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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Philippines
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MSD bags top awards for digital innovation, patient advocacy program

Its innovative advocacy program makes information and navigation of cancer care more accessible for millions of patients.

Merck Sharp & Dohme I.A. LLC, known as MSD in the Philippines, won two awards for its pioneering patient-centered platform geared towards improving access in the continuum of care for cancer patients and their families.

MSD’s Hope from Within (HFW) programme was recognised as the Patient Advocacy Program of the Year - Philippines and the Digital Innovation of the Year - Philippines at the recently concluded Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards 2020.

Cancer is one of the greatest health challenges for the Philippines. Its prevalence continues to increase each year, affecting thousands of Filipinos and their families, impacting their physical, emotional, mental, and financial well-being, as well as the economic productivity of this growing community. 189 of every 100,000 Filipinos are afflicted with cancer while four Filipinos die of cancer every hour or 96 cancer patients every day, according to a study conducted by the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Human Genetics, National Institutes of Health.

Hope from Within is an advocacy that aims to raise awareness and strengthen the fight against the disease through education about early testing, navigating through the cancer journey, and promoting access to innovative treatment options such as Immunotherapy.

The program began in 2016 with the launch of “Test, Talk, Take Action”, a campaign that promotes early testing against lung cancer. This was led by MSD in the Philippines in partnership with the government, medical societies, and patient groups.

MSD’s multisectoral collaboration enabled meaningful discussions to support crucial policy developments in the healthcare sector. For instance, from 2018 to 2019, Hope From Within organized three media fora and one multi-stakeholder patient summit to support patient groups that advocated for the enactment of Republic Act 11215, also known as the National Integrated Cancer Control Act of 2019 (NICCA).

Hope From Within also helped ease the navigation of each patients’ cancer journey by partnering with the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO) to incorporate a “Find a Doctor” button in a microsite. With sustained public interest in the initiative, the site soon drew 32,000 unique page visits.

In less than two years, Hope From Within’s Facebook page also achieved an impressive reach of 10 million unique users while accumulating a notable 678,000 engagements (engagement measures the public shares, likes and comments for an online business' social media efforts, and is a common metric for evaluating social media performance).

The page drove sustained public interest in improving access to care for cancer patients. This translated to “Call to Actions” with 32,000 unique page visits to the Hope From Within Microsite and Clinic Finder. HFW has leveraged on the power of digital as a platform to empower the cancer patients and relevant stakeholders by leading and facilitating conversations of hope that will strengthen their fight against cancer. HFW collaborated with “ambassadors” spanning from celebrities, healthcare professionals and patient group representatives, who each had unique stories of hope that were shared across digital and traditional media platforms. The ambassadors breathed life into the cause and made the content more relatable especially for the lay audience.

In 2020, Hope From Within is strengthening its partnership with medical societies. HFW is supporting PSMO’s campaign to push for the next steps in the implementation of NICCA, and their cancer education initiatives through webinars. Another landmark partnership is formed with the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGOP) to collaborate on further raising awareness through lay fora videos that will be posted on HFW Facebook and the medical society’s platforms.

Through continuous collaboration with key stakeholders in government, healthcare and patient groups, Hope From Within continues to successfully raise the collective knowledge and understanding about cancer; keep the public abreast of scientific research and globally proven medical innovations that can potentially impact patients, promote better access to best-in-class cancer care; and engage key decision-makers to give the best possible chance for survival and attaining a good quality of life for Filipino cancer patients and their families.

Watch the interview below to know more about their winning strategy:

The Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards 2020 was held virtually on 14-17 April 2020.

This year's nominations were judged by Chris Hardesty, Director, Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice, KPMG; Abhay Bangi, Partner, Life Sciences & Healthcare Lead, Ernst & Young; Tan Boon Kai, Partner, Audit & Assurance, BDO LLP; Mairin Reid, Director, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Deloitte.

If you would like to join the 2021 awards and be recognised as one of the most outstanding healthcare companies in the region, please email Julie Anne Nuñez at julie@charltonmediamail.com

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