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Covid-19 – Answering the Call

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No vaccines were yet approved.  The world was searching for answers.  It was at this time (July 2020) that Johns Hopkins School of Medicine received $35MM in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for two nationwide clinical trials to test the effectiveness of a convalescent blood plasma outpatient treatment. The goal was to see if this treatment could prevent and/or decrease hospitalizations and deaths associated with Covid-19.

The study started with great hopes, but a lack of patients to join the trials.  Both trials, created to enroll up to 1100 patients, were in danger of never getting off the ground at the exact moment when we needed to accelerate our search for treatments.

Johns Hopkins called our agency on a Friday and a working plan was developed that weekend in collaboration with members of The Next Practices Group.  The Bliss Group served as our lead firm and pulled together experts across all firms, including The Next Practice, Ringer Sciences, RocketSauce Media Labs and Victory CTO.  We had just started our Group during the same month, so this was an early test of our model – could we work together to enroll these important trials.

Our team built a new software platform to handle and triage enrollment.

We identified a call center through our network and prepared them for calls.

We created a new disease-based media modeling plan for paid, earned, shared and owned media, so that we target and reach a more equitable group of trial participants.

We utilized our data science expertise to understand how media was working, who to reach in the media, which channels mattered and, just as important, which did not.

The result was completion of enrollment for both studies, leading to a publication in The New England Journal of Medicine that outlined how convalescent plasma can be used to combat Covid-19.  And, the study, “Early COVID-19 Treatment with COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma”, has been selected as a finalist for the 2023 Top 20 Clinical Research Achievement Awards.

Like any important result, we are fortunate to have the best partners you could ask for at Johns Hopkins University.  And for our Group, it was the first of many examples of how a modern day agency must have agility in how it builds teams and how it accesses the right technology, analytics and media to create tailored solutions.  Solutions are born out of need, not out of what is “available”.

Our work here is an example of what we mean as we build our healthcare offering from “Atom to Access”.  The solutions our clients require are not “communications” or “marketing” needs.  They are the needs of patients and providers who need to be reached with the right information, so they can make the best decisions for care.  We start with their needs and work backwards.

It is equally critical that we can fully leverage technology and data science to evolve the entire healthcare offering, whether it is building a new software solution or figuring out how to analyze ten years of published data in milliseconds or creating a new way to map out the key opinion leaders for a disease.  Technology is unlocking opportunities we didn’t have even a few years ago.

The journey continues…..