It is estimated that there are 382 million people in the world living with diabetes, accounting for 8.3% of the world’s population, and this number is increasing at a faster rate now than ever before. A vast amount of public and private sector research and funding have brought on several breakthroughs and innovations in diabetes treatment over the past two decades. From the traditional regiments of lifestyle changes, metformin, sulfonylureas and insulin to today, where there are 11 classes of diabetes drugs available, with many more in development.

Due to the huge and ever-changing demands from patients, physicians and payers, the diabetes marketplace is crowded and fast-moving. New products and combination therapies are launching constantly, whilst prescribers are often choosing to stick to older treatments that they ‘trust’. As AZ’s communications partner, our role is to help their products stand out from the competition, and ensure that key messages for the brands are cutting through the market chatter and reaching our audiences in a clear and effective manner.

AZ market six ‘new generation’, non-insulin products for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. For the past four years we have been supporting the AZ team on the promotional communications for all of their diabetes brands, and a strong congress presence is a key goal for the whole portfolio. International diabetes congresses are often attended by over 15,000 physicians and all major players in diabetes care, each competing for the delegates’ limited time and attention. Most industry congress stands now rely on innovative digital technology to both ‘wow’ and attract delegates, however our approach has always been driven by insights and science. We ensure that our tactics are part of a wider communications strategy, delivering real educational value in easy-to-digest formats. Technology is merely the tool we use to deliver this.

We worked with AZ on the strategy and tactical execution of the entire exhibition stand, and helped them come up with a compelling story that connects the stand assets with their core values. We arrived at ‘Evolving care to meet the needs of today’s patient’, which fits with their need to stay future-focused and patient-centred.

 Production Values

Based on the congress story, we developed a range of assets for the stand ranging from product panels to video content. However, as mentioned before, in order to capture delegates’ attention and draw them onto the stand, we also needed an eye-catching yet educational experience that really puts the patient in the centre of all treatment considerations, as well as showcasing our clients’ uniquely innovative portfolio.

Our approach was to develop 16 bespoke patient case studies, covering patients from a wide range of ages, sexes and races, each with their unique set of values and preferences. Each patient was assigned a current treatment from the traditional regime that is failing to deliver optimum results. We then developed recommendations using AZ’s product range to demonstrate how they could be used to improve treatment outcomes.

This educational content provided the backbone of the ‘Patient Profiler Touchtable’. The 16 patients were digitally rendered and 3D printed into figurines that acted as triggers for a highly sensitive, multi-touch surface. Bespoke software was then designed for this ‘touchtable’ surface which recognised the figurine triggers and displayed the corresponding content.

Physicians were able to physically pick a patient from the set of figurines that best resembled a case from their daily clinical practice, and place it on the touchtable to interact with his/her profile. The touchtable technology allowed multiple users to access the tool at any one time, giving the opportunity for multiple delegates to use the tool, or to compare cases side-by-side.

Overall Effectiveness

The Patient Profiler Touchtable proved to be the ‘star attraction’ of the AZ stand at ADA.

The array of 3D printed figurines on display successfully piqued delegates’ interests and attracted great footfall onto the stand. The physicality of using the figurines as triggers to access patient profiles was also something new, unusual and immediate. Delegates were able to establish a tangible connection with the ‘patients’ through choosing, holding and exploring the tool with the figurines. Throughout the experience the patient remained firmly in the centre of the delegate’s attention, further affirming our congress objective of advocating future-focused, patient-centred care.

More importantly, through linking the Patient Profiler cases with their clinical practice, physicians were able to browse AZ’s extensive portfolio and learn how the products can help improve the care their real-life patients can receive. All-in-all, the Patient Profiler Touchtable allowed for an engaging experience as well as a tangible representation of the patient-centric treatment ethos.

Feedback on the Patient Profiler Touchtable has been universally and overwhelmingly positive. Delegates found it an interesting way to learn about AZ’s products, with many remarking on the futuristic interface and how different it was to the other tactics they had seen. For AZ, the Patient Profiler Touchtable received rave reviews from the AZ global team, who found it fully met their communications objectives.

The Patient Profiler Touchtable has since been reused at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) congress, where it was once again a hugely popular focal point for the entire stand, attracting almost >1,500 unique delegate users. Following ADA and EASD, we have also received independent requests for translation and localisation of the Touchtable tool from local AZ teams in Latin America, China, Turkey, Germany and Australia.