
In life, there are times when it feels like your personal life, work, societal shifts, and world events all seem to be in harmony.
For me, such a time began in the summer of 2020 — during the very unharmonious COVID-19 pandemic. “Harmony” may seem like an odd word to describe one of the most unsettling periods for humans during my lifetime but allow me to explain.
In June 2020, we at Ideas Collide had the opportunity to respond to an RFP from Contexture, formerly Health Current, the health information exchange for Arizona patient health information. In broad strokes, the RFP stated that Contexture was looking for an agency partner to “develop and integrate a big, bold, and unique campaign that makes an impact and sparks a paradigm shift in how people think about advance directives.”
Hold on: Advance directives? What are advance directives — and why are they important?
That’s exactly what we — the team assigned to respond to this RFP — wondered when it landed on our desks.
Some of us had a vague notion that advance directives were related to end-of-life planning and care, but certainly, none of us had deep knowledge or personal experience on the subject. And honestly, we were like most Americans — and world citizens — who put off planning for our inevitable deaths because it’s too uncomfortable to think about. And c’mon, we’re not going to die tomorrow!
That’s where the harmony comes in. Just as we began diving into the ins and outs of advanced directives as a team, life decided I needed some firsthand experience in the matter; I was diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly faced the question every time I went in for a doctor’s visit, surgery or treatment: “Have you filled out your advance directives?”
Working through my diagnosis provided unique insights that helped the team better understand how we could meet the needs of Contexture – and the people it hoped to serve through this campaign.
Now that Contexture had made possible the storing and sharing of patient medical information securely between doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers, the forward-thinking firm was embarking on doing the same for advance directives.
The data shows Contexture was facing a daunting task. A recent study showed, of the 795,909 adults surveyed, only 36.7 percent had some form of advance directive. Some people choose not to establish an advance directive simply because they want to avoid thinking about uncomfortable topics and don’t want to burden their loved ones. Most don’t know enough about their options when it comes to advance directives and lack the guidance needed to complete the forms successfully.
Many of us also have aging parents, grandparents, or other family members that got us thinking about this topic. If something should happen, what would they want? Without their input, we would never know the best way to handle critical situations should they arise.
So, we chose to dive into this project with human connection in mind, looking to create solutions that helped spread awareness and spark conversation.
One key element of this project was our responsibility as an agency to provide an outside view for our clients. Living and breathing these topics as they do, it can be difficult to recognize that the industry speak that evokes clear understanding in the client’s mind often ostracizes the very people they want to attract. This is especially true when the topic is one people have a significant aversion to, like end-of-life planning. Any and all barriers that existed needed to be broken down, and we worked hard to identify those on Contexture’s behalf.
We determined the most effective way of breaking down those barriers was by developing a symphony of pieces that could stand alone as needed but really met their full potential when viewed as a whole, working in harmony to take the user from a place of education to ultimately creating their own advance directives.
It became clear we needed to create a digital experience that established a human connection with users. Taking a caring and compassionate approach, this experience was designed to help guide users through these sensitive questions and establish their medical records in case of emergency. We did this by incorporating:
The final result was the AzHDR Toolkit, a thoughtful and multi-faceted digital toolkit designed to help inform Arizonans about advance directives and motivate them to document and register their own.
The goal of the toolkit was to empower families, doctors, attorneys, and caregivers with the resources they need to turn an uncomfortable, and sometimes scary, topic into a comfortable and conversational one.
We knew this toolkit needed more than just data points and infographics to meet its objective. Guided by the concept of building human connections and absolving fears, we elevated the value of this toolkit by incorporating personal stories designed to educate users and foster support for advance directives. It’s these stories, far more than the cold, hard facts, that would persuade individuals to take action. After all, if data was all we needed to be spurred to identify advance directives, we wouldn’t see so many people waiting till the last minute to do so. It’s a difficult topic for most, and it’s that human element – exploring what others have faced in similar situations, picturing our own loved ones in their place – that moves us to take action.
In reading the real-life experiences of those in similar situations, the user could identify with the storyteller, sympathize with their struggles, find relief in the challenges they overcame, and learn from their journeys.
In addition to personal stories, the value of video cannot be understated. If a picture is worth a thousand words, videos’ worth is immeasurable. It was a cornerstone of the project. As part of the toolkit, Ideas Collide produced a video that was at once short, sweet, direct and kind. The video invited viewers to think about their lives as a story—a narrative they can control until the end. It served as a natural complement to the stories included in the toolkit.
This Let’s Be Direct. video introduced the importance of registering one’s advance directives and served as a great conversation starter.
Many of the other toolkit assets carried over the same design and message into other shareable, easy-to-understand formats such as infographics, slides, posters and brochures. These assets could easily be downloaded from the toolkit website and used in doctor’s offices, patient waiting rooms, assisted living facilities, financial advisor offices or community events.
For example, the Guide to Getting Started with Advance Directives was developed in a question-and-answer format to provide guidance on choosing a healthcare decision-maker, discussing healthcare preferences, and preparing advance directive forms and documents. When individuals have questions about daunting topics, they often strike up a conversation with an advisor (medical, financial, etc.) and have a fluid dialogue to learn more and ultimately come to a decision. The fear and avoidance associated with end-of-life planning often mean that dialogue doesn’t take place. By structuring our guide in a way that replicated the dialogues people would like to have – but, for any number of reasons, do not – we continued to make this topic accessible and break down those invisible barriers.
By making this toolkit available digitally, the assets were made even more accessible to the masses, and put the power of spreading this information directly in the hands of those who could make the most of it. This unparalleled accessibility, paired with the dedication to approach this topic from a place of human connection, created a powerful product for Contexture. But – most importantly – also empowered more people to make one of the most important decisions of their lives. At a time in our history when health was at the forefront of the world’s minds like never before, the value of producing something that not only made it less scary for people to address these difficult topics but also much easier to understand them, cannot be overstated.
If you or someone you know are curious about advance directives or unsure of where to start, check out the toolkit and see for yourself why it is an important conversation to have with your loved ones.
In the healthcare industry and beyond, there are many topics that affect our day-to-day but escape the people they impact the most. Maybe it’s difficult to face or challenging to understand. Maybe it’s both! Whatever is causing the roadblock, we’d love to help you and your team explore and develop a unique solution. Ideas Collide’s experienced team of brand strategists, designers and copywriters is here to dissolve barriers, break down complexities, and infuse heart and personality into the trickiest topics. See how we can be an extension of your team today.