Innovative and creative communication is no longer limited to traditional consumer brands. The health sector has recently witnessed an incredible surge in creative campaigns that convey strong messages and highlight key issues. Lions Health is only a three year old category at the Cannes Lions festival, but it’s already carved out a space for itself, inspiring thousands of entries and a robust lineup of thought-provoking discussions.

The creation of Lions Health demonstrates the rising importance of healthcare in the communications landscape. The sector has also seen an increase in the use of social media. Brands and medical organizations are using social media channels to engage audiences and create narratives that address topics that matter.

On its first day, Lions Health set out to showcase the creative efforts of agencies and brands for tackling diverse issues. Talks and discussions pointed out ways in which communication can ultimately benefit patients, families, and society as a whole.

Inclusive design and fostering empathy were two key themes that emerged. Numerous people suffering from illnesses are misunderstood and marginalized. But communication is the best cure for these issues. As discussed in the talk “The Power of a Billion” hosted by Facebook, human stories and experiences can convey complex messages in simple and accessible ways.

For example, Facebook designed technology that allows individuals who are blind to interact with photos shared on the platform. The technology automatically scans photos to create a description. It then reads this description out loud, giving blind users the ability to, in a sense, see for the first time what photos are being shared.

Speaking of sight, the ability to empathize with another person rests on how well you can see things from their perspective. Today, technology is allowing us to experience what others are going through as a result of their medical condition.

If a color blind person could experience the colors life has to offer, that person would start seeing things differently. If a person with a chronic illness or disability can learn a skill that they thought was impossible, the possibilities are limitless. Just involving people and communities can create a ripple effect that takes the message further.

Social media is where this ripple effect can really be witnessed. Once engaging content is available, it drives conversations and creates connections. A social media channel like Facebook gives communities a voice and brings people together. When conversations begin, a seemingly uncomfortable topic like breast cancer becomes easier to tackle, and people open up about their experiences.

Alongside social media, virtual reality and user-experiences are also playing a role in raising awareness about medical conditions and their effects. These initiatives are enabling family, friends, and even strangers to experience what people are suffering. With realization comes empathy. Winning work by Grey Melbourne at Lions Health is a powerful example of this.

In “This Bike Has MS,” which took home a Silver and a Bronze Lion in the Pharma category, a bicycle was altered so that riding it mimicked the effects of what it’s like to live with multiple sclerosis. You can see how it was created and learn about its effectiveness in the video below:

Communication is changing the way illnesses are perceived and is promoting empathy. As talking about medical conditions is becoming more common, chances of earlier detection and treatment of diseases are rising. New ways of addressing uncomfortable topics are generating engagement and issuing a clear call to action.

With significant changes happening in the industry, healthcare is not just a topic of discussion for doctors and medical professionals. The conversation has already transcended the bounds of hospitals and pharmaceutical firms, and it is exciting to see where it goes next.